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Discussion Starter #1
Most people who take up the saxophone, seem to want to play solo, and so spend their time alone with play-along CD's. It took six months before our cat no longer dashed under the bed every time I took my tenor our. I saw this as a good sign and decided it was time to talk my way into a big-band. I'm glad I did.

I don't want to be a soloist. I get a great kick from sitting in a five-piece sax section playing 2nd tenor and listening to the blend of the saxes all with the same vibrato. It has done wonders for my sight reading and tone development. Being only a second year player, I need to work a lot harder than the others do, but I take the folder to my lesson every week and am gradually getting to grips with the standard big band repertoire.

Any other late-bloomer section players here?
 

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Hey, me too! I had a 20 year hiatus and came back to playing approaching 40. Got invited to play with a big band, either 2nd Alto or tenor depending on the need, and I get a kick out of sitting with the section, the rest of whom are much better (and more experienced) players than me. Been doing monthly rehersals for about a year now, and have a gig (finaly) lined up for June.

For me its largely sight reading as the leader likes to know where his charts are at ALL times... but with time and familiarity its getting easier. Now I am determined to work on my theory and improvisation, and work up the courage to throw a solo out into the mix now and then. Even if that never happens its fantastic to be part of that section sound....


Congratulations on spelling your name correctly too!
 

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Hey guys, same deal here. I played baritone sax 8th grade - Junior year in high school. I enjoyed being in the band (marching band in middle school) and as you both mentioned, enjoyed the beautiful sounds that so many could make together. I was the only bari so if I was not on point it would for sure be noticed. Never have I wanted to do anything so bad (other than play major league baseball) than getting back on the bari. So here I am 38 (39 next month), just got my hands on a used bari and I've decided to start playing jazz..So far I've realized I have a long way to go to get to the solo and improvisational level, but I was surprised to hear that I have pretty good tone and I can still read the music! So as Canadiain said, hopefully soon I'll be ready to link up with a group until I feel I'm ready to start soloing. Good luck guys!
 

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I'm in this bigband for 3 years now and having a lot of fun playing 1 tenor. We're doing a piece called "opus in pastels" from the Stan Kenton book. It's really a feature for the sax section and has everything what makes it so great to play in a section , dynamics, blending, etc. It really is about listening to eachother and hearing what place and function you have at every given moment ( it changes quite a bit through the piece ) I love it !
 

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Problem I have is Im still trying to get the right notes, never mind the dynamics. Typically I can do one OR the other when sight reading, not both:( I suppose really I should beg to take the charts home to practice on. Everyone else in the band is either a good enough reader they dont have to, or been playing the same charts since the 70s....
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Hey, me too! I had a 20 year hiatus and came back to playing approaching 40. Got invited to play with a big band, either 2nd Alto or tenor depending on the need,


Hello Canadiain

My fascination with the saxophone section sound dates back a very long way. I am by profession a recording egineer, and when still a very young man, I was invited to attend a sax section rehearsal of the Duke Ellington orchestra, in connection with a project I was involved in The players, led by Johnny Hodges, sat in a fairly tight circle, facing inwards. They followed carefully his dynamics, phrasing and vibrato, to achieve what JH described as their goal to "sound like one big saxophone playing five voices at once"

...and I get a kick out of sitting with the section, the rest of whom are much better (and more experienced) players than me. Been doing monthly rehersals for about a year now, and have a gig (finaly) lined up for June.!
That's the best possible scenario, to sit in with players who are better than yourself. It's a good way to picki up tips and learn.


For me its largely sight reading as the leader likes to know where his charts are at ALL times... but with time and familiarity its getting easier. .!
Our librarian never lets us play from originals, so we can order rehearsal copies for private practice. Just as you say, one becomes familiar with the idioms, (the first note of a bar coming after and eight-note rest, for example) syncopation etc, and it does get easier.



Now I am determined to work on my theory and improvisation, and work up the courage to throw a solo out into the mix now and then. Even if that never happens its fantastic to be part of that section sound.....!
I play 2nd tenor so the pressures of soloing are infrequent. However, our opening tune in concerts is Count Basie's "After Supper" with a 12 bar solo for tenor 2. Instead of leaving anything to chance, I have written down a solo which I use as a framework. The ability to improvise will come, with more experience (or so they tell me!)



Congratulations on spelling your name correctly too!
One can see better with two i's:)

Cheers
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I'm in this bigband for 3 years now and having a lot of fun playing 1 tenor. We're doing a piece called "opus in pastels" from the Stan Kenton book. It's really a feature for the sax section and has everything what makes it so great to play in a section , dynamics, blending, etc. It really is about listening to eachother and hearing what place and function you have at every given moment ( it changes quite a bit through the piece ) I love it !
"Opus In Pastels" ? We play that too. It's a great tune. Likewise another Kenton piece "Reed Rapture"
 

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That's pretty good that you can do that in your 2nd year. I played briefly with college band (I am 64) and it scared the hell out of me. I had to practice the parts for an hour a day just to stay alive. Now I'm working alone on the Hal Leonard big band books which are just parts for big band. I cansight read just about any part very slowly in time with all slurs and articualtions. This is a big breakthrough for me. I'm also working through the Fred Lipsius "Key Jazz Rhythms" book. Both of these were suggestiosn from this list. When I get a new sax, I'm going to put up an audtion video on youtube and get into another big band. I think I'm ready.
 

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I've played bari in a couple of big bands for about 20 years now, after getting back into music (I'm now 63). I've learned a lot since I started with the first band, and have a lot to learn yet. The bari part to me is cool because not only do you play in unison with the other four saxes, you also play with the 'bones and the trumpets. Makes it a lot of fun, for me.
 

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I'm in a concert band. We play various styles of music. Naturally the music for big band stuff comes into the mix but it has far more often with our latest director. I play second first chair (if that makes sense) and I get first refusal on the solos. Which is both more than fair and pretty lucky to be playing beside a guy who does that. The guy is actually first first chair. We have four altos, two tenors and two baris. When we get our chance it sounds really nice. We play whatever is put before us. And it's a blast. Around here, (small town central MN) community bands and offshoots are the norm. Just getting to play is better'n most around here. VintagesaxNissan has heard us.

Harv
 

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Anybody can find opportunities to play alone. Being in a section, today, is a privilege and a luxury, because more people want to play in big bands than listen to them.
 

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I've been playing as a band leader or small group soloist for several years. In addition I play lead alto in a jazz band and sub into another as a second alto. I can honestly say that I enjoy playing 2nd alto more than the others. Don't get me wrong-playing melody lines and ripping some great solos is always fun, but the nuances of blending with a section and truly feeling the inner workings of harmony make you feel like something bigger than you.

Enjoy it all, just make sure you play each note as if it's the last note you will ever play.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Problem I have is Im still trying to get the right notes, never mind the dynamics. Typically I can do one OR the other when sight reading, not both:( I suppose really I should beg to take the charts home to practice on. Everyone else in the band is either a good enough reader they dont have to, or been playing the same charts since the 70s....
That's my situation exactly. So, at the advice of my teacher, we take each piece in stages. First by playing at haf speed, to get the notes and rhytyhms right. Some of the "anticipations" (example first note of the bar tied to the last eighth note of the previous bar) are tricky. Once I can play the things through slowly, we
look at alternative fingerings to make it more fluid, and then I repeat over and over again eight bars at a time to get the thing up to speed. It's hard work, but I can think of no other way.

Our librarian (1st alto) is kind, and sends me a pdf of new material several days before the rehearsal so that I can have a go at it with my teacher. Perhaps the librarian's motives are totally selfish - I sit next to him! But anyway, it's greatly appreciated and puts me closer to the same starting line with the other players who are sight reading.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
That's pretty good that you can do that in your 2nd year..
I'm a bit like a Canada goose, calm above the waterline, but paddling furiously below:twisted:


I played briefly with college band (I am 64) and it scared the hell out of me. .
I am 65 now. After six months of lessons, I joined a music school band with one other adult whose son played there. All the kids were young enough to be my grandchildren, but we all got along fine. I played in that band until just recently, when I got a better offer!

My transition into the big band was a gradual one. I went along as a "reader" and sat in at rehearsal with the 2nd tenor. Then he took over as conductor, and I slipped into the vacant chair.

I had to practice the parts for an hour a day just to stay alive. Now I'm working alone on the Hal Leonard big band books which are just parts for big band. .
Yes. Keeping your head above water is a principle objective.


I cansight read just about any part very slowly in time with all slurs and articualtions. This is a big breakthrough for me. I'm also working through the Fred Lipsius "Key Jazz Rhythms" book. Both of these were suggestiosn from this list. When I get a new sax, I'm going to put up an audtion video on youtube and get into another big band. I think I'm ready.
Be sure to post a link.

Cheers
 

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Discussion Starter #17
I've played bari in a couple of big bands for about 20 years now, after getting back into music (I'm now 63). I've learned a lot since I started with the first band, and have a lot to learn yet. The bari part to me is cool because not only do you play in unison with the other four saxes, you also play with the 'bones and the trumpets. Makes it a lot of fun, for me.
Yes. I play 2nd tenor and so sit next to the bari. Just as you say he plays unison with the other saxes, then, in four part harmony, he plays the melody below the 1st alto. Then if the tune breaks into five part harmony he is there providing the foundation for the whole section. Then he is suddenly with the bas trombone, or doubling flugel horn (tpt 4) As if that was not enough, a lot of good arrangements end with the bari on that legendary low "A" Wonderful!
 

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Discussion Starter #18
I'm in a concert band. We play various styles of music. Naturally the music for big band stuff comes into the mix but it has far more often with our latest director. I play second first chair (if that makes sense) and I get first refusal on the solos. Which is both more than fair and pretty lucky to be playing beside a guy who does that. The guy is actually first first chair. We have four altos, two tenors and two baris. When we get our chance it sounds really nice. We play whatever is put before us. And it's a blast. Around here, (small town central MN) community bands and offshoots are the norm. Just getting to play is better'n most around here. VintagesaxNissan has heard us.

Harv
Hi Harvey.

I live in Scandinavia. We don't have the school/college band or the community band tradition that seems to be so strong in the US, so the opportunities to play are much less. I am originally from the UK, and I know that there, many bands set an entry level at grade V and expect people to audition. So opportunities for more novice players to get experience are much less.

Like you, I am in a concert band of 32 players (we call it a wind ensemble) We have five saxes. I find it a great discipline and a good contrast to the big band in which I also play.

Cheers
 

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Hi Ian!

I completely agree with you regarding wind ensembles being excellent sources of discipline. I used to play for Teresa and Paul Jennings when I lived in Milwaukee. Teresa owns Plank Road Publishing, a music company which writes and arranges music for Kindegarten through the eigth grade. Paul is an arranger whose been focussing on that kind of thing ever since he moved there from California. I think he got a grammy for a jazz album he wrote back in the eighties or thereabouts but I don't remember for sure. Seem to remember the gold record hanging in their library. Or maybe it was at the bottom of the stairs.. Anyway, Teresa ran the concert band and yup, I had to audition. Paul and Teresa sort of ran a jazz group together where Paul would bring music he wrote and tested it on us.

The interesting thing is, back then you had to play exactly what was written. If the time was wrong or the notes were, Paul needed to hear it. Because he might choose to leave your part as it was and change three other sections lol. It was tougher than you might think. Playing exactly what was written even when it grated your ears. Even when you knew it was completely off. Paul needed to hear that arrangement as it was written so he could fix it properly. But man, I wouldn't trade that time. Some of his later pieces were things we worked on (for him) during my time with that band. I earned first chair right off the audition and it didn't change with subsequent auditions. Though the music wasn't exceptionally difficult, I'd have to say it was a great opportunity and priveledge to work with Teresa and Paul.

The band I'm in now has some fan favorites and while they couldn't be considered difficult on any level, they're some of the crowd pleasers. It's a hoot seeing the author or arranger's name on top and remembering that you were there playing for them when they set that chart up.

I miss those two... and I miss their bands.

Harv
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Hi Ian!

I completely agree with you regarding wind ensembles being excellent sources of discipline. I used to play for Teresa and Paul Jennings when I lived in Milwaukee. Teresa owns Plank Road Publishing, a music company which writes and arranges music for Kindegarten through the eigth grade. Paul is an arranger whose been focussing on that kind of thing ever since he moved there from California. I think he got a grammy for a jazz album he wrote back in the eighties or thereabouts but I don't remember for sure. Seem to remember the gold record hanging in their library. Or maybe it was at the bottom of the stairs.. Anyway, Teresa ran the concert band and yup, I had to audition. Paul and Teresa sort of ran a jazz group together where Paul would bring music he wrote and tested it on us.

The interesting thing is, back then you had to play exactly what was written. If the time was wrong or the notes were, Paul needed to hear it. Because he might choose to leave your part as it was and change three other sections lol. It was tougher than you might think. Playing exactly what was written even when it grated your ears. Even when you knew it was completely off. Paul needed to hear that arrangement as it was written so he could fix it properly. But man, I wouldn't trade that time. Some of his later pieces were things we worked on (for him) during my time with that band. I earned first chair right off the audition and it didn't change with subsequent auditions. Though the music wasn't exceptionally difficult, I'd have to say it was a great opportunity and priveledge to work with Teresa and Paul.

The band I'm in now has some fan favorites and while they couldn't be considered difficult on any level, they're some of the crowd pleasers. It's a hoot seeing the author or arranger's name on top and remembering that you were there playing for them when they set that chart up.

I miss those two... and I miss their bands.

Harv
Hello Harvey,

In addition to you, as one of the players, having the chance to play new music, while the ink was still wet as it were, it was also a great resource for the composer to have a band where he could try out ideas. Dulke Ellington used to say how valuable it was for him to be able two write at night, and have the band try out the piece the next morning. He got to know intimately what was and was not possible and the strengths and weaknesses of each individual in his band.

The leader of the big band in which I play, besides being a fine tenor player is also a very skilled arranger, having studied under Russ Garcia. He too values the chance of being able to try out arrangements, particularly the voicings of various combinations of doubles amongst the saxes - flute, clnts, bs clarinet and saxophones.

But these days,even those of us who don't have a band at their disposal, or are not yet ready to print out parts for a public hearing, can listen to their arrangements by using notation software such as Sibelius.

Cheers
 
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