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The Trombone ForumCreation and PerformanceMusical Miscellany(Moderators: JP, BGuttman) Harry James' really BIG book...
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robcat2075

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« on: Sep 06, 2017, 07:43PM »

I was just looking at clips of the Harry James Band and... Holy Crap - Look at the size of that book!



The ledge on that stand must be a foot deep because he put a flute down on it too before he switched to his sax.


Yes, that is Buddy Rich in the background.

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« Reply #1 on: Sep 06, 2017, 08:00PM »

The stack is around 5 inches on each side, but it's music so the pages are a little thicker.  I think there are around 700 tunes there.

Those reed guys are doubling up the yazoo!  The 2nd Tenor (4th Sax) is not only doubling flute and clarinet but also baritone sax!

Must be a fairly late clip.  The 3rd trombone is playing a bass.  Back in the 40s he'd be playing a tenor like the 1st and 2nd.
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Bruce Guttman
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« Reply #2 on: Sep 06, 2017, 08:05PM »

I did the Harry James "ghost band" and can assure you the book was MUCH smaller.

I was also in the Glenn Miller Orchestra...our book was THICKER than the picture you showed.  And that was only half the book...the other half lived under the bus. 

5 months in and I was still sight-reading nightly!
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Full Pedal Trombonist

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« Reply #3 on: Sep 06, 2017, 08:45PM »

That's incredible. For most bands I don't get to see their whole books. Just a set list I sight read one night and play the rest of a few gigs or they just hand out things for that night. I would love to be handed a full book just to look through all the charts!
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« Reply #4 on: Sep 07, 2017, 05:35AM »

Many of the dance bands that I've played in had huge books like this. The Al Good book (Al was a local bandleader in OKC for about a hundred years, he shuffled off this mortal coil a few years back at the too-soon age of 93) was probably about 1000 deep give or take a hundred. When I started the boat gig, the book then was at least 500 deep. Bands coming through town often had a few hundred charts in them as well. When the Basie band came through a few years ago and I got the call, I was so looking forward to seeing what was in that book. The storm that led to me getting the call delayed the book as well so we pulled the stuff we had in our own library. I'm a dork at heart and I really wanted to see that book. It's getting rarer and rarer to see bands with books that deep.

What always struck me about Al's band was that the old guys (many of whom were the "young guys" when they started) knew darn near every tune in the book. We'd get a request and someone would holler out "that's number 637" and sure enough, there it was. "We last did that one in '73..." Or "the trombone part to that one is copied on the back of 993 because Paul Brewer's spit valve turned the original into a Rorschach Inkblot test." Those books, like the old sentinels guarding the chairs in the saxophone section, tell stories. A coffee ring stain in the lower right hand corner and fast scribbles that get more erratic further down the page is a long night/early morning copying session. A rip in the right hand corner repaired by now yellowed disintegrating tape is a sign of frayed nerves (or anger over finances?) from a player hastily jerking a chart out of the book as the band plays one more request 20 minutes after the scheduled end time. A fading phone number scrawled upside down (town name, 5 digits) on the chart possibly a sign of a paramour or a one night stand, or maybe even a better paying gig?

What I wouldn't give to get my nose into the VJO book... those books tell stories.
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« Reply #5 on: Sep 07, 2017, 07:56AM »

Even "young" books have stories to tell. The 2nd alto dance book for my college jazz/dance band was singed around the edges because the 2nd alto's car (one of the notorious GM "X-platform" cars) went up in flames. There's a tune in library with a "splat" at the top and a notation as to when and where the bird poop was deposited.
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« Reply #6 on: Sep 07, 2017, 08:26AM »

Notice that both the trombones and trumpets are playing from "low" fronts and from my experience it makes it extremely difficult to read the music and play in that position.  Especially for older players who need bifocals.
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« Reply #7 on: Sep 07, 2017, 08:47AM »

Those guys aren't really "reading." More just "reminding".

Even "young" books have stories to tell. The 2nd alto dance book for my college jazz/dance band was singed around the edges because the 2nd alto's car (one of the notorious GM "X-platform" cars) went up in flames. There's a tune in library with a "splat" at the top and a notation as to when and where the bird poop was deposited.

Every band should have a historian :D
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« Reply #8 on: Sep 07, 2017, 03:38PM »

Notice that both the trombones and trumpets are playing from "low" fronts and from my experience it makes it extremely difficult to read the music and play in that position.  Especially for older players who need bifocals.

I agree! It is actually not that easy for any instrument. And you also have to look down through your slide unless you play to one side. Nonetheless that is the standard way of setting up the stands for a professional big band since the 1930s. We even used that kind of stand for the local community big band until a lot of the old fellows* made way for an influx of concert band types. They had no chance with those stands and now the big band uses conventional music stands. The problem being that it does not look good for the audience and most people are playing into their stands.

*This old fellow has also had to give it away due to losing my lip.
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« Reply #9 on: Sep 07, 2017, 05:44PM »

Notice that both the trombones and trumpets are playing from "low" fronts and from my experience it makes it extremely difficult to read the music and play in that position.  Especially for older players who need bifocals.

A good occasion for a pair of single vision glasses for that music reading distance.
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Robert Holmén

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« Reply #10 on: Sep 08, 2017, 04:32AM »

...What always struck me about Al's band was that the old guys (many of whom were the "young guys" when they started) knew darn near every tune in the book. ...

Learning the style sitting next to guys who've got it in their souls, the very best. 

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« Reply #11 on: Sep 08, 2017, 05:01AM »

I agree! It is actually not that easy for any instrument. And you also have to look down through your slide unless you play to one side. Nonetheless that is the standard way of setting up the stands for a professional big band since the 1930s. We even used that kind of stand for the local community big band until a lot of the old fellows* made way for an influx of concert band types. They had no chance with those stands and now the big band uses conventional music stands. The problem being that it does not look good for the audience and most people are playing into their stands.

*This old fellow has also had to give it away due to losing my lip.

The band I'm currently playing in, Rhythm Society Orchestra, uses high stands for the brass - but we mic everyone (even if it's not really needed in some rooms - but you never know for sure until the sound check although some rooms I'd rather play with less micing than we do) and the stands act as a protective barrier for the saxes in front of us. There is some method to the madness.

And our book is about 600 charts. We keep it in portable storage chests, kinda like these: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B000K3GBGY/ref=asc_df_B000K3GBGY5159944/?tag=hyprod-20&creative=394997&creativeASIN=B000K3GBGY&linkCode=df0&hvadid=167123521861&hvpos=1o3&hvnetw=g&hvrand=5372448992833784945&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9016908&hvtargid=pla-272282364627
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