The TromboFunk Digest: Issue 1

James Brown–deep cuts, irregular phrasing, horn charts

A regular digest of all things funk, horns, & practice.  Here’s what you need to check out this time:

James Brown Deep Cuts

My band (Midnight Sun) recently did a tribute show to The Godfather Himself.  Our setlist ended up being a fat stack of incredible James Brown tunes with a lot of deeper cuts. Thought I'd share!  Put these on while you go about your day. Internalize the backbone of the old school.


James Brown singing during a concert

Atypical Phrase Sizes in James Brown

JB's tunes may seem easy, but they actually have a lot of little gotcha moments.  Never settle for KINDA playing a J.B. tune. Listen to the non-standard phrase sizing in these 2 tunes.  Not everything funky comes in 4 bar packages. What are the phrase sizes here?

Example 1 (more overt)

Example 2 (more subtle–but still not 4!)



Charting For Funk Horns

I thought it'd be good to show you all my charting style.  Here is "Say It Loud" for 3 horns! (SPOILER: This gives away the answer to the irregular phrasing question above.)

Notice all the cues that will be helpful for live performance and the care in layout for maximizing readability! We don't get rehearsal. Always make a chart that has the information to get you back on track if the band goes off form!

Also notice it is in Bb.  Learn to read Bb. I can't tell you how helpful that has been for me professionally.  It's gotten me gigs. It allows me to easily read/write trumpet/sax parts–and we can all read off the same part!  Helpful hint: Treble clef Bb = tenor clef C (add 2 flats to key signature)



Bryant Smith
Contributing Editor

Add new comment