Through-composed jazz pieces are those that are structured and arranged as a continuous piece of music, without the traditional improvisation sections that are typically found in jazz music. While improvisation is a central aspect of jazz, some jazz pieces are designed to be through-composed, featuring little or no soloing. Here are some examples of through-composed jazz pieces that meet these criteria:
- “Take the ‘A’ Train” by Billy Strayhorn: This is a classic jazz tune that is often associated with Duke Ellington’s big band. However, the original version, composed by Strayhorn, is through-composed and features no solos. The song is based on a simple, repetitive melody that is developed and expanded upon throughout the piece.
Source: “Take the ‘A’ Train” by Billy Strayhorn (1941)
- “Mood Indigo” by Duke Ellington: Another classic jazz tune, “Mood Indigo” is a slow, bluesy ballad that features a through-composed arrangement with no solos. The song is built around a simple three-note melody that is harmonized and elaborated upon throughout the piece.
Source: “Mood Indigo” by Duke Ellington (1930)
- “The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady” by Charles Mingus: This is a highly acclaimed jazz suite that is entirely through-composed. The piece features multiple sections that are linked together by recurring motifs and themes. While there are no traditional solos, the music is highly improvisational in nature, with the musicians playing off of each other and responding to the changing moods and textures of the piece.
Source: “The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady” by Charles Mingus (1963)
- “Sketches of Spain” by Miles Davis: This is a collaboration between Davis and composer/arranger Gil Evans that features a through-composed suite of Spanish music. While there are some sections that feature improvisation, the majority of the piece is structured and arranged, with the musicians playing specific parts and following a predetermined form.
Source: “Sketches of Spain” by Miles Davis and Gil Evans (1960)
In conclusion, while improvisation is a central aspect of jazz, there are many through-composed jazz pieces that feature little or no soloing. The examples given above demonstrate the wide range of possibilities that exist within the genre of jazz music. Whether through-composed or improvisational, jazz is a constantly evolving art form that continues to inspire and challenge musicians and audiences alike.