I'm sure this has come up before, but I'm looking for a consensus.
Last month I inherited a big band - the guy who had been running it decided it was time to step down. The band had operated mostly for fun, and we played a few jobs each year - I mostly played in it because I have a lot of friends that do, and let's just say that while the musical quality was substandard, it was and is a fun group of people.
In any case, the band expressed a desire to continue playing, and wants to play at a higher level, and so they asked me to step in as music director. We've been at it a month now, and the playing level is definitely going up. For the first time that I can remember, we actually have enough substitute players on our waiting list that we could field a second band, and the level of players who want to be a part of the group has climbed dramatically.
With that background out of my way, here's my question. The guy who used to run the band always set up the rhythm section to the right of the band (audience perspective) rather than the traditional left. One of the first changes I made was to move the rhythm section to the traditional location, and reseat the saxes and bones to move the bari and the bass bone into the chairs nearest to the rhythm section. Immediately the band feels tighter, but some players, particularly the soloists, are concerned about their distance from the rhythm section, particularly if we are playing in an outdoor venue, or somewhere that the band can't hear each other. I've played in a lot of big bands, and the seating arrangements have tended to vary - some guys like to put the ride chairs closest to the rhythm, and the bass bone/bari sax on the outboard end of the horn section, and I've seen several different arrangements and not a lot of agreement.
I'm currently seating the band as outlined below. Those of you who do big bands, please chime in your seating arrangements (and reasons for it) below if you would, so I can get a better feel for how other groups handle this. Thanks.
RHYTHM TPT 2 TPT 1 TPT 3 TPT 4
RHYTHM BONE 4 BONE 1 BONE 2 BONE 3
RHYTHM BARI TENOR 4 ALTO 1 TENOR 2 ALTO 3