Music Education Monday: Developing a theme into a big band arrangement


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This week's Music Education Monday is a sort of case study in big band arranging, presented by pianist Bill Dobbins, professor of jazz studies and contemporary media at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY.

A veteran jazz educator, Dobbins first joined the Eastman faculty in 1973, and played a major role in designing the school's jazz studies program. He currently teaches jazz composing and arranging, gives applied lessons to jazz writing majors, and directs the Eastman Jazz Ensemble and the Eastman Studio Orchestra.

Additionally, and especially relevant given the subject of this post, Dobbins was principal director of the WDR Big Band in Cologne, Germany from 1994 through 2002, working with guest soloists including Clark Terry, David Liebman, Kevin Mahogany, Randy Brecker, Gary Bartz, Kevin Mahogany, Art Farmer, Steve Lacy, Paquito D’Rivera, Mark Feldman, Clare Fischer, Peter Erskine, and more. In 2002, he returned to Eastman, but continues to work as guest director with the WDR Big Band and with the Netherlands Metropole Orchestra.

Presented at the Jazz Education Network's 2015 conference in San Diego, the workshop's official title is “Elegy: the Development of an Original Theme into a Creative Arrangement for Big Band," and, as the name suggests, it's basically a first-person, step-by-step recounting by Dobbins of how he turned his composition “Elegy" into a full-blown arrangement for the WDR Big Band. You can see the workshop via the video in the embedded window below.

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This story appears courtesy of St. Louis Jazz Notes by Dean Minderman.
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