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I'm the auxiliary percussionist in my school's jazz band, and normally there's a part for me, or I double a melody on the vibraphone, if there isn't. Right now, we're doing the song "Take the A Train", arranged by Sammy Nestico. There's no written auxiliary percussion part, and I'm not sure what part(s) to play on the vibraphone (I don't think it fits the theme either). I couldn't find any other auxiliary parts in other arrangements or performances either.

My band director told me to just make something up. What should I play for this song?

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  • Vibes and piano sound good together, but they must be tight together. Sloppy playing will make both sound pretty bad.
    – Tim
    Commented Feb 11, 2023 at 11:51

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Your best bet in the Nestico arrangement would be to play vibes, doubling the piano part, or, maybe better, trading off sections with the pianist.

If you want to play the melody, you need to jump around to different parts. It might be easier to write out your own chart. The trombones take the first A section, then the tenor saxes pick up the melody for the second A, followed by the altos taking lead on the bridge. The tenors take the final A. On the out chorus, the saxes have the complete melody.

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Looking at just the first page of the score, I think you could base something on the piano or guitar part.

But you should also learn the melody. It would sound great on vibes! But don't just double it mindlessly throughout the whole piece. Pick one section of the band and join in when they have the melody.

Your band director's copping out rather. Lean on him to do his job :-)

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Since it's probably a swing feel, why not play conga and tumba. Play a pattern that emphasizes 2 and 4. That may also free up the set drummer to play something more interesting too.

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