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Too many ballads!

Discussion in 'Music [DB]' started by Aaron Saunders, Sep 21, 2005.

  1. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    Let me first say this:

    I love playing ballads. I can't wait until the next gig when I can crack out a fretless slab solo on The Nearness of You, and playing a simple two-feel chorus after chorus is incredibly satisfying. I look forward every time with a strong sense of anticipation everytime we crack out Nature Boy or Embraceable You.

    My quintet has 18 songs. 3 Bossas, 4 swing, and 11 -- count 'em, 11 -- ballads. We've got another gig coming up and another opportunity to add more songs, but all I can think of are ballads! We've got a singer, but the majority of the uptempo jazz I listen to is completely instrumental, and I'm the one who suggests almost all of the tunes.

    Out of the 7 tunes we can add, another is a (slow) bossa, 4 ballads, and 2 swing (It Don't Mean a Thing and Caravan.)

    The other more uptempo songs (uptempo being relative -- we're not playing Donna Lee here) we already have are Route 66, Fly Me To the Moon, If I Were a Bell (Miles changes,) and East of the Sun.

    Believe me -- we don't need any help in picking more ballads. Actually, I'm intentionally ignoring a LOT of them while picking songs, because we can load up our entire set with ballads quite easily. The challenge, at least for me, has been finding uptempo tunes with vocals.

    I've got a bit of an idea of where to look -- Duke and whatnot -- but do any of you guys have any particular favourite tunes to do with vocalists? Or, rather, for most of the people here...what songs do you hate doing the least with a vocalist? :p
  2. Chrix


    Apr 9, 2004
    Here's a few med. tunes I like to do with or without a vocalist.

    Secret Love (Usually done up, but works well medium and actually can be a beautiful ballad)
    All The Things
    Almost Like Being In Love
    Let's Fall in Love
    Bye Bye Blackbird
    Can't Help Lovin Dat Man
    Come Rain or Come Shine
    Devil May Care
    Don't Get Around Much Anymore
    Easy To Love
    Falling In Love With Love
    Fine Romance
    A Foggy Day
    Good Bait
    Have You Met Miss Jones
    Hello Young Lovers
    Honeysuckle Rose
    I Could Have Danced All Night
    I Hear A Rhapsody
    I Love You
    I Thought About You
    It's Only A Paper Moon
    I've Got The World on a String
    Like Someone In Love
    On a Clear Day
    Makin' Whoopee
    My Romance
    Night And Day
    A Nightengale Sang in Berkley Square
    Old Devil Moon
    Sunny Side of the Street
    Sleeping Bee
    Someday My Prince Will Come
    The Song is You
    The Old Feeling
    There Is No Greater Love
    There Will Never Be Another You
    You Make Me Feel So Young

    Obviously, this is a pretty short list of the great number of tunes you could do. Personally, I think it's great that you're putting so many ballads (and many of the tunes I listed could work great as ballads as well as med. swing tunes). Many young students, not to mention guys in bands I've played in, never seem to dig on playing ballads. Keep it up.
  3. You don't say if your singer is male or female, but what about some of Louis Jordan's material? A lot of his earlier stuff is more bluesy than the later jump jive stuff. Since you're already doing Route 66 it would fit quite well with that.
  4. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY

    Years ago, when I was still a pianist and my socks were a lot younger, I had a steady gig with a decent singer whose set list included a ****load of ballads. The guys in the band made it a challenge to let the singer do her thing, then change the feel for solos, then change it back to lead the vocalista back in. Truth told, not only did she kinda dig it, but we all learned a lot about the "mutability" of jazz on that gig, and I count it as a great experience. For instance, a ballad head can turn into:

    a bossa
    a long meter samba
    a waltz
    a slow walk
    a "big booty" 12/8 groove
    a fast long-meter walk
    an afro-Cuban groove, either long meter or not

    Until you guys figure out more up tempo tunes, why not try some of these options? You never know - maybe your singer will even dig doing some of the heads that way. For ideas, check out Cedar Walton's arrangements on the Etta James record, "Mystery Lady - Songs of Billie Holiday"...most if not all of the tunes are ballads, but the band takes 'em a lot of nice places.