Home Cookin' Fer Young 'Uns: A Review

By Peter Madsen • September 26, 2004 • 2 min read

Home Cookin' Fer Young 'Uns'Home Cookin' Fer Young 'Uns: 24 Dixie Jazz Duets by Rich Willey for Bass Clef Instruments. Boptism Music Publishing.

The title of this book, published in 2002, is somewhat misleading. The duets are indeed appropriate for younger players and they are in the jazz style. The "Dixie" trombone aspect is not particularly evident however. According to Rich Willey "Home Cookin'" refers to southern culture, particularly the city of New Orleans, the birthplace of jazz. These duets are also available in Eb and Bb so they may be played with any combination of instruments.

Willey does an excellent job of incorporating idiomatic jazz rhythms in a way that is attainable by "young 'uns." The rhythms, although not extremely complex, represent common syncopations found in standard jazz music that are sure to challenge the young student without being overwhelming in difficulty. The duets could be a lesson assignment for a young high school student, or appropriate sight reading material for advanced high school students or early college students.

The melodic contour, phrasing, and frequent use of chromaticism are also idiomatic to the jazz style. Both parts usually play the same rhythm, often in thirds, which makes them relatively easy to play. Each of the 24 pieces are 32-41 measures long, with 36 bars being the most common length. The tessitura for the top part generally remains between F in the staff and F above the staff, venturing above the F only a few times in the entire book. The bottom part generally lies between low Bb and D above the staff.

Willey has chosen 24 clever titles based on his use of borrowed chord progressions (a la Tom Kubis's well-known big band composition On Purple Porpoise Parkway based on the chord progression from On Green Dolphin Street). A few of the better ones include I Can See Spinach In Your Teeth (based on When You're Smiling), Y'Know, You're Pretty Sorry Already! (based on Someday You'll Be Sorry), and Crater Face (based on Baby Face). The chords are included for each duet.

While these "Home Cookin'" duets are not intended for use on a faculty or collegiate level recital, they are recommended as being especially useful for sight reading practice in the jazz style for advanced high school and early college students.