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Hit them from the first note or pace it , or both?
Do you approach it any differently to a small combo situ ?
 

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It depends on the tune. I think it's important to have a bit of premeditated structure in mind (e.g. shape) before starting to blow, though.
 

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It does depend on the context. Unlike playing in a combo, there's a LOT of specific, non-flexible context that your solo will be in. And sometimes the solo section also has the musical responsibility to "carry" a chart from one section of the piece to the next. So, feel the energy of the piece, and figure out whether you need to come out charging or if you have the luxury of taking your time to set up your own thing. It can be fun, no matter what is being called for!
 

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Try to listen to a lot of basie from the 50's and 60's, these are good examples of big band music with good soloist like Eddie lockjaw Davis.
 

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Any solo should be viewed as part of the arrangement, so whether you creep in or hit from the first note depends entirely on your concept of how the solo fits into the music. So there are no rules at all IMO.
I have heard soloists who don't think that way, they wait for the changes in the sheet music, stand up and use it as an opportunity to show off how many licks they know and how fast they can play. I have also heard soloists who obviously have some sensitivity to the music, they think about the solo's context and how it helps to create an overall piece of music.

The choice is yours.
 

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Try to listen to a lot of basie from the 50's and 60's, these are good examples of big band music with good soloist like Eddie lockjaw Davis.
This is good advice.

Another thing to bear in mind re: my previous reply is there are two possible scenarios. maybe more, but two main ones I can think of:

  1. The arrangement has a defined space for the solo, often a half or whole chorus. That is the situation I was discussing above.
  2. The arrangement has open solos, ie it's up to the director/soloists how long to solo for or how many choruses to take. Ie the soloist is "cut loose"

In the second case it can still be important to consider the arrangement holistically, but obviously there is a bit more room for doing your own thing.
 

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Good advice here, from guy's who know what they're talking about.Do try to resist the temptation to overblow--ie playing the whole solo at fortissimo--difficult sometimes with 4'bones and 4trumpets behind you! Remember to try and 'enhance' the arrangement, Big Bands are about the band rather than the soloist's chops.
 

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A big consideration to me is whether there are written backings in the solo - either throughout or for specific parts of the solo. I don't get much solo room playing bari in a big band, and once those pesky backings start I have to play high up in the range to be heard, or else just concentrate on playing in the gaps.

And then there is the issue of whether to try to play exactly, or close to, what the soloist did on the original recording, as that may be what the audience are expecting to hear. And often most in the audience won't know which sections are written or improvised, and many wouldn't care.
 

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A big consideration to me is whether there are written backings in the solo - either throughout or for specific parts of the solo. I don't get much solo room playing bari in a big band, and once those pesky backings start I have to play high up in the range to be heard, or else just concentrate on playing in the gaps.
I think whenever someone writes brass backings to a saxophone solo )especially tenor or baritone) the assumption should be the soloist has a right to a microphone, or (better still) walk round to the front of the stage and get away from the pesky backings.
 

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Most charts in the big band I play(ed) with have only 4 or 8 bar solos. A few like Jumpin at the Woodside has two choruses, but it still goes by pretty fast. And a straight blues solo -- two choruses is barely enough to get warmed up with.

Shorter solos really are going to need more energy behind them. You don't have 5 minutes to tell a suspenseful story. You're more telling jokes and one-liners...i.e. effects, altissimo, etc. Besides the band is not accompanying you, YOU are accompanying the band.
 

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I play (as an amateur) as first tenor and main soloist in a Big Band and also in a combo. In general (ofcourse depending on the type of music and the score) you get less solo space in Big Band arrangements, often with loud backings from the other sections behind you. So that makes that you in general have to put in more energy from the start and have to reach your peak earlier in a Big Band solo compared to a jazz combo solo, where you can normally build more having longer solo space and with less loud backing (if you are lucky with the drummer and guitar player(s) ofcourse :bluewink:).

I recently posted some clips of my Big Band in another SOTW thread. I play a (short) solo in all 3 tracks. Here is the link, in case you are interested to listen:
http://forum.saxontheweb.net/showth...a-Round-Town-festival-in-Rotterdam-02-07-2011
 

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Every one who has said it depends on the tune is precisely correct. When taking a solo, you must know what you are actually playing. Don't play a Menza style solo when you're playing the Glenn Miller "In the Mood", or a Beneke style solo when playing Menza's "Groovin Hard." True, that with many big band solos, you don't have a lot of time, so make YOUR moment count.
 

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I definitely get in a mindset for soloing in a big band versus in a combo.

In the combos I play in everything is pretty open. I take that opportunity to (attempt to) really build up my solos. There are definitely techniques I use more often in combos than in the big band. Repetition is a great example, I use it much more sparingly in big bands (even though it's a nice way to create tension), because it can eat up a good bit of your solo, and before you know it you're back into the chart.

Blowing a chorus in a big band is a bit of a different beast. If you're confined to a "short" solo section (8-12 bars) you need to fit your ideas in those 8-12 bars which complements/augments the chart. Figuring out how to start your solo and how to end it become a bit more important (IMO). If the band is setting you up with a send off to start your solo, take advantage of it and the energy they helped generate! Be aware of what happens when your solo is over. If you're just going back to let another guy blow, it might not be so important. If the band goes from your solo and then plays a shout chorus, you might want to build your solo so it leads into it.

I don't think of it as a huge step from one to another, but I do think that there are definitely guidelines that will help you be more effective.
 

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It would try to fit the time frame of the arrangement. Don't play trane stuff if it's clearly a 50's basie like big band arrangement and don't do a bop solo when it's a benny goodman type one
 
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