Middle School Jazz Band: A Walk in the Shade

A Walk in the Shade

For Middle School Jazz Band

By Douglas Detrick, 2014
Solos sections for any brass or saxophone
Medium swing, Two- and Four-beat feel

Score only or score and parts available as PDF files, both include a MIDI rendering

Dedicated to Fred Sturm
Commissioned by Lawrence University for Jazz Weekend 2014

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About the Piece

A Walk In the Shade was inspired by the music of Wayne Horvitz, the Seattle pianist whose straight-forward yet unexpected twists of melody and harmony served as a jumping-off point. His “A Walk in the Dark” in particular was really helpful as I considered ways to write a piece that would be playable for middle school jazz students but also memorable, engaging, and a little bit different than the usual repertoire for young musicians.

Originally, the title for this piece was simply a “riff” on the title of Horvitz’s piece, but it soon became meaningful in a more personal way. The piece was commissioned by Fred Sturm for Lawrence University’s Jazz Weekend 2014, but sadly, Fred passed away just before I finished writing it.

I was a student of Fred’s from 2002 to 2006, and a lot of what he taught me during that time is encapsulated in this piece. I’ll never forget Fred’s humor, generosity, and kindness as a human being, and his brilliance as an educator and composer. With all that in mind, I was deeply honored that he asked me write this piece. Wherever he is now, I hope he’s enjoying a nice walk in the shade. He deserves that and much more.

Notes to the Director

A Walk in the Shade is built on a bubbling foundation of alternating half notes in the bass, piano, and guitar. The melody sticks closely to steady yet unevenly placed quarter notes, with some eighth note syncopations to liven up the B and C sections of the tune. This is a great opportunity for students to get more comfortable with alternating between a two- and four-beat swing feel. With the repetition of the bass line and the melody, dynamics and articulation become very important as a way to add character to the written parts.

The improvised sections were designed with some flexibility in mind. Each section could feature any single player, group of players, or entire section of either the brass or woodwind sections. Each section could be repeated more than just twice, and background figures can be cued to happen only on certain repetitions. Have fun by experimenting with adding or removing players in all sections before returning to the written piece.

The accompaniment of the brass section improvisation is the furthest departure in the piece from the “thump thump thump” of the original swing feel. Like certain pieces by Duke Ellington, the section opens up a window on a new event in the story of the piece that is a bit unexpected, but it should still swing and retain the buoyant rhythmic feeling of earlier parts of the piece before returning to the four-beat swing of the shout chorus.

About the Composer

Douglas Detrick is a Portland, Oregon-based composer, trumpet player, and arts consultant whose work in these diverse areas is distinguished by its quiet thoughtfulness and its embrace of good ideas from unconventional sources. He was awarded the 2011 Chamber Music America New Jazz Works and Presenting Jazz grants for his work with his chamber-jazz quintet Douglas Detrick’s AnyWhen Ensemble, and the commissioned work “The Bright and Rushing World” was premiered at New York’s Jazz Gallery in 2012 and performed throughout the United States. He is currently the Executive Director of the Portland Jazz Composers Ensemble, and performs in Oregon as well as touring nationally. He holds a Bachelor’s of Music degree from Lawrence University and a Master’s in Music degree from the University of Oregon.

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