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Hello, I just started a jazz quartet and now I'm looking for suggestions of what we should play. Our instrumentation is Saxophone(me),Piano,guitar,and drums. Might switch out the guitar player with a bass player later. I have an alto, tenor, soprano and bari. We're thinking about doing Take 5 and 15 Bar Blues by Prof. Glenn Ginn at Morehead State so far. Video recording of 15 Bar Blues is here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Af_i2t3kgWU&feature=related I'm the leader on the group and know nothing about running a jazz quartet, If you have some experience being the lead of a Jazz Trio, Quartet,ect I would love to hear some tips or pointer. Thanks!
 

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High School? I think you guys have been around the block a few times since then. I liked the laid back feel of 15 bar blues. Everybody was pretty solid. Your sop work was very good. Good tone, feeling, and not trying to overwhelm us with technical prowess (what a relief!). Nice cruisey very listenable music. Not very exciting, but hey, that's more than OK.

Not sure anyone can give you what you're asking for. Depends mostly on what you like (as a group) playing and what your aim is. If you just want to play easy (to listen to) standards then there are likely to be venues for this as background music. If you have ambitions then you may wish to play more original stuff or at least less known and push a little harder.

Being a leader in any group is a matter of discipline and compassion. You've also got to decide on how democratic you want it to be, e.g. who decides on the tunes to be practiced and played? How malleable are your other musicians? Do they trust and want to follow your vision? Group dynamics is a topic unto itself and every group is a collection of individuals who each have their own point of view. The closer you all are in your vision the easier it is.

Not much help I'm afraid, but I enjoyed listening as I was expecting a bunch of (high school) pimple pushers trying to impress. So much better than that!
 

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Wade...That was the Morehead State University Jazz Faculty playing one of the tunes Saxguy mentioned. Nice tune...

Saxguy...Are you hoping to work up tunes for a public performance, or is the group mainly just for the experience of playing together in a group? If it's the latter, which I think is a great idea, there doesn't really have to be a leader as such as long as you can get your heads together enough to agree on what tunes to work on during any given session. It might even be a good idea to take turns calling the tunes...either on a tune by tune basis, or on a session by session basis. The REAL BOOKS are a great resource for this, and if you don't already own at least one Real Book, it would be a good thing for each of you to invest in. Just make sure you all get the same edition.

For the sake of learning to play together as a group, I would suggest starting with tunes that perhaps aren't as challenging as Take 5. It's easy to get discouraged if you immediately jump in on some of the more difficult tunes right from the start. The experience of playing together as a group is the most important thing, as well as having fun. It's much more fun if you sound good as a group, and it's going to be easier to sound good if you start with music that you can all handle. (Not saying that you can't handle Take 5, but it's definitely not the first thing I would throw at a high school level jazz combo that's just getting off the ground). I'm not suggesting Mary Had A Little Lamb either...but there are plenty of great tunes in the Real Books to keep you guys busy for a long time...(as well as plenty that I wouldn't suggest tackling until the group has started coming together good). You don't need to try to impress anybody...or yourselves either for that matter. Just take it slow and learn how to make some "simple" tunes sound really good as a group.
 

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It's great to see young musicians getting the opportunity to play/lead their own groups at a young age.

As far as repetoire, depends on what you all like and everyone's skill level. There are many standards and tunes in the mainstream jazz category you could try, but if there's something more contemporary (or even an original tune) that would be great too. In general, I'd suggest newer players to jazz start with tunes not too harmonically complex in keys that everyone can comfortably negotiate.

Here's a few classics you could try...

Any basic 12 bar or bebop blues (e.g. Now's the Time, Billie's Bounce, Blues Walk)
Doxy
Satin Doll
Chameleon
My Little Suede Shoes
Sugar
Blue Bossa
Vivo Sonhando (Dreamer)
Take the "A" Train
All Blues
Four
Green Dolphin Steet
There's is No Greater Love
Autumn Leaves

If this leads to some type of performance, it's nice if you mix things up a little as far as styles/tempo, but that's secondary.

Best of luck!!!
 

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Thought of a few more nice tunes...

Star Eyes
Out of Nowhere

and a few from Horace Silver
The Preacher
Song for my Father
the Jody Grind

Don't know if you like acoustic jazz, electric, mainstream, or whatever. When it comes to playing in a group, you can't go wrong listening to a lot of Miles Davis, Jazz Messengers, Horace Silver. So many great songs, arrangements, and all the terrific sidemen. Those groups really demonstrate how great rhythm sections interact, cook, and work together.

If you like electric or funk, James Brown, Maceo Parker, Head Hunters, and Return to Forever are a few other rhythm section examples.
 

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very good tenor sound, i've liked a lot (it was in another video clip). What's you setup?
 

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Blues are always good. Try to find tunes that change key only once or twice in the tune. Blue Bossa is one. I've written seveal tunes for middle school jazz combo that do this. "Autumn Leaves" can be played using nothing but the natural Minor, "Summertime too! "A-Train" (play it Bb, not C). is not that hard to solo on once you learn to do something over the V7#5 chord "A Hundred Years From Today" can be played in three tonalities. I'm assuming here that you are new to improvising.
 

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very good tenor sound, i've liked a lot (it was in another video clip). What's you setup?
Its not me, Its Dr. Gordon Towell at Morehead State. I believe his setup is one of his 4 early Otto Link STM 7*'s and a Mark VI possibly.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Wade...That was the Morehead State University Jazz Faculty playing one of the tunes Saxguy mentioned. Nice tune...

Saxguy...Are you hoping to work up tunes for a public performance, or is the group mainly just for the experience of playing together in a group? If it's the latter, which I think is a great idea, there doesn't really have to be a leader as such as long as you can get your heads together enough to agree on what tunes to work on during any given session. It might even be a good idea to take turns calling the tunes...either on a tune by tune basis, or on a session by session basis. The REAL BOOKS are a great resource for this, and if you don't already own at least one Real Book, it would be a good thing for each of you to invest in. Just make sure you all get the same edition.

For the sake of learning to play together as a group, I would suggest starting with tunes that perhaps aren't as challenging as Take 5. It's easy to get discouraged if you immediately jump in on some of the more difficult tunes right from the start. The experience of playing together as a group is the most important thing, as well as having fun. It's much more fun if you sound good as a group, and it's going to be easier to sound good if you start with music that you can all handle. (Not saying that you can't handle Take 5, but it's definitely not the first thing I would throw at a high school level jazz combo that's just getting off the ground). I'm not suggesting Mary Had A Little Lamb either...but there are plenty of great tunes in the Real Books to keep you guys busy for a long time...(as well as plenty that I wouldn't suggest tackling until the group has started coming together good). You don't need to try to impress anybody...or yourselves either for that matter. Just take it slow and learn how to make some "simple" tunes sound really good as a group.
We're doing this one because it would be fun and two because of public performances. My school's jazz band does a Dinner Dance with a local big band(that i'm also in) and we're hoping to play in between the two bands. I have got some Real Books after reading your post and we'll defiantly be using them.
 
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