For Your Listening Pleasure, a Jazzy Arrangement of ‘Baby I’

March 21, 2019

For Your Listening Pleasure, a Jazzy Arrangement of ‘Baby I’


From time to time, I post recordings or performances from our Musical Millennial. Today is one of those days. He’s a junior at the University of Texas majoring in Jazz Composition, playing piano. The university records the Jazz Orchestra performances, and I like sharing them with you for your listening pleasure, Dear Readers. (Because I’m a proud mom, I admit it.)

Thomas Wenglinski at the grand piano at Bates Recital Hall
Thomas Wenglinski (AKA the Musical Millennial) at the grand piano at Bates Recital Hall in Austin

Usually the tunes are the Musical Millennial’s compositions, but this one is a little different. It’s his arrangement of a song that was definitely NOT jazz when it was written and recorded by pop artist Ariana Grande. Say what??? A pop tune? This is NOT our regularly scheduled programming!! It’s all explained in the notes from the concert program.

Program Notes for ‘Baby I’ Performed by the UT Jazz Orchestra

Jazz has always been, among other things, a musical genre and practice largely built around the embellishment of popular music. While most tunes we consider “standards” nowadays are from the Tin Pan Alley era earlier in the 20th century, I’ve always had a strong admiration for artists who bravely insist on giving more contemporary songs this same treatment. This is my attempt at following in their footsteps.

As a composer in 2018, I try to keep my ear to the radio to listen for modern trends and pick out what works, and the production/songwriting quality of Ariana Grande’s music consistently sticks out to me. “Baby I” is a tune of hers (co-written by the legendary producer Kenneth ‘Babyface’ Edmonds) that I first heard at the downtown iHOP on I-35 my freshman year here at UT. I remember hearing that iconic chord stab that starts/ends each chorus and immediately wondering about what possibilities lay there. After sitting on it for a year, I eventually decided that the only way to scratch this creative itch was to arrange the song for Jazz Orchestra, and thankfully, the faculty also heard the potential.

Baby I (click to play)

The UT Austin Jazz Orchestra performing Thomas Wenglinski’s arrangement of “Baby I” (as made famous by Ariana Grande/composed by Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds/Antonio Dixon/Patrick “J. Que” Smith) at Bates Recital Hall on October 12th, 2018, under the direction of Professor Jeffrey Hellmer. Soloists: Thomas Wenglinski (piano), Jim Buennig (alto saxophone)

Did you like it? You can count on encountering more music here on the pages of Glover Gardens for your listening pleasure, and can click here if you’d like peruse other musical posts.

5 thoughts on “For Your Listening Pleasure, a Jazzy Arrangement of ‘Baby I’”

Tell me your thoughts...

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: