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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
And I need your help. We're good, unknown and need to do something to get our name out there. I want all your creative minds from all the markets across America and Canada working together. I am thinking a new band name and stunts to build recognition.

I was thinking of just setting up at public events and playing. Getting appropriate signage etc.

I am also thinking more novelty than anything as big band music to younger non-jazz minded people might not get "big band". Perhaps a jazz band? Swing band? What is more recognizable?
 

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Perhaps arrangements of modern tunes a la Postmodern Jukebox. Pepper them in with standards and try playing community events and festivals, farmers markets, and the like where younger families will hear you.

We've been doing this a bit with charts we can purchase and audiences have responded positively to hearing tunes they know. I've also discussed how we title our band. For better or worse, general audiences have a preconceived understanding of what they'll hear from a 'big band'. We've kicked around simply 'jazz band', 'jazz orchestra', and even things like 'stage band'. :)
 

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And I need your help. We're good, unknown and need to do something to get our name out there. I want all your creative minds from all the markets across America and Canada working together. I am thinking a new band name and stunts to build recognition.

I was thinking of just setting up at public events and playing. Getting appropriate signage etc.

I am also thinking more novelty than anything as big band music to younger non-jazz minded people might not get "big band". Perhaps a jazz band? Swing band? What is more recognizable?
Use the power of the internet. Consistent quality content on YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook goes a long way. Build up your online brand - you will reach A LOT of people!!!
 

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- Make sure the band can play different styles (classic big band, but also Latin, pop, soul, dance music, ...)

- Make sure the band plays with pleasure and shows that (so no nerds staring at scores with a too serious face)

- Try to attract (semi) professional guest soloist and/or singers to perform with the band

- Be active in promotion and marketing (facebook page with regular updates, have a person dedicated to finding gigs)
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I have actually just started on a website. I created an Instagram. We just need to get rolling with thr fb and YT. Great suggestions. I want to get a pop up banner for when we play festivals.

And I need your help. We're good, unknown and need to do something to get our name out there. I want all your creative minds from all the markets across America and Canada working together. I am thinking a new band name and stunts to build recognition.

I was thinking of just setting up at public events and playing. Getting appropriate signage etc.

I am also thinking more novelty than anything as big band music to younger non-jazz minded people might not get "big band". Perhaps a jazz band? Swing band? What is more recognizable?
Use the power of the internet. Consistent quality content on YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook goes a long way. Build up your online brand - you will reach A LOT of people!!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
All of these suggestions are absolutely fantastic. We have the first 2 down. I really like the idea of guest soloists. That's so cool! I know a few guys who would be great.

I like the idea of delegating members to do different elements.


- Make sure the band can play different styles (classic big band, but also Latin, pop, soul, dance music, ...)

- Make sure the band plays with pleasure and shows that (so no nerds staring at scores with a too serious face)

- Try to attract (semi) professional guest soloist and/or singers to perform with the band

- Be active in promotion and marketing (facebook page with regular updates, have a person dedicated to finding gigs)
 

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Unfortunately, the audience for big band music is dying. Literally. Just as the Dixieland jazz audience died before them. You need to gear your marketing more towards what's left of the older generations. Before they're gone.

As a sign of the times, you know what's hip in the old folks homes these days?
Elvis. 50's doo-***. That sort of thing.
 

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I wish the big band I play in would become a rehearsal band and play some jazz and funk, etc.. Lately, the dance gigs have had greater numbers on the stand than in the audience.

Entire programs are geared toward a mere handful of dancers. It was down to one couple on the floor last week. String of Pearls had its' day but I have trouble understanding why it is still necessary.
 

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I play in a big band that plays standard repertoire from 1940-1985 (or so) and another that primarily plays my originals. Those band names are, meh, ho-hum. My favorite big band in the region, though, works with internationally known jazz guest artists and has a band name that I think doesn't pigeon-hole them into feeling obligated to play In The Mood and so on -- the Knoxville Jazz Orchestra. Check them out, http://www.knoxjazz.org/.
 

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Unfortunately, the audience for big band music is dying. Literally. Just as the Dixieland jazz audience died before them. You need to gear your marketing more towards what's left of the older generations. Before they're gone.

As a sign of the times, you know what's hip in the old folks homes these days?
Elvis. 50's doo-***. That sort of thing.
Soon to be Beatles and Stones, Led Zep and Eagles in the wings.

I wish another swing revival fad would come around, like the mid 90s.
 

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Well, how about going back?

Not to the early 40s, the swing craze of the early 90s already did that.

Go further back. Fletcher Henderson. Lunceford. Early Ellington. Bennie Moten. And so on. Stuff that no one has heard before, because no one listens to anything recorded before 1998, any more.
 

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Well, how about going back?

Not to the early 40s, the swing craze of the early 90s already did that.

Go further back. Fletcher Henderson. Lunceford. Early Ellington. Bennie Moten. And so on. Stuff that no one has heard before, because no one listens to anything recorded before 1998, any more.
Great stuff indeed, but as a leader of a big band myself for 14 yrs that pretty much plays late 30's-mid 50's stuff exclusively, I honestly think there's one huge, distinct problem with playing that stuff.
That being, today's players have a VERY difficult time playing that type of music stylistically correct. The musicianship isn't in question as I truly believe players today are more talented and (for lack of a better term) diverse in the types of music they/we all play, but in order to do that stuff justice (and the stuff my band plays from the era I mentioned above), EACH player......including and especially the rhythm section must truly be a dedicated listener and fan of that style. Why? Because SO much has changed regarding the way we now play today.
-Overall sound
-Vibrato
-Articulation
And especially the way those old(er) charts were notated/written rhythmically is SO vastly different from today's typical rhythm and articulation notation. Currently, I'm neck deep in re-writing parts for 8+ charts that my band will be playing in October. I'm looking/copying from the original scores in the hand manuscript of writers like Ray Conniff, Buster Harding, Jerry Gray, etc. and if I didn't re-write the parts to more accurately portray rhythms and articulations the way "today's players" read them, it would be an absolute train wreck. Furthermore, I highly.........HIGHLY encourage, beg, plead etc. for the people in my band to listen to the original recordings and to honestly study the differences in playing styles, so these charts can truly sound as authentic as possible. My players know how serious I am about doing it "right" and even with that, I'd sadly say that probably only 50-60% of them actually do their homework. We manage to pull things off, but it honestly takes a FULL group effort to even come close to doing so. It's a passion (more likely obsession) with me and I often need to remind myself that not everyone in my band is as in to this stuff as I am.
I've played in many big bands over the years with truly world-class musicians, but when we occasionally had to play the "old stuff" it sounded like absolute horse****. Why? Because can you imagine a typical big band from the 30's or 40's trying to play a Thad Jones chart like we now know it should sound and pull it off? I'd bet my bank they would've crashed and burned, just like most bands today crash and burn when trying to play stuff from 80 or so yrs ago. Bottom line.....can it be done? Of course, but trust me, it's one hell of a challenge.

Rant off. ;-)

John
 

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Great post John, I fully agree.

Bottom line is indeed that you need people with Jazz ears to play/feel that old stuff correctly and in my Big Band only a few have those ears.

I also agree that the before Swing styles (1920's and early 30's) are even harder to play.

The Bratislava Hot Serenaders from Slovakia do that in a very good way. I made a thread about them many moons ago:
https://forum.saxontheweb.net/showt...laying-fantastic-music-from-the-20-s-and-30-s

Here is a clip of live concert they did in 2014:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OokqpxI3yos

Very close to the original stuff, like this recording of "Love Letters In The Sand" from Bert Ambrose:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B-l_00PUT_8

But I honestly think that playing this kind of music with an amateur band (if already possible!) won't bring the band much extra concerts.
 

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It's certainly the truth that younger players often don't have a concept of how older styles sound, thus have difficulty reproducing them. I see this sitting in saxophone sections with people who are more recent graduates of the "jazz conservatory industry" and who can play steaming post-bop solos on any chord progression you can imagine, but put the lead alto part of a Charlie Barnet chart in front of them and it sounds like poo. (To be fair, I have also played with young graduates of that industry who can play such things with perfect stylistic integrity.)

However, in many other genres there ARE younger players who are going back to original (ish) sources and listening to how things were genuinely done in "the old days".

A first example would be all the British rock and rollers (Stones, Beatles, Who, etc.) who sought out and deeply studied those old recordings of the early blues artists - Robert Johnson, and the like - and then that knowledge motivated a lot of what they did later, even though (and here we deviate from what I was suggesting, but maybe in a good way) their later work didn't sound anything like Robert Johnson et al.

A more recent, and more apposite, example might be all the young bluegrass players, who are capable of reproducing quite well the sounds of Bill Monroe, the Stanley Brothers, etc., and whose own work deviates from that sound but is - again - informed by it.

There are a small number of old time string band players, as well, who are dedicated to the work of people like Charlie Poole, Elizabeth Cotton, and so on.

So it's certainly possible that young jazz players could start investigating and learning the styles of the ODJB, Jelly Roll Morton, Bechet, King Oliver, early Fletcher Henderson, etc., etc. Someone just has to get the fad started. The recordings are out there.
 

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THIS is a really TOUGH one, because popular/local tastes can vary so much....

I mean, there ARE rekindlings of past genres all the time....they even get renamed (i.e. "Trad Jazz").

A big band is an unwieldy beast...you need lots of space, you are divvying up any $ between lots of people. Casuals and private functions are probably the best sorta venues.

IMHO, I do NOT think playing a 'contemprary' repertoire would necessarily result in any magical popularity. People often associate a big band with swing music...awfully hard to break away from that.

having someone who is adept at social media is probably the best tool at your disposal, non-musically speaking. But musically speaking, I dunno what sort of repertoire could make a bigband 'more popular' or attractive, really. It is, as others have noted, a bygone, nostalgic model in a new millennium world.
There is of course, a place and an attraction for nostalgia, even when such nostalgia is far from an accurate reproduction of the music in its heyday (see Pink Martini, for example - no, not a big band, but a band IMHO absurdly and bafflingly popular - but at the end of the day not all that good, really, albeit they have masterfully figured out their niche and applied their 'formula' incredibly well).

How to navigate all of this is a toughie. Adding an element of performance art or eye candy might well set you apart far more than the band's particular repertoire.

But best of luck with the project. If you have good players and decent arrangements, a big band can be very fun.
 

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Great stuff indeed, but as a leader of a big band myself for 14 yrs that pretty much plays late 30's-mid 50's stuff exclusively, I honestly think there's one huge, distinct problem with playing that stuff.
That being, today's players have a VERY difficult time playing that type of music stylistically correct. The musicianship isn't in question as I truly believe players today are more talented and (for lack of a better term) diverse in the types of music they/we all play, but in order to do that stuff justice (and the stuff my band plays from the era I mentioned above), EACH player......including and especially the rhythm section must truly be a dedicated listener and fan of that style. Why? Because SO much has changed regarding the way we now play today.
-Overall sound
-Vibrato
-Articulation
And especially the way those old(er) charts were notated/written rhythmically is SO vastly different from today's typical rhythm and articulation notation. Currently, I'm neck deep in re-writing parts for 8+ charts that my band will be playing in October. I'm looking/copying from the original scores in the hand manuscript of writers like Ray Conniff, Buster Harding, Jerry Gray, etc. and if I didn't re-write the parts to more accurately portray rhythms and articulations the way "today's players" read them, it would be an absolute train wreck. Furthermore, I highly.........HIGHLY encourage, beg, plead etc. for the people in my band to listen to the original recordings and to honestly study the differences in playing styles, so these charts can truly sound as authentic as possible. My players know how serious I am about doing it "right" and even with that, I'd sadly say that probably only 50-60% of them actually do their homework. We manage to pull things off, but it honestly takes a FULL group effort to even come close to doing so. It's a passion (more likely obsession) with me and I often need to remind myself that not everyone in my band is as in to this stuff as I am.
I've played in many big bands over the years with truly world-class musicians, but when we occasionally had to play the "old stuff" it sounded like absolute horse****. Why? Because can you imagine a typical big band from the 30's or 40's trying to play a Thad Jones chart like we now know it should sound and pull it off? I'd bet my bank they would've crashed and burned, just like most bands today crash and burn when trying to play stuff from 80 or so yrs ago. Bottom line.....can it be done? Of course, but trust me, it's one hell of a challenge.

Rant off. ;-)

John
That is radical thinking, John. Wow. I totally get it. Spot on! Bottom line tho', is that people still need to grok the style - you cannot annotate your way out of vibrato, etc. Or do you have a way to doing that too? Color me "interested".

I have had the good fortune of playing in good bands (and a few lesser ones for contrast), and you are exactly right. And yes, it only takes one or two in a section to make the difference between tight articulation where everyone is "switched on" and "Gee, that was a good try at playing an unfamiliar style".

Yepper, it's just like the difference between doublers and dabblers. Get it right, or leave it in the shed.

Right on.
 

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That is radical thinking, John. Wow. I totally get it. Spot on! Bottom line tho', is that people still need to grok the style - you cannot annotate your way out of vibrato, etc. Or do you have a way to doing that too? Color me "interested".

I have had the good fortune of playing in good bands (and a few lesser ones for contrast), and you are exactly right. And yes, it only takes one or two in a section to make the difference between tight articulation where everyone is "switched on" and "Gee, that was a good try at playing an unfamiliar style".

Yepper, it's just like the difference between doublers and dabblers. Get it right, or leave it in the shed.

Right on.
Thanks for that, George! Hey, I'll be the first to admit that my obsessive/compulsive (self diagnosed) disorder roars in all of its glory when this topic comes up! I can pretty safely say there is no one who's a bigger fan, student, etc. of the music known as the swing era than I am. I'm not gloating about that. Almost to the contrary actually. It's SO frustrating trying to get a band to even 80% play that stuff "right". I won't bore you and all of the others with the gory details and countless stories I have from doing this stuff for going on 15 yrs. I will say it's 100% worth it. Just like most other aspects of the jazz music biz, if I actually got paid for the hundreds or more likely thousands of hours I've invested in this stuff, I'd be sipping from a glass with a little umbrella in it while sitting on a beach somewhere. But I digress... ;-)
To answer your question regarding notating vibrato....... Nope. I think it's pretty much impossible to do in the same way it's impossible to notate what the "correct" vibrato should be for playing a classical piece on alto. Again, it's ALL about listening and as a player, being able to tell the difference between styles. For example, I believe the vibrato used by my favorite classical player (Donald Sinta) was much different than the one usually incorporated by Eugene Rousseau. Who's right? Well, they both are, but unless you really listen to and/or study both, you won't know the difference. Maybe ignorance IS bliss?!
Lastly, here's a glaring example regarding the notation of articulations: On the majority of the original scores in my possession (copies mind you), what we now know to be an accent (<) back then (30's-40's) clearly meant short, as in what we now know as (I call it) a "rooftop" accent (^). Picture quarter notes with this above them (<). Today's player would simply accent those notes and not play them short, but listening to the original recordings, it was played distinctively short, like this (^) is today. In contrast, quarter notes marked with this above them (^) were simply accented and not played short! I won't even get into the tied 8th notes and how differently those are notated today (usually an 8th note followed by an 8th rest), but back then, tied 8ths (especially across the bar line) were always played short. Oops......I just did. ;-)
There's much, much more, but my hands already hurt!

Best...
J.
 

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Hah! I love this discussion, John. Thank you.

And what of giving notes their full due. Can you comment on that? I'll admit that I don't listen to a lot of period music from that era, but I get annoyed when sections don't end notes together - half notes, whole notes, whatever (I'll leave it to someone else to translate this to kilosemidemiquavers for Pete). So much emphasis goes to starting the note, and then the other end of it just doesn't seem to matter. Yes, I have revealed one of my personal pet peeves.
 
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