2011 Connecticut Eastern Region High School Jazz Ensemble CMEA

A last minute, substitute conducting gig came my way in January 2011.  My colleague, John Mastroianni found himself double booked due to a snow storm, so I filled in for him, directing the Connecticut Eastern Region High School Honors Jazz Ensemble (CMEA).  It was a fun challenge to quickly learn, prepare and conduct repertoire chosen by someone other than myself.  Here is the list of his John’s selections:

  1. Crescent City Stomp – Eric Richards
  2. Don’t Git Sassy – Thad Jones, arranged by Mike Carubia
  3. Down To The Night Club – Tower of Power, Arranged by John Mastroianni
  4. Festival – by Rick Stizel

It was an exciting program, which both the students and the audience really enjoyed.

This was my first “hands on” experience with one of Mike Carubia’s re-scored Thad Jones charts.  I had heard about his Smart Chart Music publications, but hadn’t tried any of these arrangements with my ensembles.  My thinking was “why mess with Thad?  Learn the original and have the kids try to play up to a professional level.”  But, after this experience, I can honestly say that I fully endorse these charts.  What is simplified in “Don’t Git Sassy” is done tastefully and does’t detract from the authenticity of the piece in any way.  It is in a better key for younger players, so they sound better, and their first introduction to Thad is a positive one.

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