Is it ever ok for a horn player to scat? If so, what are the proper syllables for upbeats?
The correct syllable for an upbeat is "and." Besides alerting the band to where you might be rhythmically, it lets the listeners know there's more to follow, giving them hope it might get better.
Dear Mr. P.C.:
I've played a few casuals where the client actually hired beautiful people just to circulate around the room being beautiful so guests would feel privileged to be in their company. My question: Doesn't that also kind of make the band look ugly?
Causality is always elusive, isn't it? Actually, they hire jazz musicians to make the beautiful peopleand all the guestslook better.
Dear Mr. P.C.:
It has been said that if a roomful of monkeys randomly tapped long enough on computer keyboards, one would eventually write War and Peace. Can it also be said that if they were given saxophones, one would eventually play Coltrane's "My Favorite Things"?
Lying Awake, Needing To Know
You're assuming that the monkeys would actually play the saxophones. More likely they'd just chatter incessantly about their mouthpieces and reeds until one of them sounded exactly like a real saxophonist.
Dear Mr. P.C.:
I'm on a trio gig, in the middle of a solo, and I'm pushing it rhythmically, superimposing different meters. Suddenly the drummer's hi-hat is on one-point-five and three-point-five instead of two and four. One of us must have turned the time around. I think, "Did I trick him, or did I trick myself?" Honestly, I have no idea, but we're playing really fast, and something needs to change in a hurry. We're both seasoned professionals who shouldn't have let this happen. My question is: Which one of us should have to adjust to the other?
Out of Sync
Since this is a trio gig, just listen to the bassist for the answer. Are you with him? Then the drummer is probably right.
Dear Mr. P.C.:
In grad school, a well-respected L.A.-based professional drummer came to guest-lead a student combo. One of my classmates asked him why older musicians seem so devoid of passion on their gigs when us young pups feel full-body convulsions of joy every time we hear an outside note. His answer was that as someone ages, every day they live is an increasingly smaller percentage of their total lifetime lived, and every gig they play is an increasingly smaller percentage of their total gigs played.
Was he right? Is there a cure to this natural law? How many gigs does a jazz musician play in their life?
If he's right, wouldn't the same logic apply within a tune? So the first notewhich would be 100% of notes played to that pointwould be bursting with excitement and promise. And the last noteone thousandth of the cumulative songwould be virtually meaningless; the corollary to an artist's last gig or final breath.
From this we learn that the journey from the beginning of a jazz tune to its end is essentially a process of degeneration and degradation. While some listeners may find profundity in its parallel to the human condition, most just flee to a less morbid art form.
That's why more and more jazz artists are getting into looping; after all, loops value every note equally. In the world of loops life is a circledeath isn't final, but rather a gateway to rebirth. The critics and so-called jazz "purists" who dismiss looping for falling outside the tradition reveal nothing but their own spiritual vacuum.
Dear Mr. P.C.:
When I'm booking a gig, sometimes I'll deliberately call people I know are already booked elsewhere so that they'll "owe me one." Is there anything wrong with that?
Drum and Drummer
Let's be clear: What you're talking about is establishing a new market, one that exists in parallel to the current market of debts and obligations for real gig offers made in good faith. In your market what you'll be owed isn't just a call for a gig, but more specifically a call for a gig you can't play.
Those calls aren't only for gigs on dates where you're already working. They can include any gig you'd have to turn downgigs you're unqualified to play, gigs where you'd have personal conflicts with other musicians, and gigs at venues that have banned you for inappropriate behavior.
Jazz and the blues--because together this musical brother and sister speak from our nation's days of the current cultural affairs and the authenticity and truth of a place where the rhythms held the pulse and the drums the heartbeat, representing every step closer the meat on the bone
Jazz and the blues--because together this musical brother and sister speak from our nation's days of the current cultural affairs and the authenticity and truth of a place where the rhythms held the pulse and the drums the heartbeat, representing every step closer the meat on the bone. Feet in the dirt, or barefoot on a stage with sequins--it's soul beats in my chest.
I was first exposed to jazz while others listened to surf music in the '50s and '60s, it was Monk, Miles, Satchmo and Ella, Rosemary Clooney and Julie London followed. Margaret Whiting, Les McCann, Willie Bobo, Andy Simpkins, Snooky Young, Bill Basie and Helen Humes. The first time I heard Topsy, Take 2, I about passed out at the age of ten.
I've hung with Les McCann who more than 30 years after our first meeting became my duet partner on my CD, Don't Go To Strangers. Karen Hernandez from the start, Jack Le Compte on drums, Lou Shoch on bass, Steve Rawlins as my arranger and pianist, Grant Geissman - guitar genius, Nolan Shaheed, Richard Simon, and more. The big boys. My Red Hot Papas. The best show I ever attended was...
I met Helen Humes first back in 1981 and helped turn one Playboy Jazz Festival night into her tribute, bring the Basie Band to stage, her joy boys. Before she took the stage for the last time to sing, If I could Be With You One Hour Tonight thousands of copies of the newspaper I wrote for carried her story. It was kismet, her being held by Joe Williams backstage. Soon in my life were the great Linda Hopkins who told me I sang the song she wrote better than her, which floored me of course, the energizing Barbara Morrison and the stellar Marilyn Maye who guided me professionally.
My advice to new listeners... let your backbone slip and feel your body stripping back the barriers that prevent us from being one with the music.
Remember none of us are strangers, we just haven't met yet.