View Full Version : Challenging gig

John Soper
Sep-16-2004, 2:36pm
So, they're reviving the Watermelon Park Music Festival near Berryville, VA the first weekend of October. #A friend plays in a traditional jazz/swing/dance band (Shenendoah Shieks) which will not be able to get their keyboards, drummer, or trombone players for the gig & I was asked to sit in on mandolin & lapslide... The other members will be acoustic bass, one or two guitars (one doubles on trumpet), sax, 46,xx (female) vocals, and another ringer who will play fiddle...

Partial set list includes:

Beseme Mucho
No Moon at All
Satin Doll
It Don't Mean a Thang (spelling for the BG'ers)
St. Louise Blues
St. James Infirmary
This Masquerade
All of Me
Out of Nowhere
...and for the fiddle player, Minor Swing (Amin)

I guess we'll get to practice the night before the gig- I've got the lead sheets for most of these & have been given the approximate tempos. #I've asked for a tape so's I can get a better feel for how the band meshes together. #Fortunately, I won't have to carry all the solos (cause I'm slow as mud)& haven't decided which songs I'm going to play mando on (might simplify things to just stick with mando for all, but I've played several of these on lapslide before). #

Any suggestions for playing rhythm mando for some of the more trad swing tunes? #I know a BG "chop" isn't going to cut it- 4 beats/bar like Freddie Green might be the simplest, but I figure there should be some rhythmic function to the mando that doesn't compete with the bass & rhythm guitar.

At the very least, I know I'll be figuring out different inversions over the next few weeks- mostly chordal extensions without root?

Or, given that the majority of the audience will be BG'ers, would it be best to borrow a square-neck national tricone, so that I can have something to hide behind when the BG police starts throwing chairs? http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/wink.gif

Any advice would be welcome.

John Soper

Sep-16-2004, 4:28pm

What I am trying to do when I play mando in my trad(-ish) jazz band and when I'm not playing a melody line is to sort of copy what a tenor banjo player would do.

Good luck with your gig, and let us know how it turned out!http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/blues.gif

Sep-17-2004, 2:14am
hey, sounds like a fun time!
what you want to do ESPECIALY for swing is to just play strait through the beats.. 12341234 all light down strokes... and if there's an extended chord you dont know, just play the dom 7 or an octave "chord" and no one will ever know! hehe
as for besame mucho..... i play that one all the time, and its very important to keep your strum pattern consistant in that song or it will not sound cohesive... and for the melody i like to play it all double stops with tremelo that is a GREAT mando tune. id play straight strums or play a latin rythm on that one, but STICK TO IT! "cohesive" is the word to remember on that tune.

like i said before when playing the rythm chords wether you are stompin on em or lightly hittin it, go straight through the beats chachachacha 1234 no upstrokes! if you do you risk sounding folky funky or jammy, and thats not swing! listen to some django or somethin and check out the back up on that, guitars can get away with one upstroke at the end of a measure much better than a mando, just trust me on that one... also some songs it is nice to do the complete opposite.. play the chords with the same rythmic pattern but with all up strokes. i do that for linus and lucy, works great on that one, and it works great for sweeter tunes like ballad kinda stuff... but really you can get down and boogie on some tunes and get a rythmic chop goin but be weary of changing the feel of the tune.
watch out for those extended chords without the root, you need to know what your guitar player is going to be doing to really use those properly or run the risk of having some weird sounding chords... like i said before you can rely on the good ol seven chords.. those can and will get you through a whole gig and youll look and sound slick doing it... sometimes its better to just let the guitar player get the nines etc. but dont miss things like flat fives. and get the third right http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif

have a good time!!!!

Sep-17-2004, 3:27am
Thats some great technical info John!

Thanks, I can use that for my band too.

You play swing yourself?

Sep-17-2004, 8:26am
No, but he stayed at a Holiday Inn Express last night! It must be Friday!

Sep-17-2004, 4:35pm
yeah i play some swing jazz stuff. i used to alot more than i do now, i was in a jazz trio guitar, mando, cello.... sometimes i also played guitar on some tunes. #now i play with the guitar player regularly, and the cello player is very ellusive.... oh well!
what i was really trying to say is play straight eights (not on a car engine!) but hit every eigth note. its a fun groove to get in... you can do stuff like say you have a full measure of a G7 play one for the first half then a different position for the second half, and it really jams.... or say its a nine, add the nine in the second half of the measure... but either way, keepin that straight rythm really makes it swing. # this music is great for mandolin.

but be wary of the "strum" youll get the evill eye from some players if you start makin it sound to folky... been down that path before hehehe

Ted Eschliman
Sep-17-2004, 5:05pm
A similar take on the pragmatic, but sterile "Four to a Bar" approach, is to conceptualize your playing like a drummer's hihat. You still keep the time, but at a little backbeat variety;
instead of #1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 3, 4,
use 1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 3, 4,
(accenting the offbeat).
Think alternating open/closed hihat, kind of an "um, CHUNK, um, CHUNK" right hand stroke. All downstrokes, but use the unarticulated upstroke as a metronomic timekeeper.

John Soper
Sep-18-2004, 9:10am
Thanks for all the tips- I'd figured that adding the backbeat emphasis while playing in straight time was best for the straight swing tunes. The "strict" downstroke approach is basically what I've done with gypsy jazz in the past & will use for this gig. Definitely want to avoid a "folky" sound!

Especially on slower tunes (when brain & fingers coordinate)I'm trying to get "walking" chordal variation with inversions & connecting chords. Tons of fun! http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/mandosmiley.gif