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Done lots of these. Some folks can hang/blend/chill. Four saxes is a lot for this, depending on each player’s skills.

I like those gigs.
 

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The thing I really don't get is people keep mentioning getting generic charts for these tunes. Even with super standard songs like Mustang Sally, arrangements are different. Not just the fact that the key will very likely be different based on your vocalist, but also form can vary drastically as well. I'm really not sure if everyone just knows that and realizes that of course you may have to drastically adapt every chart you purchase in many, many ways to fit with this band or if people are just unaware of how different a generic chart can be from what any given band might think what playing Mustang Sally means.

If you've got the song list, just learn all the horn lines by ear, and think about ways you can harmonize it. Playing alto, you've usually got the top line anyway, so easy. Much better to just know the couple lines and then pay attention to whats happening in the band than be watching a chart that may or may not add up.

I think plenty of truly great blues and funk bands improvised a lot. So, charts have an obvious limitation. As a starting point, fine. But in an actual gig situation where people start stretching and improvising, you're going to need to learn how to deal with that anyway.
 

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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III & Naked Lady
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What about when a sub comes along and they know maybe half of the songs and not even the correct parts? One word: charts.
I've been in that situation. No problem you just play.

Charts won't help if there isn't a music stand. And who wants to look like dork fiddling with paper and music stands when everyone else is just getting on with a gig?
 

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Probably the best (and most famous) band I gigged with had no charts for a 6 piece horn section.

I see no issue if you are up to the challenge. I've also worked with great horn chance but there's just some other indefinable dimension when you are all playing without charts, either due to memory or even better, inventing on the spot.

Spontaneity, looseness while still being organised - there is some magic to that.
Our charts are memorized, it's a tight well run show.
 

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I've been in that situation. No problem you just play.

Charts won't help if there isn't a music stand. And who wants to look like dork fiddling with paper and music stands when everyone else is just getting on with a gig?
I'm a stickler for having the right horn parts in a song if they were originally written and am against the "you just play" thing. The horn parts were written for a reason and they should be reproduced correctly for consistency which is why I wrote out a book of correct horn charts for one of the bands I play in. That way anyone who can read music can fill in and get consistent results. So, bring a music stand AND a light. Leave it in the car if it's not to be used.

But, if the leader doesn't care enough to get charts then I suppose a free-for-all is in order. The potential problem with that is you get players who think they need to play all the time in every song regardless of whether it fits or not, stepping all over everyone else. You can still take liberties even with charts but you need a foundation.
 

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I may be wrong, but weren't most Motown arrangements from the early period just created by the band in the studio? I know that's different than improvising horn parts on a gig, but I had the impression that there was no master "chart" brought it. More like a lead sheet.
 

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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III & Naked Lady
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problem with that is you get players who think they need to play all the time in every song regardless of whether it fits or not, stepping all over everyone else.
Not if they are professional, and this thread is in the "Working Sax Pros" forum so we would expect to be discussing professional payers, who are unlilely to be professional for long if they have the kind of attitude you are talking about.
 

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Not if they are professional, and this thread is in the "Working Sax Pros" forum so we would expect to be discussing professional payers, who are unlilely to be professional for long if they have the kind of attitude you are talking about.
If you re-read the OPs first post, she doesn't know what to do. So there's a conflict with the section that this thread resides in already. Perhaps this is a "Premium" discussion who are verified "working pros", thereby shutting out the riff raff who don't fit in.
 

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If you re-read the OPs first post, she doesn't know what to do. So there's a conflict with the section that this thread resides in already. Perhaps this is a "Premium" discussion who are verified "working pros", thereby shutting out the riff raff who don't fit in.
Right, but likewise saying you need charts is in direct contrast to her question: what do you do when there are no charts?
There are clear options to help in this case.
So lets just agree charts would be ideal, if she's uncomfortable playing without for whatever reason.
Lets pretend it's gig time and there are no charts. Do you have any recommendations in that case?
Because, realistically, it could come to that. And maybe answering those questions can give a much better idea of how feasible it is or not.
 

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Bottom line: Don’t take a gig that you are not prepared to play. Better to admit upfront that it was a bad decision than to make a shambles on stage. Good luck turning around your cred for your next gig. Sometimes “No, thank you” is the correct answer.

You may be a pro singer, but that doesn’t make you a pro saxophone player. Of course, a pro would know that (as will a lot of listeners).
 

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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III & Naked Lady
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Perhaps this is a "Premium" discussion who are verified "working pros", thereby shutting out the riff raff who don't fit in.
No I didn't mean to imply that at all and I aplogise that it came across like that. It's just there there seemed to be an assumption that not using charts meant there would be a free for all. I'd agree that in somecases that can sadly happen, but all I meant was that if players are professional, or have a professional attitude, then hopefully that wouldn't happen. In my experience it's the attitude that counts and to behonest I have found that players don't have to "technically" be professional to have a professional attitude.

In many cases I have more respect for amateur players as their motives can be more about the music than the money.

But we can't generalise IMO. So back to the thread:
 

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Right, but likewise saying you need charts is in direct contrast to her question: what do you do when there are no charts?
There are clear options to help in this case.
So lets just agree charts would be ideal, if she's uncomfortable playing without for whatever reason.
Lets pretend it's gig time and there are no charts. Do you have any recommendations in that case?
Because, realistically, it could come to that. And maybe answering those questions can give a much better idea of how feasible it is or not.
No charts, don't know what to do = don't take the gig.
 

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No I didn't mean to imply that at all and I aplogise that it came across like that. It's just there there seemed to be an assumption that not using charts meant there would be a free for all. I'd agree that in somecases that can sadly happen, but all I meant was that if players are professional, or have a professional attitude, then hopefully that wouldn't happen. In my experience it's the attitude that counts and to behonest I have found that players don't have to "technically" be professional to have a professional attitude.

In many cases I have more respect for amateur players as their motives can be more about the music than the money.

But we can't generalise IMO. So back to the thread:
Thanks for the clarification. We live to discuss another day.
 

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No charts, don't know what to do = don't take the gig.
ahhhh thats no fun!
But yeah maybe.

However, when she asked specific things about playing by ear, etc, maybe she isn't saying she has no idea what to do. Maybe she just wants some tips.

Anyway, I think it can be a fun conversation on what specific tools can actually help in this situation. This feels like an appropriate conversation for "working sax pros" because a lot of working pro stuff doesn't really get discussed. We often talk about ideal situations. Best mouthpiece, best reed, practice a million hours a day and learn everything. Only perform exact transcriptions of material. But a working musician is all about dealing with compromises. What happens when you're on tour and forget your reed case somewhere and get stuck playing a gig with the only reeds they could find in Cerkno, Slovenia on a Sunday afternoon, Rico 2 clarinet reeds? Or what if you have all the charts memorized and the band you're playing with plays completely different arrangements? That happens all the time... I think we should be able to discuss the ideal as well as how to deal with a situation you're not comfortable with.

I don't think this is such a crazy scenario anyway. And the fact someone asked for advice, why not just give advice to the question asked? How do you play with 4 horns without charts? I think a lot more could be learned from the people here about how you can do that than why you shouldn't. Playing charts being, comparatively, self explanatory.
 

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There you go. Most professional in that genre would not need charts.

If I was booked on that gig, I'd be more concerned about the rider than being given charts and the last thing I'd want is a music stand! :)
Agreed- and I’m willing to bet that if one of the harmony parts were not being played, you’d just pick it up without thought too.
 
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