The Year of the Big Band
Thanks to a semester of study leave from my job at the Queensland Con, I have been launched into the exciting world of big band arranging. Multi-instrumentalist Diana Tolmie got me pointed in the right direction by requesting an extended work for large jazz ensemble with herself as soloist (on any one of the many instruments on which she is more than proficient). This project got me updating my listening (Maria Schneider, Jens Winther, Vince Mendoza, Bob Brookmeyer, Mothership Jazz Orchestra, Carla Bley Big Band, etc etc) and thinking about the many sonic possibilities of a 18 piece band. The suite I wrote for Di, Flora australiae, has been performed in Brisbane by EMO Jazz Orchestra (at the Brisbane International Jazz Festival), Qld Con Con Artists and QYO Big Band, and also in Melbourne by the High Street Screamers at the Melbourne International Saxophone Festival. I also orchestrated one movement for saxophone orchestra, and Di performed it in Zagreb, Croatia at the World Saxophone Congress in July.
This got me all excited about writing for big band, and I have been arranging the material from my previous CDs Flame Tree and Portrait. I'm most of the way there, and Brisbane Contemporary Jazz Orchestra will be gradually including them in the repertoire presented at upcoming shows. Diana Tolmie will be joining BCJO in December to premiere one of them (Bolero for Wendy), as well as another composition which has not been recorded. Yes, writing for big band is a lot of work! But like anything, you get faster and more efficient the more you do it. And I find it just SO exciting and rewarding to hear the charts come to life! Worth every ouce of effort!