At the direction of Atlantic records, trumpet legend Don Ellis recorded a Star Wars-themed album to capitalize on the 1977 Star Wars craze that was sweeping the galaxy. He hastily arranged and recorded jazz-influenced versions of the Star Wars Main Theme and Princess Leia’s Theme, as well as several original compositions that were rebadged with galactic-sounding names. These were thrown together in the studio with his orchestra less than a week before embarking on a tour to the Montreux Jazz Festival.
The Montreux tour and its supporting live album were triumphant and hugely successful, while the Star Wars album garnered little or no recognition from jazz enthusiasts. But that didn’t stop Dad buying me the LP in 1978, and it certainly didn’t stop me playing the album for years afterward.
I recently rediscovered the Don Ellis Star Wars album while digitizing my LP collection, and latched onto Princess Leia’s Theme. To my ears, the arrangement is a fresh-sounding take on a truly beautiful orchestral piece. It was wonderful to be able to transcribe and record this arrangement of the tune, in tribute to the great talents of John Williams, Don Ellis, and Princess Leia herself, Carrie Fisher, all at once.
Below you’ll find my transcribed score and charts for trumpets, trombones, French horns, alto sax, clarinets, violins, cello, and chords for guitar/keys/bass. I’ve separately provided my transcription of Don Ellis’ improvised flugelhorn solo. My sincere thanks to my friends Ynping Mak for assistance in transcribing the trickiest of the violin lines, Yoichi Kishi for identifying the chords, and Luciano Baêta for his great video production. And, of course, everyone who recorded this piece with me.
- Don Ellis – Princess Leia’s Theme Bandhub collab video.
- Don Ellis – Princess Leia’s Theme score and charts.
- Don Ellis – Princess Leia’s Theme transcribed flugelhorn solo.
Transcribed by me and free for you to use.
What do you think? Please leave a comment and let me know.
Be sure to check out my other Don Ellis transcriptions!