Warm-up / Skill-building suggestions
Objective: Establish a groove in the rhythm section.
Everyone except drummer tap *heel and clap quarter notes at 160 bpm. Drummer plays on snare drum rim.
*Encourage students to tap their heel as opposed to their toe as more of their body is engaged in time-keeping.
- Bass and guitar add written parts (from mm. 9 -12).
- Horns and piano player say/sing bass and guitar part while maintaining time in heel.
- Add clapping the bass and guitar rhythm if possible.
- Piano add written part (from mm. 9-12)
Keep repeating groove until it feels good.
Bass, guitar and piano vamp written parts (from mm. 9 -12).
- Drummer plays written part which includes repeated two-bar ride cymbal pattern.
- Horn players tap heel and say/sing repeated two-bar pattern in drummer’s ride cymbal part.
- Horns add clapping of ride cymbal pattern if possible.
Keep repeating groove until it feels good.
Objective: Review basic articulations of ^“Daht”, >“Dah”, — “Du”, . “Dit”
Rhythm section continue to vamp (mm. 9-12)
- On a Concert G, have horn players play the following rhythmic examples and articulations that are taken directly from the arrangement:
Objective: Increase students’ technical skill.
- Practice and review the scale/tonal center of Afro Blue, Concert G Minor Scale (Harmonic Form)
Download the rhythm exercises to review or practice.
Rehearsal / Teaching Suggestions
1) mm. 1-4 (Introduction)
- This may or may not be conducted but should include some rubato.
- Think very legato style and *shape musical lines.
*Typically when a musical line ascends the volume increases accordingly, when the line descends, the line decreases accordingly.
- On Fp, the p should be maintained until later in the measure and the start of the crescendo is delayed.
2) mm. 5-12 (Vamp to establish groove)
- The new tempo could be established by the drummer as the horns are sustaining.
- As horns diminuendo, be sure that air support is maintained so that the pitch doesn’t sag.
3) mm. 13-28 (A Section)
- With rhythm section, rehearse saxes, aiming for very legato articulation. It should be tongued, not slurred.
- With rhythm section, rehearse brass background figures. Pay careful attention to articulation markings: Tenuto ( __ ) means long, think “Du.” Marcato (^) means separated, think “daht.”
4) mm. 38-45 (B section or “Bridge”)
- Have brass and bari sax first say/sing their rhythms and articulations. Note the added > articulation, think “Dah”, emphasizing the front of the note. Add the rhythm section and play it together.
- With rhythm section have alto and tenor saxes shape their legato lines and start notated crescendo soft to get more of the overall effect of crescendo.
5) mm. 46-53 (Abbreviated A section)
- Saxes recap the latter half of the melody from the A section, again legato style.
6) mm. 54-61 (Interlude leading to solo section)
- Keep articulations smooth, and balance crescendo into solo section.
- Think energy on long notes to create forward motion.
7) mm. 62-77 (Solo Section)
- Every student’s part has a notated Concert G Minor Pentatonic Scale that they may use for improvising. Encourage them to make their own melodies using any of these notes in any order.
- On background figures, aim for balance in harmonized parts within sections and between sections. Play and sustain various chords; encourage students to listen and adjust.
8) mm. 78-85 (A Section melody modified)
- Fragments of the A section melody builds to the ‘shout chorus.’ Aim for even and balanced crescendos, ensuring that lines with motion can be easily heard. Encourage students to listen.
- Ensure that the drummer sets up the transition to the ‘shout chorus.’
9) mm. 86-93 (Shout Chorus on A Section melody)
- All horns have harmonized version of the A section melody. Sound should be full across the band and with lots of energy.
10) mm. 94-101 (abbreviated A Section melody)
- Saxes should maintain volume and intensity of the shout chorus while brass add background figures.
11) mm. 102-fine (Outro)
- Keep ensemble volume big and intense. On Fp, aim for quiet intensity and save crescendo for the last four measures.
- Last note, think “daht.”
Additional Musical Considerations
- Afro Blue is an example of Afro-Cuban style, a fusion between Cuban, clave-based rhythms and Jazz harmony. Eighth notes should be performed straight.
- Melodies from the A and B sections employ a “Call and Response” pattern.
- Form of Afro Blue is a 16 measure minor blues.
- Composer Mongo Santamaria was born in Havana, Cuba in 1917.
- Afro-Cuban style emerged in NYC in the 1940s. Pioneers include Mario Bauza, Frank Grillo Machito, Dizzy Gillespie and Chano Pozo.
Mongo Santamaria / Arr. Michael Sweeney
Afro Blue — Mongo Santamaria
Afro Blue — Mongo Santamaria with Dizzy Gillespie
Afro Blue — John Coltrane