Arranging for Young Jazz Bands: Getting Started

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Finding suitable arrangements for your opening oregon young jazz ensemble tin beryllium tough, and galore directors crook to penning their ain arrangements. To assistance get you started, we’ve turned to Roy Phillippe, an adept arranger of jazz classics for young bands.


If the euphony is caller oregon unfamiliar to me, I survey the melody and harmony until I’m comfy with it. I see benignant (swing, rock, latin, a ballad, etc.) and key. I’ve recovered that Bb, Eb and F are the astir communal keys astatine this level – it whitethorn request to beryllium changed from the original.

When these basal considerations are set, I physique a framework. For example: 8 barroom bushed conception intro, sax melody with brass hits. On repetition trumpets articulation melody with trombone countermelody, followed by unfastened solo section, and truthful on.


I statesman by sketching for an ensemble of 2 alto saxes, 1 tenor sax, 2 trumpets, 1 trombone, piano/keyboard, bass, guitar and drums.

If desired for a peculiar arrangement, I past capable retired chords with non-essential harmony notes connected optional parts similar 2nd tenor sax, baritone sax, 3rd trumpet and 2nd and 3rd trombone.

For young groups, I constitute a suggested solo with chord changes giving the subordinate the enactment of ad-libbing his oregon her ain solo.


Piano/keyboard parts should person chord changes and a written portion which suggests voicings. This applies to bass parts arsenic well.

Guitar parts are mostly written with slash marks with the chord changes indicated supra the staff, but

the guitar is simply a precise versatile instrument. It tin treble the melody successful the saxes, trumpets and trombone. In this lawsuit a melodic guitar  portion is written 1 octave higher than it sounds.

The drum portion should not beryllium excessively analyzable oregon overwritten. Start with indicating the benignant needed and bespeak gaps wherever they tin play a capable oregon solo.


When finished, proofread each parts for errors – this helps destruct a batch of questions during invaluable rehearsal time. A bully arranger/composer has to beryllium a archetypal people editor!

Remember that a bully statement is judged by however bully it sounds, not however hard it is to play!



Mr. Phillippe received his Bachelor of Music grade from Kent State University. He studied composition, arranging and orchestration privately with Phil Rizzo, writer and manager of mentation for the Stan Kendor Jazz Orchestra successful Residence program.

Mr. Phillippe is presently surviving successful Los Angeles (CA), wherever helium has been moving arsenic an arranger for film, television, concerts, recordings and publication. His galore arrangements and compositions, which person been published for instrumental ensembles are performed regularly by pupil and nonrecreational groups passim the world.

Mr. Phillippe is besides the exertion of the movie scoring substance “Case History Of A Film Score: The Thorn Birds” by Henry Mancini.