I discovered jazz in the 1950s by putting my ear to my brother Norm's room as he and my uncle Ben practiced Chet Baker/Gerry Mulligan duets. So when I joined the Neal Buckley Octet a couple years ago, it lit up a part of my musical subconscious that had long been dormant. What I found was that the West Coast, "cool jazz" charts we played sounded even better than I remembered them. So when someone said I should put out "The Real 'Cool' Book" this project just popped into being---first as a conception and now as a reality. My heartfelt thanks goes out to my musical editor/transcriber Larry Dunlap and our music engraver Chuck Gee for dedication to excellence beyond the call of duty. A world-class job!
What we have done is to take 14 of the best octet songs from that era and transcribe them from the recordings so that this happy, swinging version of jazz could be played by any college-level, or even good high school ensemble. There are separate books for each player, all in one big binder. And on our website there will soon be transposed versions of each of the horn parts so that groups with different instrumentation can still play these songs.
Jazz used to be "the music of the people." Without cowtowing to blatant commercialism, I feel that this book can bring back some of that connection with audiences that jazz has lost over the years. Why? Because the music is upbeat and unapologetically tonal, with great melodies, wonderful counterpoint writing and arranging, and a swinging forward motion that won't quit. And the sheer beauty of five horns blending with other is unbeatable, in my experience.
My hope is that schools, jazz camps and just groups of jazz players will find "The Real 'Cool' Book" to be as advertised, "The most fun you can have for $11 apiece!" - Chuck Sher