A big band is not a democracy. If it is run like one, chaos will ensue. If everyone feels they can "lead" the band, there will be no direction, too many suggestions and no consensus. It will be like the family getting together at Thanksgiving and every uncle vying for attention. I see this far too often. The big band has a hierarchy and it works well. It is a little looser than the symphony but it works like this. The band leader is just that, the leader. He/she has ultimate control of all decisions and has veto power. During performance, everyone listens to the high-hat (or ride), tunes down to the bass and listens up to the lead trumpet for style. On a micro level, each section follows the style of the section leader (1st trumpet, 1st alto, 1st trombone). When there is a break in the action, these section leaders address the players in the section on issues of intonation, rhythm, style etc. I will reiterate. Far too often, you have players trying to "lead" for the 2nd trombone chair, 3rd trumpet chair etc. by playing too loud, using vibrato, playing a different rhythm, etc. This can not be. In Toronto, you can throw a stone and hit a rehearsal band. I have played in most. The ones that stand out are the ones that follow the hierarchy.
Dr. Michael Kearns
Musician, educator, husband, father, web designer ... my life is like a mosaic with each piece vying for my attention.