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The Trombone ForumTeaching & LearningPedagogy(Moderators: JP, Doug Elliott) How to Play Lead Trombone in a Big Band
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Graham Martin
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« on: Aug 11, 2016, 11:39PM »

You can get some excellent tips about playing lead trombone in a big band from this video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jdkvEc9_JjA

Many musicians, particularly those from a background of reading 'straight' music, will try to tell you that you should play parts exactly as they are written. But, as outlined here, the really important thing for the lead to do is to give a section its own sound by leading the stylistic definition, phrasing, intonation, vibrato and other nuances. However, you should also get ideas from your section mates about how passages should be played.

I love the part where Vincent Gardner states that you have to obtain your ideas for ideas on where to place scoops, slides, frills etc. by listening to good jazz improvisation and doing transcriptions.

As stated here, I believe it is tremendously important that you give your section a unique sound. That is what makes the best big bands! Good!

Of course, you must always ensure that you are playing as a section and not a bunch of individuals who happen to be in the same band.

It is surprising how many people I meet around the various big bands I have played with who do not realise how important it is for the lead player to really lead a section. 

 
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« Reply #1 on: Aug 20, 2016, 07:11AM »

Something not mentioned in this video is that when playing in a big band, there is a more or less accepted style of playing phrases.  I suppose I could equate it with language.  Big band playing is a type of dialect of the broader language.  Just about all professional players use this accepted dialect. It's very important for anyone wanting to play well in a big band, to speak this dialect. When you are playing lead, you should stay with this style so that everyone can follow you. If you want to change and do your own thing while you are playing a soli, be sure you are VERY consistent and play the phrases the same way EVERY TIME, so that your section-mates know exactly what to expect.  Nothing is worse for the section than having the lead player being inconsistent because he/she wants to create something in his/her own style. If there is no consistency, the section will never sound good.  Not only phrasing, but consistent vibrato also. 
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« Reply #2 on: Aug 20, 2016, 02:33PM »

I liked the video. Two bits of advice stuck out for me. Firstly, the comments about ideas coming together in the ensemble and bouncing off each other is really really important. I've noticed, sometimes from the very next seat, that the best jazz musicians listen intently to what's happening around them, pick up ideas and develop them. Secondly, the comments about supporting the lead trumpet are spot on. Actually, there are few stylistic choices to make when playing lead bone in a big band because we are usually playing with the trumpets and have to follow whatever they decide to do.

I don't agree that the lead trombone dictates matters of intonation. That role is taken by whomever is playing the tonic, in chordal writing, and by the lower octave voices (usually bass bone) in linear passages.
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« Reply #3 on: Nov 29, 2016, 10:01PM »

Kind of a bump I know but I have some stuff to say as an aspiring lead trombone player. It is important to let the lead trumpet lead and be there to support him/her, even if they aren't great. It's kind of like a president/vice president, the president (lead tpt) takes the leadership role, the copilot (lead bone) has to ultimately follow how the lead trumpet interprets the music, especially dynamically.
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« Reply #4 on: Nov 30, 2016, 03:56AM »

Something not mentioned in this video is that when playing in a big band, there is a more or less accepted style of playing phrases.  I suppose I could equate it with language.  Big band playing is a type of dialect of the broader language.  Just about all professional players use this accepted dialect. It's very important for anyone wanting to play well in a big band, to speak this dialect. When you are playing lead, you should stay with this style so that everyone can follow you. If you want to change and do your own thing while you are playing a soli, be sure you are VERY consistent and play the phrases the same way EVERY TIME, so that your section-mates know exactly what to expect.  Nothing is worse for the section than having the lead player being inconsistent because he/she wants to create something in his/her own style. If there is no consistency, the section will never sound good.  Not only phrasing, but consistent vibrato also. 

^^^^  YES!  I play second to a friend who is very consistent.  It's critical that the rest of us be able to predict how he's going to play something, especially when we're reading something new in front of a crowd.

A couple of years ago, we invited a guy to sub for first in the band on a gig.  He went to the same school that I did, but was several years older.  Bottom line, we had the same director but just in different eras.  As a result, we interpreted almost identically.  After playing the first tune, I leaned over and told him that was great!  I knew exactly what you were going to do with each line of that tune, because that's how I would've played it if I were sitting on the lead book.  We had never played together before, but it was a magical night!  :)

--Andy in OKC
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« Reply #5 on: Nov 30, 2016, 08:41AM »

Something not mentioned in this video is that when playing in a big band, there is a more or less accepted style of playing phrases.  I suppose I could equate it with language.  Big band playing is a type of dialect of the broader language.  Just about all professional players use this accepted dialect. It's very important for anyone wanting to play well in a big band, to speak this dialect. When you are playing lead, you should stay with this style so that everyone can follow you. If you want to change and do your own thing while you are playing a soli, be sure you are VERY consistent and play the phrases the same way EVERY TIME, so that your section-mates know exactly what to expect.  Nothing is worse for the section than having the lead player being inconsistent because he/she wants to create something in his/her own style. If there is no consistency, the section will never sound good.  Not only phrasing, but consistent vibrato also. 

I agree  Good!  Good!  Good!

I want to add that if you are subbing on first you need to be very fast to pick up the style of the band, I refer to their particular groove. It varies a lot between bands. Some play a bit early on a beat. Some play spot on and some a bit late. It is very inconsistent because it is the culture of the band. You have to adopt to this fast when you are subbing. In some bands notes are played with their full values and everything is consistent in style so you can foresee and adopt fast in a dialect I find familiar. In other bands the same notes would have been played consistent too but different, and in some bands you will never know for sure where to play. Then it will be a long night.

/Tom
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« Reply #6 on: Nov 30, 2016, 08:58AM »

In other bands the same notes would have been played consistent too but different, and in some bands you will never know for sure where to play. Then it will be a long night.

/Tom

Oh yeah, that's a torment. It applies to pitch too. Do I play in tune with the keys or with the horns? Either way, it makes my skin crawl.
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« Reply #7 on: Nov 30, 2016, 09:02AM »

Lots of helpful information in this book.  But not at the asking price!  Borrow a copy.

https://www.amazon.com/Take-Lead-Trombone-Steve-Wiest/dp/0793551676
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« Reply #8 on: Nov 30, 2016, 12:01PM »

Would have loved some showing and not all telling. Good video nonetheless.
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« Reply #9 on: Dec 01, 2016, 12:58PM »

Lots of helpful information in this book.  But not at the asking price!  Borrow a copy.

https://www.amazon.com/Take-Lead-Trombone-Steve-Wiest/dp/0793551676
WHAAAT???  $250???   You can have a copy of my book for only $150. (as soon as I write it)
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« Reply #10 on: Dec 01, 2016, 01:09PM »

Lots of helpful information in this book.  But not at the asking price!  Borrow a copy.

https://www.amazon.com/Take-Lead-Trombone-Steve-Wiest/dp/0793551676

"Each book covers all the facets of lead playing for that particular section, including section phrasing, balance style, rehearsal techniques, mouthpieces, vibrato, special exercises, equipment, and many other helpful suggestions."

Phrasing - Something that suits the music. You choose.
Balance - All play roughly the same volume
Rehearsal technique - Try to make the bad spots sound better
Mouthpieces - Around 11c/7c or similar. You choose.
Vibrato - Something that suits the music. You choose.
Special exercises - press ups
Equipment - music stand

There. I've just saved you all $250
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« Reply #11 on: Dec 02, 2016, 06:07AM »

I do not believe I heard in the vid discussion about how rhythmically important the trombones are to the band.  Often it seems the section is better thought of as auxiliary to the rhythm section, and just as impulsive. 

I'm sure Gardner knows this because it is clear in those Lincoln Center bands they do it.  The lead sets it up. 

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MikeBMiller
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« Reply #12 on: Dec 02, 2016, 06:52AM »

Anybody know what kind of horn he has there? Interesting looking counterweight.
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« Reply #13 on: Dec 02, 2016, 08:28AM »

Anybody got any idea at all why it's so expensive? Anybody seen it? Used it? I can't comprehend why any book would cost that much. Unless it's a misprint....
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« Reply #14 on: Dec 02, 2016, 11:23AM »

It's permanently out of print, and the seller is trying to con some poor sap into spending big bucks on it.  I seem to recall Steve Weist saying somewhere that he was working on a new edition.
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« Reply #15 on: Dec 23, 2016, 02:43PM »

http://www.jwpepper.com/2269223.item#.WF2nvPkrKM8

$9.95 but PooP. A scan may show up.
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« Reply #16 on: Dec 25, 2016, 08:10AM »

I don't agree that the lead trombone dictates matters of intonation. That role is taken by whomever is playing the tonic, in chordal writing, and by the lower octave voices (usually bass bone) in linear passages.

Time and intonation are everyone's responsibility, and face it: the lead trombone is a prominent voice, and people will tune to what they can hear, first and foremost. I've played in too many rooms that make the bass a pitchless rumble to say that listening "down" to the bass is always the rule of thumb. But, I guess that gets into a whole new discussion.
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« Reply #17 on: Feb 09, 2017, 10:59AM »

Funny that this video finds its way into so many topics every few weeks, it seems. Clearly a good info source! Thanks for posting  Good!
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