Richard DeRosa, who teaches jazz composition and arranging at the University of North Texas, has arranged and conducted music for Wynton Marsalis and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra. Other arrangements have been recorded by the Mel Lewis, Gerry Mulligan, and Glenn Miller big bands, vocalist Susannah McCorkle,
Arranging is where a musician prepares and adapts an already written composition for presentation in other than its original form. An arrangement may include reharmonization, paraphrasing, and/or development of a composition, so that it fully represents the melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic structure. Arranging is the art of giving an existing melody musical variety.
Arrangements for small jazz combos are usually informal, minimal, and uncredited. This was particularly so for combos in the bebop era. In general, the larger the ensemble, the greater the need for a formal arrangement, although the early Count Basie big band was famous for its head arrangements, so called because they were worked out by the players themselves, memorized immediately and never written down. Most arrangements for large ensembles, big bands, in the swing era, were written down, however, and credited to a specific arranger, as were later arrangements for the Count Basie big band by Sammy Nestico and Neal Hefti. Don Redman made significant innovations in the pattern of arrangement in Fletcher Henderson’s orchestra in the 1920s. He introduced the pattern of arranging melodies in the body of arrangements and arranging section performances of the big band. Benny Carter became Fletcher’s main arranger in the early 30’s, moving on become as famous for his arranging expertise as his musicianship. Billy Strayhorn was an arranger of great renown in the Duke Ellington orchestra beginning in 1938.
Jelly Roll Morton is considered the earliest jazz arranger, writing down the parts when he was touring about 1912-1915 so that pick-up bands could play his compositions. Big band arrangements are informally called charts. In the swing era they were usually either arrangements of popular songs or they were entirely new compositions. Duke Ellington’s and Billy Strayhorn’s arrangements for the Duke Ellington big band were usually new compositions, and some of Eddie Sauter’s arrangements for the Benny Goodman band and Artie Shaw’s arrangements for his own band were new compositions as well. It became more common to arrange sketchy jazz combo compositions for big band after the bop era.
After 1950, the big band trend declined in number. However, several bands continued and arrangers provided renowned arrangements. Gil Evans wrote a number of large-ensemble arrangements in the late fifties and early sixties intended for recording sessions only. Other arrangers of note include Vic Schoen, Pete Rugolo, Oliver Nelson, Johnny Richards, Billy May, Thad Jones, Maria Schneider, Bob Brookmeyer, Steve Sample, Sr, Lou Marini, Nelson Riddle, Ralph Burns, Billy Byers, Gordon Jenkins, Ray Conniff, Henry Mancini, Gil Evans, Gordon Goodwin, and Ray Reach.