Big Band Writing - "Rainsilk"

Big Band Jazz

Creative Vision for the Track:

  • My second assignment as a private student of Frank Mantooth back in the early 90s. Frank liked the first thing I brought in but thought it was a bit “vanilla”.
  • Used the instrumentation of my big band so we could use it in live performance.
  • Up tempo, Latin feel.
  • Woodwind doubles (flutes, clarinets) in the sax section.
  • Solo space for trumpet and an improvised conversational duet with Trombone 1 (me) and Trombone 2.

Composition Details (Tempo, Key, Main Chords etc):

  • Focused attempt at line writing

  • Used both sectional and cross-sectional writing (integrating woodwinds within brass, etc. at Frank’s suggestion)

  • Use of embellished guide-tone lines behind the soloists with concerted kicks and rhythms to launch them into the next section of the form

  • Trombone conversation breaks up the A section for variation. The ensemble plays the first few bars followed by the first soloist. On the repeat the ensemble plays the first few bars followed by the second soloist.

  • Voicings were inspired by Frank’s teaching (e.g. his “Miracle Voicings”, voicings in fourths, upper structure triads).

This recording is of my big band on our first studio release (1997) called “Good Intentions”.

Main Instruments used:
5 saxes / woodwind doubles, 5 trumpets, 5 trombones (3 tenor trombones, 2 bass trombones), piano, bass, guitar, drum set


Rainsilk – Stan Bann


Love this. Very my kind of thing. There’s quite a few extra genres sneakily hidden in this, very cleaver. I especially love the solo esque trumpet sections that are almost a mix of Louis Armstrong and Miles Davies! So cool!

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Thanks for the kind words! Glad you enjoyed “Rainsilk”!

About ten years after this first came out I heard it on the radio … and for a minute I forgot it was mine. It came on and I’m going “Man, I know this chart!” The joys of aging …

Take care, Geoffrey! Stay well!


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Aha that’s one heck of an amazing memory to have. You’ve instilled a hope in my heart. Perhaps this will happen to me one day.

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I love it Stan. Brass always huge but, …what a Bass !!! :clap: :clap: :clap:

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Thanks, Vincente! Glad you enjoyed it!

I’ve had issues finding bass subs in both the Stan Bann Big Band (SB3) and Stan Bann’s Big Bone Band (SB4) because there are a lot of written lines. I tend to write out everything behind the ensemble and give the bass player changes behind the improvised solos. I can find players who are amazing with just the chord changes but have problems with written lines. That said, I’ve been fortunate to find ones (Bart Bakken in this case) who can do both very, very well.

Henry Mancini has a line in his “Sounds and Scores” book where he says to know how well the writer knows his harmonies listen to the bass parts. I’ve taken that as a life long challenge!

The reason I write the lines behind the ensemble sections is to lock everything together when I syncopate the horn voicings. In “Rainsilk” there are a lot of hits on the and of three followed by the anticipation of the next measure’s harmony on the and of count four. I will often use a different approach chord on the and of three and want to make sure everything aligns.

Again, thanks for the kind words!


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