"Blues Horn Ensemble Playing" is the result of the combined efforts of Andrew D. Gordon & Frank Villafranca to present the material in a way in which beginning and intermediate horn players can gain an understanding of blues ensemble playing quickly and easily.
The twenty examples recorded on the CD provide a dual purpose. They take you through a variety of musical styles including, swing blues, slow blues, funky blues, jazz blues, latin blues, minor blues, mostly based on the standard 12 bar blues chord progression and include four choruses each. The first two choruses are recorded with the horns and rhythm section consisting of keyboards, guitar, bass and drums and the last two choruses are rhythm section only. On the last two choruses you may want to play the riffs again or practice playing your own melodic blues solos.
These examples will help you build a repertoire of riffs you can use in a live situation. Hopefully, they will also provide inspiration to help you come up with your own ideas.
While writing the horn riffs for this book, Andrew and Frank started with simple and sometimes recognizable melodies to help students understand the concept of developing riffs, (motifs, repeated ideas or variations of) that work well as background accompaniment when playing with a singer or solo instrumentalist. The most basic idea is to write a riff that accents or compliments the melody of the soloist. Adding riffs in between melodic phrases is a good way to start, while writing something that supports the melody rhythmically is another good idea. The primary idea is not to cover up or interfere with the melody or vocalist.
The melody is the lead and all riff writing of this fashion is thought of as "accompaniment".
Review of the book by International Assn. of Jazz Educators
Blues Horn Ensemble Playing for Beginners is an instant combo/improvisation experience for Bb and Eb instruments. Parts are provided for beginning and intermediate horn players to gain an understanding of blues sectional playing. Parts are well marked with all of the nuances for phrasing and dynamics. Difficulty level is mainly high school level with some charts at the middle school level. The play-along CD includes twenty examples and provides a dual purpose. First, the examples take you through a variety of exciting musical styles including: swing blues, slow blues, funky blues, jazz blues, Latin blues and minor blues. These charts are based on four choruses each in the standard 12 bar blues chord progression. The first two choruses are recorded with the horns and rhythm section consisting of keyboards, guitar, bass and rums.
The last two choruses are rhythm section only. It is your choice on the last two choruses to either play the ensemble part or to solo on the tunes riffs and chord changes. There are pages with basic information on blues chord scales and ways to use them while soloing. There are even concert scores showing you the analysis of the harmonies used in the charts. I recommend that one practice soloing on some of the exciting riffs built into the 20 charts. Note: the publisher has the play-along recording also available in a MIDI file format on a floppy diskette. Charts are very catchy and will motivate students to play them.