I hope that everyone is in good health and enjoyed the holiday season!
In December I made a trip to Rochester, NY to hear the Eastman Jazz Ensemble play my arrangement of Jelly Roll Morton’s Kansas City Stomp. I wrote the arrangement while I was a senior at the Eastman School of Music and revised it throughout last summer. The band sounded fantastic not just on my chart, but throughout the whole program, and I even got a great recording of the performance! (see below)
I was inspired to arrange an early jazz piece like Kansas City Stomp after listening to Gil Evans’ album New Bottle Old Wine which features the great alto saxophonist Julian Cannonball Adderley. Evans brings a modern touch to several older jazz standards while still maintaining their essence and reaffirming their timeless quality. Some examples are his arrangements of W.C. Handy’s St. Louis Blues, King Porter Stomp (another classic by Morton), and Bix Beiderbecke’s Davenport Blues.
Kansas City Stomp was written by Jelly Roll Morton around 1905. In his Library of Congress interviews with Alan Lomax, Morton explains that it was inspired by a saloon called the Kansas City Bar. It may be interesting for the listener to hear the original recordings of Kansas City Stomp since that was much material I drew from. You can hear Jelly Roll Morton and his Red Hot Peppers playing it in this YouTube clip. I incorporated many of the melodies and phrasing of this recording and Morton’s solo piano recording in my arrangement, and orchestrated these for the different sections of the big band. For instance, I often gave the tuba part to the bass, bass trombone or bari. sax. I also reharmonized much of the material. The clarinet arpeggio at the end of the original recording for instance was harmonized for all five saxophones. Finally, I also composed my own material based off the original, such as the saxophone backgrounds at 1’59” and the shout chorus at 3’32”.
You can hear my arrangement at www.reubenallenmusic.com.