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Rooster_Ties

Small combo front-lines (as few as 3 horns), that sound "big band"-y in their execution.

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I've been listening a bunch to Albert Mangelsdorff's first two quintet outings for CBS in 1963 (Tension) and 1964 (Now Jazz Ramwong) -- before his quintet started to stretch out more (slightly) towards 'free-jazz' on their 3rd outing in 1967 (Folk Mond & Flower Dream).

And specifically those first two Mangelsdorff quintet dates are just crackling with a lovely combination of energy, and freedom (at least from chords, since there's no piano, guitar, or vibes on the date).  And I'm definitely picking up a slight Ornette Coleman influence, at least in that open "piano-less quartet" quintet sort of sound.

I've been often spinning them pretty often around the house, even when my wife's around -- in part because she really *can't stand* the timbre of 'out-leaning' saxophone (or anything especially 'gut-bucket' or wailing, sonically speaking).  But cleaner, dryer tones she can take (even if the playing’s fast) – so for instance, she’s generally OK with someone like Paul Desmond (or even Joe Henderson, if he’s playing very ‘inside’ - like in his later years).  Tina Brooks "isn't so bad" either (somebody I can also put on, and not put her off) -- and the like.

ANYWAY – I mention my wife specifically (who’s much more into piano trios, really, than almost anything else jazz-wise) – because I was trying to explain to her why these Manglesdorff recordings were so interesting to me.  How they were “free” in one sense, while being very controlled in another (with short bursts of very slightly more ‘out-there’ playing, at times) -- and of course, the somewhat exotic tunes and scales.  And I also mentioned to her how the horns really sounded like they came right out of a big band, in their articulation -- and in how they played together, and their use of riffs behind whomever was soloing (just like a big band).

It was just a minor, one-off comment, but she said she totally got what I was talking about (for a change!! – since probably well more than half the musical stuff I try to explain to her, I just don’t explain well enough for her to quite get).  Specifically about the "big band"-sound thing, that's what she really 'got'.

Anyway, I’m wondering what other small-combo groups with very small front lines (like just 3 horns only), also somehow manage to inject some sense of “big-band”-ism into their arrangements?  I know there’s a bunch of stuff like this on Blue Note – some groups more than others.  But who (else) managed/manages to capture that “big-band”-iness in their playing and arrangements, and maybe playing material that’s a bit outside the norm?  I mean, especially groups that AREN'T just playing standards and regular hard-bop type stuff (Albert Mangelsdorff seems anything but “the usual” for his time, in 1963 & 1964).

Discuss!

Edited by Rooster_Ties

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A big bunch of George Russell records.

 

and of course...

 

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How about a quartet?

Check out how when he gives the horns a tutti passage, he uses the bass right with them, not just to fatten the sound, but also to allow him to give the ability to jink around with the horn notes, to make imply a fuller section. Miles talked about Birth Of the Cool as doing the Thornhill sound with the minimum instrumentation possible, but Mulligan took it further than that. he got that sound through very aware writing to imply the sound. Duke Pearson was great at that too, voicing a few horns in such a way to make them sound like more. Good writers know how this shit works, blends, registers, overtones, all that stuff. Anybody can use "hip voicings" but that's not the same thing as knowing the tricks, the science. Hell, Herbie, Speak Like A Child. that Herbie's Gil Evans record, that kind of thing. Not just distributing the notes of the chord in a quick and easy sure-fire way, knowing about things like weight and movement, how it all works together, that's somebody who will get you what you're looking for, a real writer.

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How about using tubas instead of bassists, and having the guitarists play section parts? BIG sound!

Or hell, just three horns:

I don't know, by "big band", so you mean swing band instrumentation big band, or like, orchestral in general (as opposed to combo)?

If you just mean concept of "chart" vs. "blowing", Horace Silver is renowned for that, but in my mind, he excelled on "Moon Rays", the arc of that thing is exquiisite even by his standards. The guy got real colors out of a quintet chart. I don't discount the presence of Art Farmer for that, either, Art Farmer did a lot of work on gigs that called for a keen awareness of section playing. Somehow he blends with Clifford Jordan to create a french horn duo, then you get a big band kick, and then...well, you know the record, I'm sure. It'sd a miracle imo.

 

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I love "Moon Rays"...it may be my favorite Horace Silver tune of all time.

As for getting a big sound out of a small group, I find that no one was better than Mingus. I guess it's some combination of the Ellington influence and his own genius, but he could make a quintet or sextet sound huge.

 

Mingus 1962 Oh Yeah.jpg

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Yeah, I woke up this morning thinking, yeah, DUH, Mingus!

 

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On "Moon Rays", it funny listening to Louis Hayes on the shout chorus. It's definitely a Basie-type thing, and the drum fills would be a perfect place to pull out some Sonny Payne-ish slickness (or even some Philly Joe type brashness), and Hayes, god bless him, doesn't have that going on just yet.

To the point of the chart, though, it's such a perfectly written quintet chart that expanding it out for a big band or even an expanded small group could very well end up diluting it. I'm sure somebody's done it somewhere, but not sure if I want to hear it.

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13 hours ago, JSngry said:

On "Moon Rays", it funny listening to Louis Hayes on the shout chorus. It's definitely a Basie-type thing, and the drum fills would be a perfect place to pull out some Sonny Payne-ish slickness (or even some Philly Joe type brashness), and Hayes, god bless him, doesn't have that going on just yet.

To the point of the chart, though, it's such a perfectly written quintet chart that expanding it out for a big band or even an expanded small group could very well end up diluting it. I'm sure somebody's done it somewhere, but not sure if I want to hear it.

Yes, God bless him.  He was 20 years old when he recorded that.  He led an enjoyable band at the Chicago Jazz Festival this year, too.

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I agree that the piece is perfect in quintet format.  Why mess with perfection?

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Benny Golson is also good at getting a big sound out of three horns.  See the Jazztet.

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6 hours ago, Milestones said:

Benny Golson is also good at getting a big sound out of three horns.  See the Jazztet.

Yeah, the Jazztet quickly came to mind for me too. :tup 

How about James Moody?  I'm thinking of his mid- and late-50's stuff in particular, much of it arranged by Quincy.

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Back to "Moon Rays," I heard Pharoah Sanders do this with a quartet.  It just didn't sound nearly as enticing with a single horn. 

 

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And there is a big band version of "Moon Rays" by Chuck Israels on his all-Silver collection. It's pretty nice.

 

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A drummer i recently played with recommended the sessions he played with Richie Cole on as having that quality. I think he called it Richie Cole Alto Madness, although it has four horns.

The George Russell Smalltet's great Jazz Workshop album had only McKusick and Farmer on horns. Most of the Phil Woods Quintet and Sextet albums had that type of writing going on. Rob McConnel's Jive Five also had it. Hal McKusick's Triple Exposure LP had Billy Byers writing and playing for the Quintet.

Edited by sgcim

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