[Dixielandjazz] A capella front-line (and vocals)

Dave Gravatt dave at creolejazz.com
Wed Jul 28 03:39:47 PDT 2004

Greetings. I'll chime in with the majority and say that we do this too. It's
a lot of fun and is quite exciting. We call it "horns only" and stole it
from, I think, the Riverboat Five or somebody like that. There have been a
lot of good bands do it. Good horn players can pull it off. (Sorry to
disagree with Bill Haesler.) We'll do it only on next-to-the-last choruses
of up tempo tunes which really gives a push to that shout chorus.

To Mike Woitowicz: We were at the Bix Fest too. Could it have been us you
heard do "horns only". We did it maybe twice in our eight sets.

On the subject of band members singing, I thought it was fairly obvious and
well-known that the appeal of band vocalists is not their vocal ability but
the joy that is projected when they "sing". It is, of course, a fact that
you don't have to be a good singer to appeal to a lot of people. (Just turn
on the radio for proof.) People generally respond to the energy in a voice,
not the virtuosity. And, by the way, we have four "singers" in our group but
will normally do only two or three vocals in a set, if that. Face it, the
masses respond to a vocal far more readily than to an instrumental. None of
us (in our group) are "good" but we all get a good response because it's
obvious we're having fun.

The Creole Dixieland Jazz Band
"It's a treat to beat your feet"
Dave Gravatt
Springfield, Missouri

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Dan Augustine" <ds.augustine at mail.utexas.edu>
To: "DJML" <dixielandjazz at ml.islandnet.com>
Sent: Tuesday, July 27, 2004 12:14 AM
Subject: [Dixielandjazz] A capella front-line

     Just listening to a very experienced band (on
a 1979 recording) struggle with a style that when
well done is wonderful, but it's hard to do.
     I don't know what you call it, but it occurs
when everyone except the trumpet, clarinet, and
trombone (usually) drop out and the three of them
play by themselves a capella for 32 bars or so
(of the main melody).
     To me, this seems very difficult to do well,
because roles must be filled while improvising
interesting counterpoint.  The rhythm (beat) must
be maintained, the harmonies music be preserved,
and the melody must be at least alluded to.
     The articulations are usually short and the
dynamics are soft. The trombone (it seems to me)
should take over some of the bass-harmonies while
also keeping the beat, but also doing part of the
usual trombone-role.  The trumpet needs to play
enough of the melody to let everyone know where
they are, while interspersing rhythmic antitheses
to the trombone.  The clarinet weaves in and out
of the trumpet's path like a cat walking in front
of you behind you.
     Seems difficult to do, and this band i was
listening to didn't bring it off very well,
possibly because they hadn't played much together
     Some bands at Sacramento did this
occasionally, but is it dying out?  It would be a
shame to let this most evident of improvised
counterpoint slip away. Does anyone's band on
DJML still do this?

**  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)         **

Dixielandjazz mailing list
Dixielandjazz at ml.islandnet.com

More information about the Dixielandjazz mailing list