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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've signed up for a jazz band class at a local community college.

I have never before played in a band, I've just been taking private lessons at home. I have jammed a number of times with friends, but these were always very loose, unstructured things.

I'll be the fourth tenor in this band, which has around 25 members. I'll be sharing 2nd tenor duties with #3.

First real session will be Monday, and I finally got the music today (was supposed to get it last week). 11 tunes.

As a late bloomer and band newbie, I imagine there are many things that would be good to know of which I am as yet ignorant.

Any tips or advice for a first time jazz band participant?

Any things you learned along the way re playing in a band that you wish you had known from the outset?
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Listen to professional recordings of the charts if they are available, and play along with the volume turned up till you blend in perfectly with the ensemble. This will give you a master class on listening, style, articulation, time, intonation, balance, and blend---all of the elements of playing in a jazz ensemble. As a freshman at the university I attended in the late 1960's I got the lead alto spot in the jazz ensemble with little or no experience or background. Luckily the leader had us play a lot of Count Basie Charts that were on vinyl records back then. I took lessons from Marshal Royal every day at my record player that first year to learn how to play those charts in that style.
I was hoping to do just that, and we were instructed to find and listen to the tunes, but we don't have info as to any recordings utilizing these particular charts. So I was just going to try to find recorded versions that may be close enough to help learn the tunes better, if not the specific arrangements.

I do like the tip re playing along with volume turned up, and will use that. Thanks.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Just have fun and enjoy playing with other musicians! I'm shure you're well prepared. Bring a music stand with you and wait what's happening...

Few questions: Is this the first meeting for everyone? What kind of tunes did you receive? Is bringing together a bigband the goal of this jazz band class or is improvisation a topic, too?
I should have mentioned that though this is a new semester, I am the only new person in the band. Everyone else has been involved for some time. We were supposed to start a couple weeks ago, but the final performance from the last semester was delayed, so I sat around for the first week as they did final rehearsal, then attended as audience member for their delayed end of term performance.

Last semester they did a lot of Ellington, with some Strayhorn and Gordon Goodwin tunes. The song list for this semester is:

Body & Soul
Spring Can Really Hang You Up
Eleanor Rigby
Armando's Rhumba
Afro Blue
Arnge Drank
Count Bubba
Dat Dere
A Warm Breeze
Shiny Stockings
Don't Get Sassy

As to your question about the goal of the class, I don't know enough to really answer yet. It does seem mostly fixed on big band jazz performance, though there are parts for improvisation (I think . . .). Not sure how much "instruction" there will be on general topics, such as improvisation, or if it will just mostly focus on learning how to play and perform the tunes.

From what I've seen so far, the goal is to have a fun band for older (and younger) folks to play in. Though the class is part of the "continuing education" part of the college (and is free for 55 and older), there are also a number of young people in the band.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Tips/advice? Yes. Don't suck. :mrgreen:
What? You mean you don't play the sax by inhaling?

Gee, maybe I've been doing it all wrong.

Thanks for that helpful tip.

So I take it that when you play, you blow?

Yeah, I expect you blow. :mrgreen:
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
JIf I can't do something well you will never hear me not do it if that makes sense.
Well, if you don't do it, then of course we won't hear you . . . .

I think you are saying if you can't play a passage well, omit (ghost) it rather than play it poorly for all to hear. But the double negatives make the grammar of the sentence a bit confusing. It could be read as meaning you will always play all passages and phrases regardless of whether you are capable of playing them well. But that doesn't seem what you are saying. Is it?
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I started playing in bands when I was 10 and am over 60 now.

I bet you anything that the most important things are ones I never think about, having absorbed them 50 years ago.

Arrive early enough to set up and warm up and be ready for the first downbeat.

Sit quietly. Pay attention. Listen. Tune up ahead of time. Do not practice during band.

Pay close attention to the first chair: Play the way they want you to play unless overruled by the director.

Play with a big, full tone, filling your horn, even when playing softly.

Blend in.

If they will let you do some solos, then do them. You have to get some time in sucking at them before you get good at them.
(Ask your first chair about that.)

Since you have a list of tunes, check on youtube for the EXACT arrangements. Listen to those and practice along with them, too.
(Getting lost is a pretty easy thing to do if you do not know a tune.)
Thanks for this. Though some of these may seem basic, they are always important and should be kept in mind.

Regarding getting some time in at sucking at solos, no worries there. I have lots of experience in that already (the sucking at it part, that is).

Checking on youtube for the exact arrangements . . . hmm, not sure how easy or quick this would be . . . I only have the 2nd tenor part, and there are lots of versions of these out there on youtube. I'd love to hear the exact arrangements, but not sure how long it would take me to find them. And there may not even be videos of songs performed from these charts for all I know.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
With 11 tunes, you're not going to get through them all next Monday. Ask the director which ones he intends to hit first, then you hit them first. Spend plenty of time on quality practice. Nothing is more frustrating than having a band member return the next week having not improved. My sight reading sucks, but give me a week . . . .

Mark
Yes, I already asked the director that very question today, thinking along the exact same lines. But I am at least half expecting I won't hear back from him . . . until Monday, if at all. I was supposed to get the sheet music last week, and only got it today. So I am not going to hold my breath on that one, but I do hope he responds by Friday at least.
 

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Discussion Starter · #23 ·
I did hear back from the director, and it seems we're just going to read over and dicuss the music as a group or some such introductory thing.

So no worries on that score. (Not worrying is also probably generally a good thing, just relax and have fun as many have suggested)

As was also suggested, finding youtube recordings of the same arrangements was easy. For two or three I don't have the name of an arranger on the sheet music, but I expect they won't be too hard to find any. I should have realized it was easy to find specific arrangements but still new to this side of things.

Already starting today with Body and Soul. Stan Kenton's recording from his 7.5 on the Richter Scale album. Lovely stuff.

I'll look into Smart Music. Cost for such things is not an issue.

Thanks for all the useful suggestions, reminders, etc. Keep 'em coming if you got 'em.
 

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Discussion Starter · #26 ·
Re the term “4th tenor,” I used this in the first post to simply inform that I was the 4th tenor sax player in the band, and said I was sharing 2nd tenor duties with #3.

In the band I have just joined, the 4 altos are in front, and the 4 tenors, and Bari, behind.
 

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Discussion Starter · #31 ·
What with all these numbers and seating arrangements, I think we now need a poll asking which gives the best sound/tone/vibes:

T formation
I formation
Shotgun
Flying wedge

And let’s not even get started on defensive formations (mostly needed when band director is from Whiplash, etc.)
 

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Discussion Starter · #40 ·
While I agree with taking care to "stay behind" the lead at all times, I must respectfully disagree with the mouthpiece recommendation. Use whatever you are comfortable with, but a piece like the C* tends to be a little thin for jazz band playing in my opinion.

Even playing second tenor, try what's available to get the sound you want. Many get good results with a decent Link or Berg, or something more recent like a JodyJazz HR, a Vandoren V16, etc. As long as you're comfortable and in control of your tone, you should not need to use a special "2nd tenor only" piece.
Thanks. I wasn't planning to change mouthpieces. I have Jody Jazz DVNY 7, Barone Jazz 8 and Tenney Jazzmaster 7* and I expect any would be fine.
 

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Discussion Starter · #49 ·
The first few practices might be intimidating. You will feel steamrollered. If you think you are going to like this then stick with it. Practice is the cure for most ills. I have a small digital recorder (Olympus Digital Voice Recorder VN-8100PC) that I bring to practice and record the songs as we play them. Then I go home and play along with the songs listening through earphones. It is a lot of fun - like playing a concert each day. The digital recorder can make the passages in loop form or sped up or slowed so you can pick tough passages apart. It is good for your technique and you will gradually improve. It is a lot of work but fun. Good luck!
So far only one practice. Oh yes, it was somewhat intimidating. All the others were reading and playing at tempo and I was fumbling about. Managed to keep my place and even join in on a few sections without too many fast, complex bits. But I was rather demoralized. I couldn't bring myself to even practice the next day.

But then I kicked myself in the pants and decided to work at it. Just going to try to get down my part as best as I can, and keep doing it each week.

According to one popular saying, if I continue practicing, eventually my playing will be perfect. While I doubt I have sufficient practice time remaining (in my life) to attain perfection, I'll setttle for a modicum of improvement towards mediocrity.

So for now at least, I'm sticking with it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #51 ·
At the first practice, there was another new guy, sitting right in front of me, playing sop and alto. And he was incredibly good. So I’m sitting there feeling out of my league from the outset.

I felt like, so any guy off the street can just come in and sound great . . .?

Well, I felt a lot better after introductions were made . . . The guy is a band director and teacher himself . . . .

Now, why he’s joined up in a community college continuing education jazz band class is not yet clear to me.

While it’s of course great to have great players in a band, this student (me) is worried that the new guy is really gonna raise the curve :mrgreen::bluewink:

I felt like the decent middle school player being thrown into the advanced class with high school seniors (even before hearing the new guy).

Ok, enough self pity, whining and explanations. I’m off to practice . . .
 

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Discussion Starter · #53 ·
It's better to be the average player in a band with great players then the other way around.
Hang in there and you will see you'll make fast progress in a short time.
I completely agree. I was just trying to give a little extra flavor of how it felt when the then-unknown new guy played like a pro.

This is a really good band overall. Surprisingly so, to be honest. I'd much rather be in a good band than a poor one, of course. Just means I need to work hard, and if I do, it will lead to better results.

(But allow me an occasional kvetch now and then . . . )
 

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Discussion Starter · #64 ·
Here’s an update for anyone foolish enough to retain interest in this thread . . . . Last night the band had what was my first ever performance in a jazz band. This would have happened in June, but they moved the end of term performance date a week later due to scheduling conflict, and I was out of the country then and couldn’t make the show.

We had six practice sessions over the summer before last night’s show. I think with maybe another six weeks or so, I might really have gotten those tunes down pretty well. :bluewink::mrgreen:

Seriously, I was pretty happy with my playing, only having to ghost on a few parts of the harder songs. No major screw ups on my part (though certainly at least a few minor ones).

We were missing our bari player, but my teacher volunteered and sat in with us for the night.

The song list was as follows:

Blues Brothers Revue
Pick Up The Pieces
Here's That Rainy Day
Count Bubba
Vehicle
Cut The Cake
Hey Pachuco
Mercy, Mercy, Mercy

Next time around I think I will try a solo or two . . . . (So long as I can still fit into my hat).
 

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Discussion Starter · #66 ·
Thanks Doc.

When you ask about practicing the charts between rehearsals, I’m not exactly sure what you mean. I have my music, of course, for my second tenor part, and if I couldn’t practice that between rehearsals I’d never have gotten my part down in the slightest. I need to practice, a lot, first at my pace and eventually getting up to tempo once I got the part down. I would practice both on my own and as well playing with YouTube videos of the same arrangement.

Part of the learning process for me on this has been learning how to learn (new stuff), if that makes any sense.
 
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