Last night I had my first practice with the big band. We will be playing swing and jazz. The project is actually through an adult education class, with a band leader and various musicians. There is a big brass section: a baritone sax, an alto sax, a trombone and three trumpets. We could use a drummer and a tenor sax. A guitar is coming. As for me, "I proudly took my place, as the one and only bass" (from the Music Man).
My attorney (and close friend) plays alto sax, and invited me to join this group. We are having a ball doing it. The challenge for me is reading notes. I do read bass clef, but not nearly fast enough; I can't really "sight read," but this project will help me do that. I found myself straining to read the notes, and it was challenging, but I am sure I can do it, with enough study and practice.
That's a rule for success in learning to read notes. Get in a class or program where you are obliged to learn it, with deadlines. You may never learn anything new without a good reason and a good program for doing so. With other musicians depending on you, you have a great reason.
I used my Fender Jazz Bass guitar for this first meeting, but will bring my Calin Wultur Panormo string bass to the remaining sessions. A big band must have a traditional string bass; bass guitars are just too rock and roll. I splurged on a better pickup, a Fischer, at $200, for my string bass. Yes, string basses do need amplification (all those horns are loud), but this pickup ostensibly does not alter the warm, woody twang of the bass.
Our first three songs to practice are (1) Sing, Sing, Sing (2) Greensleeves and (3) A String of Pearls, all from the American Songbook of great old standards, which make for excellent jazz pieces.
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