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Just a guy who plays saxophone.
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Memorizing charts is great and should be expected of a band that rehearses and plays together frequently and over a long period of time. The scenario presented is not even close to this situation, so all this stuff about memorizing is completely irrelevant. 🤷‍♂️
 

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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III & Naked Lady
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Memorizing charts is great and should be expected of a band that rehearses and plays together frequently and over a long period of time. The scenario presented is not even close to this situation, so all this stuff about memorizing is completely irrelevant. 🤷‍♂️
I agree, except in the case of standards (Knock on Wood, Sea Cruise, Mustang sally) most gigging musicians in this genre would have those memorised.

Also in other genres - there are certain tunes you just should have memorised or know by ear, such as Auld Lang Syne, Happy Birthday, the national anthem of whatever country you live in.

I realey did those wedding gigs and didn't know all the top 40 stuff so if someone called I will Survive I had a pair of bongoes at the ready. But i remeber onece someone requested In the Mood, and of course all eyes turned to me and I had to go doo ba de boop boop boop boop ba deedle oodle boo be ooh ba dup boo be ooh ba dup... etc

These are things you need to be able to do if you do those gigs. Just as if (on a different level) you get a gig with Van Morrison, he's not going to hand you chart for Moondance or Brown Eyed Girl. You either play it or you look for another job the next day.

But I agree memorising of custom arrangemnts comes with regular playing with that band.
 

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This type of gig sometimes means that the person that hired the band paid for four horns...so there will be four horns on that stage. On each tune one of the players will have a good idea what the horn lines should be, and the rest will follow and harmonize by ear. It can be a blast! One thing that would be better would be trp/alto/tenor/bone but with only saxes, bari/soprano would be good to have in the section.
 

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You made me go and look up what “Sea Cruise” was. Gee, thanks.
Stuff like that falls into my “Set list from Hell” category.
Accept only the original!

 

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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III & Naked Lady
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Accept only the original!
If you read the story of Sea Cruise you'll see that isn't quite the original. It's the same backing I believe but the original recording was Huey Smith, but as yet unreleased. He was away on tour and the record label dubbed Frankie Ford onto the track instead, possibly because he was younger, better looking and white.

But I'm sure it's the same Huey Smith band recording. I didn't think Huey was best pleased because obviously it became a huge hit, and although Huey wrote it, I belive Frankie changed some words to get a co-writer credit.

Later on Huey did release his own version.

It's a great record, one of the firsat to show Jamaican ska influence although what came first, the new Orleans skanking or the Jamaican skanking is open to debate.

Anyway, we digress.
 

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Keilwerth SX90R Tenor, Selmer MVII Alto, Yamaha Flute, Fender American Tele
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That sounds like too many saxes if they are equally experienced to you. You either need charts, or to lose at least one sax.

Have you had any rehearsals yet? Is there a leader among the saxes? How ‘bout a band leader?
Agree with Dr G. In my experience, these types of gigs include tunes like Mustang Sally and Gimme Some Lovin where it's pretty easy to play harmonies with 1 or 2 other horns. More than that is asking for trouble unless you just do stabs the entire time. One option is to stand aside and simply stick to solos when asked.
 

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Hello,

I'm a professional singer but just got back in to playing my sax (professionally) for the first time. I got lucky
and had a few gigs during COVID with my 5-piece band in which I sang lead and played solo on my sax.
I have a gig in July and August with a big band (not mine) and there will be 4 sax players (bari, 2 tenors, and me on alto)
and drums, keys, bass, guitar. I'm kind of nervous because I'm never played pro on my sax with other sax players in a section
and the band manager said there's no horn charts (EEK!). I'm just wondering what do I play if there are other horn players? Just play
by ear? Play unison for the most part? I'm used to seeing horn players using charts when there's more than 2 horn players.
Any advice?

Genre of music is 50's-90's - blues, rock, soul, funk. pop.

Thanks!
Welcome to the jobbing world.
 

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I'm kind of nervous because I'm never played pro on my sax with other sax players in a section
and the band manager said there's no horn charts (EEK!). I'm just wondering what do I play if there are other horn players? Just play
by ear? Play unison for the most part?
The general rule (I follow) is whoever has the highest "voice" leads the horn section. So, if you're in a full big band, then the lead trumpet player sets the pitch, style, articulation, etc, for the rest of the horns, and you as a sax player follow that lead. If it's a trumpet, tenor, trombone combo, again the trumpet player is who you follow. If it's an alto, tenor, tenor, bari combo, then you as the alto player are the lead horn player. It's your job to play in tune (with the rhythm section), dictate the articulation (the length of a given note), dictate the dynamics, etc.

Any advice?
Either own that you are the leader of the horn section and be prepared to 1) play the lead (and solos) on the gig and hope the others horns (can) follow you or 2) write the charts, so you'll all be together or 3) have someone else in the section write the charts or 4) YOLO (you only live once, so what does it matter if this one gig goes up in flames) or 5) decline the gig.

I wish the best, no matter your decision.
 

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Some people on this forum conflate being a professional sax player, who I define to be a person who has received money to produce a sound through a sax, as being a good, or better-than-average, or a great sax player. Sure, there are some sax players who might have been paid to play as a sideman for a famous touring act in Timbuktu, but that doesn't mean they are actually great musicians. Take some of those same players and have them sit in on a jam session at Smalls in New York City and see how their ego feels after that.
 

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Forum Contributor 2016, Distinguished SOTW Member
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Hello,

I'm a professional singer but just got back in to playing my sax (professionally) for the first time. I got lucky
and had a few gigs during COVID with my 5-piece band in which I sang lead and played solo on my sax.
I have a gig in July and August with a big band (not mine) and there will be 4 sax players (bari, 2 tenors, and me on alto)
and drums, keys, bass, guitar. I'm kind of nervous because I'm never played pro on my sax with other sax players in a section
and the band manager said there's no horn charts (EEK!). I'm just wondering what do I play if there are other horn players? Just play
by ear? Play unison for the most part? I'm used to seeing horn players using charts when there's more than 2 horn players.
Any advice?

Genre of music is 50's-90's - blues, rock, soul, funk. pop.

Thanks!
Play mostly unison with a few thirds, fourths and fifths thrown in depending on the tune and harmony and get some cool synchronized dance moves going to make the audience think you are tight and really happening when in fact you are not.......... This might even convince a few of the band members that you are really happening as a horn section when in reality you are really not.......
 

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Forum Contributor 2016, Distinguished SOTW Member
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Play mostly unison with a few thirds, fourths and fifths thrown in depending on the tune and harmony and get some cool synchronized dance moves going to make the audience think you are tight and really happening when in fact you are not.......... This might even convince a few of the band members that you are really happening as a horn section when in reality you are really not.......
Also, many of these horn lines are very repetitive so you have the luxury of playing unison and then changing a note or a few notes every repetition and testing out the harmonies you are trying out. It is hugely important to figure out the key so you can base any harmonies you try off of the key you are playing in.
 

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This thread strikes me a little like jazz novices in the 1970s/80s/90s and beyond discussing how to organize a jam session as though the Real Book did not exist. But it did. Bring your Real Book.

The modern horn section equivalent is the availability of hundreds of horn charts (and horn + rhythm charts) that circulate online that include Sibelius or XML source files. These were originally, I think, written for wedding bands. I use them to get student ensembles in front of audiences and performing as quickly as possible. Like the Real Book used to be, they are not strictly legal, and sometimes not completely accurate. But, they are legible, manipulable (transpose, switch instruments), have rehearsal letters, are based on standard widely available recordings... these benefits more than make up for the glitches. I try to buy as close to the original arranger as I can.

I get the benefit of learning by ear and memorization and what must be the joy of having the confidence and skill to work out collective lines in real time in front of an audience. I try to encourage these things when practical. And, everything depends on the expectations of the gig and the level of the experience of the players. My players --some music majors, most not-- are far more comfortable reading than coming up with arrangements on the fly. If that was the requirement, most simply wouldn't play.

So, I'd suggest parsing the tune list for the songs that have simple, unison, lines and work out those tunes in rehearsal or make sure everyone knows them. For the songs that are going to be time sinks or train wrecks, pick up the charts. It's an investment ($30 a tune, approx., with source file, $20 for pdf --less if you buy collections), but, once you have the files, you have them. As for stands ... in most performance situations, who cares if the horn section has stands? Step out for the solos. The audience's attention is on the vocalist: these days the challenge is to find vocalists who aren't reading the lyrics on their phones.
 
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