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The Best Of Belwin Jazz – Young Jazz Collection for Jazz Ensemble

Music Reviews for
by Vince Corozine
Published by Alfred Music (copyright) 2008
Reviewed by Vince Corozine

The Best of Belwin Jazz is a collection of twelve ensemble arrangements for young players. Each chart is written I a variety of styles and tempos: swing, ballad, Christmas, rock, Latin, and pop by experienced educational jazz arrangers and composers.

This collection is written for full instrumentation-five saxes, four trumpets, four trombones and four rhythms. However, if your instrumentation varies, all the charts will sound full with a reduced instrumentation of four saxes, three trumpets, two trombones, and three rhythms. Additional optional parts are available for flute, clarinet, horn in F, baritone horn T.C./tenor sax and tuba.

The rhythm section parts offer suggestions for rhythms, piano chord voicings, and guitar chord frames. All solos are written in improvised sections. The conductor’s book includes full-length CD recordings of all titles.

The titles include: “Big Band Holiday,” “Cantaloupe Island,” “Count Bubba’s Revenge,” “Drummin’ Man,” “Grooved Pavement,” “Moondance,” “My Funny Valentine,” “Now What,” “Sambeando,” “Sing, Sing, Sing,” “Stompin’ at the Savoy,” and “Swingin’ Shanty.”

The seven swing songs are among the twelve contained in this collection, along with two rock, a jazz shuffle, a samba and one ballad that changes into a Bossa Nova mid-way into the tune. The addition of a jazz waltz would add to the variety of music. Perhaps “Bluesette” “Baubles, Bangles and Beads” or “Some Day My Prince Will Come” would work well in this collection.

The “Big Band Holiday” is a medley of five secular Christmas songs.

The parts are clearly printed and the articulations are carefully marked.

“Drummin’ Man” a 1940’s –style arrangement has one dynamic throughout the entire song…forte. This arrangement could benefit from a few crescendos leading up to climaxes.

The instrument ranges are, for the most part, comfortable for young players. The lead trumpet is asked to ascend to an Ab above the staff.

“Unisons” or “divisi” are indicated in some of the songs, but not in all of them. The terms NV (no vibrato) and “divisi” would be of benefit in a ballad like “My Funny Valentine.”

The lead alto saxophone is written to Eb above the staff, while the lead trombone part extends to F above the bass clef. Piano chords are written (comping style) with chord symbols above. All songs have the tempo and style indicated at the beginning of the chart.

This twelve-song collection is an excellent teaching tool for young jazz enthusiasts.

The conductor’s book with CD is listed at $27.95. While the parts list at $9.95.

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Vince CorozineMusic, Author of “Arranging Music for the Real World” by Mel Bay Publications