First rehearsal: a saxophonist’s view

Saxophonist and Big Band Librarian (sometimes…read on!) Tim Pickering looks back at the first rehearsal in the new concert-hall.

On Wednesday evening, the Concert Band and Big Band moved into the new Colyer-Fergusson Building with much excitement (certainly from me!). First impressions, simply ‘wow!’ what a difference in acoustics! In fact, I was enjoying warming up so much, I completely forgot to hand out the new score that had arrived, along with the rest of the music that Ian wanted to rehearse! (Sorry about that everyone!)

From my perspective it was great to be able to play and hear the other sections of the band – something I was not used to in the ‘soup’ of sound in Eliot hall! For the Big Band, it made a big difference too, even without the ‘acoustic curtains’ that are due to go up soon. It was much easier to get all the sax section together for the ‘soli’ sections, and really meant we could actually listen collectively, for the first time in rehearsal.

Further to add to my general excitement, we had the arrival of a few new scores. We had a look at ‘The Lady’s A Tramp’, which we will be playing next week, with the singers auditioning for the big band. We also had a look at a couple of charts that were recorded by the late great, Count Basie and his orchestra – Neil Hefti’s Flight of the Foo Birds-one of my favorite charts I have played so far, which when licked will really swing hard. Another Basie chart we rehearsed was written by tenor sax legend, Lester Young. It’s a tune called ‘Lester Leaps In’ – Imagine my face when I opened the score, and discovered (unsurprisingly in hindsight) it is in fact a 4 page long, tenor solo as played by Lester Young. One of those great moments of contrasting joy, and dread!

Now the problems with the building… There’s now no hiding your mistakes/tuning/articulation/a certain 1st tenor sax player’s sight reading ability from Ian! *cough*

Tim Pickering

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