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A jazz improv for mixed choir (SATB) a cappella.

I once worked as the music director at a summer conference center called Star Island, off the coast of New Hampshire and Maine. For the fun of it, I would sometimes join the dish crew in washing dishes for the two hundred and fifty conferees. We would sing as we worked. The two "dishies" were both just out of high school and were extraordinary musicians. Peter Skillman could wail on the electric guitar and Lilli Nye was an extremely talented singer, composer and pianist. We came up with a little improvisation originally called "The Dishwashers Rag," now retitled "Ba Ba Doo Da." Peter is now a computer engineer in California and Lilli is a minister in Philadelphia. They are both still making wonderful music.

There are three sections to the piece. The audience can join in singing the opening groove. When the conductior or leader form the chorus gives the signal, the chorus goes into a second section. Because of the improvisational nature of jazz, the leader can then either return to the first section or go on the third section. During the first section, soloists should come forward to scat or create vocal drum grooves (percussion patterns made with the voice). Invite audience memberst to come forward to do solos. If you want, change the key of the piece or sing it fast or sing it slow or sing it slow, then fast to create vocal drum grooves to go in the background or, while the vocal drum grooves are wailing away, have the singing suddenly stop, letting the drum patterns shine out by themselves. Jazz is living music. You keep it alive by keeping it spontaneous. The piece should always end with the third section. The fast run at the end of the third section isn't so much sung, as it sounded-like the sound of fast jazz tom toms.

-Nick Page

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