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Help - Trombone Plexed



 
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jhatpro
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 17, 2017 5:38 am    Post subject: Help - Trombone Plexed Reply with quote

Once again my less than vast knowledge of matters musical compels me to reach out for advice. Here's the question:

Our 10-piece swing band has gone from desperately needing a trombone player who can do more than blow his nose to having two candidates who both sightread well, have nice big sounds, and can actually solo like they've done it once or twice.

In addition, these are the kind of guys who make great band mates: upbeat, laid-back, funny.

One of them plays both bass and tenor trombone. And now we enter my stupid zone. Can a bass bone player use the tenor bone part? Can the two play off the same part without a problem? Is there a better way we bring both of these guys into the group?

Thanks in advance for your advice!
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dstdenis
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 17, 2017 6:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm not an expert on trombone by any stretch, but I can share that the bass trombone player in our band can play higher than I've heard most trombone players go (and some trumpet players too!). Just to let you know that it's possible. And you may not have to ask him to play low pedals at his discretion. They seem to find ways to work that in too.

If I were in your shoes, I'd just tell the guy you're open to having him play bass trombone but you don't have written parts for that, and ask what he thinks. I bet he brings the bass and figures out where to add low notes without needing much encouragement.

Congrats on recruiting good trombone players. It sounds like your band is doing well!
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Last edited by dstdenis on Fri Feb 17, 2017 6:31 am; edited 1 time in total
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mm55
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 17, 2017 6:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The bass trombonist may be able to play lower, or at least, a fatter, "bassier" sound at the extreme low end, but it's fine in your situation to let the trombone player(s) figure out the details.

They can read off the same part. As dstdenis says, the bass trombone player may add some "bass-trombone-ish" variations to the part on his own initiative. Just as a lead trumpet player may occasionally decide to take the part up an octave, a bass bone player may decide to take the part down an octave, or play the root of the chord instead of what's written. Having a fat low end can really help solidify the harmony. And trombones, by having a slide, can do things that woodwinds and trumpets can't do, which increases the tonal palette.

I don't know the details, but after following some of the saga of your band, I think if I were the bandleader, I think I'd bring them both in, and let them figure it out, in collaboration with the rest of the band. At my age, I've been through plenty of drama with bad bandmates and strife (I confess, sometimes that was me, in my younger days). The two bands I play with now are extremely sensitive to the personal compatibility, and we've made some musical compromises because having the right people is more important at this stage of our lives. We all get along extremely well, both musically and personally. We enjoy things much more than the best bands in town do.

Also, if the rehearsal studio ever floods, you'll be able to get the water out faster with two slush-pumps, especially if one has a lower reach.
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jhatpro
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 17, 2017 6:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the thoughtful replies, guys. The past couple of weeks have been the most challenging band-wise in my life.

Part of it is I'm still recovering from back surgery and the oxycodone, while doing a good job of dulling the pain, is also causing me to become extremely manic which makes me want to buy real estate in Nigeria and send off emails to the band about my latest and greatest idea. (For example, my "flex plan" in which I envisioned an open door policy in which other players we know could sit in with us whenever they were in the neighborhood. Boy that idea went over like spinach flavored ice cream. The regular chairs totally freaked!)

Anway, the bone dilemma is part of what's made things so stressful. I lean toward a very democratic band model with a certain amount of chaos almost like hot sauce on a a taco - it makes the meal more interesting. But there are people in the band who aren't happy unless everything is proscribed - even solo order is written out and the idea that someone could play a gig without playing the rehearsal for that gig - unthinkable!

But back to the bone issue. The more I think about it the more I like the idea of having both guys. There's the extra protection of knowing that, no matter what, at least one will be available for everything. And the idea that a bass bone would add the brass version of what the bari adds in the front row appeals to me.

But, alas, I just heard from our keyboard player, on whom I depend for a lot in the band: she was most definite in her preference for one bone only! Not sure why. To be continued. I need to take another oxy.
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dstdenis
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 17, 2017 7:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ah, I missed the part about whether to have 1 or 2 trombone players. I assumed both would join and the question was whether the one guy should play tenor or bass.

I'm with you—I'd invite both on the assumption you'll get a tenor and a bass. Plus you don't know whether both will be there all the time or find karma with the group.

I'd ask the keyboard player what's the issue with both. I can't recall someone ever raising an objection like that (other than as a joke), so it would be interesting to understand what's behind that.

Anyway, you're closer to the personalities and will be able to use your best judgment on finding and keeping good karma.

And good luck with your health and recovery!
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Last edited by dstdenis on Fri Feb 17, 2017 7:38 am; edited 1 time in total
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jhatpro
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 17, 2017 7:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's been an interesting couple of weeks to say the least. Our band is at one of those inflection points at which bands either sink or soar.

One of the problems is some players just want to drift in a blow without having opened the book for a week. Others want us to become the Jazz Crusaders and are willing to shed a couple of hours a day.

Some just pack up their horns and split while others are dutiful when the gig ends and help others.

In an effort to set some guidlines I had the following laminated for permanent residence in their cases. (On the back side I included a page of jazz scales - hate to waste that prime real estate.):

• BE ON TIME & READY TO PLAY WHEN REHEARSAL/GIG BEGINS
• HAVE YOUR MUSIC IN ORDER BEFORE YOU ARRIVE
• WARM UP DISCREETLY
• ASSIST WITH SET-UP/TEAR-DOWN & HELP OTHERS CARRY THEIR
GEAR
• DON’T DERAIL REHEARSALS WITH IRRELEVANT CHATTER
• GIVE OUR BIZ CARDS TO YOUR FRIENDS & FAMILY
• BE ON THE LOOKOUT FOR GIGS FOR US
• VISIT YOUTUBE TO SEE & HEAR HOW THE LEGENDS PLAYED OUR
TUNES
• KNOW THE BOOK & PRACTICE THE HARD PARTS
• POLISH YOUR SOLOING – PLAY ALONG WITH ITUNES – KEEP GOOD TIME & TONE
• LISTEN TO GREAT MUSIC
• COMPLIMENT GOOD PLAYING & KEEP CRITICISM CONSTRUCTIVE
• FIND YOUR OWN SUBS
• IF YOU HAVE A BEEF, DON’T COMPLAIN TO OTHERS – SEE JIM
• RELAX & BE HAPPY! WE’RE DOING SOMETHING WE LOVE - PLAYING LIVE MUSIC!
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Proteus
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 17, 2017 9:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I used to play both tenor and bass trombone, and arrange for them as well. These days decent bass trombonists can play just about all but the highest tenor parts....and some can even do that. They just have to work a lot harder to play up there.

But the tenor and bass trombones definitely sound different, with the bass sound being bigger and fatter. So if you go with both you're definitely going to have a bigger low-end punch in the band. If you also have a bari sax in the horn line-up you're in for some fun if you double the lines.

(With apologies to bass trombonists everywhere) tenor trombone is definitely better if you have a high melodic line or lots of short punches, just because the sound is more like a downward extension of the trumpet.

And I suspect the keyboard player doesn't want any doubling (or 'interference' or lack of clarity) with what her left hand is playing, hence she only wants one trombone.
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jhatpro
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 17, 2017 9:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great observations, thanks!

Just got another email from Ms. Keys. She's worried two bones will overblow two trumpets or at least throw the blend out of whack.

I confess to being more influenced by what's shaping up as another one of those conversations you hate to have with someone who you really like and who plays well. It's easier if there are holes in their technique but if it's two players who both play well and both are good band mates, it becomes a Sophie's Choice.

Where's Meryl Streep when I need her?
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Richard III
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 17, 2017 10:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I feel your pain and don't feel your pain. Bass trombone players are gold. If I found one I would never let them go. I have two bands, a septet and a trio. I could never find a good bone player or tuba player who wanted to play. No bones about it. It's a problem. I started using my mellophone to play the bone parts. It does work in the upper range but lacks the gravitas in the lower range. Then we have the tuba part. I have a bass player working on that but it's a struggle. Then my friend who plays trumpet but dabbles in tuba tried a baritone horn. It was love at first site. Now I have a baritone playing the bone part. Not exactly the same, but what a beautiful sound.

I say keep them both. The bass trombone can play a tuba part and really give you something few bands have. A strong low end really releases the upper end to shine.
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jhatpro
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 17, 2017 10:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I wish I could introduce you to Ms. Keys. She and the tenor player, our two best players, have this thing about "consistency." I tell them having two bones, one of them a bass bone, is like having a spare tire. They don't get it.

Makes me regret I built the band on a democratic model. Makes me think Vlad the Impaler had it right. Or is it Buddy Rich I'm thinking of.
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ATrumpetBrony
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 17, 2017 11:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Proteus wrote:

And I suspect the keyboard player doesn't want any doubling (or 'interference' or lack of clarity) with what her left hand is playing, hence she only wants one trombone.


Theoretically, anything introducing clashes in the left hand part would automatically be causing the clashing of 'low interval limits' with the bass, wouldn't it?
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