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Instrument Combinations for Jazz Orchestration

In the composition "I Am That I Am", composed for the 22" instrument Afrikan Arkestra, I had the opportunity to experiment with a method I picked up from one of David Baker's books "Arranging and Composing". On page 12 of his book, he listed examples of brass and woodwind combinations. Depending on how you stacked the instruments, these various instrument combinations could make the group of instruments sound like either a brass or woodwind section.

I chose to experiment with this In my work. I used a 4 bar section before the soloist comes around for another chorus as an opportunity to voice trumpet, alto, tenor, trombone and baritone sax so that it sounds like a brass section. The purpose was to give soloist a sign post for the form because the chords are very modal sounding and to see what this type of orchestration sounds like. Placing the orchestration of the 5 instruments here would help the soloist know where they were within the form of the solo section.

The solo section is in G Minor and has a 24 bar form. The progressions are as follows: G-6/9 (8bars) Eb Major 7#11 (4bars) C-9 (8bars) and Fsusb9 (4bars). The last four bars serve as a variation of D7 #5 #9. The Harmony for the 5 voices is developed from D HW Diminished and Bb Harmonic Major scales. The instrument combination is voiced:

* Alto

* Trombone

* Tenor

* Baritone

Take a listen to I AM THAT I AM at 7 min 55 sec. into the work to hear the orchestrations sound like a brass section.

I AM THAT I AM was Commissioned by New Music USA. The work was orchestrated for Jazz Orchestra with Two Double Basses, African Percussion and Griot. Narration is by Sekou Shabaka.

I AM THAT I AM was composed to honor enslaved Africans Buried at the African Burial Grounds in Richmond Virginia. Performance time is about 18 minutes depending on solos.

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