Auditioning Jazz Standards

douglaschoi_

Junior Member
I've been preparing for an audition for a big band for sometime; I prepared a bunch of different big band tunes with backing tracks.

However I've found out that instead I'm supposed to pick out a tune from the real book and be prepared to play it with a pianist and bassist, and I'm expected to improvise over the form (take a chorus, or trade fours).

While I think I can swing fairly well I've not had any experience just playing a standard out of the real book with a pianist and bassist.

Any tips, things I should look for? Is it likely that I'll be expected to determine the form? Will we jump right into the head? Dynamic levels, etc?

P.S the standard I'm doing is All of Me.

Cheers guys,
Douglas
 

Boomka

Platinum Member
Any tips, things I should look for? Is it likely that I'll be expected to determine the form? Will we jump right into the head? Dynamic levels, etc?

P.S the standard I'm doing is All of Me.

Cheers guys,
Douglas
The form is determined by the tune. But, in terms of solos, you can decide whether you want to trade 4s or 8s, play a whole chorus yourself (accompanied or unaccompanied) or whatever you'd like to do. All of that can/should be discussed up front with the other players if you're not comfortable just winging it.

Whether or not you jump into the head or do, for instance, the last 8 as an intro before playing the head is again, a matter of choice. Both ways are done often on that tune and work fine. All that can and should be discussed ahead of playing the tune.

Dynamics are determined by the situation. You're playing with a trio. Your forte is probably going to be different than the forte you'd play with an entire big band. A lot will depend on whether or not the piano and/or bass are mic'd or amplified somehow, the size of the room, etc.

I don't know how much time you have ahead of your audition, but if you want, pick up a copy of a CD called "Meet the Bass Player" by Allan Cox or even something like Peter Erskine's "Jazz Essentials" app. This will give you the opportunity of playing some time with smaller groups over various kinds of forms and is the next best thing to going out and finding a bassist and pianist to jam with.
 

douglaschoi_

Junior Member
Dynamics are determined by the situation. You're playing with a trio. Your forte is probably going to be different than the forte you'd play with an entire big band. A lot will depend on whether or not the piano and/or bass are mic'd or amplified somehow, the size of the room, etc.
If I'm trading or such - would everything be louder than when I was comping, or would the bass drum and snare be as quiet?

Also, am I expected to feather the bass drum? In big band tunes usually so, but I'm not sure about smaller trios.

Cheers
 

tcspears

Gold Member
If I'm trading or such - would everything be louder than when I was comping, or would the bass drum and snare be as quiet?

Also, am I expected to feather the bass drum? In big band tunes usually so, but I'm not sure about smaller trios.

Cheers
It's situational; your dynamics should match the other players and be musical. If you're playing a mid-swing tune like All of Me with a trio, then chances are it will be pretty laid back, so just keep your solo (4s, 8s, or chorus) at a dynamic level that makes musical sense.

As far as the bass drum, that will depend on how they play as well. It's true that in big bands you would play the bass drum on 1 and 3, but with a trio you don't usually need to, think of it as another tom that you can use for comping. If the trio starts playing hot club style, then you can go back to feathering, but just listen to them and see what's appropriate.

I would think that the point of this audition is to test your ear and communication skills. You'll probably discuss intro/outro and solo order then jump into the song. They are going to see if you are listening to them and playing something that is appropriate musically.
 

Boomka

Platinum Member
If I'm trading or such - would everything be louder than when I was comping, or would the bass drum and snare be as quiet?
Your choice. It's a solo. That said, you don't want it to seem like you've suddenly started shouting in the middle of a conversation. Everyone else may have dropped out to let you "speak" so what you're playing will already be more exposed. One of the easiest ways to overplay from a volume and a note-i-ness point of view is to think you suddenly have to fill all the air in the room with sound when you solo. I'm more likely to really pull out the big dynamic guns on an extended solo. When I'm trading, I try to make what I'm playing feel like a piece of the music that surrounds it. Again, like a conversation. A sudden peak in the volume can seem out of place, so be careful.

Also, am I expected to feather the bass drum? In big band tunes usually so, but I'm not sure about smaller trios.

Cheers
It's not expected. I sometimes do it but you really have to be careful. If it moves from a feather to a rumble, you're going to be stepping on toes. If your technique will allow you to very lightly feather and use the BD for interplay with the other players, then go for it. If not, I'd avoid it. I think that most modern players don't feather all that often any more. But, if I'm going for an authentic 20s/30s/40s kind of sound, I do.
 
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