[Dixielandjazz] Re: Bass Solos & Mammoth Lakes Festival

Jeanne Brei TinPanAlleyCat at cox.net
Fri Jul 23 16:38:07 PDT 2004

Hey Russ,
   I think you're right -- one of the things that REALLY sets apart the
"premiere" bands on the festival circuit is that they use arrangements
(reading or memorized) where every song does not feature every musician on a
solo -- the most wonderful arrangements in the world are the songs played by
the New Orleans Hot Jazz Orchestra (Banu Gibson's band) which frequently
show the guys trading fours or one horn soloing during a song -- Uncle
Yoke's Black Dogs, the Titan Hot 7, Bill Allred's band -- and others have
fabulous arrangements and since only a couple of songs on a set feature
everyone, the set goes by really fast with more songs and the arrangements
are what you remember...
    And I must disagree with not ever having bass guys solo -- some of the
most wonderful solos I've ever heard have been bass solos -- especially when
Johnny Williams (from the Harlem Blues & Jazz Band in New York) used to slap
the bass, Jimmy Butz and Milt Hilton used to play the most wonderful bass
solos. Sometimes they'd start the song with a bass solo and bring in the
other instruments or a singer in gradually -- and tubas/sousaphones are the
same way -- Dave Gannett with the Black Dogs, Westy Westenhofer with the
Rhythm Rascals -- these guys not only are fabulous musicians, they're
wonderful entertainers as well -- and you can see them! even behind those
big instruments!
the usually lurking Jeanne Brei
Las Vegas, NV
P.S. I went to Mammoth Lakes over last weekend and it was FABULOUS! It's
such a beautiful town with wonderful venues and fabulous musicians -- it's a
fantastic festival made even better by marvelous weather too! I have to
admit I missed quite a few acts -- I was so busy following the Titans with
Draga and Barnhart and trying to see Tom Hook and the Dogs, Cornet Chop
Suey, Bill Allred, and the Kinda Dixie guys that I never even caught a band
that I hadn't heard before!

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Russ Guarino" <russg at redshift.com>
To: "Dan Augustine" <ds.augustine at mail.utexas.edu>
Cc: "DJML" <dixielandjazz at ml.islandnet.com>; "Don Irving" <DonI at MRWPCA.com>
Sent: Friday, July 23, 2004 10:29 AM
Subject: Re: [Dixielandjazz] Re: Bass Solos


I think one of the really tough jobs is to make every tune unique and avoid
boredom.  How do you really do it?  Obviously the band personnel "cycle"
boring.  These are some of the things I've tried...

1]  Sing a four beat break instead of play it.  Have you heard Milenburg
Joys with
"Sweet Boy, syncopate your Mama" in the middle of a solo chorus?  Unexpected
and a
"wake up" bar. But I find most of my musicians are too shy to sing it. I
grab the mike and sing that bar in the middle of the Bass Sax solo.  [

2]  Start the tune with a one horn solo with the band coming in at "A".

3] Start or insert the tune with a duet, say, cornet and trombone.

4] the music leads to a four beat break.  Why not four beats of silence?
unexpected and another "Wake Up" sound. Or lack thereof. [ No more than
twice in
one night ].

5] Start the tune with one horn and pyramid the rest of the band in four bar

6] Short drum solo in the middle of the tune.

7] Accent cymbal sounds at the peak of phrases.

8] Sing he second or third chorus.  Harmonize it.  Need musicians with good
and lack of shy attitude.

9] Trade fours.  Background must be very soft or it just sounds the same as
regular chorus.

10] Tempo changes, fast to slow or slow to fast.  We do this with "Tin Roof
and it is really neat.  Slow to fast, double time.  Sometimes the rhythm
goes to
double time but the tune continues in original time.

I would be interested in any other ideas the readers might have.

Russ Guarino

Dan Augustine wrote:

> Rebecca and DJML--
>      Indeed, i agree, but go further: why should
> ANYONE solo?  95% of the solos i hear, even in
> so-called professional bands, are just noodling,
> have nothing of musical interest, repeat stale
> musical motifs, have no originality, and are not
> even very good technically on the instrument.  So
> why do people feel forced to take solos when they
> have nothing good or original to say? Most solos
> don't even remind one much of the original tune,
> unless the player is good enough to use parts of
> the original melody in his solo.  Talk about ego
> and solos?  Bass/tuba players have (and have to
> have) less ego than the front-line players.
>      "Just hoping it would get better, man", as
> the sax-soloist said in response to the question
> of why his solo lasted for 20 minutes.
>      Now, 5% of the soloists consistently have
> something good, or original, or technically
> impressive, or just different to say, most of the
> time.  So why should the audience have to listen
> to 16 bars of the original tune, followed
> automatically in every tune by 32 bars of solos
> by the clarinet player, the trumpet player, the
> trombone player, the piano player, and the banjo
> player, with a final 16-bar reminder of the
> original song at the end?  Very boring. Bands
> play different songs because they like the songs
> and the songs are different from each other (one
> hopes), so why not play more by the whole
> ensemble?  That's when actual
> 'dixieland'--improvised polyphonic
> counterpoint--occurs.  There's no dixieland in
> solos, which have no counterpoint.  There may be
> jazz (not bloody likely, usually), but no
> dixieland.
>      With regard to bass/tuba-players (not "with
> respect to", since they don't get any), 99% of
> them can't take a good solo (including me, which
> is why i don't). However, the 1% that usually do
> play good solos are better at it than 95% of the
> solos by the other instrumentalists, so i'd
> rather hear a solo anytime by Dave Gannett than
> one by the trumpet player in band X.  Bass/tuba
> players are not necessarily worse or
> less-talented musicians than any other
> instrumentalists, but they're treated that way in
> bands, and are written for that way by composers
> and arrangers.
>      That should be enough for a while.  End of rant.
>      Dan
> --------------------------------------------------------------------------
> >From: "Thompson" <rebecca.e.thompson at verizon.net>
> >To: "'dixie'" <dixielandjazz at ml.islandnet.com>
> >Date: Fri, 23 Jul 2004 07:44:55 -0500
> >Subject: [Dixielandjazz] Bass Solos
> >
> >Which leads me to ask the question.  Why are bass players given a solo?
> >it just for their ego?  Or just a way to give the other players a rest?
> >Seems no one really appreciates them...
> >
> >I LOVE the bass line when played with other players.  BUT solo?  Very
> >seldom.
> >
> >Rebecca Thompson
> >Flower Mound, TX
> --
> **--------------------------------------------------------------------**
> **  Dan Augustine     Austin, Texas     ds.augustine at mail.utexas.edu  **
> **              "Do not try to be a genius in every bar."             **
> **         -- Advice to students by Gabriel Fauré (1845-1924)         **
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