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Here are a few tips for bandstand solo etiquette and on gaining acceptance among the established players.
  1. When it's your turn to solo, wait until your first chorus begins and the previous soloist or the ensemble has finished. Did you ever notice that the oldtimers take their time getting to the microphone when it's their turn? The chorus might be into its 2nd or 3rd measure before they play the first note. Whatever you do, don't start playing a busy and obtrusive intro to your solo during the last measure of the previous chorus, particularly if the other guy it still playing. It's rude to step on his finish, and it signals that you are not a veteran jazz player.
  2. Begin your solo with simple, understated lines. Don't show everything you've got in the first three measures. Make the first chorus an easygoing one as if you are feeling your way into the tune. Build on that in the subsequent choruses of your solo.
  3. Don't take more choruses than the player ahead of you. Don't take more choruses than what you have to say.
  4. End your solo with subdued tones and lines the same way you started it. Don't go for the big Vegas ending. Don't do something flashy that the next guy has to follow. If he's hip, he'll start out quietly, and the contrast will make you look foolish.
  5. Don't noodle, practice the tune, or play accompaniment during someone else's solo. That's why they call it a "solo."
  6. Don't carry on a conversation with the rest of the band while someone is soloing. Pay attention respectfully to the other players' solos.
Just some things to think about.
 

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Oh Al, you're far too polite and civilized.

You obviously don't have much experience with out local
guitar players around here. ;)

They.....
set their amps on stun.
have all sorts of hum and noise coming out.
love distortion.
don't know the correct changes.
wouldn't know the meaning of etiquette, or subtlety.
only know about three tunes, tops.
fix their leads, replace batteries, test effect pedal, tune guitar
etc., all during the sax solo.
 

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kavala said:
Oh Al, you're far too polite and civilized.

You obviously don't have much experience with out local
guitar players around here. ;)

have all sorts of hum and noise coming out.

...they hum because they don't know the words;)
 

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When it's your turn to solo, wait until your first chorus begins and the previous soloist or the ensemble has finished. Did you ever notice that the oldtimers take their time getting to the microphone when it's their turn? The chorus might be into its 2nd or 3rd measure before they play the first note. Whatever you do, don't start playing a busy and obtrusive intro to your solo during the last measure of the previous chorus, particularly if the other guy it still playing. It's rude to step on his finish, and it signals that you are not a veteran jazz player.
What if specifically in the music that is played the best thing is to play an intro to the solo? Sometimes in some music that is the most logical thing to play. I've heard this played in a good way and I've heard it played badly.

Begin your solo with simple, understated lines. Don't show everything you've got in the first three measures. Make the first chorus an easygoing one as if you are feeling your way into the tune. Build on that in the subsequent choruses of your solo.
What if the music needs something different than "understated lines"? You can't play something that doesn't fit the music. I agree about not showing everything in the first three minutes, but this doesn't happen if you play to fit the music because you will play different ideas every time.

Don't take more choruses than the player ahead of you. Don't take more choruses than what you have to say.
What if the solo and music are built in a way that needs more choruses? Taking less choruses won't be a good idea. Of cyourse it is a bad idea to continue to play after the solo is over.

End your solo with subdued tones and lines the same way you started it. Don't go for the big Vegas ending. Don't do something flashy that the next guy has to follow. If he's hip, he'll start out quietly, and the contrast will make you look foolish.
Again, depends on how the finish fit the specific music.

Don't noodle, practice the tune, or play accompaniment during someone else's solo. That's why they call it a "solo."
Agree with you here, unless the idea is the "noodling". I can actually think of an example where noodling is the accompaniment to the solo and it works very good in the context..

Don't carry on a conversation with the rest of the band while someone is soloing. Pay attention respectfully to the other players' solos.
Agree with you here, but I also think this depends on the situation. In some cases talking a little is fine (though I wouldn't do it anyway).

What I would say, is always play what most fits the specific music that is played, but also be sensitive to other people. Keep the balance betwee the two. That's how I always play.
 

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clarnibass said:
What if specifically in the music that is played the best thing is to play an intro to the solo? Sometimes in some music that is the most logical thing to play. I've heard this played in a good way and I've heard it played badly.


What if the music needs something different than "understated lines"? You can't play something that doesn't fit the music. I agree about not showing everything in the first three minutes, but this doesn't happen if you play to fit the music because you will play different ideas every time.


What if the solo and music are built in a way that needs more choruses? Taking less choruses won't be a good idea. Of cyourse it is a bad idea to continue to play after the solo is over.


I don't think Al wants you to stop by and sit in.

Again, depends on how the finish fit the specific music.


Agree with you here, unless the idea is the "noodling". I can actually think of an example where noodling is the accompaniment to the solo and it works very good in the context..

Agree with you here, but I also think this depends on the situation. In some cases talking a little is fine (though I wouldn't do it anyway).

What I would say, is always play what most fits the specific music that is played, but also be sensitive to other people. Keep the balance betwee the two. That's how I always play.
I'd skip Al's next jam session if I were you. Start your own
 

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The one that really gets to me is the "talking during other people's solo." I know guys who finish soloing and then turn to me and talk about anything and everything... gear, the weather, chicks,people we know...all within five feet of another guy soloing. I HATE THAT !!!!
 

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Mike Cesati said:
I'd skip Al's next jam session if I were you. Start your own
Lol.

Some good tips there Al , nice one.

In fact adding to number 2, mimicing and then developing the last line of the previous solo as a change over is musical and a good take off point.
 

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Al's comments are pretty good and are a good place to start, but, man, would jam sessions get boring if everyone was as polite as that!
 

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I think the whole thing at a jam session is to have respect, and say what you have to say (musically)... good points for beginners are certainly excellent guidelines but don't let them become straight jackets.

-Dan
 

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clarnibass said:
What I would say, is always play what most fits the specific music that is played, but also be sensitive to other people. Keep the balance betwee the two. That's how I always play.
Um.....I think that's what Al's advice boils down to, he's giving specifics to that end.

Al - I can't help but wonder what happened to prompt you to make that post?
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Frank D said:
Al - I can't help but wonder what happened to prompt you to make that post?
I've been putting together some short essays on jazz and improvisation to use in teaching and to share some of what I've learned over the years.

For a more whimsical treatment of the subject, here's something I wrote several years ago when I had a gig hosting an open mic session.

http://www.alstevens.com/openmike.html

And a tune that describes it:

http://www.alstevens.com/tunes/mp3s/openmike.mp3
 

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My personal worst favorite things is when two players want the next solo and both come in playing. One of them stops about 2 measures into playing then looks, points and shouts over to the next saying, "Oh, you want it, you got it" and then starts playing his horn again.

And don't stop your solo with 8 measures left to go in the chorus. My point is-- know when it's your turn and know when your turn is up!
 

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hgiles said:
...And don't stop your solo with 8 measures left to go in the chorus. My point is-- know when it's your turn and know when your turn is up!
Or how about the guy who just won't quit at all?

That gets old very quickly...

We have this one guy who won't give up the solo until somebody just "cuts in" on him...

and even then, sometimes he keeps playing like it was a duet...:evil:
 

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I like this quote from Art Pepper's book "straight life":

. . . Once you become proficient mechanically, so you can be a jazz musician, then a lot of other things enter into it. Then it becomes a way of life, and how you relate musically is really involved.

The selfish or shallow person might be a great musician technically, but he'll be so involved with himself that his playing will lack warmth, intensity, beauty and won't be deeply felt by the listener. He'll arbitrarily play the first solo every time. If he's backing a singer he'll play anything he wants or he'll be practicing scales. A person that lets the other guy take the first solo, and when he plays behind a soloist plays only to enhance him, that's the guy that will care about his wife and children and will be courteous in his everyday contact with people.

'nuff said
 

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Good stuff Al.Of course it is not uncommon for other groups to show up expecting to hog primetime to audition for bar owner/ impress audience/steal your group's hosting of open mike night.
 

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SaxxMan said:
Or how about the guy who just won't quit at all?

That gets old very quickly...

We have this one guy who won't give up the solo until somebody just "cuts in" on him...

and even then, sometimes he keeps playing like it was a duet...:evil:
I have done that once. I try to count and watch at the same time. Since I used to play in a Big Band type Band. I thought the director was going to cut me off, and he never did. So I just kept playing.

It was really embarasing. Hopefully it will never happen again.
 
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