The Aretha Jazz Project

Hi! I am Will Phillips – a composer, arranger, and trumpeter. My goal for this Patreon is to raise funds to complete an arranging and recording project which aims to honor the music of Aretha Franklin by providing high quality arrangements of her music for school jazz programs, independent ensembles, and musicians. The goal is to arrange and record several (7-10 ideally) Aretha Franklin’s songs into a jazz combo format; 1 lead instrumentalist or vocalist + 3 horns (trumpet, trombone, sax) + rhythm section (piano, bass, drums, guitar(s)).

Aretha Franklin helped shape the musical world we know today, as well as inspire thousands of musicians and non-musicians alike with her powerful voice and messages. Along with that, of course, goes the incredible arrangements which were formed around the songs she sang. These arrangements of songs we all know and love, like Chain of Fools, really made the song what it is, by providing the perfect backdrop for Aretha’s vocals. Unfortunately, much of this music – aside from a couple of her most famous hits – were never arranged or written down beyond a lead vocal and a chord chart. Attempting to arrange these songs meant dealing with an abundance of copyright issues, that most found not worth the time and effort to navigate. That is… until now!

Through a publishing medium, I have acquired the rights to a massive portion of Aretha’s catalogue, and want to arrange as many of her songs as possible. Specifically, arranging them for jazz combo (4 horns + rhythm section, with or without vocalist). No era of Aretha’s music is left off the table! In fact, I already have finished arrangements for “Chain of Fools” and “A Rose is Still a Rose” for jazz combo groups, which covers a 30 year span from 1968 to 1998 respectively. Ideally, I’d like to complete 6-10 arrangements AND get them recorded, and that’s where you come in!

While I love arranging Aretha’s amazing music, it’s a several-month-long process to complete, and paying musicians to record on a musician’s budget is… not easily done. I’m thankful to have a lot of help from others that share the vision of this project, but we need that extra boost to really get things off the ground. I estimate this will take 6 months to complete in total. I’ve already fully arranged 3 and started recording 2, so good progress has already been made! Any money donated will go toward paying recording musicians, paying studio engineer(s), and other basic expenses like printing costs (scores eat a lot of toner), space rental (for outsourced studio space), and so on. That is why I’m setting up a PATREON to get things off the ground.

Below you can see some of the variable budgets, based on total donation amount over a six-month period. This information is based on careful examination of expenses, potential donor numbers, and donor levels. The monthly donation goals are determined by the total amounts divided over a six-month period.

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