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Yep, that's a good idea (y)


You're probably right, I'm over thinking it. I should probably just grab a champagne flute and petit fours and enjoy the music between solos :ROFLMAO:
The hardest part of these gigs for me was feeling like I was making myself useful enough to get called back!
 

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Add a shaker and sing some harmony parts in some songs?
 
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So I found this video online and this guy says that sax should act like a background singer at times, especially for call and response. He did a little version of Proud Mary as an example. Sounds like solid advice.


you could always switch to flute ;)
Ordinary Day by Matt Bianco would be a good cover using flute, but no reason it couldn't be done on tenor since the flute licc might actually be on alto flute.
 

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Hi there!

I often find myself playing gigs with just me (tenor Sax), one singer and one guitar for weddings and corporate events. We are playing few jazz standards but mostly pop. I often find myself not very satisfied with what I play in this configuration and I wanted to know if some of you had experience or could point out recordings or live videos of good examples.
I think I'm fine with jazz standards, playing improvised fills in between the lyrics. I could also play guide tones lines but I usually don't as I'm afraid of getting in the way of the singer 😕

For pop tunes, here are my options :

•Playing synth, strings or horn lines when they are clearly stated in the original. No problem with that.

•Playing counter melody behind the main melody. It usually sounds a little thin for lines that are supposed to be harmonised, typically for strings counter melody.

•Playing horn sections hits. Again, it often feels weak.

•Supporting the singer, typically on choruses, playing the same melody unisson or 8va, 8vb. Not sure if that's effective or just boring sometimes 😅

•Supporting the singer by harmonizing the melody. I often hesitate to do so when the original is not harmonized. What do you think?

•Playing improvised fills

•Any other idea?

I know that's a vast question... Thank you for your insightful comments!
I've played in similar positions many times, and I've done most of the things you mentioned at one time or another. Some players are very rigid in their thinking, others are more open to "conversations," especially with other seasoned players who know how to listen, and understand dynamics.
Have you considered, oh I dunno, actually ASKING the singer how they feel about your ideas? If you explain that it's your sole intent to enhance what they are doing, rather than stepping on their lines, chances are they will interact with you more freely. I've played in many bands where the sax and lead guitar did things together not unlike the double guitar lines in a lot of Allman Brothers material. It does take a guitarist that's not too full of him/herself.
 

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Hi there!

I often find myself playing gigs with just me (tenor Sax), one singer and one guitar for weddings and corporate events. We are playing few jazz standards but mostly pop. I often find myself not very satisfied with what I play in this configuration and I wanted to know if some of you had experience or could point out recordings or live videos of good examples.
I think I'm fine with jazz standards, playing improvised fills in between the lyrics. I could also play guide tones lines but I usually don't as I'm afraid of getting in the way of the singer 😕

For pop tunes, here are my options :

•Playing synth, strings or horn lines when they are clearly stated in the original. No problem with that.

•Playing counter melody behind the main melody. It usually sounds a little thin for lines that are supposed to be harmonised, typically for strings counter melody.

•Playing horn sections hits. Again, it often feels weak.

•Supporting the singer, typically on choruses, playing the same melody unisson or 8va, 8vb. Not sure if that's effective or just boring sometimes 😅

•Supporting the singer by harmonizing the melody. I often hesitate to do so when the original is not harmonized. What do you think?

•Playing improvised fills

•Any other idea?

I know that's a vast question... Thank you for your insightful comments!
Why not ask the singer and guitarist what's best? You are an ensemble, not three people onstage playing around each other..

Forget taking up the flute unless you have training. Most saxophonists that I've heard who double on flute sound awful because both the technique and vocabulary of the flute and the saxophone differ greatly.
 
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Discussion Starter · #27 ·
Add a shaker and sing some harmony parts in some songs?
Yep ! That's a nice one. The trick to me here is to find the right spots because when you stop shaker to take back your horn, it can make the all intensity of the song fall down. Of course, there are songs on which I could do just shaker.
 

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Discussion Starter · #28 ·
Why not ask the singer and guitarist what's best? You are an ensemble, not three people onstage playing around each other..
Of course I do talk about it with the band. I'm a nice guy :D The singer does not necessarily have experience with this configuration. Basically she may tell what she doesn't like but not too much on what might work. I just wan't the point of view of sax players who have played in this configuration.

Forget taking up the flute unless you have training. Most saxophonists that I've heard who double on flute sound awful because both the technique and vocabulary of the flute and the saxophone differ greatly.
Yep, that's exactly how my flute playing is :LOL:
 

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I really like that Tonio is so thoughtful about this, and all of his ideas are good ones. As someone who is both a sax player and a singer, I would just add some more general concepts to his list.
  1. Regarding the level of melodic activity, do the opposite of whatever the singer is doing. If they're melodically busy, play simply or not at all. If they're sustaining, add a little activity. If they're not singing, time to consider a fill or solo.
  2. Whatever register they're singing in, stay out of it while they're singing.
  3. Simple works, especially for casuals. Complexity is for concerts.
  4. Follow the energy level of the performance. Most songs start low, build, relax, and then build to the end.
Another thought: If I was doing that trio gig he describes, I'd be tempted to add a drum machine, to round out the sound. It's not the same as having a real drummer, but some light hand percussion can add a lot in that kind of situation. I use a Boss DR-01S for this type of gig.
 

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As people have already said it depends on the vocalist. Some like background fills and I’ve had others that didn’t want anything extra going on when they’re singing because it throws them off. Personally I enjoy acting like a backup singer and adding harmony to the vocals, call and response, etc.
 

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Discussion Starter · #31 ·
Simple works, especially for casuals. Complexity is for concerts.
I think that's a very good good point you have here. No fireworks unless you feel it's a good moment to transition from a causual cocktail mood to a higher dancing party mood. Complex solos are likely to sound annoying in the context of a cocktail gig.
 

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Having sung harmony and back up a little, how you do that depends on the part you sing. I think that is a little less important on saxophone, but still a factor. A tenor sax’s keyed notes range as high as a typical tenor singer and as low as a typical baritone singer. It might be helpful to remember the common roles of baritone (Bass1) singers and tenor singers in chord construction and progression. You might not always want to limit yourself like this, but it would certainly give you a solid foundation.
 
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I’m part of a duo that’s guitar/vocal, and me on sax/EWI/hand percussion. We do a lot of live looping i.e. the guitarist sets up guitar loops and then we play over the top. We rarely use backing tracks but we’ve got a LOT of these if we ever need them.

Most of the material we do is easy-listening or soft-pop, but done very freely. No two gigs are ever the same. The key for me as the sax/EWI player is to play sparsely but meaningfully….far too many players over-play and it turns into a competition between each musician, and the listeners/audience either tunes out or leaves altogether. I play both alto and tenor because I feel it’s important to use multiple voices as a sax player. I’d also use soprano if I could be bothered to lug/set up/use/pack up even more equipment!

As mentioned earlier, I also play some hand percussion (e.g. several different shakers and tambourine) and this helps the act in two ways: it provides rhythmic interest and accompaniment, and it also helps me to avoid over-playing. Less is more!! The EWI also gives me a LOT of things to do that you simply can’t do on sax e.g. synths, various flutes (ethnic and standard), pads, harmonica, B3 organ, muted trumpet etc.

We primarily do classy venues and never fail to amaze both the client and audience; they can’t believe what such an unorthodox duo can do.
 
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