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Discussion Starter #1
I'm in a jazz band and the director is giving me the choice to play either 1st alto or 1st tenor. I'm leaning towards 1st tenor because i love soloing and 1st tenor usually gets the most solos, but I also love playing alto too. If anyone has any advice i would like to hear it. Thanks for the help.
 

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This thread should stop right here. But it won't. :twisted:

Because the sad answer is...only you can make that decision.


I have the same problem and I still haven't resolved it. I love playing lead alto, but I miss the solos I get on tenor.
 

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what is your voice? is it the high or low notes. the lead alto is just that. you are the leader of the band.you are responsible for phrasing the melody and leading the section. you get to sing the melody and usually play g1 and above.you will get some improv. (usually in school jazz bands the music will have chords for several instruments to play solos at the directors discretion). the 1st tenor part is a harmony part. you will be playing middle chord notes and will get the majority of the improv solos. you will still play up into the palm keys but not get too much of the melody.
even though the tenor is my favorite sax i do enjoy the playing lead alto in the big band. The next best chair is the bari part IMHO.(no solos but a blast to play). if you play improv well I think the director will let you have a go occasionally even if your are the lead alto.
Good lead men are much harder to find than good jazz soloists. playing lead will greatly improve your reading skills and teach you how to phrase a melody.
 

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Gary is correct, only you can decide.
The role of lead alto and lead tenor are vastly different.
Yes, lead tenor gets a lot of solo's but they still have to follow the lead alto's phrasing and inflection. You must blend in with the lead alto and never over balance the section.
On lead alto, you have to be a leader. You still get to solo, but your role is to be consistent with how you play. You have to play it the same way every time so the other sax members will hear and ultimately learn how you're phrasing the lines.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I think I will go with lead alto. I like playing lead, and from previous bands i've been in it is true that the 1st tenor doesnt play much of the melody and I like to stand out so I would probably be to overpowering on the tenor. The Director said I could also pick up my tenor on songs with tenor solos and play the solos on it. I think that would be the best option then I have the best of both worlds.
 

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Given the choice, I prefer lead alto. I like playing the melody and dictating the way the music in played. To me, it's just much more fun than playing an inner voice. And I still got plenty of solos.

When I was a sophomore in HS, the lead alto and lead tenor would switch from song to song.
 

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I prefer lead Tenor, I just like soloing. Besides with Tenor you can just hang back and let the 1st Alto worry. You can just play.
 

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I did both in high school, depending upon need. If you've got someone with a strong voice on alto capable of leading the section, then slip in that tenor spot and enjoy it. If not well, alto beckons.
 

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Sometimes I feel my age, and this is one of them. The phrase "1st tenor" still brings me up short. To me a sax section will always be 1st alto, 2nd tenor, 3rd alto, 4th tenor and 5th baritone. We had a discussion that touched on this a couple of years ago, I think. I guess tenor players felt disrespected and changed things during the almost 40 years I wasn't playing.
 

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retread said:
Sometimes I feel my age, and this is one of them. The phrase "1st tenor" still brings me up short. To me a sax section will always be 1st alto, 2nd tenor, 3rd alto, 4th tenor and 5th baritone. We had a discussion that touched on this a couple of years ago, I think. I guess tenor players felt disrespected and changed things during the almost 40 years I wasn't playing.

We had some charts that were divided like this. It confused the crap out of us.


Back to the original question: Depending on what spot you choose, is there someone good to take the other spot? If you choose alto are the tenor spots going to be screwed?
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Well yea we're kind of screwed either way i choose. Thats why I think i should choose alto then there will at least be someone to follow.
 

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Just to throw this in there, the worst spot in the section is 2nd tenor. When the saxes are split into 4 or 5 part harmony, the 2nd tenor part is the one that makes the least sense.
 

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I used to play alot of 2nd Tenor. And I just played with the Trombones. 2nd Tenor when I was a freshman. and then last year for All region Jazz. But that was becuaes of my school not how I play. And I just followed Bari. When he came in I did.
 

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sopranosaxman said:
I have decided to take lead alto. Thanks for everyone's help.
Good choice ... Not only will you be able to still solo, you'll be able to learn to lead a saxophone section. It's good to be under pressure. It will hopefully make you play to the best of your ability. Have fun!
 

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sopranosaxman said:
I have decided to take lead alto. Thanks for every one's help.
My preference is for tenor, but I don't blame ya; 1rst alto is way fun. I think you should step back and appreciate what a cool position you're in to be making this choice.
 

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Good choice--enjoy! I'm an oldster, a late-bloomer, having returned to sax several years ago after a long absense. Had little experience with anything but concert band, but @ three years ago, my community band director decided we needed a spin-off big band, and as first alto in concert band and best reader I found myself thrust into the lead alto spot without a clue about what the role entailed. Well, I learned real fast and have had a ball doing it. I was already a good sight reader, but having to read lots of syncopation and take the lead while doing so was a real challange for me; the whole first year in that role I was constantly being admonished to "play out more". At this point, with a couple of years behind me and a set-up better suited to big band, I'm pretty comfortable in the spot and haven't had any serious challengers. I'll probably never be able to really improvise, but mercifully, our charts usually provide an alternative written out solo which I can and do play with ease.

Sorry to be wordy. This is by way of saying "kudos to you for being good enough to have the choice---you will learn a lot and be a better reader and player for the experience, all while having a great time!

Regards, Ruth
 
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