Avoidance of playing "too cozy". Or perhaps playing "cozily" the proper English.
My junior high music director Mr. Allen's words circa 1969. Well respected man/genius he applied it to timid, young wind instrumentalists who don't put much air behind their ax. But it is a problem that can affect any wind player from raw beginner to seasoned pro. Happens when you start to merely cover your part. Getting just a piece of note instead of DOMINATING the band like you're supposed to.
There are certain players who play this way and yet still contribute to a band. We call them "sidemen" at times and there's probably nothing wrong with their playing. They just don't have the lead/BIG sound.
However in a beginner, intermediate or advanced player (an advanced player that is who is required to LEAD the section) it is a problem.
Beginners and intermediate players who make the bad habit of cozy playing will inevitably stymie. Developing an overly cautious and timid playing tendency. Advanced players too may fall into bad breathing habits. Descending further into a state of a lack of confidence and even rely on too much arm pressure to do the job. They forgetting their biggest asset: Solid air support.
I worked with a young trombone player last Mon. night in a big band rehearsal. He's a young adult beginner who was looking very intimidated while playing the second trombone part. During the break politely asked him if I could give him my famous (lol) lecture on aggressive playing and air support. He agreed and I gave him the typical "Sargent Hartman" speech/pep talk (slight exaggeration)
lol: Full Metal Jacket - Motivational Speech - YouTube "I CAN'T HEAR YOU"!
After the break this young cat played perhaps some 300% percent better! You could see him concentrating on BLOWING that air through the bone. His whole demeanor and physical approached had changed for the better. It was like he had turned from the 90 lb weakling who got sand kicked in his face to the guy bench pressing four hundred pounds. I even started to dig the sound he was getting! He had turned from a scared, intimidated trombonist with a nauseating tone to a real contributor to the band. Within one fifteen minute period!
However this was only half my whole reward. Not just that I observed the young fellow come around the bend with his sound but more. Last night at my professional band rehearsal and towards the end of the evening i caught myself playing a series of High D's without using a dominating tone. Got the notes as I always do but that was about it. Couple reasons. 1. It was one of my less favorite charts ("Souled out" by TOP) and 2. Was near the end of a rehearsal with some otherwise very demanding tunes.
Again these weren't bad tones. the second ledger line D's were accurate, in time, in tune and probably fit well enough the intent of the arranger's sound concept. Unfortunately they didn't sound like "Local" was behind the horn.
So I even caught my own self playing too cozily... Fixed that in a jiffy. So during the next two charts i pushed the pedal to the floor and drove every tone out at near peak volume. Well that just what you're supposed do in an R & B band. BINGO! The missing element to the band was restored. I'll not fall into that bad habit again for a while.
Conclusion: There surely are times to play a little softer. As when the music is written soft or during selected parts of the third set on a very strenuous gig that tests endurance to the limit. In the later example I might take a little off the note. Or "suction" the microphone (if I even have one) to save energy. Under those cases it is acceptable. No one has endless energy or chops.
But playing cozy can easily become a habit. Break it and nicely point it out to your friends in the brass section when they do it.
All said and done? After listening to TOP play their own chart on youtube
here: Tower of Power - Souled Out - YouTube)
I kind of felt that even they weren't quite blowing the horn lines loud enough. But then again that could just be their sound engineer had capped the volume. Seen that happen watching tower last summer. Whomever was working the board had the horns too soft and the singer too loud. Sad because they do that often.
And in the final analysis I suppose my own playing of the lead with my R & B band really wasn't all that weak last night. It just wasn't my traditional BIG sound. Won't let that happen again. Neither should you.