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Big Band Seating

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [DB]' started by .matthew e wengerd., Jul 17, 2004.

  1. could someone refresh my memory on the quirks of a typical big band setup? ie. which trumpet is the typical soloist, which trombone sits closest to the rhythm section, etc. i'm pretty sure i have a grip on it but wasn't sure. the more info the better.
  2. Chrix


    Apr 9, 2004
    Usually, From left to right facing the band (or Rhythm Section out) it's this: First Row Saxes: 1st Tenor, Lead Alto, 2nd Alto, 2nd Tenor, Bari. Second Row Bones: 2nd Trombone, Lead Bone, 3rd Bone, 4th Bone, Bass Bone. 3rd Row Trumpets: 2nd Trumpet, Lead Trumpet, 3rd Trumpet, 4th Trumpet, 5th Trumpet.

    Sometimes there can be variations on this, but this seems to be the most common if you go see a big band. As far as what trumpet solos the much, I often see that in the lower trumpet parts. Usually the guys playing lead trumpet are the guys (or gals, of course) that are screaming out the high notes and aren't always the best soloists (that doesn't mean I've never heard a solo from the lead trumpet player, i.e. John Faddis, Maynard Furgeson, etc...), but lead trumpet players are usually trained just to play those high notes. Overall, however, I'd just go with whomever is your strongest soloists in all sections. Just because someone is sitting 4th bone doesn't mean you shouldn't let him solo just because he's sitting in that chair.

    Hope this all helps.
  3. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    Remember that guy Lin Biviano that used to play lead trumpet for Maynard? He used to pretty much just blast away in the upper register of his horn every night for a lot of years in that band. Looked like his head was gonna explode.

    Of course, Cat Anderson did all that stuff years before.

    Regarding BB seating, I did one once where I was up front in the curve of the piano, more like piano trio seating. Kinda weird, because the drummer was in the back in the "normal" position, putting a lot of distance between us. I could definitely hear what the horns were doing on that one.