"Monday Date" - TBC Brass Band

“Monday Date” (PDF) from the TBC Brass Band album, To Be Continued.
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Originally from Pittsburgh, pianist Earl Hines became prolific as a songwriter during the 1920s while performing in Chicago, perhaps most famously alongside Louis Armstrong.  This tune, otherwise known as “A Monday Date,” “Our Monday Date,” “Don’t Forget Our Monday Date,” or “Alright, This Is The Last Time I’ll Mention It So Put It In Your Calendar Because I’m Getting Tired Of Feeling Foolish After Being Stood-Up Yet Again, Ya Hear Me, I Can’t Wait.”  It shares a similar form as McHugh and Fields’ “Exactly Like You,” as well as “Darktown Strutters’ Ball” by Shelton Brooks, another song about about anticipation and/or anxiety.

With the help of Dr. Michael White on clarinet, the TBC Brass Band performs its version of the early jazz traditional.  During the solo section, two of the trombonists trade eight-bar phrases (or fours, with a cut-time feel), however when the background horns enter during the bridge, both trombones play over each other as the music becomes more of a collective improvisation that you would hear on the corner of Bourbon and Canal.  This transcription is a hybrid of the two trombones as if it were a solo melody.

Here is a YouTube video of the New Orleans Jazz Vipers performing a more traditional version of the tune.

Recommended viewing: From The Mouthpiece On Back. Dir. Jason DaSilva and Colleen O'Halloran. Perf. To Be Continued Brass Band. Awl Films, 2008. DVD.

"Sweet Georgia Brown" - TBC Brass Band

“Sweet Georgia Brown” (PDF) from the TBC Brass Band album, To Be Continued.
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Brother Bones & His Shadows recorded the music that became the soundtrack for the Harlem Globetrotters pre-game warmup at center court; the round ball cuttin’ ‘n struttin’ through the air in cool stride with the soulful whistle and fingersnaps.  But Brother Bones’ name wasn’t “Brother Fingersnaps,” and his bones weren’t trombones, either.  That infamous rhythmic pulse was the sound of his rattling musical bones (literally).

Here’s another creepy fact: “Sweet Georgia Brown” is believed to be dedicated to the daughter of Georgia State House Representative, Dr. George Thaddeus Brown, who publicly declared on her birthday in 1911 that she would be named in honor of the state.  When the tune was first recorded in 1925, the debutante thus would have only been around 14 in age.

And in the spirit of celebrating young talent, similarly to the honorable tradition of Danny Barker and his brass band boys, I can only assume that “Sweet Georgia Brown” was introduced to Carver Senior High School’s TBC Brass Band through the guidance of Dr. Michael White, who takes a clarinet solo on this version.  Here, the TBC bones play a game of shadow as they trade fours (or eights, in cut-time), often repeating phrases over the modulating dominant harmony.

Here is a YouTube video of TBC performing at the Red Bull Street Kings brass band competition.  Also check out Matt Sakakeeny’s NPR article about the event.

Recommended reading: The Jazz Standards: A Guide to the Repertoire by Ted Gioia.  Published by Oxford University Press.

"TBC Music" - TBC Brass Band

“TBC Music” (PDF) from the TBC Brass Band album, To Be Continued.
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Here, we get two trombone solos for the price of one, however due of the album’s limited release and insufficient metadata on streaming platforms, it is unclear as to which trombonists are featured on this version.  According to trombonist Edward “Juicy” Jackson, the entire album was recorded in one studio session, much like their previous live albums, so we have an idea of the personnel involved (Jackson, Joseph Maize Jr. & Devin Vance) but can’t say with certainty whose playing we are studying.

Both trombone solos make use of some interesting ideas, given the room to explore within two choruses before the background horns enter to support the third chorus.  The first solo relies on arpeggios and the blues scale over the Bb minor riff but then explores the minor melodic ideas over the Eb minor change.  In the second solo, the intent appears to be on a grittier tone and the syncopated punches.  The chord change allows for some brief tension to build and resolve, and then also teases a couple diminished patterns over the Bb minor, as well.  Both trombonists wail in the “gospel shout” range when the backgrounds enter by squeaking out those high D’s and Eb’s.

Here is a YouTube video of TBC getting shut down by the New Orleans Police in 2010.

Recommended viewing: From The Mouthpiece On Back. Dir. Jason DaSilva and Colleen O'Halloran. Perf. To Be Continued Brass Band. Awl Films, 2008. DVD.

"ABungo" - TBC Brass Band

“ABungo” (PDF) from the TBC Brass Band album, To Be Continued
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This transcription was chosen by Patreon supporters.

The origin of “ABungo” is unknown to me, however jazz archivist Jerry Brock’s article “Chula Bungo! The Seminoles in New Orleans” documents the influence of the tribe on Mardi Gras traditions.  The phrase “chula bungo” refers to a dance between two (or more) participants in battle, similarly to Capoeira of Portuguese origin.  Essentially, it is a war dance and I would assume that the “Bungo” was adapted to the parade culture of the Mardi Gras Indians.

Much like other parade tunes, “ABungo” is composed of horn riffs over a driving percussive rhythm.  The warlike cacophony is partly due to the flashiness of the bebop-inspired trumpet lines supported by the active rhythms in the trombones, yet the phrasing leaves plenty of room to be filled with improvisation.  On this recording, trombonists Edward “Juicy” Jackson III, Joseph Maize Jr., and Devin Vance provide an onslaught of low end without ever resorting to an every-man-for-himself battle for the spotlight.  Also note the use of the syncopated, sixteenth-eighth-sixteenth-note rhythm used throughout the solo.

Here is a YouTube video of TBC playing this tune on the corner of Bourbon St. & Canal St.

Recommended reading: The Jazz Archivist: A Newsletter of the William Ransom Hogan Jazz Archive.  Tulane University.  Web.

"War Time" - Hot 8 Brass Band

“War Time” (PDF) from the Hot 8 Brass Band album, The Life & Times Of…
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The parade music of New Orleans is rooted in the war chants of Native Americans, specifically the Mardi Gras Indians, combined with the Afro-Cuban rhythms of Congo Square, and presented in the form of European and American military bands.  Add to that the economic, political, and physical violence inflicted upon the city of New Orleans and its musicians, it is understandable why the music celebrates themes of life and death.  For all the turmoil that the Hot 8 Brass Band has endured throughout its career, the fact that its musicians continue to thrive creatively only proves that they are untouchable.  Don’t mess with the Hot 8.

It is unclear as to who is playing the trombone solo, either Gregory Veals or Corey Payton, but in keeping with the war chant idiom the melodic phrasing of the solo makes use of the call-and-response technique.  Over the minor i-iv chord progression (or a ii-V7 in the key of Bb), he uses four-bar phrases to introduce a statement in the first half and responds with syncopated rhythmic patterns to create tension for the arrival of the next phrase.  As the background horns enter, the trombonist gradually builds up to the high Eb and D and screams out a battle cry amongst the chaos.

Appropriately enough, here is a YouTube video of the Hot 8 Brass Band in the street as they are interrupted by the TBC Brass Band.  Look for my TBC transcriptions in 2018!

Recommended reading: Roll With It: Brass Bands in the Streets of New Orleans by Matt Sakakeeny.  Published by Duke University Press.