Friday, January 07, 2005

Take Me Out to the...Big Band?

Over lunch today, Halfling and I got on the subject of people reading chord changes for the first time, and the conversation veered over to how, during one of the semesters I directed the Nine O'Clock, my so-called "jazz chair" trumpet player (that's the one who gets most of the solos, for you non-jazzheads) came up to me one time after rehearsal and asked me what "those letters and slashes" were on his music. (I was diplomatic in person, but recoiled in horror later, and I was not the least bit heartbroken when a work conflict knocked the guy out of the ensemble.)

Halfling wondered why I didn't just move someone else in the section over to jazz chair, and I replied that, to the best of my recollection, none of the others really read changes either (except for the lead player, who of course needed to stay on lead). Halfling then made a remark about how so many trumpet players specialized in only one thing, whereas we saxes were called upon to do everything under the sun. Then it hit me--this was a perfect example of how jazz is like...baseball. At the very least, two sections of the jazz big band have parallels on the baseball team:

Trumpets = pitchers. The lead player who sits out on some of the less-screaming section parts (I guess he'd be some weird amalgam of the starter and the closer?), the second player who jumps in on lead on occasion (middle reliever?), the fifth trumpet who pretty much only solos, especially on printed charts where they only have four actual parts, so the "fifth part" consists of reading the lead part down an octave (the reliever whom they send in to pitch to one specific batter, maybe). In short, the trumpet section is a finely-tuned pitching squad where nobody would be asked to carry the whole concert/game alone.

Saxes = utility infielders. Maybe one night, you're playing shortstop; another night, it's second base. You might even spell the first baseman for a while if the game's out of reach on either side. Sound familiar? It does to me, and most other sax players as well, I'm sure. Your folder may say "second alto," but on one chart, you're busting out a flute; the next one calls for clarinet. You might play the "top" bari part from the second alto book on a Kenton chart. If you're the bari player on Lyle Mays' "The Continuing Adventures of Supertonic," the part calls for oboe--no lie. The funny thing is, I went to school with a guy who could pull that off quite nicely.

OK, that's a start, but how else would the big band and the baseball team match up? Feel free to chime in using the comments (I sense there'll be some trombone jokes ahead, heh). It's not exactly Dreamland Big Band, but it could be a lot of fun.

(UPDATE: Come to think of it, that might be cool too: make a DBB where you list famous jazzers side-by-side with the baseball players who are most similar to them. For example, if starting pitchers are like lead players, which famous lead player would be the Roger Clemens of jazz? Hmm, sounds like a summer project...)

I've spoken before of the virtues of baseball; there's even a small comparison to jazz in that post as well. And don't worry, Eric, I won't be OD-ing on baseball like some of those blogs you found to be so boring, though I will mention it a bit in season.

Meter made: I've made jokes before about the "four people who read this blog," but I was always curious as to what its actual readership was, so I added a Site Meter to The Musings the other day. This will never be a widely-read blog (compared to, say, Instapundit, who averages 108,000 hits a day), but I was happy to see that my actual daily average was over two-and-a-half times the amount I'd suggested in jest. If you want to see how many people read me, just click the Site Meter icon at the bottom of the sidebar text. (And in the spirit of total honesty, I set it up so that it doesn't include visits from my own IP address in the count; seeing as how my browser's default page is The Musings, those numbers would totally skew the results.)

From across the pond: At American Australian Fun, James posts a list of common Aussie-isms (their equivalent to "You might be a redneck if..."). Read, enjoy, and then ask him what the heck some of that stuff means. And this week on Divulge, we're talking toys. Read the post and add your own.

5 comments:

PKD said...

The speak-hole would slide open
A viper's voice would plead
Thick with Innuendo, Syphilis and Greed

Steven said...

I think the trombone to baseball thing would work similarly to the sax metaphor. Yes, we don't have to bust out other instruments usually(except for the very rare small percussion toy), but trombonists I think would be best applied to the outfield/catcher position. While the outfield might not be noticed intially, if they were gone...something would blow up. The catcher is there to balance with the trumpet/pitcher. He needs something to support him, or he's toast.

Eric Grubbs said...

I like watching the Rangers and the Cowboys play from time to time but I don't understand people talking about sports all the time. It's like his/her life depends on the outcome of a certain game, series or season. I just don't understand that level of fanaticism. I'm not knocking it, but I think I know now what it's like for people that aren't really into the music I'm into hear me ramble on . . . .

Kev said...

Well, if my life depended on the outcome of the Rangers season (or the current Cowboys, for that matter), I'd pretty much be up a creek, huh? I do get those voucher packs as a Christmas gift every year, so I go to Arlington about ten times a season or more.

Dingus, I agree with you on the trombones = outfield thing; that was pretty much what I was thinking too. The fans in the close-in seats might not notice if the outfield wasn't there, but just wait till one ball got hit out of the infield...

So how funny is it that the two posts on here (not counting the first one; I have no idea what's up with that) are from Dingus and a Grubbs, remembering that the original Dingus was a Grubbs. (Any new readers confused about the whole Dingus thing should go here.)

Anonymous said...

Roberto Clemente : Bill Chase. Neither were the best technicians at their positions, but were both incredibly exciting players who had their best years in the 1960's and died in airplane crashes in the early 70's.

--GP