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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I'm hardly a pro these days. I did get a call to play with Jazz/Adult Contemporary Group for one gig. Kinda cool to get the phone call. Doesn't pay much but a chance to meet new musicians. A set list was developed and we had one LONG rehearsal. Today (the day of the gig) the singer added some Jazz Standards stuff. All was well till you look at the keys. Thank goodness of iReal Pro.

Fly Me to the Moon. Key of F (Dm)
All of Me Key of G
Summertime Key of Ab-
Lover Man Key of Bb (Gm)
Girl From Ipanema Key of Bb
Cheek To Cheek Key of F (Don't like this tune - super long form)
Them There Eyes. Ab (Don't even know this tune)
God Bless the Child Ab

The bass player called a bit panicked until I showed him how to change keys in iReal Pro. I know we're supposed to practice everything in all keys. Blah Blah Blah. Now I know why - Freakin' Singers. :)
 
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
There are Drastically different from the originals.
 
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Just agree with the band ahead of time to play them in the original key and watch the singer A. freak out, or B. not even notice 😂









(disclaimer: don't actually do this, even though I did do it one time as a joke because...well...it's me after all)
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
just though it's interesting that my name is also a greene and i play jazz sax as well
There's actually another more famous Tony Greene (my name) that play saxes. Names are funny that way.
 

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When I'm the singer on a gig I call the keys seconds before we count the tune in. Yeah, it's mostly pop/rock (simpler than most standards), but I never know how my voice is going to be feeling or what the mood the audience is (different keys=different vibe). I expect musicians that I hire to be flexible enough to not crash and burn.

I agree with the advice above. Learn a few songs in 12 keys and then I add: start practicing simple melodies in 12 keys. After awhile it's really no big deal. Choose the "difficult" keys first to concentrate on. Besides, they're not asking you to play the head to Donna Lee in random keys. "Cheek to Cheek" is really the only one on there that would give me trouble because it's verse changes are pretty funky unless you study the melody, harmony and learn to sing it. Which is, funnily, how I'd advise learning it properly.
 

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A singer, who knows the key, in which a song feels right for her/him, is far better to deal with compared to a singer who only says that it‘s terrible and wrong how you play it.
 

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There are Drastically different from the originals.
But when you are talking Jazz standards or Great American Songbook standards, what are you using to reference 'the originals' ? IOW, a tune like Mean to Me (just as a random example) was written in 1929....so are we to be tripped up because a singer (or horn player, or fakebook) shows a different key from the 1929 release ?

(being tongue-in-cheek here, of course ...) Anyways, yeah I get it....instrumental jazzers are used to Real Book keys, and singers and sometimes non-jazzer guitarists almost never would perform the tune in those (horn-friendly) keys given their choice. The auto-transposing features come in handy bigtime here....

And I agree with you...the whole "well..every player should be able to play every tune in all keys"....is, to put it bluntly - a crock of BS, completely.
Other than wasting one's playing time (which for 95% of players is not unlimited), quite honestly, I see no point to this endeavor from any practical standpoint....who has time for that , honestly ? So I DISAGREE with the advice above....don't bother learning some songs in all 12 keys. You ain't never gonna be playing that tune in F# or B.
If you wanna do that just for your own musical development, pick 3 or 4 of the most common keys. Maybe 2 'horn' keys, and 2 'guitar' keys or something.


While I can see getting a bit taken aback by a vocalist putting a tune in B or Ab (sometimes in such cases what I will do (when again practice time is limited or non existent) is tell the band to slide it (a B tune) to Bb or C, or for an Ab tune, move it to G ....and not inform the singer.
NEVER....EVER...have they noticed this....and I have done this with some very GOOD singers.

The comment above saying "I'll call a tune in any key I want and I EXPECT the band to hang with it OK"....has a double-edge to it in this case:

IF the singer has that expectation, then....

"I tell the band to slide it a half step...and I EXPECT a singer who considers themselves somewhat accomplished to be able to handle that - no problem"

Is just as fair a modus operandi to employ.

Of course best way to do this...because it HELPS the singer's understanding as a musician...is to mention to the singer "OK, cool but I dunno if you know this...B is not the greatest key for our horn players, can you slide it up or down a half step ?"....but in pinch situations I have gone with Method A just to avoid any subsequent disagreements...with no ill effects.
 

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I'm strictly a by-ear player. I've heard most of those listed tunes, enough to feel confident that if there was a good lead-player and the rhythm players played the right chords, I could do a credible job of improvising something that fits. I could even handle the melodies on many of them - in the keys listed. Ab, Bb, F are among my favorite keys. Like JayeLID mentioned, the listed keys weren't like B or F#, which would trouble many of us.

However, I am not trying to put down the OP because I admit that if one were to put a sheet of music in front of me, I'd struggle to play it, especially on first glance. We all have our strengths and weaknesses. An iRealPro program in front of me would be of little help.

I liked the suggestion to slide the key one-half step either way for vocalists who THINK they need those odd-ball (for most horn players) keys. But again, that may require that the musicians have the skills to do that. DAVE
 

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Ab, Bb, F are among my favorite keys.
Mine too. In fact, I'm pretty comfortable in most keys. F# and Db (concert) aren't called very often so they are a bit more of a challenge simply because I rarely get to play in them, outside the practice room. Still, I don't learn tunes in all 12 keys, especially those with a relatively complex melody. So if someone calls a tune in a different key than the one I've played it in 100 times, I'd have trouble, due to 'muscle memory' if nothing else. For me, it's not so much a matter of not liking certain keys, rather it's having to break the habit of playing a tune in a key I'm used to playing that tune in. If that makes any sense...

OTOH, if the melody/head is simple and it's more a matter of soloing in the different key, I don't have a problem with that. Have to be flexible when dealing with singers. Luckily, most of my gigs are blues, R&B, so this isn't as big an issue as I think it would be with jazz standards. Most of the jazz tunes I play are instrumentals, so the singer doesn't come into it.
 

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I liked the suggestion to slide the key one-half step either way for vocalists who THINK they need those odd-ball (for most horn players) keys. But again, that may require that the musicians have the skills to do that. DAVE
Yeah, that's a sure fire way to **** the singer off. Like it or not, on vocal tunes the singer pretty much runs the show, and your job is to give them whatever they need to comfortably deliver a quality performance. If I'M singing a tune, and I tell the band Ab, and they play it in either A or G, someone is getting an earfull at breaktime, trust me......
 

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I happen to play in a band with singer and we've changed a few singers, almost invariably we had to adapt the keys with every new singer , let alone when I participate(d , there haven't been any Jam session for nearly 1 year!) to a jam where any singer who shows up calls a different key (if they even know the key they like to sing) .

Just recently, after we resumed, rehearsals after 9 months, a new change of key for some songs took place because the singer felt more comfortable scatting in a different key... anyway

We play these too ( I have indicated what I real pro calls default )

Fly Me to the Moon. G ( default C)
All of Me Key of G ( default C)
Summertime Dm default (Cminor)
Lover Man Key Bb ( default key F)
Girl From Ipanema F ( default key F)
Cheek To Cheek G ( default in C)
God Bless the Child Eb ( Default key Eb)

I have to say that I agree with this

Yeah, that's a sure fire way to **** the singer off. Like it or not, on vocal tunes the singer pretty much runs the show, and your job is to give them whatever they need to comfortably deliver a quality performance. If I'M singing a tune, and I tell the band Ab, and they play it in either A or G, someone is getting an earfull at breaktime, trust me......
the voice can only flex so much, but what is the point to bring the singer to sing in an impossible or uncomfortable key?

The many singers which we've had and auditioned almost all started with " I can play in all standard keys" until they couldn't and then all of them have made us change keys. It was good. Learning every possible song in 12 keys is really not realistic, you learn it when you have to and sometime you do things on the fly , after all the singer sings the " Theme" and you do fill ins and solo ( with a bit of freedom there)
 

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And of course the old joke....

A pianist and singer are rehearsing ‘Autumn Leaves’ for a concert and the pianist says, ‘OK. We will start in G minor and then on the third bar, modulate to B major and go into 5/4. When you get to the bridge, modulate back down to F# minor and alternate a 4/4 bar with a 7/4 bar. On the last A section go into double time and slowly modulate back to G minor.’

The singer answers, ‘I don’t think I can remember all of that.’

The pianist replies, ‘Well, that’s what you did last time.’
 

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Strangely enough, just the night before last I was rehearsing with a band I've only played with for a short time. They brought in a singer who called "Unchain My Heart" in Cmin. I've played it many times in Amin (seems to be the usual key) and also in Gmin, but never in Cmin. I actually was surprised at how easy it was to play it right off in the new key. Some tunes transpose much easier than others. "Summertime" is another one that I find easy to play in any key. I guess a lot depends on the tune and also on how well you know it.
 

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It's also been my experience that much of the "Great American Songbook" seems to be written for male tenor or baritone voice. When I've played these tunes with a female singer, more often than not they prefer a key around a fourth or fifth away from standard, as the standard key is going to be too high or too low depending on what octave they try to sing in. Hence, you get stuff like Girl From Impanema in Bb or C. It's probably a good idea to have at least those transpositions down, for situational purposes......
 
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