[Dixielandjazz] Front Line / Back Line / Yerba Buena Jazz Band

Steve barbone barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Mon Jan 24 13:47:33 PST 2005

on 1/24/05 3:00 PM, dixielandjazz-request at ml.islandnet.com at
dixielandjazz-request at ml.islandnet.com wrote:

"Robert S. Ringwald" <robert at ringwald.com> wrote
In answer to Yerba Buena horn placement and my suggestion that it may have
been because Turk Murphy mixed it up with customers when out front:
> It is true that when a young man, Turk had quite a temper.  He would jump
> off the stage from time to time to mix it up with the customers.  However,
> that is not the reason why Lu set his band up with the rhythm section in
> front.  He did this so that the rhythm players could hear the front line
> better.  In those days they did not have monitors as we know them.
> As any rhythm player who has worked a large hall with the horns in front
> with their backs to him knows, often, all you will hear is the echo of the
> horns coming back from the other end of the hall, a 1/4 of a second later.
> Among other problems, it makes it tough to keep good time.

Well, maybe so. However speaking from Barbone Street's experiences.

1) We use a horns up front set-up
2) We play LOTS of large indoor/outdoor venues. 1000 - 5000 people
3) We NEVER use monitors.
4) We NEVER have had trouble hearing each other EXCEPT;
    when we set up 10 feet away from each other as happened once when we
    shared the stage with another band and had to use their mike set-up.
    We learned our lesson and never did that again.

Perhaps, because regarding time keeping, our rhythm section sets the time.
In short, we play to their time, not vice versa. They only cue on us
regarding volume, or if we double the time, etc., which we adjust with hand
signals. E.G. If clarinet takes a low register solo, or the first out chorus
is soft, etc., We will cue them to soften the volume. Also, we set up in a
relatively small area. Front and back lines are separated by a foot or less
and so the right front horn is nor more than 6 or 7 feet away from the left
rear rhythm player and much closer to the other two. We have no problems
hearing each other. Only bumping into a cymbal on occasion. :-) VBG.

And, I think in a large echo chamber hall, with rhythm out front it would be
worse because they would hear the horns first on time, and then the echo 1/4
second later, off time. Either way, it is going to be a problem.

Basically some of us play on the beat, some ahead of the beat and some
behind the beat during solos, or fills. It would be disastrous for the
drummer to follow me playing ahead of the beat and speed up, followed, say,
by the trumpet who plays behind the beat and then slow down, and then hear
the trombone on the beat and remain slowed down, yet only to hear the guitar
ahead of the beat and speed up again.

If the YBJB set up was so successful in eliminating the hearing problems, I
would think all of us would have gone to that format until monitors took
over. Heck, even Murphy, when he matured and had his own band, used a horns
up front set up, I think.

There always seems to be a debate about YBJB set up. Does anybody have
anecdotal or published insight from the originals themselves?


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