April 17, 2008

In a bit of a Jazz mood today

One of the songs I most enjoyed playing during my short time in the junior high jazz band was Birdland (named after the jazz club Birdland, which was itself named after a jazz musician nicknamed "Bird"). It was one of the first songs we played that gave us a chance to improv solos, and when we finally had it down, it was probably one of the fastest tunes I've ever played.

(Somewhere just north of 180 bpm when we were really pushing it. We never performed at that tempo. We just did it to see if we could. It was ridiculous amounts of fun at that speed. The director would have to break in to cut-time so he didn't look like he was trying to take off.)

It's a song I haven't heard in a while, and being jazz, there are about N+1 arrangements and variations out there. This is the cleanest recording I found so far.


The other song that was always a lot of fun was Malaguena. It's also another song with N+1 arrangements and variations (because in addition to being a jazz band favorite, it's also really big with marching bands)

Here's an indoor performance of the song from Blast! (a show everyone owes it to themselves to see)

Posted in Random Debris by: Will at 09:06 AM | Comments (9) | Add Comment
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1 Have you ever heard the Weather Report version of Birdland?

I don't know where to find it, but check it out if you get a chance.

Posted by: bmac at April 18, 2008 09:14 AM (oRVu1)

2 That's the original, and it's on the album "Heavy Weather", and I'm quite sure he's heard it.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at April 18, 2008 09:33 AM (+rSRq)


Yep, I'm familiar with it. When we were first handed the music, the director played a recording by Manhattan Transfer to give us a feel for what we were up against. (And then they went and did a recording together)

Over time I've grown more fond of the brassy versions than anything else.

Posted by: Will at April 18, 2008 02:15 PM (WnBa/)

4 The Wikipedia article says that Buddy Rich did a version of it. I bet that was awesome. Presumably that would be more like what you guys did.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at April 18, 2008 03:28 PM (+rSRq)

5 Well, only three Buddy Rich recordings came up in a quick youtube search. I can't say the audio quality in any of them is particularly good. This is the best sounding of the three. It is a lot closer to the version we played, but it was only junior high, so we were playing a simplified arrangement.

Posted by: Will at April 18, 2008 09:39 PM (ZhN+Z)

6 Obviously you guys weren't going to be playing at his level.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at April 18, 2008 09:56 PM (+rSRq)

7 I have a HQ avi of "Battery Battle" from Blast here at Pond Central; the Phantom Regiment is from Duckford, and has their Tryout Camp at Duck U., so I've gotta be a drum & bugle corps fan.

There's something about walking out of the Duck U. Bookstore and having the Regiment's drumline slamming away ten feet from your car that puts a zip in your step after a long day at work...

Posted by: Wonderduck at April 18, 2008 10:01 PM (AW3EJ)


Little late to respond on this one, but I just remembered something. On the soccer fields adjacent to where we play our city-league softball games, occasionally a local drum corp rehearses in the afternoons. I think it's The Academy, but a buddy's girlfriend was rehearsing with their color guard, and I'm pretty sure she's older than the DCI limit of 22. I can't think of who else it would be.

Posted by: Will at April 23, 2008 05:05 PM (WnBa/)

9 That video is the pinnacle of marching band nerdom.

No offense or anything, but really, it's hilarious for that very reason.

Nevertheless that was a really tight song. And then there's birdland being another one of "those" songs we all have to hear. But anyway it's good to find another eclectic blogger who's into anime and jazz.

Posted by: lelangir at May 10, 2008 07:04 PM (iZmZ/)

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