Why swing music?

Okiedokie of Oz

Active Member
Something I think I may have touched on, but not enough -

How will Kids learn to "swing properly" unless they have a training ground? Are you teaching your band to swing properly? An article somewhere a few months back ( I think it was 4BW, but I can't remember) brought up the argument that brass bands and swing do not "normally mix", but used that as a segue to saying that Travelspere's (I think it was them) new swing album was superb!!

I don't see you swearing off cars because "they always break down", or canning cassette players because "they always eat the cassette". So why should brass bands ban swing because "we sound icky?"
 

Dave Payn

Active Member
W.Rimmer said:
I'm starting to realise that lots of players here actually think what brass bands do with "swing" is acceptable. Gents, you need to get out more, musically that is.
I think it's you that needs to get out more, and not just musically. If 'lots of players here actually think what brass bands do with swing is acceptable', doesn't that tell you something? Like, er.... we can't all be wrong perhaps? It's one thing having an opinion, which is fair enough and you started the thread off in that manner, but your responses since have unfortunately become more and more 'snobby'. If bands want to play swing, they will, regardless of what's said in this debate. See straightmute's points about Bill Geldard and the fact that these styles can be taught. Also, the others who have mentioned that there are plenty of amateur big bands that can't swing any more than an an average brass band can. To think, if all the 'experts' of each musical genre came on here and tried to persuade us to stop playing classical, jazz, easy listening, Acid house, swing etc. We'd only have test pieces left to play and that won't exactly go down well on a bandstand in the summer! Or is swing such a precious and specialized subject all on its own that 'only swing players should dare attempt it? Sorry for descending into sarcasm but I can only say in defence that I was provoked!

Edit: fixed quote! Dyl
 

James McFadyen

New Member
I don't think W.Rimmer is saing that BB's should not play Jazz ever, but what he says is very true, and I think it's important not to let it get out of control and say silly things about we'll only have testpieces left to play, as that will never be the case as pop (and swing) arr's are on the increase and like you said, arrangers will still write them just as long as bands keep buying them.

I think what is being said here about how to play jazz properly should be noted by all bands, since jazz isn't a BB's specialist, perhaps, this may be looked upon as a hints and tips dept of how to REALLY swing.

Jazz harmony is very different from traditional harmony and while most BB arrangers (or composers) are excelent at writing for the BB idiom, they know nothing of the Jazz Language - at least not in it's true sense. This is where the root of the problem lies! Adrian Drover (who wrote arrangments for Mayanard Fergusson and the likes) is probably the best Jazz writier for BB that I have heard, barr none, not even the best of the best BB Composers have came close to his jazz view - but he's a big Jazz man, he knows how to write jazz voicings properly, the way Sammy Nestico or Ellington (THE pioneer of Jazz Harmony/Sound - indeed many have tried to duplicate his sound) write jazz.

As for showing bands how to swing it can be learned very easily, most of it comes down to confidence and just enjoying the music and listening to each other. I think it is fair to say that pretty much any BB can handle 20's Jazz, but I think what is being talked about here is the Jazz of the 40's and 50's and later, when 'the greats' were around!

Attitude is important - Jazz is about down and dirty attitude, sometimes hammering rythms and holding it back on the tempo creates great groove!

Also, here's a little trick u might like to know (especially for conductors) the Drums and Basses should keep pushing the tempo on, driving it forward to push the band, while, however, the rest of the band push the tempo back! This is unqiue to Jazz, but I guarantee u, if you do this well, it will make your performances groove much much better! In Jazz, the Drums should never follow the conductor the drums are the conductor, providing NESSESARY drive and forward grinding motion with lots of power!

Cornets - as much as it will pain you to do - try to sound like trumpets, listen to ANY bigband, the tone is always strong, and powerful, even in quieter sections.

Troms - just do what u do best, provide lots of brass energy to boost the cornets!

Horns/Bari's - u usually have the role of the saxes in most cases, work as a team and groove together feel the beat pulsating!

Anyhow, all BB's keep practicing ur Jazz, coz u'll get it in the end, but for god's sake, get some decent jazz music - you will be hard pushed to find some, but, without wanting to create enemies, try not to go for the big names in BB Composition, since, most of whom don't know the first thing about Jazz, go for someone with a Jazz background like Adrian Drover or me (If I dare write Jazz stuff for BB! :wink: )
 

Boneman

Member
James Mcfadyen wrote . .
try not to go for the big names in BB Composition, since, most of whom don't know the first thing about Jazz, go for someone with a Jazz background like Adrian Drover or me

Blimey James you do rate yourself highly!! - I presume you don't think much of 'Jazz' by Philip Wilby then, I mean how dare he write about someting he does understand - perhaps you should offer to give him some lessons, I'm sure he'd be very grateful.

The only piece I have played by Adrian Drover is the Theme from Star Wars . . do you know this arrangement? Is this an example of the very best Jazz writing (by the way it does have a jazzy bit in the middle!)
 

JessopSmythe

Active Member
I have to agree with boneman here.

At the risk of getting moderated, I feel I have to make my opinion known.

James, having listened to the music you recently posted links to, I feel that your opinion of yourself and your music is highly over-rated. There are a great many successful composers on this forum who do not seem to feel the need to "sound-off" the way you have so far on almost every topic. Since you, yourself, have told us that you have difficulty in selling your music in the UK, might I suggest that you turn down the ego a tad, look at what the successful publishers are doing and, most importantly, listen to the views of your potential customers. True, some of us may not have your level of musical education but I know of a number of very successful composers(both in terms of sales and in audience responses) who did not even take an A-level in music.
 

bagpuss

Active Member
With so much utter utter rubbish being spouted by the usual protagonist(s?), I hardly know where to start. At the risk of being moderated out of existence I think that some people are talking out of areas which should be sat on and not talked through.

James Mcfadyen said:
The trouble with swing, is, the cornet is just too damn nice - in jazz, you've got to be dirty, raunchy and loud! If it ain't loud and dirty, it ain't jazz. Of course I'm biased as I've played in a real big band and played with Tommy Smith and Joe Temperly (both sax players)

I don't think it's possible to disagree more!!! You have NOT GOT TO BE "dirty, raunch and loud" to play jazz. Cry me a river is dirty is it?? What about God bless the child........you don't know what love is......summertime????? Need I go on?? There are many people who post to this forum who have played with 'real' big bands/jazz bands, you don't have the monopoly on that at all. I suggest that if "dirty, raunchy and loud" is how you always played in your jazz bands then you really do need to have a little more experience in Jazz bands in general. I also think that based on that comment, it's more likely to be the Jazz bands of this world that die out rather than the brass bands. Also, as you have said in one of your other posts that you have used Jazz ideas/themes in some of your compositions, might I humbly suggest that you go back and check your writing?

James Mcfadyen said:
Also, what about Jazz Improvisation? I think even 2nd section bands would have trouble trying to play an improvised solo, learning blues scales, be-bop scales, alto penataonic scales and so on as well as learning the rather complicated modal system and knowing which 'blue notes' sit in each chord and what modes you can play in a chord. Basically speaking, Mixolydian is the jazziest mode, with Phrygian coming a very close second!

Why oh why do people who believe that they know the jazz idiom/genre (or any other for that matter) have to try and impose their knowledge on those who don't but enjoy what they do??? I played in a very successful jazz band for about 8 years (as did Jessop Smythe), we toured New Orleans, florida etc, played at Ronnie Scotts and had masterclasses with such people as Ellis Marsalis. But, if someone had approached one of the players in the band (there were 35 of us) with talk of Mixolydian modes and pentatonic scales, not only would they have had a blank look, they'd probably be in need of cornet girl or one of her dentist colleagues. What needs to be remembered is that there are only 12 notes to choose from, they may be moved around in octaves but there are still only 12 notes. To begin to talk about mixolydian modes and b-bop scales is bordering on the pretentious.

James Mcfadyen said:
Jazz is about the performance, big band scores aren't really all that complex, nor do they have as much detail as a convensional brass band or orchestral score, the ability to harmonise on the fly, remember scales and chord voicing of the tonal and modal systems, having a feel for swing, etc, are all part of the jazz or swing experience.

Tosh!! There are MANY big band/jazz band scores that are as complex as brass band scores if not more so. There are also many brass band scores that are more complex than Jazz band scores.

There is absolutely no reason why brass bands (or any other ensemble for that matter) shouldn't play swing/jazz/big band music. The biggest problem that I see is that many brass band players cannot play Jazz styles. This is in no way a criticism of them at all. It is more a deficiency in the way they were/are taught. Also, many brass band composers/arrangers don't write in a jazz style ie. they write far too rigidly and therefore don't help matters. Brass bands MUST appeal to a wider audience if they are to survive, they cannot do that if they limit their repertoires to include only brass band standards. Think of it this way. Put yourselves in the shoes of a supermarket manager, if he/she doesn't stock what the customers want, they will vote with their feet and with their money and go elsewhere. In the brass band world, the bands and the players are the supermarket managers and the audience is the customer. If we don't give them variety and entertainment then they will not keep coming to our concerts, if that happens, there is no future for brass bands. I agree with what has been said in that, the 'jazzy' pieces of music are the ones the audience taps their feet to and the ones they enjoy more than they would an overture or test piece. All musical genres can and should fit into a brass band concert and to try to make bands do otherwise is suicidal for the brass band movement.

Bagpuss
 

manx_yessir

Member
James McFadyen said:
Also, here's a little trick u might like to know (especially for conductors) the Drums and Basses should keep pushing the tempo on, driving it forward to push the band, while, however, the rest of the band push the tempo back! This is unqiue to Jazz, but I guarantee u, if you do this well, it will make your performances groove much much better! In Jazz, the Drums should never follow the conductor the drums are the conductor, providing NESSESARY drive and forward grinding motion with lots of power!

Cornets - as much as it will pain you to do - try to sound like trumpets, listen to ANY bigband, the tone is always strong, and powerful, even in quieter sections.

Troms - just do what u do best, provide lots of brass energy to boost the cornets!

Horns/Bari's - u usually have the role of the saxes in most cases, work as a team and groove together feel the beat pulsating!

Anyhow, all BB's keep practicing ur Jazz, coz u'll get it in the end, but for god's sake, get some decent jazz music - you will be hard pushed to find some, but, without wanting to create enemies, try not to go for the big names in BB Composition, since, most of whom don't know the first thing about Jazz, go for someone with a Jazz background like Adrian Drover or me (If I dare write Jazz stuff for BB! :wink: )

If you don't mind I think I'll ignore up your advice....and your music - you try to ramm both down all our throats far too often for my liking'
:roll:

IMHO if a brass band wants to play Jazz/Big Band music, then why shouldn't they, in there own, unique style. Who say's which style is the right or wrong style anyway? If you want to hear Jazz music played in a Jazz style, then go listen to a Jazz band and if you want to listen to Orchestral music played in an Orchestral style, then go listen to an Orchestra! If you want to hear a variety of music styles played by musicians that aren't afraid to play any type of music, then go listen to a Brass Band! :lol: :wink:
 

JessopSmythe

Active Member
One of the best Jazz keyboard players I ever had the pleasure to play alongside can't read a note. I wonder what he'd say about all this mode/b-bop ****?
 

Borfeo

Member
I was going to leave this topic alone, as I really hate these high opinionated people who come on and say we should do this and we should do that, sorry but if you think I'm going to listen to you then you are gravely mistaken. Unfortunately though, I've been sucked in, so here goes.....

I did manage to raise a chuckle when I saw that we should be buying the works of Adrian Drover and our own Mr McFadyen, the TRUE masters of jazz. OH MY GOD. Please extract your head from your behind. I played Adrian Drover arangements for YEARS in the West Lothian Schools band, and although he did play with Maynard Ferguson and he does have a jazz background, I can't think of one BB piece he's written that I would ever want to play again, it's all badly scored, bitty and dull in my opinion. And the fact James claims to be a "Real" jazzman simply because he played with some Youth Jazz Orchestra also made me smile a little bit. I played lead trombone with Salford Uni Big band, but I wouldn't go telling everybody how great my jazz background is, especially when you here some "real" lead players. And I certainly wouldn't be ramming my opinions down peoples throats like they were two year old kids, not on I'm afraid.

Anyways, the one arranger I'm amazed has been omitted is Mark Freeh, I can't get enough of his work, he sticks so close to the original scorings, and can really make a band tick with his writing, a beautiful arranger.

Apologies to moderators if this a little near the bone, I get twitchy late at night.
 

Accidental

Supporting Member
Why Swing Music?
Easy.... because its fun, and the punters like it! (the half decent arrangements, anyway :wink: )

Borfeo said:
Anyways, the one arranger I'm amazed has been omitted is Mark Freeh, I can't get enough of his work, he sticks so close to the original scorings, and can really make a band tick with his writing, a beautiful arranger.

Totally agree! I love Mark Freeh's stuff (even tho he writes v squeaky horn parts!)
 

PeterBale

Moderator
Staff member
James McFadyen said:
As for showing bands how to swing it can be learned very easily, most of it comes down to confidence and just enjoying the music and listening to each other. I think it is fair to say that pretty much any BB can handle 20's Jazz, but I think what is being talked about here is the Jazz of the 40's and 50's and later, when 'the greats' were around!
I'm afraid I have to take issue with you here, James. I would contest that to play any of the big band jazz of the 20's and early 30's (note: before the swing era proper) is one of the hardest test for any modern group, encumbered as we are with many years of developed tradition. Having played for a number of years in a band concentrating on the music of such greats as Ellington, Fletcher Henderson, McKinney's Cotton Pickers etc, there is nothing worse than people introducing out of period phrasing or solo construction.

James McFadyen said:
Also, here's a little trick u might like to know (especially for conductors) the Drums and Basses should keep pushing the tempo on, driving it forward to push the band, while, however, the rest of the band push the tempo back!

Again, James, this is a generalisation that only applies in certain cases. Indeed, much of the problem in getting bands to play swing (not necessarily jazz this time) effectively, is to stop the bass line running ahead when it should be holding things back. The number of times I've heard Basie-style arrangements spoilt by a stodgy bass line allowing itself to be pulled forward by the rest of the band!

James McFadyen said:
Anyhow, all BB's keep practising (yo)ur Jazz, coz (yo)u'll get it in the end, but for god's sake, get some decent jazz music - you will be hard pushed to find some, but, without wanting to create enemies, try not to go for the big names in BB Composition, since, most of whom don't know the first thing about Jazz, go for someone with a Jazz background like Adrian Drover or me (If I dare write Jazz stuff for BB! :wink: )

And what about Goff Richards, surely one of those with vast experience on both sides of the fence, widely respected for the quality of his work in both areas :?: :!: :!:
 

James McFadyen

New Member
oh, ok, after reading my post again, it did come across a bit egoish, that wasn't mean't at all :lol: and agreed my writing very terrible forceful. I apologise for that.

sometimes I just get overly-passionate and it all starts to get out of control!

And I won't retaliate to ur (nasty) comments, as I feel, this time, I brought it upon myself :cry:
 

James McFadyen

New Member
James McFadyen said:
go for someone with a Jazz background like Adrian Drover or me (If I dare write Jazz stuff for BB! :wink: )

There's nothing to suggest I said I was a JAZZ MASTER!

The words are JAZZ BACKGROUND.

Just thought I would clarify this.
 
Thats not very nice Revelation!

Somebody give the poor guy a ladder...
\ _\
\ _\
\ _\
\ _\ (Moderators' ladder repair service at your service) :wink:

There you go J Mc F........

8)
 

HBB

Active Member
Shedophone, spaces automatically get erased, you have to replace the spaces with ....... s.


What's the whole thing of ladders?! :D
 
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