[Dixielandjazz] front line / back line - Lu Watters & YBJB

Stan Brager sbrager at socal.rr.com
Sat Jan 22 12:42:56 PST 2005


There's really no contradiction here. In a musical sense, the front line
consists of the instruments which play the melody while the second (back)
line consists of the rhythm players. In the physical setup, it could be
anything that the leader desires which fits his musical goals. In the case
of the photos you've referred to, many of the ones of the YBJB in the Good
Time Jazz Lu Watters' CD set do show the melody horns in front of the rhythm
with the tuba or bass to the left side of the stage. One advantage is that
the second line can be seen as well as heard.

As to why Watters arranged his musicians, you'd have to wait for some of the
older guys on the list who knew Lu.

Stan Brager

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Dave Bilgray" <dbilgray at well.com>
To: <dixielandjazz at ml.islandnet.com>
Sent: Saturday, January 22, 2005 6:55 AM
Subject: [Dixielandjazz] front line / back line - Lu Watters & YBJB

> Folks,
> A question about front line / back line.
> I recently noticed a drawing of the Yerba Buena Jazz Band, led by Lu
> Watters, which started the trad jazz revival in San Francisco.
> The physical placement of the musicians caught my attention.  Front line
> was banjo, drums and piano.  Back line was everything else.  Almost
> the opposite of nearly every trad band I've seen/heard.   Seems like a
> sensible arrangement, since it allows all the players and instruments to
> both seen and heard more clearly.
> But when I search with google, the Lu Watters front line is always
> described as clarinet, cornet, trombone.
> Does anyone know about this?  Was this just artistic license?  Or did
> Watters have different configs?  Did other bands do it this way?  If so,
> were they following a pattern of bands of the 20s, or earlier?
> Dave

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