Auditions for Jazz Ensembles

PLEASE READ THIS ENTIRE PAGE FOR INFORMATION REGARDING THE 2019-2020 AUDITIONS.

Jazz auditions will occur on Monday August 26, 2019, for three instrumental jazz ensembles (IC Jazz Ensemble, Jazz Repertory Ensemble, and Jazz Lab Band). For fairness sake, jazz auditions will be done "blind," behind a curtain. More information about this process will be distributed to all students through Intercom (music majors will receive information through email). Students with any major, including non-music majors, are encouraged to participate and audition for placement in the jazz ensembles.

Students who want to play in the non-audition based Campus Jazz Band should contact ensemble director Bill Tiberio at: wtiberio@ithaca.edu.

Students who play instruments not typically found in a big band/jazz ensemble should contact Mike Titlebaum at mtitlebaum@ithaca.edu to discuss the possibility of playing in an ensemble this year.

Overview of Jazz Auditions

Auditions for jazz ensembles will consist of three parts:

  1. Playing a prepared piece (this year, Mike's original composition "Entirely Less Disparagement")
  2. Improvising (if you improvise, you will play over the chord changes to "Entirely Less Disparagement")
  3. A short sight-reading bit

Additional notes:

Placement into the jazz ensembles is based on multiple criteria, including:

  • Basic musical elements (tone, intonation, dynamics, instrumental control)
  • Jazz style (articulation, use of vibrato, accents, and phrasing)
  • Swinging time feel and rhythm
  • Improvisation, for placement into the Jazz Ensemble and in solo chairs in the other groups. Section players are not required to have previously improvised before, however players in all jazz groups will learn to improvise solos.
  • Woodwind doubling for reed players (if they play any doubles)
  • Section lead playing for players who wish to play lead

Part I: What to Practice for the Prepared Portion

Please prepare the tune "Entirely Less Disparagement." PDFs of the sheet music for each instrument and play-along recordings can be downloaded from Mr. Titlebaum's Dropbox page:

Download the proper PDF(s) and play-along MP3 for your instrument(s). Please note that the play-along recording gives you 2 bars of countoff and click before the song's form begins. Practice the melody to "Entirely Less Disparagement" with as much style, articulation, and good time feel as possible. You may notice that the chord progression bears a striking resemblance to the jazz standard "Embraceable You," so you are encouraged to seek out & study the many recordings of "Embraceable You" you can find. Feel free to use Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube or other streaming services in your research, but focus on good performances.

At the audition, you will play with the play-along recording, so practice along with it to get comfortable.

NOTE TO SAXOPHONISTS: Perform the melody to "Entirely Less Disparagement" for the first chorus, then improvise a solo on the 2nd chorus (if you improvise). Saxophonists are *not* required to play flute or clarinet, but strong flute/clarinet/saxophone doublers are more likely to be seated in the Jazz Ensemble. If you do play flute and/or clarinet, you download the flute/treble clef and clarinet (Bb) PDF parts at the above link, and perform the song on these instruments at the audition, too. When you sign up for auditions, indicate if your preference is to play alto, tenor or bari in a jazz band. Placements are not based on which you choose, but we'll try to accommodate preferences if possible.

NOTE TO TRUMPETERS: Perform the melody to "Entirely Less Disparagement" for the first chorus, then improvise a solo on the 2nd chorus (if you improvise). For the sight-reading portion of the audition, you'll be asked if you want to sight-read for the lead part or section part. The lead sight-reading will have somewhat higher notes, but will *not* be crazy high; lead players should strive to play with style and time feel.

NOTE TO TROMBONISTS: Perform the melody to "Entirely Less Disparagement" for the first chorus, then improvise a solo on the 2nd chorus (if you improvise). For the sight-reading portion of the audition, you'll be asked if you want to sight-read for lead, section, or bass trombone part.

NOTE TO DRUMMERS: At the audition you'll play along with the play-along MP3 called "Entirely Less Disparagement Playalong FOR DRUMMERS," so use this for your practice. There is no specific PDF for drummers; just download the melody so you can play along and catch the kicks in the melody. For the 2nd chorus, trade 4s with the track. The track has clicks where you should solo. Please bring sticks, brushes, and mallets for vibes if you also play them. If you play vibes, download the MP3 track for guitarists, then play the melody to "Entirely Less Disparagement" in the 1st chorus, improvise your own solo in the 2nd chorus, and comp in the third chorus. You will also sight-read some selections (on drums, and vibes if you play vibes). You will be asked to play a few other grooves -- perhaps things like a "walking" ballad time feel with brushes (at quarter note=80) and a Samba.

NOTE TO BASSISTS: Download the play-along called "Entirely Less Disparagement Playalong FOR BASSISTS." At the audition, play the melody to "Entirely Less Disparagement" in the 1st chorus, walk a bassline for the 2nd chorus, and then if you improvise, improvise your own solo in the third chorus.

NOTE TO PIANISTS: Download the play-along called "Entirely Less Disparagement Playalong FOR PIANO GUITAR AND VIBES." At the audition, play the melody to "Entirely Less Disparagement" in the 1st chorus, comp chords in the 2nd chorus, and then if you improvise, improvise your own solo in the third chorus.

NOTE TO GUITARISTS: Download the play-along called "Entirely Less Disparagement Playalong FOR PIANO GUITAR AND VIBES." At the audition, play the melody to "Entirely Less Disparagement" in the 1st chorus, comp and/or play "Freddie Green" style chords in the 2nd chorus, and then if you improvise, improvise your own solo in the third chorus.

Part 2: What to Prepare for the Improvisation Section

If you improvise, you will play on the chord changes to "Entirely Less Disparagement" with the play-along MP3. The changes are included in the same PDF lead sheets as above.

To begin your study of the tune, listen to the "real" recordings of the jazz standard "No Greater Love" (the original song that “Disparagement” is based on). Pick your favorite ones, and transcribe and analyze your favorite solos to identify what the great improvisers are doing with the chord changes.

Practice arpeggios on all the chords. It is valuable to practice them in quarter notes (or eights notes when the chords are only two beats long), using the patterns like 1357, 7531, and 3517. Seek out the guide tones (common chord tones) that connect from one chord to the next, and work on how they could form a simple underlying melody. Then, you can embellish that simple underlying melody to form a more ornate improvisation.

Another recommendation: Write out (perhaps the term is "compose") a solo that sounds improvised, so you can get the feel of of what your own "best" improvised solo would sound like. Perhaps think of it this way: If you are not able to compose a melodic solo, you can't reasonably expect yourself to be able to compose one spontaneously, in tempo (which is what improvising is).

When working on improvising, it is helpful to do it in multiple ways: by yourself, with a metronome, with the play-along recordings, along with the "real" recordings, and jamming with other players/friends/colleagues. Record yourself playing, and then listen to yourself playing on the recording. Do you like it? Are you playing with good time feel and good style? Do your lines fit with the harmonies?

Part 3: Sight Reading

Auditioners will be asked to play a sight-reading excerpt. Don't worry about it; it'll be fun.

How to Get Started for the Audition

All ensemble sign-ups (including jazz ensembles and all other School of Music Ensembles) and scheduling are being handled through a two-part web signup process from the SoM ensembles page:

NOTES: After you complete the initial informational portion of the sign-up, you will sign up for your time slot(s). If you are either a jazz studies major or a non-music major who is ONLY AUDITIONING FOR JAZZ ENSEMBLES, you should go straight to the "Jazz Ensemble" scheduling tab to book your time. If you are another music major who is auditioning for jazz ensembles in addition to your other requirements, you should sign up for BOTH a slot for your instrument AND A SECOND TIME SLOT FOR A JAZZ ENSEMBLE AUDITION. If you only take a classical audition and do not sign up for a jazz ensemble time slot separately, you will not have auditioned for jazz ensembles.

Questions?

If you have any questions about auditioning for IC jazz ensembles, please do not hesitate to contact Mike Titlebaum at mtitlebaum@ithaca.edu.

NOTE FOR INDIVIDUALS WITH DISABILITIES

Individuals with disabilities requiring accommodations should contact jazz director Mike Titlebaum at mtitlebaum@ithaca.edu. We ask that requests for accommodations be made as soon as possible.