How to interpret In The Mood

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AndrewMeronek
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How to interpret In The Mood

Post by AndrewMeronek » Sun Jun 23, 2019 9:31 am

Yeah, it's a beaten-to-death tune that everyone in the jazz world has to deal with, but I think this kind of gets overlooked as a deceptively tough tune to play right. I'm wondering what some others' takes on this might be.

For reference: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_CI-0E_jses

For starters, the opening lick. Saxophones typically play their opening pretty aggressively, and I've found that if I match that, it's super easy to crack the high A-flat. Back off a bit, and I nail it every time. And it's super easy to be terrible with time in that opening, too.

Between various players I work with, there are a *lot* of variations on the length of held notes in the brass backgrounds in the first main melody. It kind of annoys me that the "stock" chart is not notated how the Miller band actually performs those. They do it shorter with a pretty quick diminuendo. It's more annoying to me that even in pro groups, that detail never gets agreed upon by the players, which should be a no-brainer if people are at least following the lead trumpet.

Trombones/saxes playing the background lick behind the trumpet solo at 1:40 typically play it too loud. Unfortunately, in the "stock" it's written mezzo-forte, but no one ever seems to correct this. In fact, this is a general gripe I have in a whole lot of jazz charts: writing in something like 'mf' when want's really wanted is more like 'p'.

I have come to *not* like people playing pedal tones on the long notes starting at 2:07. The reason is that playing a pedal tone and an octave above it makes the perceived note a bit louder, and especially if people start pedalling in the 3rd, quietest, iteration, it kind of destroys the effect.
“All musicians are subconsciously mathematicians.”

- Thelonious Monk
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JohnL
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Re: How to interpret In The Mood

Post by JohnL » Sun Jun 23, 2019 10:20 am

AndrewMeronek wrote:
Sun Jun 23, 2019 9:31 am
Trombones/saxes playing the background lick behind the trumpet solo at 1:40 typically play it too loud. Unfortunately, in the "stock" it's written mezzo-forte, but no one ever seems to correct this. In fact, this is a general gripe I have in a whole lot of jazz charts: writing in something like 'mf' when want's really wanted is more like 'p'.
One could say that about a LOT of tunes, and not just jazz/big band, either. I've done (probably more than) my share of ranting that solo backgrounds should be played p or at most mp, regardless of the dynamic on the page. Same for pads behind soli parts in other sections. This goes double when playing behind a vocalist. Please, arrangers and composers: No more forte backgrounds!
I have come to *not* like people playing pedal tones on the long notes starting at 2:07. The reason is that playing a pedal tone and an octave above it makes the perceived note a bit louder, and especially if people start pedalling in the 3rd, quietest, iteration, it kind of destroys the effect.
No more than one person in the section playing the pedals, and only if you've got someone who can actually play a
real pp pedal. The problem is that the written Ab is usually played too loud and the person playing the pedals gets sucked in and tries to "balance". But most definitely - someone who decides to drop down to the pedal for the final iteration of the phrase is NOT helping.

Another issue I hear with interpretation on ITM (and other swing tunes) is a serious disparity in the basic interpretation of the swing style. Not just "Basie-ish vs. Miller-isn", either. I've heard people espouse an approach where there's no note length component to swing at all - it's all done with accents. Put someone playing in that style with a bunch of people playing traditional swing and you are in deep trouble.
baileyman
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Re: How to interpret In The Mood

Post by baileyman » Sun Jun 23, 2019 3:09 pm

snip
Last edited by baileyman on Mon Jun 24, 2019 1:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.
AndrewMeronek
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Re: How to interpret In The Mood

Post by AndrewMeronek » Mon Jun 24, 2019 8:31 am

JohnL wrote:
Sun Jun 23, 2019 10:20 am
Another issue I hear with interpretation on ITM (and other swing tunes) is a serious disparity in the basic interpretation of the swing style. Not just "Basie-ish vs. Miller-isn", either. I've heard people espouse an approach where there's no note length component to swing at all - it's all done with accents. Put someone playing in that style with a bunch of people playing traditional swing and you are in deep trouble.
I haven't seen too much of this, but then again, people who can't match style in this sense either learn or get weeded out pretty quickly.
baileyman wrote:
Sun Jun 23, 2019 3:09 pm
That's interesting, my experience is exactly the opposite. Maybe it's an East Coast thing, but when people realize the are background and they often cower behind their stands trying to 'stay out of the way'. This is true in Boston area pro bands, too. So all that background writing comes out like mush. Better to leave it out.
Wellll, if the rhythm section doesn't also match dynamics, soft horns of course don't work. But that's a whole different issue and I wanted this OP to focus on trombone performance. IMHO don't be the problem.
*if the soloist/singer has a mic, you won't be too loud
IMHO players and arrangers in big band sometimes rely too much on the mic. Big bands are fundamentally acoustic ensembles, and a singer with a mic shouldn't have to be turned up because of a bad performance or a bad arrangement.

Also: there is a difference between backgrounds that are active when a vocalist is vocalizing, and hits that happen in-between vocal syllables or phrases. Good arrangers know how to emphasize vocals with loud hits in a way that doesn't cover them up. Pay attention to the arrangement.
“All musicians are subconsciously mathematicians.”

- Thelonious Monk
Wishbone
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Re: How to interpret In The Mood

Post by Wishbone » Sun Jun 30, 2019 4:51 pm

Are you playing at the Michigan Jazz Festival?
AndrewMeronek
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Re: How to interpret In The Mood

Post by AndrewMeronek » Sun Jun 30, 2019 6:26 pm

Wishbone wrote:
Sun Jun 30, 2019 4:51 pm
Are you playing at the Michigan Jazz Festival?
Not unless someone calls me to sub, which hasn't happened yet.

I'll be checking it out, though.
“All musicians are subconsciously mathematicians.”

- Thelonious Monk
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