sax solos too long?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [DB]' started by mav, Feb 26, 2004.

  1. mav


    Jun 10, 2003
    just wanting to know if there are any other DB players who feel the way i do.
    i just played a wedding the other day in a sax, guitar and bass trio. my problem was the sax player was taking 6 chorus solo on every tune at quite fast tempos. well it was killing me trying to keep up 200bpm tempos with no drummer and he just kept going and going i was sweating and straining while he's practicing stuff. i couldnt believe he just kept going oblivious to whats happening around him.

    has this happened to you?

    should i be good enough to just hold it down? not complain.

    why cant the sax player say what hes got to say in 2 choruses?
  2. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Part of it is that they don't get to play the whole tune the way that you do. The rest is the vain hope that the next chorus will be a good one.
  3. Hofbrauhaus


    Feb 10, 2002
    Upton, MA
    I'm a saxophone and bass I prob can give more insight than most other guys here. I have to agree with the above post a sax player I view my solo opportunity as my moment to shine. The bass is technically a solo instrument 100% of the time because there is only one bassist. Anyone can easily listen for you whether you're soloing or not. But as an accomplished sax player as well I must add that much of the time we're expected to blend in with the rest of the group that is playing the melody...and while we add color, we're not heard individually like the bass is. That's why we take those 6 chorus solos ;). I'm guilty of taking a 6 minute solo on my sax...but the ladies cheered so I'm not complaining and they weren't either, hehe
  4. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    As a Jazz fan and regular attender of my local Jazz club, I must say that I would be very disappointed in any Sax player who only took 2-chorus solos.

    Although, I like other things - like piano trios - there is nothing as exciting as a good band with piano bass and drums supporting a powerful soloist, who can take you on a "journey of discovery" over a long period .

    So - tonight I will see Stan Tracey's quartet with a great UK Tenor player - Nigel Hitchcock and what I am looking forward to most, is hearing some long Sax solos , with the fantastic rhythm section prompting and inspiring!

    To me this is the real sound of Jazz and there is nothing better!

    Of course - there is nothing worse than a soloist who has no ideas and cannot sustain or shape solos over many choruses - who still does this!!

    That's probably the worst thing in Jazz!! ;)
  5. It all depends on the player....Many "front line" players get up there and solo with no regard for the rhythm section. The old ego takes over and as Hofbrauhaus notes: " But the ladies cheered...."
    These players regard themselves as "Stars", so it's the old soloist with a back-up band. These guys play with blinders on. They don't look at the possibility of a little interplay with the section, making thier solo more interesting and making the whole band sound cohesive, powerful and giving the impression that the band has been together for more than just this one gig! I really don't care how many choruses (within reason) a player takes, as long as everyone is involved, and the band is going somewhere other than down hill!
  6. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Yes that's the main thing - you have your extraverts and your introverts - but as long as they're all having a conversation and not a monologue!! ;)
  7. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U

    May 30, 2000
    Peoples Republic of Brooklyn
    Creator of: iGigBook for Android/iOS
    I think you definitely shoud be good enough to hold it down which means practicing at tempos at and above what you know you're going to play at. Part of my practice routine is just walking over tunes at increasing tempos so that I can develop time consistency, endurance and the ability to relax at the higher tempos.
  8. Peter Dalla

    Peter Dalla

    Feb 2, 2004
    This is from Nick Ara's recent excellent post on the Ron Carter clinic at Dave Gage's:

    On stamina - Only practice will give you stamina. "We (with Miles) played 3 sets, Mondays thru Thursdays, and 4 sets on Fridays and Saturdays for years. That helped my stamina". "I can play, and play. There's no way a horn player is going to outplay me. No way." I believe he's right.

    It does sound more like you are complaining about YOUR shortcomings, not the saxophonist's. If he's playing boring ideas, play them back to him. When it gets to be your solo, look straight at him and play his sh*t right back to him. Then burn him for 12 choruses.
    The other part of the equation is - 6 choruses is NOTHING. if you have a 32 bar tune that's at a medium tempo (quarter = 120bpm) a single chorus is only going to last a minute. If you're playing medium up (half+120) that's only 30 seconds.

    My favorite story is of bassist Ugunna Okegwo counting Craig Handy's choruses over a blues at a jam sessions (this was a point of some contention amongst the band, they played a set of their own music and then were supposed to act as the house rhythm section for an open jam session), the count was 72. And there were 2 tenors, another alto player, 2 trumpet players, piano etc. waiting to go.

    Paul brings up an excellent point as well, if you are playing TOGETHER and trying to make a musical statement it may go on for awhile. I session with a regualr quartet, on recordings of our sessions there is seldom any tune less than 10 minutes in length. You want to make sure you are developing the stamina to listen and focus for extended periods of time.
  9. Agreed that long sax solos are fine and enjoyable as long as the soloist is "saying something" and interacting with the rhythm section. Sonny Rollins played in my little hick town and played something like 73 choruses on the opening number (a minor blues) and held the crowd enthralled.

    The venue is important as well. In a club where people are there expressly to listen, go for it. But I've played too many casual gigs where the sax player is on his fourth chorus of "Misty," and the dancers shake their heads and go back to their tables.
  10. MartinT


    Apr 16, 2003
    San Mateo CA
    Brings to mind the story about John Coltrane while he was playing with Miles Davis. Miles was complaining about the long stretches of solos John took, and John's argument went something like he got himself so into the tune that he could not find a way to stop the flow of music through his horn. Miles' reply: "Try taking it out of you mouth"...
  11. Sam Sherry

    Sam Sherry Inadvertent Microtonalist Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2001
    Portland, ME
    Euphonic Audio "Player"
    Geez, a lot of us would kill for a wedding gig like that!

    Here's some older threads about playing at tempo. Gotta say, too, that 200 bpm is "medium swing" 'round these parts.

    Good luck, MAV.
  12. mav


    Jun 10, 2003
    i think i love all you guys. thanks for replying
    for starters that ron carter quote is just perfect.
    ive got to say that i love a love solo (storey) too,eg coltrane,
    and if there are screaming girls well let him solo all night.
    what gets to me is when the rhythm section is being ignored perhaps if i was a sax player i would be bouncing off the rhythm section like crazy.
    i agree i do need to work harder and develop my stamina.
    but how do i keep a steedy, rock solid tempo for say a ten minute tune with no drummer?
  13. Sam Sherry

    Sam Sherry Inadvertent Microtonalist Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2001
    Portland, ME
    Euphonic Audio "Player"
    No joke: It comes with pracice. Perhaps one very helpful exercise would be playing the same tune for 15 minutes at a time with just a metronome clicking just 2 or just 4. That might help you develop your inner clock.
  14. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Do the above, plus make it feel good. Put the metronome on low so that it's more of a suggestion in your ear than a crutch. Then do it without the clock. Record it all and listen back.

    Rinse, repeat...
  15. We all need motivation....To me, that's the one thing that carried me through all those long session-like gigs. It's hard for me to practice by myself at home at the level needed to improve stamina. As Ray notes, making it feel good is your motivation. Anyone who's ever "locked in" time and swing wise with another player knows there's NO better feel on this planet including YOU KNOW WHAT! If you can lock it in with another human, you won't even notice the pain in your body...That, I can promise you. I don't want to get too dramatic here, but i've gotten into such intense grooves that i've looked down at the fingers on my right hand only to see blood.
    Hell, if the groove doesn't motivate you, find some chick in the audience to motivate you. We all can find motivation somewhere....I love playing for other musicians. Not to show off in an egotistical way, but because I know other musicians know how to listen and enjoy the message.
    One last rant....i'm from that old "All night session era" Where, after playing a five hour gig, you could go to an "after hours" session and play till the sun came up. That's the one thing that makes me sad for our young players today. The availibility of sessions was very rich in those days.
    You can always find another person to practice with too...even if it's another bass player.
  16. Lock in with the guitar player! Pretend you're Jim Hall and Red Mitchell!
  17. You ARE the the drummer. You need to unlearn tendencies which make you rely on the person sitting at the drums for keeping time. Just because he's on a throne, doesn't make hime the king of time. Everyone in the band bears that responsibility. So it doesn't matter whether you play with a drummer or not, you've got to develop your internal clock. After you reach a certain level of competence, it becomes as much of a mental task as a physical one. Everyone's suggestions in this thread and the two Sam dug up are valuable.
    In addition, I believe that improvisers of the highest caliber really do create at even the most insane tempi. There is a certain state of acute awareness which allows this to happen, an adrenalyn-enhanced focus wherein one's mind is racing yet in control, while the body is fully engaged yet relaxed. This is the place that I strive to be when I'm performing, and occasionally I feel as though I have approached it.
    At the least, a mindset of intensity without tension should help get you through the fast tunes, even if you play mostly the same lines each time.
  18. bassopotumus


    Mar 17, 2004
    With the whole solo-length subject - I really think the length of the solo depends on what song you're playing. You've got to make things fit. If it sounds good, then it's right!
  19. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I would say the opposite in Jazz - it depends on the player!!

    So, for example, I would be happy to listen to John Coltrane playing endless choruses of any standard tune or Wes Montgomery playing 60+ choruses on the Blues - but there are many more Sax players who would struggle to keep it interesting beyond a couple of choruses - but of course some, who can make a perfect "statement" in 2 choruses !!

    And in "Free Jazz", there are no "songs" necessarily!! ;)
  20. You need to think just a little deeper than that....