the jazz authority; random dubiously zappy rants about 'the musicians music'.: your role in the band

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

your role in the band

Ever think about how you fit in when your band is performing? Are you a horn player or a member of the rythm section? The reason I ask is because one can significantly modify & improve their bands sound by stretching the boundaries of each musicians role.
As a horn player, the biggest role is to create melodies. The saxes, trumpets and other wind instruments are there to be at the front of the band. There are exceptions to this, but for the most part it works this way.
As a drummer, bass player, pianist or guitar player, the role is to lay down the goove. Also, the piano and guitar provides harmonies to frame the melodic horns. There have been drummers that get into the role of leader, but again, they most often do so through simply playing more solos.
Now why haven't more bands switched up their instrumental roles? I've heard bass players double the melody, and horn players lay down the rythm at times, but what I am talking about is a total reversal of roles. The horns would outline harmonies and rythms, the drummer would lay down the eighth note melodies through the use of varied sounds on their kit, the bassists would play melodies and even harmonies, and the guitar or piano could go anywhere. Why not?
Check out Ray Brown on Tricotism. He doubles the melody on the head, and it gives the tune a neat sound. When busking solo, I used to play whole choruses on my sax as bass lines, or rythmic shots. This is just a starting point. As musicians we are bound by only our imaginations (I know, that's a cheezy cliche...). Let's mix things up with our roles in the band.


jazzwriter said...

Check out Erskine, Mintzer, Abercromie, & Patatucci's DVD from Hal Leonard. It's a video of the guys giving a clinic, lots of great tunes, but also each one talks about the role of his instrument in a band. Mintzer hits it right on the head with his comments about the sax player's role.

Cameron W said...

Bob Mintzer is a fun player. I'll keep my eyes peeled for that video.

Hal Leonard has a huge catalog of jazz literature and videos. I've worked in a few music stores over the years and their catalogs get bigger every year. Good stuff.