4 Horn Combo Analysis: East of the Sun

I recently completed a 4 horn chart on the standard East of the Sun, and I think it came out pretty good.   After doing about 50-60 charts like this for my private combo club, I feel like I’ve got a good handle on how to treat 4 horns to make them sound full, and to make the parts interesting for the players as well.

One thing that I do alot more of now is write out piano parts and bass parts.  I think this is a good thing, not only because it helps younger players learn, but also it helps to control what these players are playing to help line up better with what is going on in the horn parts.

I thought this lesson would cover the whole chart, but I only got through the “head” in the first 20 minutes.  The stuff I cover though applies to much of the rest of the chart, and I think you’ll get a good idea of some of the techniques I used within the first 45 measures or so.

Download the score below (concert pitch) to study offline.   I play the chart through Finale in the video.  Let me know if you have any specific questions on this.

If you have a combo and would like access to ALOT of combo charts for 3 and 4 horns, email me here and I can give you more details on my private club.

NOTE: To view in full screen mode, click on the lower right hand corner of the video.

Download PDF score here

20 Replies to “4 Horn Combo Analysis: East of the Sun”

  1. Martin Townshend

    Your comments on movement within a chords were very useful. Keeping inner parts melodic makes it more rewarding for players who wonder why they never get to play the melody!

  2. Jim Martin

    Martin: Yes, there is nothing worse than playing a part that is completely boring and you know was written without any regard for making the part interesting to play. Temporarily hanging the quality of the chord using inner voice movement works great, sounds good, and generally will not mess with what the bass player is playing so there no clashes will result.

  3. John Sangster

    Hi Jim,
    Apologies if I’m missing a musical rule, but why is some of the Tenor part for East of the Sun written below the capability of the horn?
    Thanks for any enlightenment.

  4. David Cannaday

    Jim, Good Chart! My Band played it the other night and the guys loved it. The moving parts are a big hit, it keeps it from being boring and stale sounding. I did a Big Band Vocal chart on this tune for a wedding a mounth or so ago it is a wonderful song. Thanks again, for the good tips. The half step #11 is a good touch.David

  5. Jim Martin

    John: I always get asked to post things in concert pitch for easier analysis so just check the key sig of all the instruments before looking at anything.

  6. Murray Swain

    Thanks, Jim, for a session that opens up doors for me. I have often wondered why and when you incorporate #11s and b9s and #9s etc. Your comments gave me contexts to look for.


  7. Martin Nickless

    Jim hi thanks for a great lesson
    May I go slightly off track and ask if at some time you might post a lesson on some of the tricky areas in the music notstion software
    I use finale 2012
    And having problems inputting drum parts ie rhythmic cues
    Smaller note heads
    Deleting a few beats of slash notation
    Thanks again

  8. Howard Wrightson

    Jim, I know you did this over a year ago but here’s my late comment. Your combo charts are great! Haven’t had the opertunity to work on small charts but your arranging tips still apply. I like how you write more piano out. Really works great with the horns.
    Are you working on any new stuff for us to learn from or buy?


  9. Don Phillips

    Just great Jim!!! Such a treat to see and hear beautifully correct chordal tensions throughout a great standard and one of my personal favorites of Sinatra that I have sung with several big bands. I actually had commissioned Syd Potter to do the arrangement exactly like Frank does it and it came out spot on perfect and the Ruth Elliot Big Band never sounded better. I sang and played 1st tenor with her for several years. Your arrangement is just as exciting and would love a copy with out the melody for use in my singing. Thanks so much from a big fan. Don

  10. Hernan Biancardi

    Hi Jim, can you explain to me how did you think the voicings on m.6?
    Thank you very much for all this info !!

  11. Hernan Biancardi

    Also, can you please explain how did you think the voicing of that D (lead note) on m.15 ?
    Thank you very much Jim !

  12. Jim Martin

    Hernan, the m. 6 voicings is simply F13 b9 moving to Bb6/9, and in m. 15, I did chromatic planing up from Dmi7 to Ebmi7. It moves very fast and works quite well for moving up a half step for all voices.

  13. Hernan Biancardi

    Hi Jim, thank you very much for your reply.

    My confusion in m. 6 was on the 1st voicing because I didn’t see any A (third of the F13) maybe you thougth that one as Fsus?

    Sorry about m.15 I didn’t see the alterations on the beginning of the measure of Db and Gb on the tenor and trombone

    Thanks again !

  14. Jim Martin

    Hernan, yes, m. 6 beat 1-2 is F13sus. I should have marked that in the score. My mistake! The resolution comes on the 3rd beat along with the flat nine for some inner voice movement.

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