At this Ellington Study, we look at Duke Ellington’s “Such Sweet Thunder” as a great example of the use of riffs, space, harmony, layering, groove, and economical jazz writing.
It begins with a detailed study of large ensemble voicing, the way it’s traditionally taught in the textbooks…using as reference excerpts from Ray Wright’s “Inside the Score” and Don Sebesky’s “Contemporary Arranger.” We discuss the different ways to stack and meld big band horns, particularly in the antiphonal style of Sammy Nestico, and we begin the melded cross-doubled style of Thad Jones. This is a great way to get us off the computer, away from the MIDI/sample grind, and address true, clear, powerful and articulate jazz orchestration.
About Scott Healy
Composer Scott Healy leads the The Ellington Study Group in Los Angeles, a hands-on study of scores and recordings of large ensemble jazz music as well as music theory and orchestration techniques. The material is advanced, and is geared toward professional classical and jazz composers, film composers, arrangers, and instrumentalists who want to increase their understanding and appreciation of large ensemble jazz writing. The discussion ranges from the minutia of voicing and harmony, to broader topics like form, pacing, transparent orchestration, compositional intent, and improvisation. Previous classes have included works by Duke Ellington from the 1930’s, Ellington/Strayhorn from the 1950’s, and works by jazz composers, arrangers, and band leaders Gil Evans and Miles Davis, Bennie Moten, Fletcher Henderson, Sammy Nestico, Thad Jones, and Sun Ra. Visit Scott’s website: bluedogmusic.com