Big band charts suggestions that will get the crowd dancing.

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Eyedoc
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Big band charts suggestions that will get the crowd dancing.

Post by Eyedoc » Thu Sep 27, 2018 12:14 am

Looking to add some real winner charts (vocals or instrumentals) to our book. I play in a 17 piece band. We can draw on a Sinatra style singer and 3 women. One sings Bette Midler range and the others higher. Personnel are mainly 50+ (some ++) and include retired pro players, performance major graduates, school band directors, and me on bass bone (3 years back on the horn - but I practice!)
We have a monthly paid gig at a dance studio and occasional senior center dance. Hoping to get in to one of the local casinos. The leader on drums wants to be more a stage band, but I think he is realizing the market is more playing dances.
Looking for arrangements that get the crowd moving and will make them remember us and want to come back.
Here is a link to our current book:
(
Thank you
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BGuttman
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Re: Big band charts suggestions that will get the crowd dancing.

Post by BGuttman » Thu Sep 27, 2018 4:28 am

There are lots of great pieces to do.

There is a book by Jeff Hest called "Authentic Sounds of the Big Band Era". Contains several tunes. You buy a book for each player. Scored for a typical 17 piece band (5/4/4 Rhythm).

Also find the Dave Wolpe arrangement of "Makin' Whooppee". Female vocal. There's also a bass trombone feature version.
Bruce Guttman
Merrimack Valley Philharmonic Orchestra
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JohnL
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Re: Big band charts suggestions that will get the crowd dancing.

Post by JohnL » Thu Sep 27, 2018 8:29 am

That chart list is pretty light on actual swing tunes (as opposed to "standards" and jazz charts).

Most of the band will complain, but you need to have In The Mood in the book.

A few other suggestions:
Leap Frog - Les Brown
Bandstand Boogie
American Patrol
Perdido
AndrewMeronek
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Re: Big band charts suggestions that will get the crowd dancing.

Post by AndrewMeronek » Thu Sep 27, 2018 10:05 am

Putting together a good dance set is definitely an art, and requires attention. As far specific tunes that people like to dance to, you should at least get stuff that people recognize from the swing era. Miller, yes. Also the classic Benny Goodman/Tommy Dorsey/Artie Shaw/Count Basie/etc. stuff. There are a few that pop to the top:

Sing Sing Sing
Begin The Beguine
Woodchopper's Ball
Let's Dance
Take The A Train
Summertime
A Tisket A Tasket
lots more.

It's important (and surprising to people who don't have to deal with dances) to get dance tempos to be consistent, too. Swing dance styles like the Lindy Hop, Balboa, Charleston, etc. work best at specific tempos. Depending on the gig, this selection of tempos can be pretty important, and it's important for the band to consistently get the songs at those tempos when they play.
“All musicians are subconsciously mathematicians.”

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sidenius
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Re: Big band charts suggestions that will get the crowd dancing.

Post by sidenius » Thu Sep 27, 2018 1:56 pm

I would like to recommend our danish arranger, Jesper Riis.
https://bigband-scores.com
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Kingfan
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Re: Big band charts suggestions that will get the crowd dancing.

Post by Kingfan » Thu Sep 27, 2018 3:05 pm

Sing Sing Sing, Bandstand, and Zoot Suit Boogie are good swing dance charts. In The Mood too.
I'm not a complete idiot, some parts are still missing! :D
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JohnL
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Re: Big band charts suggestions that will get the crowd dancing.

Post by JohnL » Thu Sep 27, 2018 3:07 pm

In my experience, people are less likely to dance to vocals. Part of it seems to be that vocals are often at tempos that aren't conducive to dancing (other than slow dancing to ballads), and another factor is that a vocal is more likely than an instrumental to get and hold someone's attention. You'll see 'em just standing around on the dance floor...
Doug Elliott
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Re: Big band charts suggestions that will get the crowd dancing.

Post by Doug Elliott » Thu Sep 27, 2018 3:34 pm

My suggestion is that all big band musicians who play for dances should take at least a few swing and ballroom dance lessons so they have a small clue what their role is.

Then you might not have to ask the question.
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Re: Big band charts suggestions that will get the crowd dancing.

Post by AndrewMeronek » Thu Sep 27, 2018 9:30 pm

Doug Elliott wrote:
Thu Sep 27, 2018 3:34 pm
My suggestion is that all big band musicians who play for dances should take at least a few swing and ballroom dance lessons so they have a small clue what their role is.

Then you might not have to ask the question.
Damn great advice!

I'm a terrible dancer. But I have stood in for the odd dance lesson at gigs. Pretty informative.
“All musicians are subconsciously mathematicians.”

- Thelonious Monk
BurckhardtS
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Re: Big band charts suggestions that will get the crowd dancing.

Post by BurckhardtS » Thu Sep 27, 2018 11:01 pm

Doug Elliott wrote:
Thu Sep 27, 2018 3:34 pm
My suggestion is that all big band musicians who play for dances should take at least a few swing and ballroom dance lessons so they have a small clue what their role is.

Then you might not have to ask the question.
It's fun too! The few times I've played in dance band we've usually carried a couple extra trombone players and rather than double parts, we would usually take turns going and dancing.
Eyedoc
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Re: Big band charts suggestions that will get the crowd dancing.

Post by Eyedoc » Fri Sep 28, 2018 9:49 pm

Thanks to all for the responses.
If I understand, audiences like to hear familiar tunes and the band's playing should provide a steady tempo and not get in the way of dancing.
At the dance studio, people have asked for more waltzes and Latin music.
Any more contemporary tunes that audiences seem to get into? Mambo Italiano for a closer get's the crowd moving but we need variety to keep playing the same venues.
Thanks again for the advice!
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Re: Big band charts suggestions that will get the crowd dancing.

Post by Doug Elliott » Sat Sep 29, 2018 2:28 am

It's much more than just steady tempos.

At studios, dances are taught to certain specific recordings because the tempos work for the specific moves they're teaching. Then when the band plays the same song but not quite the same tempo, the dancers can't do the things they practiced. The same thing goes for the different Latin dances, except what most big band players tend to do as "Latin" is bossa nova, and the dancers have to interpret how the dances they've learned (not bossa nova) work with what the band is doing... and as relatively beginner dancers, a lot of time they just don't know what to do because it doesn't fit with what they practiced. And waltzes... tempo is important, especially for beginners.

And the band doesn't understand why the dancers would rather have somebody playing CD's than a live band.

You have a lot more leeway with real swing dancers, but it's unlikely that that's your audience.
Swing and ballroom are very different things. If you want the gig to work you have to know your audience and play what they want. Usually that's not what the band wants to play.

AND then there's the length of the songs. 3 minutes is just right. 4 minutes is too long.
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Geordie
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Re: Big band charts suggestions that will get the crowd dancing.

Post by Geordie » Sat Sep 29, 2018 3:15 am

Life is not a rehearsal
afugate
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Re: Big band charts suggestions that will get the crowd dancing.

Post by afugate » Sat Sep 29, 2018 5:30 am

Doug Elliott wrote:
Sat Sep 29, 2018 2:28 am
It's much more than just steady tempos.

At studios, dances are taught to certain specific recordings because the tempos work for the specific moves they're teaching. Then when the band plays the same song but not quite the same tempo, the dancers can't do the things they practiced. The same thing goes for the different Latin dances, except what most big band players tend to do as "Latin" is bossa nova, and the dancers have to interpret how the dances they've learned (not bossa nova) work with what the band is doing... and as relatively beginner dancers, a lot of time they just don't know what to do because it doesn't fit with what they practiced. And waltzes... tempo is important, especially for beginners.

And the band doesn't understand why the dancers would rather have somebody playing CD's than a live band.

You have a lot more leeway with real swing dancers, but it's unlikely that that's your audience.
Swing and ballroom are very different things. If you want the gig to work you have to know your audience and play what they want. Usually that's not what the band wants to play.

AND then there's the length of the songs. 3 minutes is just right. 4 minutes is too long.
These are excellent observations! :good:

--Andy in OKC
Eyedoc
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Re: Big band charts suggestions that will get the crowd dancing.

Post by Eyedoc » Sun Sep 30, 2018 12:14 am

Thank you for the great advice. I will definitely pass it along to our band leader. May explain why the crowd was smaller last time compared to the previous which was on Father’s Day.
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Kingfan
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Re: Big band charts suggestions that will get the crowd dancing.

Post by Kingfan » Sun Sep 30, 2018 11:05 am

I e-mailed a friend of mine who is into ballroom dancing for advice. He is in the middle of moving so I'm not surprised he hasn't responded, but when he does I'll pass it along.
I'm not a complete idiot, some parts are still missing! :D
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