As well as knowing all your majors and minors you got to get all your blues scales down...very important, also if you intend to be doing lots of skanking which to be fair is found primerily in ska but often used in reggae as well you got to learn how to breath properly so theres no breaks in the flow, i can circular breath....to a degree! which helps but try not to take to much air in on each skank as it were if you cant or you will start to hyperventilate, which is bad! stacato tonguing is the name of the game here! oh and skank on the off beat!
Listen to the drummer and follow the onedrops...whilst at the same time listen to the bassist for the changes.
Are you part of a section? or the only brass, if its just you you can have your work cut out so good look!
And remember it's what you DONT play that can make all the difference..
I wont confuse you by going on about side slipping but that is good also.
Listen to lots to get the feel. 2 4 up beat so it's easy to come in on the wrong beat. Doh!
It's dance music not listening music, so no need to be clever with lots of notes and clever playing. Rhythm and tone is more important. Simple solos with repetetive riffs and themes, work well. You have to shift your head and play in the rhythm section.
Sounds effortless when done well.
UB40 "Signing off" is a good place to start. Brian Travers plays some classic solos. Some of them just 2 notes with echo.
I just started rehearsing with a reggae band that is looking to expand there horn section. Providing solos and cool sounds was the very easy part of playing with them. But linking up with the trombone player was the hardest part. You see this T bone player has played/ written parts with them since the beginning. But there are no charts. So there's all these lines and stops they have worked out which I just have to pull out of the air after listening to it once.
I've gotten my homework and have been listening to a few of there tracks. Because they only have a few recorded. I'm happy when they ask me to solo. Which is not very much compared to the blues band that I'm playing with.
Andrew Clark did a masterclass called "Five Common Styles In Rock" and one of the style is reggae. Send me a PM if you want a mp3 from the last workshop that Andrew did here in Sweden. He is describing what to think of when you're playing reggae. There are also some young less known saxplayers from Jamaica that are really good. The problem is that I can't recall thier names right now!!!
Beside Tommy McCook, the godfather of Jamaican saxophone and Rico you can also listen to Cedric 'Im Brooks, Dean Frazer, Tony Green and Ossi "Count" Scott. Some of the players can be heard on Bob Marley recordings as well.
Another thing to consider is if you are the only brass, as i was with the Bedlamites is don't play to much, i found it quite difficult just standing there much of the time doing nothing whilst the others played on, you need to develop a kind of space as it were within each song, maybe answering to a statement made by the singer, but keep it short and consistent, some songs lend themselves to skanking...some don't, you will soon see what feels right but again just keep it simple, on tenor typically just use 2 or 3 notes. If your unsure about this either get one of the bands recordings up or send me the sound file and i will tell you what notes to use.
I like 2-hornsection flugelhorn and alto. Fits well in reggea à la Johnny Nash and Jimmy Cliff styles. The alto should hold back a bit.
A tenor trobone is also fine if you want a 3 horn section.
Here is a sample of "No Woman No Cry". Tenor- and altosax. The altosax player use to show up at Andrew Clarks masterclasses/clinics in Copenhagen.
Coincidentally, I was listening to a lot of reggae horn parts recently out of curiosity and I noticed that very many of the horn lines on the recording that I listened to entered on beat #3 and then accented a note on beat #2 of the following measure. The guitar was hitting the "snare drum beats" #2 and #4 and the bass was often really strong on beat #1. So that seemed to leave a space on beat #3 the for horn lines to enter on. Then an accented note in the horn line coincided with the guitar accenting the next beat #2 for shorter horn lines. Sometimes longer horn lines accented both #2 and #4 in that 2nd measure, followed by 2 bar rest. I noticed this same pattern in 3 or 4 different tunes and I'm pretty sure I've heard that pattern in a lot of other reggae tunes. Have fun!