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Big Band Auditions

Tues & Thurs

Zero Hour (7:10am - 8:00am)

Course Details

Schedule: Big Bands meet Tuesday and Thursday for full ensemble rehearsal. Additional sectional rehearsals will take place as needed. Jazz I Big Band will be directed by Mr. Greg Lewis with assistance from Mr. Needleman. Jazz II is directed by Mr. Needleman. Rehearsals begin in early September.


Attendance: Jazz is a "for credit" class; it is not a club. That said, we are well aware of what time class starts, that it takes place outside the standard school day and occasionally conflicts may arise. Students are expected to communicate conflicts prior to class. Students are expected to be prepared and on time to all rehearsals. A pattern of attendance problems and poor communications may result in removal from ensemble. Class will start at 7:10.


Grading: Students are graded on performance as well as monthly playing assignments.



All Big Band Students need to audition.

Jazz I - acceptance and placement audition required for all chairs. Current Jazz I students must audition each year.

Jazz II -  “open” ensemble. Requires a placement audition for winds and an acceptance audition for Rhythm Section.


HOW TO SCHEDULE YOUR AUDITION:  Auditions are held during Band Camp week.

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Audition Details

Auditions will be made of 4 parts and scored on attached rubric.
  1. Scales
  2. Improvisation
  3. Sight Reading
  4. Prepared Material

1- Scales: Major, Chromatic, Modes and Altered

  • Be prepared to perform several Major Scales from memory (1 or 2 octaves) 
  • Play a Chromatic scale the range of your instrument 
  • (Saxophones start on low Bb, Trumpets low F#, Trombones should start on low E)
  • Dorian & Mixolydian in a few keys, 1 octave

2- Improvisation: Improvise 2 choruses (24 measures) over the concert F Blues.

Background recording is provided below.

Drums will be asked to “trade 4s” with a time feel.   


3- Sight Reading: a short excerpt in a big band jazz style. You’ll be given one minute to look it over before you’re asked to perform.


4- Prepared Material


Basie, Straight Ahead

Gumbo Caliente

Alto Sax

A to 4mm. after E

Pick-ups to m.25 - m.41

Tenor Sax

A to 4mm. after E

m.1 - m.24

Bari Sax

C to F

m.1 - m.24

Trumpet (all parts)

G to End.

m.5 - m.7, m.18 - m.41

Lead tpt only

Pick-ups before E  to F


Trombone (all parts)

H to End

m.1 - m.24

Lead Tbn only

D to F



B to F

m.1 - m.40


Beginning to 3mm. after C

m. 57 to end


Beginning to F

Beginning to m.25


B to F

m.1 to m.40



GUITAR & PIANO VOICINGS: Play the charts as written. You may also be also be asked to improvise voicings and comping pattern.

BASS: will be asked to demonstrate an ability to read the written line as well as “walk” chord changes.

DRUM SET : Your audition will begin with a demonstration of your ability to assembly hi-hat stand and cymbal stand(s). The faster this is completed the more time you’ll have to complete the playing portion of your audition.

Additionally, you’ll need to perform 8-16 bars in these essential styles: Swing (various tempi), 2-feel, Shuffle, Ballad & Up Tempo Brushes, Funk, Rock, Samba, Mambo, 12/8 Afro-Cuban