Saxophone Forum


by SaxMan88
(318 posts)
10 years ago

Am I wrong?

I'm having a slight conflict in my jazz band. And my director always yells at me for it in at least one song. The jazz band in my HS consists of; 4-5 alto players, 3 tenor players, 1-2 bari players, 9-10 trumpets, 2-3 maybe 4 trombones, 3 drummers, 4-5 rhythm players (that do piano and base, and maybe one of them guitar). That might be small or not, but here's my problem. When we get a song, and I like it, I kinda make it my own. I do glissandos and bends when it's not written, to 'jazz it up'. And, moreso, to make it my own. Back in the fall when we did 'Brick House' I did a lot of bends in the beginning. The director turned to me and said, "If you do them again, I will literally kill you". And I'm thinking, "WTF? I realize I have a small problem doing that kind of stuff in Wind Ensemble when we're not supposed to and I'm getting better at not doing it, but this is JAZZ BAND!!" Am I wrong for doing what I'm doing? I'd like to think not although he says, "Those things are not necessarily right or meant to be in a song as the such" Throw me a bone here. Thanx!

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  1. by connsaxman_jim
    (2336 posts)

    10 years ago

    Re: Am I wrong?

    I completely understand what you're saying, and I don't disagree with you, but here's the thing. Even in jazz band, if everybody starts doing their own thing, nothing blends together and the song becomes unrecognizable. Take Brick House for example. If you did your thing, and a couple trumpets did their own thing, and then the rhythem players try to jazz it up, you're no longer playing "Brick House".....it sounds more like an "Out-House" or "Shit-House!" If you know what I mean! There has to be structure. Even in jazz band. Tell your director that you really want to add something to the piece and maybe you can work in a solo or something.

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    1. by SaxMan88
      (318 posts)

      10 years ago

      Re: Am I wrong?

      Thanx Jim. That was pretty good. From the way my right hand 2nd chair tenor player was playin, it might as well have been 'Shit House'. He was brand new, and I know I was there once too, but man o man, I musta been awful then, because he was then too *laughs*. He practiced the hell out of that song, and it still sounded sloppy. Oh well. He's a clarinet player/tenor player wannabe-whadaya want from that? And I did get to do a solo on that song. A very nice improvised solo. I liked it. And I guess the audience did too according to the uproar of applause. So I got to put my two cents into the song. And I guess I do see the point of structure. Thanx again!

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      1. by saabtech
        (20 posts)

        10 years ago

        Re: Am I wrong?

        i agree with jim. there definitely needs to be some sort of structure. judging from your response, it sounds like you are first tenor or alto. here's my two cents. i also was a first alto, my band director was also my personal teacher. here's how he put it... there comes alittle responsibility to be a first chair. i know you want to have fun and make it your own. but... you need to be a leader in a group like this. the players that, maybe not as good, not experienced what ever it may be. they need someone to follow. structure it is. just imagine what it may sound like if players of lesser skill started to go off like that........ cringing in my seat right now! so, do the structure, help keep your section togethor. and, DO YOUR THING! in your solos that is :) sonny d. pa

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        1. by SaxMan88
          (318 posts)

          10 years ago

          Re: Am I wrong?

          Saabtech, I am second chair tenor (there's two of us tenor two players and I'm the better one...so I'm like first second *haha*). I now fully understand as to why I need to stick with the structure as much as possible. Do the bends and gliss's when written but otherwise, try to play it as written. Thanx for the help. Greatly appreciated it.

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        2. by KSsaxophone
          (57 posts)

          10 years ago

          Re: Am I wrong?

          Well, if you are playing second, I would avoid trying to do anything fancy or try to stand out. Generally, that is the first player's job. Of course, when you have a solo, go ahead and do what you want! But during the song, try to let the first chair do that stuff. The music kinda sounds wierd when a second chair tries to add glissandos.

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        3. by SaxMan88
          (318 posts)

          10 years ago

          Re: Am I wrong?

          Well, let me put it this. Honestly, I should be first chair. The girl who plays first chair can play the music, but she's very stiff and doesn't like to do the jazz deal. And I'm not gonna step on her toes and ask the band director to put me on first chair. So that's the deal. And I'm certainly not gonna hold back just because I'm second chair. I have ability and I'm certainly not gonna censor myself. Just my two cents.

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        4. by KSsaxophone
          (57 posts)

          10 years ago

          Re: Am I wrong?

          Well, even if you are better than here, you are still playing the second music. If you try to add your own stuff, it will sound a little strange.

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        5. by KSsaxophone
          (57 posts)

          10 years ago

          Re: Am I wrong?

          Oh, and if you think you are better, don't try to be shy! Go ahead and ask your director to play first. He might let you try it out on one piece of music. If you truly are better, then he might permanently switch you!

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        6. by SaxMan88
          (318 posts)

          10 years ago

          Re: Am I wrong?

          Oh, he knows I'm better. And I by no means am shy *laughs*. The girl has been technically playing tenor in jazz band longer than me (for I played alto my first three years) so she technically should get first chair. But here's the thing. I thing the director needs more #2 than #1...ya dig me? I did have to play tenor one. She was absent at a little gig we did and I ended up playing tenor one. No comments or criticisms whatsoever. I dunno...the director I think is a few ounces short of a full quart. I'm going to be wasting my time asking him if I can take first chair then defending my reasons for him to tell me no anyway. I'm fine on second chair. It's actually somewhat nicer than first. Happy saxophoning!

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        7. by barimachine
          (323 posts)

          10 years ago

          Re: Am I wrong?

          well you like kenny g. and im im just sayin... that if your doing stuff to be like that and all that, alot of people arent gonna like it. also with a band that big letting you do that is like opening a can of worms, we have a normal well slightly larger band which allows me the lead alto solist and trumpet player liberties in most songs, but other than that you play your damn part the way it is, with a billion saxes taking liberties ughh nasty

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        8. by SaxMan88
          (318 posts)

          10 years ago

          Re: Am I wrong?

          Dude, I can't even touch Kenny G. You're kidding right? Well, I have played along with his songs. But my style resembles nothing of his. And people do like Kenny G. Yes, that's right, he actually has fans. Now let me say this. All the sax players in our jazz band are stiff. I'm being serious. It was only me and another alto player who actually got into the music. Everyone else is just, 'ho-hum, ho-hum, oh boy here's a bend, woo-hoo, I missed it, ho-hum ho-hum'. So I'm just tryin to give a dead horse mouth to mouth ressucetation by bein creative. But nnooo, can't do it. AARRRGGGGHHH. SO frustrating.

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        9. by SaxMan88
          (318 posts)

          10 years ago

          Re: Am I wrong?

          Oh, and that other alto player, graduated last year.

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        10. by connsaxman_jim
          (2336 posts)

          10 years ago

          Re: Am I wrong?

          when I first started playing in 5th and 6th grade bands, I played clarinet, and I learned right away that first chair didn't always go to the best player. Most of the clarinet players in our band were girls (another reason why I HATED playing clarinet) and first chair was ALWAYS a girl. Usually the girl who's daddy was on the school board, or the girl who's mom was a teacher. Go figure. Our band never had enough saxophones. In 7th grade, I was the only tenor player, and there was a bari player and 2 altos. Eight grade there was a couple more altos. In high school there were 2 more tenors, 3 baritones, and I think a total of 9 altos. There was an abundance of brass players; mostly trumpets and trombones. I was always first tenor. I had been playing tenor longer than the other players. and I had already started playing professionally outside of school. Still, I saw a lot of politics and favortism that I didn't think was right, and often the better players were NOT first chair! Our band director was very good, but not the easiest person to work with. Of course, I had my own ideas and knew enough to really piss him off on many occasions!

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        11. by SaxMan88
          (318 posts)

          10 years ago

          Re: Am I wrong?

          What a surprise...politics... That's not the scenario in my case. I have to say, I don't mind second chair. I really don't. I don't feel like it's a downgrade from first chair just because the association with #1 is better.

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        12. by barimachine
          (323 posts)

          10 years ago

          Re: Am I wrong?

          number 2 is usually the lead of the section number 1 is the solo player that takes alll the liberties with the chart alot of players playing lead alto dont take solos as they focus on taking liberties its the same as solo v. lead trumpet

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        13. by barimachine
          (323 posts)

          10 years ago

          Re: Am I wrong?

          still unfortunatly not ur spot lead means all with us we can challenge anyday its encouraged but we have a marine band teacher try and take liberties where its not position he'll go nuts

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        14. by golferguy675
          (600 posts)

          10 years ago

          Re: Am I wrong?

          Sounds like Johnny Hodges. He was second in the Duke Ellington Orchestra, because of his sight reading ability and rythm, yet he always had the solos because of his rougher style and improvisational skills. Get your band director to pull some Ellington charts.

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        15. by mintyfreshjam
          (48 posts)

          10 years ago

          Re: Am I wrong?

          Ok, so we've decided not to do ornimentation unless written. That's in the duh department because it distorts the sound of the ensemble. In a saxophone section, everyone's a soloist. Whoever plays the solo doesn't necessarily mean that they're the lead player. However, the lead player does dictate what to do. In the truely tight ensembles, like Ellington and Basie, the style is the same. So even if you think that the lead player is square, you have to play like they are for the ensemble to mix correctly. There are essentially four different ensembles that come together to create the entire ensemble. The entire ensemble is lead by the lead trumpet, and then the individual ensembles are lead by the lead players during solis and what not.

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        16. by SaxMan88
          (318 posts)

          10 years ago

          Re: Am I wrong?

          Makes sense.

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        17. by kneejerk52
          (397 posts)

          10 years ago

          Re: Am I wrong?

          well if that other 2nd is so bad, teach him, help him and most of all play the notes there so HE can hear them. if yu lead the way on second and he gets better, you might be powerful enough to give #1 a run for her money

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        18. by SaxMan88
          (318 posts)

          10 years ago

          Re: Am I wrong?

          Well, #1 is a junior this year and will be a senior this year. I'm a sophmore this year. So by the time I am a senior I will be guaranteed first chair. Something I might want to consider is; I'm the stronger player of the two. Some people here have mentioned that #2 leads the section. So it might make sense that the director needs me on #2 so I can keep the foundation; which is just as important as being #1. Something to think about... I'm quite fine where I sit in the band right now. I have just as much respect as #2 as #1. I'll work on my lil problem. Thanks for all the input guys! Happy saxophoning!

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        19. by golferguy675
          (600 posts)

          10 years ago

          Re: Am I wrong?

          Yeah...keep listening to that Kenny G... ... : /

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        20. by SaxMan88
          (318 posts)

          10 years ago

          Re: Am I wrong?

          Oh you're danged right I will ;)

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      2. by straightj
        (18 posts)

        10 years ago

        Re: Am I wrong?

        I do the same thing in jazz band in Ross, OH, but I don't get in trouble for it. To me, it makes sense to do music your way when you have a solo. If you want to do it during regular parts of the music or during a sax soli, have everybody else do it with you. If you all in the sax section do it the same way at the same time, it will sound better. By the way, that's a huge jazz band compared to ours. We have 5 saxes (2 alto, 2 tenor, 1 bari), 3 trombones, 1 bass trombone, 1 tuba, 5 trumpets, 2 percussionists, 2 pianists, and 2 electronic bass players. (the percussionists, pianists, and bass players take turns in between songs.) I am Alto #2 and switching to tenor #2 next year.

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      3. by don marco
        (8 posts)

        9 years ago

        Re: Am I wrong?

        There so much politics in American jazz bands, i don't know how you guys get anything done. Although it's been stated, my advice is not to play what's written, but really listen to the lead alto player and play there interpretation. give the solos to the tenors and get the bari player to play one dynamic level above the rest of the section.

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        1. by SaxMan88
          (318 posts)

          9 years ago

          Re: Am I wrong?

          I usually listen to the lead alto player for reference in my playing (both with chord structure and rhythmically). Honestly, I don't follow anybody. I think I am quite capable of leading, in which most cases I do as second tenor, and first tenor is one person and I try to match her dynamically for the harmonic structure so it all blends. The altos well, their on their own. They got a veteran alto, let her hammer at them. *laughs*

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          1. by EL Seano
            (255 posts)

            9 years ago

            Re: Am I wrong?

            well the general idea is for the 1st alto to lead but if you wanna, and everybody else don't mind go for it. I can't imagine a tenor leading though due to the harmonies in the songs. As don marco knows, ive tried it *laugh*

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            1. by EL Seano
              (255 posts)

              9 years ago

              Re: Am I wrong?

              and another thing, how come you have so many horn players?? you have enough for like 3 band. suggest to your director to split em up

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            2. by SaxMan88
              (318 posts)

              9 years ago

              Re: Am I wrong?

              Participation emphasis, I guess. And the thing is; the two first-year players suck, one being worse than the other. The worse one doesn't even practice as far as I can gather. I suppose the one other second tenor player could be kicked out too. He's not bad, for a first year player, but man he's got a thick skull and I don't think he's willing to learn anymore.

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            3. by connsaxman_jim
              (2336 posts)

              9 years ago

              Re: Am I wrong?

              I was an arrogant lil bastard when I was in band! We had a couple idiots too. I think every band does, but I went straight to the director and told him.....you tell whoever to either learn his part, stuff a sock in his bell, or put him on the opposite side of the stage as me, otherwise I can't be held liable for what I do to him or his horn! Most generally, he agreed with me!

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            4. by EL Seano
              (255 posts)

              9 years ago

              Re: Am I wrong?

              Yeh Saxman, I got the same problem with our whole bloody trumpet section! just tell the ones that suck not to come to band if they don't practise, they drag the whole band down with them.

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            5. by martysax
              (148 posts)

              9 years ago

              Re: Am I wrong?

              Hang in there dude. For two years in high school, and three years in college I played 2nd Tenor in a five piece sax section of a 18pc Jazz band. It was the best chair to have. I had all the funky harmonies with the lead alto who sat to my left, and I got all the Tenor solos with the rhythm section to my right. Many times I had the option for soprano and flute doubling in the second book as well. Play your book to your best ability, in your spare time study the first book as well. Your role could change.

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