[Dixielandjazz] Rehearsing.

Steve Barbone barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Tue Jun 12 10:23:00 PDT 2007

Mike <mike at railroadstjazzwest.com> wrote

> How do you get better as a unit if you don't practice?
> How can you work out intros and endings if you don't practice as
> a band?
> How do get to the point of being professional if you don't rehearse?
> Hobby Band or not, if you want to get better you gotta rehearse.
> Otherwise you'll never be able to raise the bar on your
> performances. Of course, there's always bands and people who are
> the exception but most bands and musician I know practice
> privately and rehearse as a unit to improve.

Hi Mike:

Good points for those wishing to improve. Certainly all beginning
musicians/bands should rehearse. And big bands should rehearse

But let me throw out a few things for those who have been playing in various
small bands, for various gigs, for many years.

My band does not practice. We can't because;

1) We have too many gigs and enjoy a little time away from each other.

2) Our "Dixieland Book" is about 500 tunes, includes some American Songbook.
   We are not fixated about adding more.

3) We use a lot of subs during the Summer vacation period. The band make up
   varies among a pool of about 35 competent Dixieland/Swing musicians. And
   sometimes I even book multiple band editions at the same time.

4) We talk over the intros and endings if they are tricky.  And if the TB
   player doesn't know the Fidgety Feet intro, just lay out the first time.
   No doubt if we have a quality player, he/she will hear it and play it
   after that. And if someone comes up and says; "That ain't the way Ory
   did it", tough noogies. We're not trying to copy anybody.

5) In effect, we rehearse on the gig. :-) VBG.

Bear in mind that we are professional jazz musicians who know how to listen
to each other and adapt. Just follow the trumpet is our mantra. If he
extends the ending with an 8 bar turnaround, just follow. If he retards the
ending, watch his head movement and just follow.

Yes, we might make a mistake, but like Artie Shaw said, if you don't make a
mistake or two in jazz, you're not trying hard enough. :-) VBG

And a seasoned musician knows how to cover up a mistake. Shoot, they are
made all the time by everyone, else we wouldn't have recording techies
covering them up all the time. Who wants to hear a "perfect" jazz band?
Not me, however others are welcome to try, though if they have good ears,
they should be able to identify "mistakes" in almost every recording, and
certainly in every live performance.

We're working with a gal trombonist this Saturday. Only played with us once
before. Is a big band trombonist and not strictly a Dixieland Player. BUT;
She has great ears, and knows how to watch the trumpet for ending signals,
and/or me for the usual band signals as to solo order, key modulations, and
riffs. Plus she knows how to solo coherently. I'd rather work with her than
a lot of trombone players out there. Plus the audience loved her.

On the other hand, I play in a rehearsal band almost every week. They rarely
get gigs. It is a tight band, if "arrangements" are your thing and plays a
lot of obscure tunes. The patter when they do get gigs is about the
"history" of jazz. Basically, the audience could care less about that.

Why do I continue to do so? Because when I needed to get my chops back after
a 30 year layoff, that band helped me do so. So I'm paying back the debt.

Steve Barbone

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