Sax on the Web Forum banner

1 - 20 of 28 Posts

·
Forum Contributor 2013-2019
Joined
·
1,010 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
(Apologies for the long rant…)

I play tenor (mostly) in several gigging bands – a jam band and three jazz band. In the jam band I am the only horn, in one of the jazz groups I am the only horn, and the other two we also have an alto player. Recently we have had other horns sitting in with all of these bands (most invited, but last week a trumpet player we know showed to a jazz gig to hear the band and invited himself to sit in). In the jam band, I have put in a lot of time listening to our recordings (I record every gig) to develop nice horn lines, and also have worked on lines with the lead guitarist. (Our guiding principle is “tight heads, loose jams.”) I have also worked on horn lines for the jazz bands which has a vocalist that will usually do just a few tunes, but occasionally an entire gig – so I’ve worked with her (and the alto player) on the line/fills behind her.

In all the recent cases (maybe 5 or 6 gigs the past few months) where someone sat in, they just played without regard for the arrangements the bands have worked up. Essentially, they are playing over me, not coordinating what they are playing with the others, and creating more noise than music (IM – admittedly biased – HO). The performance ends up sounding like crap - amateurish. This is especially noticeable in the jam band where we have some intricate arrangements. On our last jazz gig it turned into a free-for-all jam session rather than a gig. And in all cases, when they were invited to play a few tunes, they stayed for an entire set or even an entire gig. At one gig I pretty much stopped playing, and even contemplated packing up.

I sit in with a lot of bands, and my approach is first not to play and to listen to hear what the others are doing, try to avoid stepping on anyone else’s playing, and to try to play lines that fit if I can figure it out. If not, I’ll just take a solo when told to and will try to keep it short out of deference to the other band members. Also, I will play only a couple of tunes unless invited to keep playing.

All of the people sitting in are people we all know, are friends of the band and generally good musicians. We all hang out, often sit in or sub in with each other’s bands. I know I could complain but don’t want to upset the positive social dynamic.

I have a gig coming up this weekend. The person who turned us on to the gig is a horn player I used to play with in another band. He invited himself and another sax player from that old band to sit in tonight. I am thinking of telling them to lay out on all the heads and just take solos when told.

I have subtly raised the issue with a couple of (non-horn) band members in a couple of the bands, but they have been mostly OK with what’s happening.

Am I over-reacting? Am I the only one who feels like they are intruding when sitting in, am cautious about not over-playing and am just grateful to play a tune or two? I fear the band is going to sound like crap this weekend. I hate it when my band sounds like crap.

Rant over. Thanks for listening.
 

·
SOTW Columnist and Forum Contributor 2015-2016
Joined
·
3,832 Posts
Here's the question to ask yourself: is the audience having fun, is the establishment happy with the atmosphere, and are these guys sitting in buying drinks/food or bringing other people who buy drinks/food?

Regardless of what you think musically about the situation, usually the point of having a band is to bring in customers. If these guys sitting in are generating income for the establishment, then suck it up and try to make the best of it.

If they're NOT paying customers or bringing in more people, bring it up with the bandleader. Play him examples of times when they've played with you guys, and examples of when they haven't played. See if he cares about the quality of the playing.

It's easy to get worked up on this stuff, but ultimately we're just there to provide entertainment and/or generate revenue for an establishment. If the patrons are happy and having fun, I'd say just let it roll.

BTW - I've had this happen many times before and it drives me INSANE as well. But the guys were buying food, drinks, bringing other people....so it was better for the band and the establishment to let them keep coming and playing.

- Saxaholic
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2015-
Joined
·
32,949 Posts
Our guiding principle is “tight heads, loose jams.”
I really like that. Do you share those words with your band and guests? Seriously. I think it’s great.

I am thinking of telling them to lay out on all the heads and just take solos when told.
Consider putting in terms that lead your guests to come to the same conclusion. Something like... “Have you heard our band before? We find that we sound best when the heads are pared down, tight, and crisp. We’d love to have you play a few solos with us, then we’ll finish up the outtro.

Am I over-reacting? Am I the only one who feels like they are intruding when sitting in, am cautious about not over-playing and am just grateful to play a tune or two? I fear the band is going to sound like crap this weekend. I hate it when my band sounds like crap.

Rant over. Thanks for listening.
No, man, there’s no shame in caring about your music. Good rant.

On the other hand, if the rest of your band is good with the evolution to a looser vibe, you may need to either accept it or move on. I played with one band for several years before my wife finally faced me with it. She reflected to me that I was always upset when I cam home from gigs with that band, and called me to consider why I kept playing with them. I had joined the band to build my musical network - the people were all nice enough, many were very accomplished, but the drummer SUCKED. I quit, and committed my energies to other groups.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2015-
Joined
·
32,949 Posts
It's easy to get worked up on this stuff, but ultimately we're just there to provide entertainment and/or generate revenue for an establishment. If the patrons are happy and having fun, I'd say just let it roll.
Well, that’s another way of looking at it... Heck, why bother playing jazz? We know that other genres are much more popular.

Blues in E, anyone?
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2014
Joined
·
5,160 Posts
I'm with you. The sit-in should be by invite only for one tune unless there is a VERY clear invitation from the band to play another. It's extremely frustrating to put in work on a group only to have someone step all over everything.

That's one thing I do miss about my wedding band days. We had a tight set-list with no 'jazz' guys hangin' around looking to break into the scene. We also all got paid A LOT.
 

·
Forum Contributor 2013-2019
Joined
·
1,010 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
Thanks to all for the advice

Here's the question to ask yourself: is the audience having fun, is the establishment happy with the atmosphere, and are these guys sitting in buying drinks/food or bringing other people who buy drinks/food?
Good point. In this case no - they drink off the band tab and have not brought in any guests. I guess if they did I would be much happier about it. And on the last gig the audience started leaving and I was a bit worried we might not be asked back.



Consider putting in terms that lead your guests to come to the same conclusion. Something like... “Have you heard our band before? We find that we sound best when the heads are pared down, tight, and crisp. We’d love to have you play a few solos with us, then we’ll finish up the outtro.
Good advice, thanks. In most cases, especially this weekend, they are very familiar with our music - which actually makes it even more maddening. But I like how you put it - I'll give it a try this weekend. More like- "You know our music and how we try to play our heads tight - so why not just play a few solos with us, then we’ll finish up the outtro."
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2013
Joined
·
7,356 Posts
I feel like "sitting in" in that capacity should mean 1)You are personally invited to come play and it is discussed which numbers you'll be playing on and 2) only taking a solo on each of those numbers and perhaps playing a small amount if the tune has a jam or groove section.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,045 Posts
Are you the band leader ?

If so, organise matters so that guest musicians only play on one of your three (?) sets — and then only when called up to the stand. You announce them over the PA: "And now ladies and gentlemen, it's time for the sit-in set — John Smith will be sitting in with us for the next number".

They play on one number (if they play crap), two (if they're okay), or three numbers maximum (if they're top notch), after which they are thanked via the mike:

"Please put your hands together for John Smith who was sitting in with us on the last (two) number(s) — Wasn't he great ? Thanks, John - see you next time, old buddy ! Now, ladies and gentlemen, that's the end of the sit-in set and now it's time for a short pause for a worthy cause…" Then you take a break.

Anyone who wants to sit in on the next set is told, pleasantly, "Oh hell, buddy, sorry, but you missed the sit-in set — we're doing arrangements now — — hey, why don't you come along a bit earlier next week and sit in then ?"

Anybody that doesn't like it can get stuffed — let them find their own gig to monster in…
 

·
SOTW Columnist and Forum Contributor 2015-2016
Joined
·
3,832 Posts
Well, that’s another way of looking at it... Heck, why bother playing jazz? We know that other genres are much more popular.

Blues in E, anyone?
Isnt that all everyone wants to hear for every song with a slightly different tempo??

- Saxaholic
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2013
Joined
·
7,356 Posts
Isnt that all everyone wants to hear for every song with a slightly different tempo??

- Saxaholic
Well, you got your Chicago Blues, you got your delta blues, you got your shuffle, you got your funky blues, you got your blues waltz, you got your rumba.

So, yeah. Blues in E could literally be an entire set.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
3,220 Posts
Whoever the leader of the band is needs to make the decision- they sit in or not. If it's a collective deal, you need to come to a consensus about if they should play or not. It's bad form for people to assume they should sit in just because they show up and bring a horn.

Quick aside- a guy showed up at a gig I was at last night (music venue in NYC, not my band) with a tenor. He's not in the band, and doesn't know anyone in the band. Starts talking to me about 15 minutes before we hit- "Hey so what kind of music do you play? Do you have Bb charts? No? Oh it's ok I'll just try to hear it." Who the hell does he think he is?! Needless to say he DID NOT get his horn out or play with us. *** is wrong with people?
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2015-
Joined
·
32,949 Posts
Quick aside- a guy showed up at a gig I was at last night (music venue in NYC, not my band) with a tenor. He's not in the band, and doesn't know anyone in the band. Starts talking to me about 15 minutes before we hit- "Hey so what kind of music do you play? Do you have Bb charts? No? Oh it's ok I'll just try to hear it." Who the hell does he think he is?! Needless to say he DID NOT get his horn out or play with us. *** is wrong with people?
I’d start laughing at him like a crazy man, then say “What? You’re serious? My bad.”
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
14,268 Posts
Blues in E?! I detest generic blues-tune calls. There are SO many great old blues tunes with actual melodies (and many which do not follow the boring blues chord-pattern). But I play trad and the blues from that era are noted for their melodies. Yes, we have been over THAT subject before here on SOTW.

As far as sit-ins go, in my view it this epitome of tastelessness to 1) barge in uninvited, or 2) to stay up there after the tune is played, unless invited to stay by the band leader. A weak band leader will lead to a gig being cancelled. A strong leader will protect the band's gig, the band members, and the audience from a poor performance. DAVE
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,205 Posts
(Apologies for the long rant…)

I play tenor (mostly) in several gigging bands – a jam band and three jazz band. In the jam band I am the only horn, in one of the jazz groups I am the only horn, and the other two we also have an alto player. Recently we have had other horns sitting in with all of these bands (most invited, but last week a trumpet player we know showed to a jazz gig to hear the band and invited himself to sit in). In the jam band, I have put in a lot of time listening to our recordings (I record every gig) to develop nice horn lines, and also have worked on lines with the lead guitarist. (Our guiding principle is “tight heads, loose jams.”) I have also worked on horn lines for the jazz bands which has a vocalist that will usually do just a few tunes, but occasionally an entire gig – so I’ve worked with her (and the alto player) on the line/fills behind her.

In all the recent cases (maybe 5 or 6 gigs the past few months) where someone sat in, they just played without regard for the arrangements the bands have worked up. Essentially, they are playing over me, not coordinating what they are playing with the others, and creating more noise than music (IM – admittedly biased – HO). The performance ends up sounding like crap - amateurish. This is especially noticeable in the jam band where we have some intricate arrangements. On our last jazz gig it turned into a free-for-all jam session rather than a gig. And in all cases, when they were invited to play a few tunes, they stayed for an entire set or even an entire gig. At one gig I pretty much stopped playing, and even contemplated packing up.

I sit in with a lot of bands, and my approach is first not to play and to listen to hear what the others are doing, try to avoid stepping on anyone else’s playing, and to try to play lines that fit if I can figure it out. If not, I’ll just take a solo when told to and will try to keep it short out of deference to the other band members. Also, I will play only a couple of tunes unless invited to keep playing.

All of the people sitting in are people we all know, are friends of the band and generally good musicians. We all hang out, often sit in or sub in with each other’s bands. I know I could complain but don’t want to upset the positive social dynamic.

I have a gig coming up this weekend. The person who turned us on to the gig is a horn player I used to play with in another band. He invited himself and another sax player from that old band to sit in tonight. I am thinking of telling them to lay out on all the heads and just take solos when told.

I have subtly raised the issue with a couple of (non-horn) band members in a couple of the bands, but they have been mostly OK with what’s happening.

Am I over-reacting? Am I the only one who feels like they are intruding when sitting in, am cautious about not over-playing and am just grateful to play a tune or two? I fear the band is going to sound like crap this weekend. I hate it when my band sounds like crap.

Rant over. Thanks for listening.
I had to check the author to make sure this wasn't something I wrote:) My experience is these guys, some great players some lousy, doesn't matter, tend to play without regard to what's happening in the music. I try to play sparsely, where it adds something, then hang back when it sounds good without a horn. They think "hey the sax guy's not playing anything so I'll play". And there goes my ability to contribute by not always having a sax in the mix. It's maddening. But this happens for me mainly in a band in which I've subbed for several years. So I know the tunes but it's not my band. Still is aggravating. On the other hand, it's possible (and sometimes happens) that someone is invited in, and is paying attention, looking for horn parts we can play together, etc. and it's so much nicer... I've told the band leader if other players are showing up to sit in I'll sit out. Easier that way... Or if there's 2 or 3 at once I just pack up:)
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2009
Joined
·
5,387 Posts
Heres my 2 cents. If someone hires our band (Jami Jamison band) they hire us expecting her to sing, me to wail on my sax and the guitar player to play wicked great leads. I wouldn't spend my money to' hire a band I liked just to hear joe and his friends try to play a song they have never heard. Our songs have beginnings, endings, parts, and hits. We aren't harmonically advanced but we are tight and get a great pocket. so what our leader does is if a monster sax guy is out there he asks me if its okay for that guy to sit in.Since its my solos he's going to take. Ive said yes and Ive said no. they sit in for three songs and then they are gone. But thats our rules, its always to the leader. You hired a band for a product . not for a vehicle for all the non working musicians to sit in? I've been asked to sit in many many times but I hate doing it so I dont'. I'm aware that any solo I take is taking something away from the guy who usually plays it. Unless its a late 4 hour gig where I want someone to suck up 10 mins of time in the 4th set I don't like to play with guys sitting in? Thiink of it as a football team. everybody knows what the play is except the sit in guy? its not fair to the audience. Also bear in mind my mind set on a gig is to make the singer and band sound great. For most people sitting in it seems to be to make themselves look great K
 
1 - 20 of 28 Posts
Top