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You're IN the Band - The Real Experience of Playing in a Traditional/Hot Jazz Band

Nicholas F. Mondello By

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You're IN the Band
Cynthia Sayer
128 Pages
ISBN: #978-0-578-17971-1
Cynthia Sayer Music

Multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, bandleader and music educator, Cynthia Sayer's name might not be a bell-ringer, however I'd wager that you've probably heard her Hall of Fame banjo (Yes, there is one!) playing on film soundtracks, commercials, pop recordings—or, if you've been a lucky-so-and-so, live.

At the request of her students, Sayer has compiled and published her thoughts, suggestions and years of performing experience (read that as wisdom) into a terrific read-listen-and-play-along method appropriately titled You're IN the Band—The Real Experience of Playing in a Traditional Jazz/Hot Jazz Band. There are a number of elements which make Ms. Sayer's effort well worth considering; none the least of which is that it is a hell of a lot of fun hearing and playing along with Sayer and her great Trad sidekickers: trumpeter Bria Skonberg, bassist Mike Weatherly and drummer, Kevin Dorn.

The initial sections of the book, all laid out in a neat, easy-to-digest (and read) Q+A format, detail valuable specifics which give the gigging or interested-in-gigging musician about Hot/Trad Jazz, its music, customs and quirks. The play-along section is Habanera Hot where one has the ability to play along with these world-class instrumentalists or to play "lead" without the lead/melody performer or banjo. Further, the baker's dozen selections—all Hot workhorses ("Avalon," "Darktown Strutters' Ball," "Just a Closer Walk with Thee," "Blues My Naughty Sweetie Gives to Me," "When the Saints Go Marching In" and 7 more all in C, Bb and Eb with chord changes recommended and options discussed) are offered in two tempo formats, enabling the student to perfect one's skills in "Practice Tempo" and then progress to "Gigging Tempo."

The playing by Sayer and her unit is, as you would expect, A-1 and the production values both for the book (beautifully designed, although I prefer spiral-binding vs. perfect) and the recordings (available w/provided CDs or via download) are outstanding. The intelligent jazz musician, irrespective of area of preference or work requirements, can benefit substantially from Sayer's insights and certainly gain from performing along with her and this crew. The nuances they individually and collectively provide, as well as the narrative here make this publication very well worth the nominal investment, not to mention you can test it out for free at

Some like it hot and this reviewer certainly likes this cooker.


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