Programming Ideas: Vocal Jazz

As part of Programming Week, today I suggest programming vocal jazz works in your concert season.
This is the year.
Perhaps you’ve never programmed a vocal jazz piece. Perhaps it’s just been a few years.
Don’t wait another year. Stop putting it off.
Take one of the following pieces and program it on your fall concert. They are all art music perfectly suitable to program next to Palestrina or Brahms. They are art music.
They will challenge your students’ ears, and expand their musical vocabulary. Postpone the spiritual you’re thinking about, reschedule the sea shanty. Program something from this American art form.
Blue Skies, Arr. Steve Zegree – fun, swinging, and accessible – with a written out scat soli that lets your students see the underlying connections between all genres of music. Consider using it instead of a spiritual to close a set.
Love Walked In, Arr. Steve Zegree – program this where you might put Palestrina’s “Sicut Cervus” or Whitacre’s “Lux Aurumque.”
The Shadow of Your Smile, Arr. Gene Puerling – part of a five-piece “Best of Gene Puerling” collection, all with piano accompaniment and suitable for a quality chamber choir.
Bumblebee, Anders Edenroth – a contemporary jazz/choral piece, a cappella with optional piano accompaniment. As recorded by The Real Group.
In My Life, Arr. Steve Zegree – this hearfelt a cappella ballad is accessible while exposing students to the joys of close harmony singing.
My Romance, Arr. Greg Jasperse – A beautiful reworking of the Rodgers & Hart standard with a contemporary piano groove.
None of these pieces require improvisation and, if not a cappella, contain fully-realized idiomatic piano accompaniment.
If you program one of these six pieces during the 2015-16 school year, feel free to contact me with any questions. I will gladly consult with you on any challenges.
Come back tomorrow for more out-of-the-box programming ideas for your choirs!