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Apart from if I lead my students at our Christmas events, I haven't played with an ensemble since school orchestra (on violin) back in the late seventies - early eighties. Strike that, I did play with a 'scratch orchestra', as they termed it - clarinets and saxes - at an open day at the Guildhall School in London in 2006, sight reading an ensemble piece without rehearsal. I do want to start playing with a band, maybe forming my own, just not had the time to get around to it - plus, there don't seem many interested parties in my area (I've been trying to find a pianist for piano-saxophone duet gigs).

When playing to backing tracks practicing or busking, I have the music in front of me as my 'road map' but don't stick to it precisely, doing my own thing, which may include a modicum of improvisation. The sheets I play from don't often contain chord names or symbols, as a real book may do, so I'm essentially playing by ear but the sheet's there if I need to find my way back. That's my way of doing it, each to their own and all that.
 

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odsum25 said:
Tenorocity, well said on all counts.

Saxplayer67, that's not the put. The point is to have a deep understanding of what's going on in the music. Plus, it just looks bad.

Andrewbowie, my response to you is to learn more tunes! Just study a couple each week intently and you'll know hundreds before you know it. I try to study a tune each day if I can, learning by ear first and then looking at a lead sheet, going to the piano to work out the harmony and substitutions, etc. I learn by ear to really ingrain it in my mind. I read very well and memorize that way as well, but my playing on those tunes seems forced.
'It looks bad'. So all those dudes in a big band should throw their music out? One gets the same amount of applause whether reading from manuscript or not, my man - I do both. Throwing your sax around a little and looking like you're really into it (I do a genuine amount of this) makes it look good too. Many dudes out there MAKE it look like they're doing something amazing but in truth, they're not. Not trying to start another argument but that's what I FEEL and one can't argue with someone's feelings.
 

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odsum25 said:
I'm not talking about ensembles. I'm a pianist as well and have played lots of music classical and jazz. Solo piano, you never play with music. Accompanying and chamber music you do. Concertos you do not, while the orchestra does. I use charts in big bands.

And I'm not saying looks good in a showy sense. But if someone shows up on stage in a combo, no matter who they are (and I've seen name players use music,) it just doesn't look professional and makes the audience feel that this person didn't do their homework enough to learn the tunes cold. This is especially important to the lead voice at the front of the stage.
Who am I to challenge an ages-old tradition?:D
 

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I never even owned a 'real' real book. I was given a CDR with about a dozen fake/real books as PDF files a while back but don't really look at it much. When I do solo, it's not to live musicians and I don't even think of the chord sequence, I just play it as I hear it. Maybe I'd think differently if getting a band together but in my neck of the woods, there don't appear to be any musicians up for forming a little band or even a duo (which is what I'm after, as previously mentioned)! Except of course for the ensembles such as the Kent Youth Jazz Orchestra and Invicta Jazz.
 

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milandro said:
Seriously, listen to a great solo of the great musicians of your choice peple like Coltrane, Parker, Brecker......how do you think the music appears in their mind and is there any time to think of any harmonies or anything that technical like that in order to do what they are doing? They know this things, more or less consciously, but they let the devil in them completely loose and their devil is a bloody good sax player!
I can't believe that someone like Bird was thinking of chords/changes and so on, whilst playing lightning fast solos. He would no doubt have had a greater knowledge than I do of such things and had that knowledge internalised and in his 'muscle memory' but I think many of today's players are boring for the very reason that they ARE thinking of chords and so on.

When I hear Sonny Rollins, maybe moreso live than in the studio, he sounds like it's (and it IS) coming out spontaneously, which is why I prefer him to any number of today's players.
 
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