Do you need one more piece of quality music for your spring concerts? Why not consider something from the Great American Songbook. Let's be sure our singers have exposure to the wonderful catalog of songs heard on stage and screen during the first half of the 20th century. Much of this repertoire has all the accepted characteristics of art music, making it appropriate for inclusion in choral concert performances.
The Great American Songbook is synonymous with the concept of the American "standard." This music was originally composed for Broadway, Hollywood films, or written for a specific famous singer. Composers such as Irving Berlin, George & Ira Gershwin, Jerome Kern, Richard Rodgers & Lorenz Hart, Richard Rodgers & Oscar Hammerstein, II, and Cole Porter have made stunning contributions to this repertoire. The availability of sheet music, the advent of recording technology, and the birth of radio and television brought this music to a wide audience.
Following are several recommended titles that singers and audiences will surely enjoy. Feel free to contact me for ideas on teaching vocal jazz!
For the collegiate, community, or advanced high school choir:
A Gershwin Jazz Trio
George & Ira Gershwin, arranged by Jay Althouse
SATB: 35568, Alfred Music Publishing
Listen to the set here: www.alfred-music.com/player/AlfredChoralDesigns2011/35568/player.html
Three well crafted arrangements perfect as a set or alone.
1. Nice Work If You Can Get It
Happy mood, with an easy swing feel. swing feel. Homophonic. Some group scat content for teaching articulations. Intermittent female solo. Ends softly.
2. Someone To Watch Over Me
Lovely, homophonic texture. Straight eighths, lots of room for rubato. Bridge begins 3-pt women; men enter with nice counter line. Soft ending.
3. I Got Rhythm
A fun rhythmic frolic full of syncopation and lots of downbeat rests. There is a choral pad suitable for possible 4-bar solo w/chorus answer. Bridge is the same both times through. Coda is cute and a guaranteed to make the audience "smile."
For the beginning choir:
The late Steve Zegree has given us many outstanding arrangements. Here is his version of a great stand alone song by Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer. It's included in Hal Leonard's "Discovery Jazz Series."
Ac-cent-tchu-ate the Positive
Harold Arlen & Johnny Mercer, arranged by Steve Zegree
2-pt Treble: 08551688, with piano accompaniment, Hal Leonard Music, Inc.
Listen to the arrangement here:
Great chart for 2 pt. Treble. Positive text message. Rhythmic content includes eighth/quarter rest on downbeats, rests in between syllables of a word, swing feel. Melodic content includes descending minor thirds. Formal content includes 32-bar song form. Expressive content includes swing feel, scat syllables and written jazz inflections.
For women's choir:
Irving Berlin, arranged by Ron Caviani
3-pt Treble: 00140770, with piano accompaniment, Hal Leonard Music, Inc.
Listen to the arrangement here:
This fresh new chart opens with a unison riff. Homophonic texture. Altered melody lines. Some 4-pt divisi at cadence points. Unison scat 2nd time through the form. Sopranos imitate a trumpet played with a plunger mute. Fabulous piano part. Lots of dynamic variety.