[Dixielandjazz] Tenor Sax/Trombone

Edgerton, Paul A paul.edgerton at eds.com
Fri Jun 30 11:02:26 PDT 2006

In a typical Dixieland band, the trombonist might doing any of these:

1. Roving bass (i.e. tailgate).
2. Tenor lines (i.e. "steering" the band through the changes).
3. Harmony moving with the melody.
4. Lead, either with or without harmony.
5. Free counterpoint with the lead line.

When there is no trombone, the tenor can fulfill any of these roles. But
the tenor is *least* effective in the tailgate role. That is a unique
strength of the trombone. In practice, there is often little difference
between #2 and #5 -- especially from an overly enthusiastic tenor

In my experience of four-horn ensemble playing, the tenor player is more
likely to collide with the trombone than with the clarinet.  In this
case, it is better if the tenor adopts a more rhythmic approach, and
listen closely to what the trombone is doing.  If also helps if the
trombonist picks a role and sticks to it.

You might want to listen to some of the later Red Nichols and his Five
Pennies sides. He used clarinet, trumpet and tenor in the front line --
mostly in a commercial, three-part style.  Very tight and nice on
up-tempo numbers.

-- Paul Edgerton

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