London Jazz Festival 2012 Part 1

After rejoining Cambridge University Jazz Band after a break after graduation in 2012, I was lucky enough to have them play some new arrangements of mine at the Bull’s Head, Barnes, during the 2012 London Jazz Festival (which only gave us a couple of rehearsals to put together 2 hours of music!).  We managed to get a rough live recording of my arrangement of In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning, which has always been a favourite ballad of mine:


This seemed like a big challenge at first since I didn’t think the usual stock-in-trade technique of heavily harmonising the melody with similar lines would work.  The melody is actually quite square and dull if you play it exactly as written – I think there needs to be quite a bit of rhythmic freedom to bring it out.  So I decided that a good deal of it would be played by a single player – primarily a tenor sax (although I did give myself a short flugel section for the fun of it – then promptly forgot the notes on the gig!), here played by Simon Warder, a talented science student at the University.  To preserve the beauty of the melody, I then kept the harmonic accompaniment mostly very simple, reharmonising it gradually into new forms as it went along.  As I got into the solo section, the progression so strongly suggested Bach to me that I had to go and rip of the G major cello suite!  After that, some thicker textures with different harmony, a climax and we’re done!  Hope you enjoy this – I hope to have the chance to get a recording under better circumstances at some point.

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