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A Scary Gig
#3001536 07/11/20 02:41 PM
Joined: Apr 2016
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Simon_b Offline OP
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Hi

Since I started gigging in the late 80s I've done, probably 150 gigs. Not that many really. I peaked in the mid 2000s when I was playing in variously a Jazz trio/quartet and quintet (depending on people's availability) and a rock/covers group that became in it's 2nd incarnation an all out blues band.

One gig stands out for me.

I should point for those that don't know me from previous posts/videos that I am not a proper Jazz Pianist, so to play at a professional level event was a thrill, but also utterly terrifying.

This was in about 2004, when the Jazz quintet I was in ("Miles to Go"), played the Starborough Jazz Festival in Kent (UK). In our quintet we did have one professional player (not me), the Sax player. And it just so happened that she lived next door to the Festival organiser. So she got us the gig. We were advertised as "local band Miles to Go" and played on the first day of the event, at lunchtime (before the official event started). So basically there weren't many members of the public listening, but there were professional musicians, and friends and family of musicians arriving and getting prepared while we were playing. So I was scared before we started.

The professionals there would mostly be playing Trad Jazz or mainstream. We played tunes by Miles, Bill Evans, Monk and Wayne Shorter, so were more 'modern'. Happily I only played the head on one tune "Straight No Chaser". However when it came to play it my hands were sweating badly, which is the only time that's ever happened to me. As normal I played the head with unison right and left hands 2 octaves apart. Needless to say I stuffed it up, but we got through it, just....

After we'd finished, we quickly packed out gear, and as we were walking out the drummer and I bumped into a Clarinet player (Julian Marc Stringle) who we had seen only a few weeks before at the 606 Jazz Club in London, where he played a fantastic set, that went on into the early hours of the morning. I got him to sign a CD copy of his album "Blues for the morning after" that night.

Amazingly he said he'd enjoyed our set. I suspect he was being very polite. If I'd known he was listening I think my whole body would have melted away, and there wouldn't have been a Piano player left in our band.

Any great scary gigs other people would like to own up to?!

Cheers


Simon
Yamaha CLP535
Vox Continental 73
Yanagisawa AW10 (alto Sax)


Play what you enjoy listening to, listen to what you enjoy playing!




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Re: A Scary Gig
Simon_b #3001547 07/11/20 03:21 PM
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Simon, do you have a recording from this gig? Most likely your particular excitement prevented an objective assessment of your performance. Judging by the situation, your ensemble was not so bad if you were given the opportunity to play on the first day of the festival, even at lunchtime. And if that was so, then maybe there was something worse in the performance, but there was something better; and the benevolent ear of a professional could have noted such moments, especially if it happened during lunch:). There is a Russian proverb : “Fear has big eyes!”
Usually, if you ask a professional for an opinion about an orchestra heard, which played really badly, he will answer: “Yes, sounds good!” (maybe amplification is meant? smile.
Fortunately for me, I did not have to be in such a situation; opposite : I was always happy to play for the public and for the professionals present. The main thing is that there is a partner nearby who you can rely on; therefore, for me, the most convenient formation was a duet with a saxophone. In most cases, they were from the greatest saxophonists of the country where I was born, and the country where I live.

Re: A Scary Gig
Simon_b #3001696 07/12/20 03:53 AM
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Hi Nahum

I don't have any recordings sadly. Would love to have some as it would be very interesting to hear it. Fortunately we did record a mini album (5 tracks) live at a studio the year before, so I do have a representative recording of the quintet playing.

Happily I also have a poster from the event with our bands name on it. This is framed and on my music room wall upstairs to this day.

My only memory of playing during the event is getting the head of Straight No Chaser wrong. The rest of our short set may of been pretty good, but I have no recollection of anything else, whilst we were playing.

Cheers


Simon
Yamaha CLP535
Vox Continental 73
Yanagisawa AW10 (alto Sax)


Play what you enjoy listening to, listen to what you enjoy playing!




Re: A Scary Gig
Simon_b #3001980 07/12/20 09:22 PM
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I had one about a year ago. I take a Latin Jazz Ensemble Class. All adults and everyone is pretty good. It's sponsored by the Music Institute of Chicago which has a big fundraiser each year. And they like to have the various ensembles play a tune or two throughout the fundraiser.

So, somewhat nerve wracking to play a couple of tunes, on a stage, in front of all the Music Institutes high donors, but not a huge deal. Except last year, the guest of honor for the fundraiser, siting at a table front and center, was Wynton Marsalis. I know he could have cared less about how I played, but it was still VERY intense.

I love playing gigs and loosen up very quickly. This was an ordeal I can boast about but actually got no enjoyment from.

Re: A Scary Gig
Simon_b #3001988 07/12/20 09:51 PM
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I was playing weeknight solo piano at a slowly dying fine dining restaurant in the mid 90s (imagine having such an opportunity today!). There were rarely more that a few guests during my 3 hour gig on any given night. It was difficult to feel engaged needless to say.

So this one night, I was heading into my final hour, it was probably 9pm, bleary eyed from having worked a full 8 hours at my day job when the hostess said a VIP was coming in. I asked who it was and she said the name was not familiar to her, someone named Dave Brubeck. . .

He and his wife sat at the table right in front of me for at least 2 hours. I did my best and he was complimentary and left a nice tip but I was using everything I had and more to get through it.


Bill
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Re: A Scary Gig
Simon_b #3002018 07/13/20 01:47 AM
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We lived down the street from a professional jazz guitarist and music university professor. He rounded up some of the neighbourhood kids for 4+ hour weekly sessions in his basement. 3 of the musicians studied Jazz at his university but the most talented guy had little education (of any kind).

Eventually the professor invited us to open a few of his gigs in jazz clubs with 30 minute sets.

We were in way above our heads. But the professor introduced us as a "bonus" surprise; the audiences were incredibly kind and welcoming. The professor played with us on stage and took some of the solos so that helped. There wasn't much improv there although the professor told us to play whatever we felt.

Awesome experience for a bunch of teenagers.

Re: A Scary Gig
Simon_b #3002025 07/13/20 02:46 AM
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I recalled only one occasion at the first big jazz festival in Russia in 1970, where important musicians from all over the country gathered, and there was a lot of understanding audience. The performance of our quartet was carefully prepared, but the encore saxophonist suddenly said: “Bai Mir Bistu Shein - C m!”; and immediately took the pace (and style) similar to Coltrane’s Giant Steps. Everything would be fine, but when it was my turn to play solo, after two bars I slipped in the rhythm at one beat , and I stayed so until its end.To our common happiness, the combination of drummer and bassist was later recognized as the best rhythm section in the Soviet Union (does not apply to me at all ).

Last edited by Nahum; 07/13/20 02:50 AM.
Re: A Scary Gig
Simon_b #3002041 07/13/20 04:15 AM
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Hi

jjo - if Wynton Marsalis sat down when I was playing I think I'd start digging my own grave. But what a privilege to play in the presence of the great man, even if for you it was torture. A great story, thanks for sharing.

Bill - I can't imagine how intimidating that must have been, even if you are a pro yourself. He is very high on my list of favourite musicians. I saw him in concert in the 1980s and saw the Brubeck brothers on the 10th March this year. It was the last gig I went to before lockdown kicked in, in the UK. Shortly after that I went on a Dave Brubeck album buying spree! Again, thanks for sharing.

Nahum - oops - you are human after all :-)

Cheers


Simon
Yamaha CLP535
Vox Continental 73
Yanagisawa AW10 (alto Sax)


Play what you enjoy listening to, listen to what you enjoy playing!




Re: A Scary Gig
Simon_b #3002044 07/13/20 04:30 AM
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Originally Posted by Simon_b
Nahum - oops - you are human after all :-)
human- yes , but from my side not professional enough . https://yadi.sk/d/d_Q5YpwI6eEcu

Re: A Scary Gig
Simon_b #3002160 07/13/20 12:54 PM
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Regarding Dave Brubeck, I saw him in Orlando around 1973. The Orlando symphony at the time (Florida Symphony Orchestra) had a concert series with jazz legends appearing with their bands, and also doing some pieces with the orchestra.

They had Erroll Garner, Lionel Hampton, George Shearing and Dave Brubeck. I went to all 4 concerts. Dave (this was 1973) brought a couple of his sons along (Darius and Chris I think) and featured them.

Well, Darius booked his band at the time to play locally maybe a month later. It was in a gymnasium at a local college (Rollins College). I and several of my young (at the time) musician friends bought tickets for Darius' concert. When the time came, there were only about maybe 30 people who came to see them. I remember Chris and Darius. And a clarinet player named Perry Robinson. As I recall they pretty much just played free jazz. I felt bad for them.

I went thru a huge admiration for Dave Brubeck, really, courtesy of a local flea market with a used record store (old carpet pieces on a dirt floor and a cheap tin roof). I discovered a lot of music, thanks to used records (vinyl).

For anyone new to Brubeck, I recommend Live at Carnegie Hall. Around 1963 or so.

Re: A Scary Gig
Simon_b #3003495 07/16/20 09:04 PM
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A session not a gig. My sight reading even when it was at its best was never good especially for a studio work. I was a guitarist back then and was known for my rhythm playing because I knew a lot of styles and good fingerpicker for acoustic work. I assumed my friend that recommended me for the session informed the composer sight reading notes wasn't my thing, but no.

On the session I was lucky the second guitarist was a good friend and we'd had jammed many times. We do the first tune and my 2nd guitar part was just about all chords and just a couple notes I could grab. We get to the second tune I open the 2nd guitar part and its almost all notes, I must of turned white as a ghost. My buddy on 1st guitar looked over and knew the problem and said let's switch parts it's acoustic which you're better at and less note reading. So we switched.

It's amazing what terror can do and I never focused on anything so hard in my life and I made it thru the chart. I was focusing so hard it was like time slowed down and I had all the time in the world to read the notes and play them. Terror can be your friend.


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