If I were to use a football team as an analogy for a big band, here's what I'd come up with:
My reason for this is that the quarterback's job is severalfold: to know the plays backward and forward, to set up each play before it happens, to lead the team by example, to set the tempo and pace of the offense, and to make tough decisions in the heat of the moment/read each situation and react. Similarly, the drummer has to maintain control of the tempo/pace/shaping of each piece dynamically. They have to set up each moment and know the music backwards and forwards. They set the style of each piece and affect the vibe of each piece. They have to be fearless and command the band by the way they play.
The lineman are the big guys that block incoming defenders from rushing the quarterback and open up holes for the running back to run through. The linebackers defend the quarterback from the sides and back, and on defense, they have the burst of speed and power to rush the opposing quarterback. I view the lead trombone as being a linebacker, having that burst of speed but still being powerful. The rest of the section are the lineman, with that big, low sound. The bones have to hold down the fort in order for the band to have good balance, but they do not have the most glamorous jobs, similar to the lineman.
Nimble and quick, the running back comes in a variety of styles. You have your power backs like Adrian Peterson, Arian Foster, Marshawn Lynch, or Steven Jackson. Then you have smaller, more agile backs like Ray Rice and Dujuan Harris who can dodge tacklers with their small size. The running backs wear down the defense and help the quarterback get closer to the first down and set up the offense for the big passing moments. Likewise, the saxophone section is quick and nimble, able to play fast solis and burning solos. They are the blazing running backs of the big band, dodging and shifting their way through the charts, doing the ground work in order for the big, exciting plays to work out. Running backs need to be versatile, often catching passes or playing special teams. The saxophone section is arguably the most versatile of the horn sections because they play multiple doubles for extended colors, provide background pads, have a wide range of colors within the saxophone family, and have a wide range of expressive tools and extended techniques ready available.
The wide receivers have to be fast, athletic, tall, able to execute in clutch moments. They have have to be on the exact same page as the quarterback to execute plays. They have a great responsibility for taking care of the football and making tough catches. They also get to be part of some of the most thrilling moments in the game; the deep throws downfield for hail Mary touchdown passes and the big leaps to get a first down. Similarly, the trumpet section has a tremendously important and difficult job in the big band. They have to be extremely athletic on their instrument, being able to execute passages in the high register and have to build up their strength over months and years in order to play the instrument in that range with a good sound. The lead trumpet also has to be on the same page as the drummer, because like the quarterback passing to the wide receiver, the drummer sets up figures for the lead trumpet player in the most high-octane, exciting moments of the piece. The lead trumpet also has the huge responsibility of leading the horn section, just like the receiver has the responsibility of taking care of the ball.
The kicker doesn't play during most of the game, but when he does, it MATTERS. A LOT. Field goals are often times the difference between a win and a loss, and the responsibility is big. Likewise, the piano is not always heard in the big band, especially during ensemble passages, but the moments that feature the piano are absolutely essential to pulling off a piece of music. In a Basie tune, the little piano hits are very minimal, but if they're not there, its not a Basie piece.
The quarterback needs a center to snap the ball to him every play, and that center needs to be consistent. That's the bass-- always playing, always important, and always needs to be consistent.
Special teams players come out mainly for punts and field goals-- all of the little skills the team needs for the in-between moments. They receive little to no glamour like the star players do, except in certain clutch moments where they're needed to win. In the same way, the guitar is sometimes invisible, like when filling the role of Freddie Green in the Basie band, but in matters when they are called to do something important, like play a rock guitar solo or use an effects pedal for atmosphere, they
is a saxophonist/composer residing in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex.