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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.
I'd agree, being a professional does not bestow greatness - many "semi-professional" and amateur players are way better than me. However I don't see anyone here conflating that.

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.
Now that I would take issue with, it seems you are assuming to be a great musician you have to be a jazz musician. This is absolutely not true.

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.
As a jazz novice in the 80s I did go to jam sessions. Nobody was reading real books. But I do get that on some jam sessions people do read from real books. However this thread is about when there are no charts.
 

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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.
I never heard of these Sibelius and XML horn charts on the internet? Do you happen to have a link where we can check some of them out?
 

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I never heard of these Sibelius and XML horn charts on the internet? Do you happen to have a link where we can check some of them out?
Maybe it's a distinction without a difference, but I remember when the unlicensed Real Books were kept behind the counter, and it seems different to note the existence of a less-than-fully-licensed resource than to post a link that might be seen as an advertisement for a particular vendor. Message sent, and, sites where these charts are available can be easily found: I discovered them when simply searching for horn charts.

As for Mr. Thomas' idea that my earlier post was not related to the topic ... surely, one response to "what to do when there are no charts," is to suggest, "go get the charts," which are available and useful. You had to know to ask for the old Real Book. (For nobodies like me, the Real Book was an important resource.) I was simply suggesting a resource. Snobbery, however, whether intended or not, fully noted. As a guitar player, I rather enjoy the irony of the suggestion I'm too reliant on charts.
 

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surely, one response to "what to do when there are no charts," is to suggest, "go get the charts," which are available and useful.
It certainly is an answer. I may be wrong but I didn't think it was what was at play here or they would have asked where to get horn arrangements. At least that is the what I understood
Snobbery, however, whether intended or not, fully noted.
I never saw that coming! No snobbery was intended, I wish you could explain how anything came across as snobbery.
 

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I never heard of these Sibelius and XML horn charts on the internet? Do you happen to have a link where we can check some of them out?
I think he's just talking about folks with arrangements like this:
(not an endorsement, just an example)
Even those would take a lot of rework to fit the same arrangements the band actually plays and work with the particular instrumentation they have.

Personally, even though I write a lot of 4-part arrangements and consider myself a pretty experienced and accomplished player with an expert knowledge of harmony, I know I could not improvise 4 part harmony on 30+ tunes on the spot with any degree of accuracy. Two and three part is certainly do-able, but four is a different story. This isn't trad jazz where everybody improvises an entirely different line. The chords on each hit have to work and make harmonic sense, with the right inversions, spread and voice leading. It just sounds impossible to me, especially for a sub playing an inner part like 2nd alto. Even pro horn sections with seemingly telepathic powers have to do at least some planning to pull off such a feat in the recording studio. And even experienced players who can hear all the original horn parts from the recordings in their heads would find it challenging to accurately play an inner harmony part that fits in with 3 other horns.

I think the OP in this case is just going to have to stand there and pretend to play most of the time. It all pays the same I guess, and maybe will make the band leader realize these things don't just magically work out by themselves.
 

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I know I could not improvise 4 part harmony on 30+ tunes on the spot with any degree of accuracy. Two and three part is certainly do-able, but four is a different story.
No, four part harmony would be incredibly difficult, probably impossible. I don't think that's what is required here though, especially with songs like Sea Cruise and Mustang Sally.
 

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... surely, one response to "what to do when there are no charts," is to suggest, "go get the charts," which are available and useful.
Well sure that would be one possible answer if the question was not qualified with the fact that the OP was told there would be no charts AND the bandleader didn't allow any charts (for whatever reason). So getting the charts is not on the agenda and the answer has to be how to proceed without charts. One answer may be to not take the gig, but we are also giving suggestions for what to do if the decision is to take the gig. Another fact to consider is the type of music or tunes being played. "Mustang Sally" and similar tunes do not require intricate 4-part harmonies, as Pete pointed out.
 

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It's funny how much push back there is about this concept.
Reminds me of a bassist I used to end up on gigs with while working the jazz scene in Egypt. He came from a classical background and would just play bass solo transcriptions for his solos on gigs saying, well, I can't play a solo better than this. Yeah... maybe you won't play a solo as good as Ray Brown. I guess you're right. You playing a transcription doesn't sound as good as Ray Brown either, by the way.

OK, one more hypothetical: What if you buy these charts, or spend hours writing charts yourself, and it turns out the other sax players don't read? Which is not to say they aren't super experienced, pro players in this field...

I guess my point is there are a lot of different ways to make music and I think a part of being a "working pro" is figuring out how to deal with a situation and not insisting situations work out according to how you deal with music.
 

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Back in the late '70s I played in a Latin band, that did covers of popular salsa selections and several original tunes. The horn charts (3-piece section) were complicated and long, some running to 4 pages. It was (and still is) typical of salsa bands that the horns read charts on the gig. We got a 6 week job in Hawaii, which was nice, but the club owner objected strongly to music stands. So the three of us spent the first week locked away in a hotel room memorizing horn parts. I still remember that with some degree of fondness mixed with anger and frustration. The gig, and the 6 weeks in Hawaii, were otherwise completely wonderful.
 

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Even those would take a lot of rework to fit the same arrangements the band actually plays and work with the particular instrumentation they have.
Actually, in my experience, these charts --if from the few best arrangers available on these sites-- are pretty good. They are based on the "standard" studio recordings, so, changing structure is not hard, since everyone these days has easy access on youtube, etc., to those original recordings as a starting template. As long as everyone can follow the chart, and brings a pencil to rehearsal, its not hard to add or subtract sections/solos --I do it with a band of 18-22 year olds all the time. And, at least using Sibelius and the Sibelius source files, it's pretty easy to change instrumentation. The program will not only transpose individual parts, but reassign instruments, and tailor the transposition to the range of the instrument. I'm pretty constantly adjusting the charts to different instrumentation, and, although there are glitches, these charts/files save an enormous amount of time. I can transfer a second trpt part to alto sax and print the chart in a few minutes. I can look at all the parts in a score and figure out which are doubled and make decisions about which can be cut.

As for my snobbery crack ... I think many of those who have posted have posited a very high expectation about what most players can accomplish on the fly in live performance. I read the comment about "nobody was reading real books" in that context --an assertion that it's more hip to be off the page. My point in using the real book as an analogy was to suggest a parallel between the way it, and available Sibelius based arrangements, offer solutions to a problem --in the case of the Real Book and jam sessions: what are we going to play? What gives us a range of difficulty? What saves the time and hassle of photocopying or burning time teaching each other the tunes? I think that for many of us, the Real book served(serves) exactly that function. It's not particularly relevant that in Pete's experience, it didn't.

These horn charts (and again, not all are created equal) have the ability to address many of the difficulties of quickly putting a horn section together for a pop/soul/funk gig. That's why they exist: they're just an evolution from the charts casual bands have used for decades. I know they work. If I faced the OP's situation, that's the resource I'd turn to for tunes not easily played with head arrangements. Clearly, not everyone knows about them or how they work, or what they cost, relative to industry-published charts. Maybe, with additional information, shelling out for a few might be a better choice than cancelling the gig.

I'm wrong to bring them up? Strange logic.
 

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What saves the time and hassle of photocopying or burning time teaching each other the tunes? I think that for many of us, the Real book served(serves) exactly that function. It's not particularly relevant that in Pete's experience, it didn't.
But I have plenty of experience where real books are useful. I have a big collection of sheet music which I often refer to. I'm really confused why anyone would assume I might deny the usefulness, or that I or other people, am a snob or why such terms are being thrown around here at all, It's a bit negative IMO.
???
 

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I went back and read the thread to check my memory. The OP said nothing about the band leader forbidding stands, or charts --only that charts weren't provided. The OP thanked those that suggested ways she (? = Mz Singer) might reasonably obtain or create charts, which would suggest that charts were the solution that seemed most reasonable to the OP.

So, how exactly is the thread limited to a discussion about no charts or stands, and of what relevance to the OP's problem are the assertions that emerged from posters that it is more real to play without stands or charts, or about their capabilities to do so? It seems the OP's problem was how to find charts (which I presume would reside on stands.) That prompted my post, noting that there ARE such charts, designed for just such a purpose, and readily available --although it is true that they are not free, and I was therefore implicitly suggesting they might be worth someone's while to buy. The expense might well mean that my suggestion is not helpful.

If I introduced negativity into the thread ... my apologies.
 

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I went back and read the thread to check my memory. The OP said nothing about the band leader forbidding stands, or charts --only that charts weren't provided.
You're correct about that. I just went back and re-read the OP's post(s) and it's true that no one was forbidding charts. So my mistake for assuming that was the case. And your suggestion for providing/bringing charts is perfectly fine. However, you'd still have to take into account the possibility that charts might not be 'welcome' with this particular band, playing this particular genre of music. John Dikeman's comment might be relevant here:

"OK, one more hypothetical: What if you buy these charts, or spend hours writing charts yourself, and it turns out the other sax players don't read? Which is not to say they aren't super experienced, pro players in this field..."

So I think it's fair enough to suggest other ways to proceed, especially for a sub or someone who has been invited to join the band for a gig. It's very likely they already have horn lines worked out and would expect the new player to join in rather than bring charts that may or may not align with what the horn section has already been playing.

I'd certainly ask for a set list (!) as Dr G suggested (on page 1, I think), then show up at the rehearsal and take it from there.
 

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Interesting thread. I just want to say that I've had fun experiences improvising horn parts with 3, 4, even 5 horns at a jam. JL knows what I'm talking about. The tips have been said in earlier posts: keep it simple, listen to each other and try to hear other parts, don't play if you don't know what you're doing, leave space, etc. It's not hard to do this on basic blues, rock, R&B standards but you kinda have to know the material. If you've never played the tunes before, you don't know them, you've never listened to the genre of music, you've never played basic horn lines in a band, you may not play improvised parts with 3 other horns very well. On the other hand, you might find that you can do a decent job by listening to the other players and you might discover that it's a helluva lotta fun. I love it when a a group of horns comes together on an improvised line. It's a natural high. That transcendent feeling is the reason I play music.
 

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So I think it's fair enough to suggest other ways to proceed, especially for a sub or someone who has been invited to join the band for a gig. It's very likely they already have horn lines worked out and would expect the new player to join in rather than bring charts that may or may not align with what the horn section has already been playing.
Yeah, who knows if the band wants you showing up with charts expecting other people to play them? I'd certainly ask. Maybe they don't have charts for a reason.

Does the OP still exist by the way? Have you had a rehearsal? How's it going?
 

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One other thing (not sure if it's been mentioned) but often when there are slightly more complexities to remember and reading charts is not possible or appropriate, we would just make shorthand notes as an aide de memoire (aka crib sheet).

This could be on a pice of paper taped to a monitor wedge, or just written in your hand or other body art that you find convenient for quick reference.

I've done this when there are arrangements I don't already know and there is either very skimpy rehearsal or maybe a tape you have to listen to on the way to the gig or whatever.

So for example if you need a reminder this would be all you might need to for Sea Cruise:

Sea Cruise in C (IV -I - IV - V) F A C D Eb...

So one very quick glance and this gives you the key, chord sequence of horn line, and opning riff. Once you know that th rest sort of takes care of itself.

This saves you the issue of music stands, sheet music etc if it isn't appropriate, also the problem of having sheet music in a specific order only to have scrabble around looking for a chart if the order suddenly changes.
 
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