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Hi

I had some trouble finding a community band to play soprano sax in. Just curious now. In what band do you play soprano more than 85% of the time?

I now play in a community band. They focus on some march and entertainment music for orchestra. They will give me parts for oboe, trumpet, maybe clarinett if lacking numbers.(sop sax if in arrangement)
I did search some time in my area to find this community band. Others have said they dont need, or its not music written to soprano for what they play.


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Looks like you have a lot of fun :)
Most fun of any group I've ever played with. Every gig is an adventure.

I used to only play soprano with a Dixieland band, but just for spot soloing as my main horn with that group was tenor. But when I joined the brass band, they had a tenor man, so I started bringing my soprano to gigs and it seemed to stick. Now we're playing a gig or two a week and my soprano is getting more work now than ever before.
 

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Most fun of any group I've ever played with. Every gig is an adventure.

I used to only play soprano with a Dixieland band, but just for spot soloing as my main horn with that group was tenor. But when I joined the brass band, they had a tenor man, so I started bringing my soprano to gigs and it seemed to stick. Now we're playing a gig or two a week and my soprano is getting more work now than ever before.
Just one question. If there is woodwinds in it, is it still a brassband?
In my area we would not call it brass band. That is what has been holding me back from contacting the brass bands in my area, none of them has any saxophones at all.
I do think sop sax fits in quite nicely in that kind of band.
 

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If there is woodwinds in it, is it still a brassband?
For the New Orleans style, tenor is standard for such groups; and often is the lead soloist. As the tenor man isn't always with the group, I sometimes play tenor instead of soprano, but that's usually when there's just a few of us sitting in with another group as a horn section. Our brass band can have anywhere from three to twenty players show up, depending on the gig. Sometimes our group has a full sax section (soprano, alto, tenor and bari). The guys think the soprano gives our group a little of that traditional New Orleans (Dixieland) flavor, so what began as me bringing it to a rehearsal on a whim turned into me basically playing it full time with what we do. It sort of distinguishes us as well. Plus... I'm louder than the trumpet players. Odd, I know.
 

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I'll point out you might also have the British style brass bands wherever you are, too-no woodwinds in that one! Just a bunch of valved brass, trombones, and percussion in that.
(Edit: yep, looked at your location-Norway most definitely has British style ones! They probably also have some New Orleans style ones too, though.)

As for my old Yani Soprano, it tends to only be played at home, as my time quality's not ever as good as I like it-I get to hear soprano saxophones played really well in concert or jazz bands sometimes here at USM, though! I mainly hear it in wind ensemble concerts here, a noticeable chunk of what gets played here calls for soprano parts.
 

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Strictly trad-jazz (Dixieland) for me - and it has been that way for 62 years . . . full trad bands with at least three horns in the front line, and trios and duets playing old jazz and Tin Pan Alley material. Soprano saxophone is my main instrument with some clarinet or alto sax on certain tunes. All improv and head-arrangements. DAVE
 

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Saxophone quartet.

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Yes, there is the British style brass band. Dont think I have seen a brass band in my area with sax. I wish there was though, would be fun to join one. There is some saxophone bands, but I dont think I am good enough yet :)
 

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Yes, there is the British style brass band. Dont think I have seen a brass band in my area with sax. I wish there was though, would be fun to join one. There is some saxophone bands, but I dont think I am good enough yet :)
Dixieland/trad jazz is the place for soprano.

You can take the cornet role, playing leads, or you can take the clarinet role, playing filigree ornamentations, or you can (more difficult) find a place in between cornet and clarinet. To me, that last version is tougher because now you have three voices in the same general pitch range, whereas tenor sax or trombone have different voices and different roles.

Personally I really like playing the leads on soprano sax when there's not a cornet player. That's kind of what Bechet did.

Big bands and concert bands, not really much opportunity for soprano. There are usually too many trumpets anyway, and rarely any parts actually written for soprano.

The saxophone quartet is another good opportunity, as something like 30-50% of the repertoire is written with a soprano in the quartet, which means a lot of pieces. Maybe you could start your own sax quartet?

You could start a quartet doing Monk tunes like Steve Lacy.
 

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During the last year or so of the band I was playing with (and folded because of old-age issues) we often had difficulty in finding subs for the cornet-chair. So, the leader hired a second reed (clarinet/alto sax) and I played the lead-line on soprano saxophone. While it was not in the best tradition of old-tyme jazz, it worked. I'm sure some missed the cornet-sound, but the melody was stated and everyone had a fun time playing and listening. We did a variety of material from Dixie standards to the more exotic examples of trad-jazz. There were several old-jazz combos that had great success without a trumpet/cornet lead (Jimmie Noone and Sidney Bechet - previously mentioned - comes to mind). DAVE
 

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I had some trouble finding a community band to play soprano sax in. Just curious now. In what band do you play soprano more than 85% of the time?
None. If that's what you want to do, you need to start either a saxophone quartet, or some kind of jazz combo, and make yourself the group's soprano player.

There is actually a goodly amount of music for concert band that includes a soprano sax part. This ranges from old stuff, e.g., Toccata Marziale by Ralph Vaughn Williams, to new music, such as Night on Fire by John Mackey. But this is the key: there is nowhere near enough such music to support a permanent soprano saxophone chair in a concert band. In this respect, the soprano sax is to the symphonic band as the saxophone in general is to the symphony orchestra.

Different ensembles have tighter or looser restrictions on their instrumental ranks, but I'd guess that most professional, university, and high-level amateur concert bands would not allow a clarinet or trumpet part to be regularly played by a soprano sax. Playing an occasional cue is one thing, but joining a section with the wrong horn tends to be frowned upon, unless a "come one, come all" philosophy about serving musicians is paramount.
 

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I have played some soprano in certain groups I work with but never 85% of the time. These groups play pop music of the '50s, '60s and '70s. I had never played a soprano before getting one in 1998 - I always played tenor and alto before that. Over the years I worked it in to more numbers. One thing I found was people love the soprano, and fortunately, most of the time they don't have the ear to tell if you're in tune or not. :)
 

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I guess I’m one of the few who hates seeing a soprano in a Trad band.
I remember subbing at a dinner theater where the guy they hired didn’t play clarinet and was playing Ain’t Misnehavin’ on soprano. I told the MD I didn’t think I could stomach that and took my clarinet. I’m a crappy clarinet player now but at the time I enjoyed it and the MD did too.
I only play soprano on Funk or more modern stuff.
 

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Played soprano and alto in a local quartet that was affiliated with a college. Had a real good time playing gigs with a wide variety of music from classical to pop charts for about 4 years. Two members (bari and tenor) moved due to job relocations so that put an end to it. Was difficult (in this town) to find replacements. I would imagine (as previously stated) that forming a quartet would be your best bet if you can find 3 players who share the same interest.
 

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Maybe it's just because of the level, but in high school and college there was always at least one big band chart that called for soprano (I suppose because they don't expect many HS and college-level kids to double on clarinet for jazz). Many were more modern arrangements of older standards that would have used clarinet originally (my jazz band in college did an arrangement of Mood Indigo that called soprano). You're more apt to see it I think in more contemporary compositions or arrangements.

But to echo what others are saying, I highly doubt you'll find a group that used soprano as often as you're asking, at least in a jazz context. Keep in mind that soprano didn't really catch on until fairly late, and long after the standard sax section of alto/tenor/bari was firmly established. While there were older players like Bichette (and just for fun, here's Johnny Hodges on soprano) who did play it, I think it wasn't until Coltrane's recording of My Favorite Things that the soprano really gained traction.
 

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There have been several world-class trad bands (including original jazz bands of the '20's and then into the trad-jazz-revival era in the early 1940's up 'til now) that have used soprano sax in the high-reed role. So while whaler and a few others may HATE seeing a soprano in a trad band, the presence of a soprano saxophone in a trad jazz band is certainly authentic and well within the tradition of the music.

And, if you examine many old photos from the Jazz Age, you'll see soprano saxes displayed among the instruments lined up in front of the bands. I disagree with the claim that Coltrane or other modernists (as I've seen claimed in earlier posts) created the popularity of sopranos. DAVE
 
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