Jazz Arranging Text Books

I am often asked to provide a list of recommended jazz arranging text books.  Here are some of the better ones in my bookshelf:

Jazz Arranging and Composing, A Linear Approach, by: Bill DobbinsJazz Arranging and Composing
, A Linear Approach
by Bill Dobbins
Advance Music
* with compact disc

I use this book every year in my fall semester small group arranging course. I think it is fantastic! Throughout the book Dobbins uses just two tunes, and arranges them in multiple ways for rhythm section plus 1, 2, 3 and 4 horns.

Inside the Score, Rayburn Wright's jazz arranging textbookInside the Score, a detailed analysis of 8 classic jazz ensemble charts by Sammy Nestico, Thad Jones, and Bob Brookmeyer.
by Rayburn Wright
Kendor Music, Inc.
* with compact disc

Every student big band arranger should have a copy of this book. The analysis is some of the best I have ever seen. His “dynamic contour charts” provide a unique and valuable way to premeditate the form of an arrangement. Section and ensemble voicings are clearly spelled out, and it includes very insightful interviews with 3 of the greatest arrangers of all time.

Paris Rutherford, UNT emeritus professor of jazz arrangingBasics In Jazz Arranging
by Paris Rutherford

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Introduction to Big Band Arranging
by Paris Rutherford

Paris Rutherford retired in 2009 from teaching jazz arranging at the University of North Texas. Given this university’s long tradition of producing outstanding professional arrangers, I was curious as to read the jazz arranging text books he used for 25+ years. I was able to order these directly from the UNT bookstore. As expected, they are well written, thorough and filled with great information. Hal Leonard Corporation now publishes “Basics in Jazz Arranging.” A chapter-by-chapter summary can be found on Paris Rutherford’s website.

The Contemporary Arranger, by Don SebeskyThe Contemporary Arranger
by Don Sebesky
Alfred Publishing Company
* with compact disc



the Complete Arranger, a jazz arranging textbook by Sammy NesticoThe Complete Arranger
by Sammy Nestico
Fenwood Music Company
* with compact disc


Fred Sturm's jazz arranging textbook, "Changes Over Time"Changes Over Time: The Evolution of Jazz Arranging
by Fred Sturm







Instrumental Jazz Arranging A Comprehensive and Practical Guide by Mike Tomaro and John WilsonInstrumental Jazz Arranging
A Comprehensive and Practical Guide
by Mike Tomaro and John Wilson
Hal Leonard Corporation

I received this book from my mother-in-law last Christmas.  (It sure beat getting an ugly sweater!) I am working through it gradually, but it may be the hands down winner as the most comprehensive jazz arranging resource on the market today.

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