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  1. #1

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    A guitar player buddy of mine attended a concert recently. The Jazz guitarist kept his head down. All of the songs I heard were medium tempo. His tone sounded very similar to an organ (he had a solid state amp, 15-inch speaker).

    My friend commented how he seem to lose the crowd.

    Now the Sax player got up and was rocking back and forth and being rather demonstrative. The guitarist just sat down and there was not a whole lot of change in dynamics to his sound.

    No ballads, Jazz blues, Latin Jazz, or Bebop songs were played. Just some "nice" traditional jazz and original songs. Out of the 300 people or so that were there (that is what security told me), literally half or more left at intermission.

    I may be off-base, but I took this as a lesson on what "the people" want. I think they need to hear variety in song selection - songs with different tempos, different Jazz sub-genres. (By the way, this crowd was easily averaging in the low to mid 40's in age, with many 60 plus).

    Somehow, you have to show that you are into what you are playing. You don't have to be like Mr. Pat Metheny where it looks as though you are in pain, but give the people something to go on. Rock a little, maybe move the guitar neck up and down sometimes.

    So am I off base or do you agree that you just can't just sit there and play a bunch of lines, head down, and with no real dynamics to your playing.

    I hate to say it, but the music was more a "background" type (elevator) of music rather than something that grabbed you. And my friend and I both wish we could have talked to these musicians, who were all easily in their 50's and 60's.

    I don't believe in trashing anyone's music, especially if it is an expression of themselves, but I do have to wonder how interested the artist is in trying to connect with the crowd.

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  3. #2

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    The variation matters. But you can play with plenty of fire and sit perfectly still.

    If the music is good, I personally don't need the bells and whistles of an "entertainer."

    lots of folks need to see somebody moving around so they have visual cues as to when they should be into it.
    Jeff Matz, Jazz Guitar:
    http://www.youtube.com/user/jeffreymatz

    "Jazz is like life...it goes on longer than you think, and as soon as you're like 'oh, I get it,' it ends."

    --The Ghost of Duke Ellington

  4. #3

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    I really think you hit it on the head. It was the combination of the music and the inactivity, in my opinion.

    I guess you just have to give the audience something. I saw one Pat Martino video (he is one of my favorites) in which he was rather stoic; but man was he making great music to he still radiated energy to latch onto.

    Then there are those whose music is probably not near as good as Pat Martino's (subjective, I know), but because they are demonstrative and animated, they get everybody's attention and have a pretty good chance of keeping it in spite of the content of their music.
    Last edited by AlsoRan; 07-21-2012 at 12:11 PM. Reason: clarity

  5. #4

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    i saw joão gilberto at the bottom line in new york back in the 1970s. and i mean just joão gilberto—no bass player, no drummer … it was great. gilberto was so shy that he practically tiptoed onto the stage. he sat down, closed his eyes, and then launched into his first song. half of us must have been guitar players because we were all sitting with our heads cocked to the side as we watched his hands. every time gilberto finished a song there was wild applause but he was too shy to acknowledge it. he'd grimace a little, turn his guitar over so he could see the list of tunes taped on the back, close his eyes, and then go into the next song. that guy had no showbiz whatsoever, but we were enthralled.
    Last edited by patskywriter; 07-21-2012 at 01:43 AM.

  6. #5

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    You have to engage the audience somehow. It takes a lot of focus to play jazz well, obviously, but you can't be so inside your own thoughts that you don't acknowledge the audience with some eye contact now and then (even though with stage lighting, you may not really "see" the audience!).

    It's interesting to compare different players -- you mention Martino as stoic, which he is, in a sense, but to me he displays great energy. He also generally stands which automatically gives him more presence.

    Metheny is pretty much the gold standard as far as marketing jazz, in fact I consider him fusion partly by the fact of the way his band takes the stage, like a rock band.

    There is one girl guitarist on Youtube, Jess Lewis, who basically plays with her head down and face covered by her long hair, but her playing is good enough to captivate other guitarists at least. And she will tilt her face up and acknowledge the audience with a smile for a few seconds at the end anyway.

    _________
    (Bottom Line nightclub: sigh, those were the days)

  7. #6

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    In the vein of 'performance' I guess the majority of listening audiences nowadays are of the rock and roll generation meaning that they got into music through the mainstream pop culture, this would 'sub consciously inform' the listener to expect a 'show' (movement, schtick, theme).

    The eye craves movement and the ears seek subtlety, so if your talent is shared between these equally then you are Elvis Presley. If you are mediocre musically but can put on a good show then you are (shudder!) Coldplay (retch!). Both these examples makes serious coinage from audiences.

    Jazz musicians are different by the very nature of their choice of music for self expression and need to have sympathetic ears to appreciate/judge them.

    So to surmise, to get and keep an audience you must have great music and some sort of gimmick to make sure you can make a living, here are some pictorial examples....


    Image of the musician as suffering artist....(or orgasm face, take your pick)


    Raw talent needing image refinement


    Cool lounge lizard cocktail beast


    The bow tie years.

    Ha!
    “When a wise man points at the moon the fool considers the finger.”

  8. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by jazzbow View Post
    In the vein of 'performance' I guess the majority of listening audiences nowadays are of the rock and roll generation meaning that they got into music through the mainstream pop culture, this would 'sub consciously inform' the listener to expect a 'show' (movement, schtick, theme).

    The eye craves movement and the ears seek subtlety, so if your talent is shared between these equally then you are Elvis Presley. If you are mediocre musically but can put on a good show then you are (shudder!) Coldplay (retch!). Both these examples makes serious coinage from audiences.

    Jazz musicians are different by the very nature of their choice of music for self expression and need to have sympathetic ears to appreciate/judge them.

    So to surmise, to get and keep an audience you must have great music and some sort of gimmick to make sure you can make a living, here are some pictorial examples....



    Raw talent needing image refinement


    Cool lounge lizard cocktail beast


    The bow tie years.

    Ha!
    Ha! Indeed. At some point, he also became a permanent "rug man". Did that give the audience what it wanted, in terms of visual cues? A young Al DiMeola was clearly taking notes.

    Diversity and fire and passion in the playing is all that matters. Plus, moving around like Chuck Berris is not really possible when you have to play something beyond cowboy chords.

    Ultimate Visual Cliche: David Gilmour/Alex Lifeson "fuck face"--usually involves holding a note on the first string, 12th position for a good long time. You know, trying to convey Emotion Plus.

  9. #8

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    I've just noticed Barney is playing the same chord in all those pix I posted! Talent indeed.

    Yeah, being at parties with some guy spouting off how '~#~#~' is a guitar god, especially how he has so much emotion in his playing and all I hear is 'widdly widdly.'
    But then again '~#~#~' owns an island and employs people to tell him what he is doing that day.

    “The nose of a mob is its imagination. By this, at any time, it can be quietly led.” Edgar Allen Poe

    I'd also put ears in that line!
    “When a wise man points at the moon the fool considers the finger.”

  10. #9

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    Whether it's public speaking, lecturing or performing the arts . . . one should . . make that MUST know their audience. If you take a purley jazz guitar playing audience, a Jim Hall type of an artist is going to go over very well . . . even though occasionally someone will need to tactfully put a mirror under his nose to make sure he's still breathing. But, If you take that same Jim Hall type of a player and thrust him into a 100 seat restaurant . . . or even a very large cocktail lounge . . eventually the conversation is going to drown out and over whelm the music. Then, the jazzers in the room are going to get real pissed that no one is listening and no one can REALLY appreciate the guy playing guitar.

    I've seen Larry Carlton quite a few times at the Blue Note in NYC. He usually plays there with his son Travis (bass player) and what ever drummer is available for the gig. Before he starts his first set, as he's opening a dialog with the audience, he communicates some kind of a story from his past. One that I shared here was the time he was on stage performing, and one of the fans approached the stage with a guitar case in his hands. Larry was between songs .. looked down and smiled at the guy and said . . . "would you like to finish the rest of the show?" The guy laughed and said . . . . "no . . but I've been a fan of yours forever. I have a beautiful ES 335 in this case. I bought it because I worshiped your style and your playing. I can no longer play due to sever rheumatoid arthritis. I want you to have the guitar." Larry had the audience in the palm of his hands, including me and my wife, as a result of telling that story. As you've seen, Larry doesn't perform with a whole lot of fire . . except in his music. But, he understands the need for some sort of communication and showmanship. While he can't dance like Michael Jackson, he finds a way to grab onto his audience.
    Patrick2 . . Heritage representative (now former)

  11. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Patrick2 View Post
    Whether it's public speaking, lecturing or performing the arts . . . one should . . make that MUST know their audience.
    I've done my share of public speaking--from comedy clubs to classrooms to churches--and I have heard the 'know your audience' line a thousand times and find it useful but only up to a point because it really means 'know the venue.' (You don't ad lib the same way in a church service at 11 AM on Sunday that you would in a comedy club at midnight Saturday.) There's value in that, but not a whole lot because it is so obvious.

    But one thing all performers need to realize is how dependent upon the performer the audience is. (Not perpetually, just while you're on stage and they are not.) I learned this while doing stand-up. I came to understand why comics get booed off stage sometimes. It's not because people are mean. (Some are but most aren't and nobody goes to comedy club hoping it *won't* be funny.) It's because when a performer is bombing, the audience is *helpless* and people *hate* that feeling. They can't do anything for you, and the misery can only end when you leave, which is why they may try to speed that up. It's a miserable experience for the audience. (It's no picnic for the performer, either, but that's another story.)

    The challenge is to get the audience to know YOU. (Or whatever you are projecting---fun-loving musician, pain-feeling pol, Serious Artist, what have you.) Until you unify them, they aren't *an* audience, they are a buncha people in the same room wondering if they shoulda gone somewhere else. This is especially true for young bands / new acts. People don't know you and don't know what to expect. How could they? Make sure you open with something that connects to them. If you come out, ignore them, play an obscure tune for eleven minutes, and then start another one that seems headed in the same direction, well, it's your fault they are leaving.

    People want to connect. It doesn't take a lot and it doesn't have to be fancy but it does have to suit you and give the audience a sense of how you feel. (There's an old saying among writers: "A character without emotion cannot be seen." For jazz players, esp those without vocalists, you have to create and sustain a certain MOOD, and if that mood is "I can play a thousand miles an hour and don't give a sh*t if you 'get it' or not," well, you'll be playing in small places, and deservedly so.)

    It always helps to think of it this way: when you have a gig, you're inviting people to come see you. That makes you the host. Be a good host!
    "Learn the repertoire. It’s all in the songs. If you learn 200 songs, you will have no problem improvising."
    Frank Vignola

  12. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by markerhodes View Post
    I've done my share of public speaking--from comedy clubs to classrooms to churches--and I have heard the 'know your audience' line a thousand times and find it useful but only up to a point because it really means 'know the venue.' (You don't ad lib the same way in a church service at 11 AM on Sunday that you would in a comedy club at midnight Saturday.) There's value in that, but not a whole lot because it is so obvious.

    But one thing all performers need to realize is how dependent upon the performer the audience is. (Not perpetually, just while you're on stage and they are not.) I learned this while doing stand-up. I came to understand why comics get booed off stage sometimes. It's not because people are mean. (Some are but most aren't and nobody goes to comedy club hoping it *won't* be funny.) It's because when a performer is bombing, the audience is *helpless* and people *hate* that feeling. They can't do anything for you, and the misery can only end when you leave, which is why they may try to speed that up. It's a miserable experience for the audience. (It's no picnic for the performer, either, but that's another story.)

    The challenge is to get the audience to know YOU. (Or whatever you are projecting---fun-loving musician, pain-feeling pol, Serious Artist, what have you.) Until you unify them, they aren't *an* audience, they are a buncha people in the same room wondering if they shoulda gone somewhere else. This is especially true for young bands / new acts. People don't know you and don't know what to expect. How could they? Make sure you open with something that connects to them. If you come out, ignore them, play an obscure tune for eleven minutes, and then start another one that seems headed in the same direction, well, it's your fault they are leaving.

    People want to connect. It doesn't take a lot and it doesn't have to be fancy but it does have to suit you and give the audience a sense of how you feel. (There's an old saying among writers: "A character without emotion cannot be seen." For jazz players, esp those without vocalists, you have to create and sustain a certain MOOD, and if that mood is "I can play a thousand miles an hour and don't give a sh*t if you 'get it' or not," well, you'll be playing in small places, and deservedly so.)

    It always helps to think of it this way: when you have a gig, you're inviting people to come see you. That makes you the host. Be a good host!
    I think to a certain degree, we are probably saying the same thing, at some points of your post. I'm actually hard pressed to see or understand a difference between know your audience and know the venue. One and the same??? Regarding your comments about your comedy club observations . . . as I see it, in a comedy club . . if you ain't funny, you're gonna get booed off the stage whether they know you or not. If you suck at what people are coming to see you do, it won't matter if you have a relationship or not. The relationship established up front allows or helps the audience open up to receive what you've got to offer. But, even if you've opened them up, if you're not substantive in presenting your craft .. you're gonna bomb. Go up to the Apollo in the Bronx and bomb out with a comedy routine. See how much making a connection with the audience matters there.


    An artist/performer needs to know their craft and occupy their spot. That applies to any and all venues of performing artists.

    Also, you're not inviting people to come to see you when you gig. You're asking them to pay for a product you are presenting to them. HUGE difference!!
    Last edited by Patrick2; 07-21-2012 at 12:34 PM.
    Patrick2 . . Heritage representative (now former)

  13. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont View Post
    The variation matters. But you can play with plenty of fire and sit perfectly still.

    If the music is good, I personally don't need the bells and whistles of an "entertainer."

    lots of folks need to see somebody moving around so they have visual cues as to when they should be into it.
    I'm with you on this, it all about what is being played is it being played with conviction. Miles got slammed because he turned his back to the audience all the time and played with his head down. I saw Dexter Gordon one night and he'd walk off the stage when not playing the head or soloing, but sounded great so who cared.

    I also think the audience is part of the equation also the band are they paying attention. Jazz is a music that requires paying attention. I love going to hear the hard core East Coast jazz players when they come to town. When players solo it's intense, but then when not soloing the are focused on whoever else in the group is soloing. A real jazz audience is the also focused on what's going on. But so many times audience is chatting away, eating, shouting for waiter. So the band isn't going to be too focused on the audience in that environment.

    Problem is that last scenario is all to common in Jazz because there aren't a lot of Jazz gigs, and many time Jazz is the hip live background music and well it pays and bills are due. I get so sad when I watch those youtubes of Jimmy Wyble playing Jazz brunches. The guy was one of the most inventive guitarist of time playing and almost being drown out by the roar of chatty people, clanging plates and so on. I imagine Jimmy did these gigs to get people to hear his music not for the couple dollars he might of got.

    So to me it's a two-way street audience and band.
    No, I'm not going to give you the answer to your question. I don't want to deny you the pleasure you'll receive when you figure it out yourself. -- Bill Evans talking to his brother.

  14. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by JazzinNY View Post
    -- you mention Martino as stoic, which he is, in a sense, but to me he displays great energy. He also generally stands which automatically gives him more presence.

    ________
    (Bottom Line nightclub: sigh, those were the days)

    You made me have to go back and edit my mention of Pat. I definitely do not want to give someone the wrong impression of his visual performance - we know the music is rockin'!

  15. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by Patrick2 View Post
    Regarding your comments about your comedy club observations . . . as I see it, in a comedy club . . if you ain't funny, you're gonna get booed off the stage whether they know you or not.
    There's a saying in comedy: if you only bomb HALF the time, you've got something. (This is for someone starting out, not someone who has been headlining for years.) It's just not true that you get really good AND THEN start working. There are lots of things you can only learn *through* performing, and when you start, you're rough.

    As for being booed off stage, it happened a lot to Steve Martin when he started out. He's not alone in that.
    "Learn the repertoire. It’s all in the songs. If you learn 200 songs, you will have no problem improvising."
    Frank Vignola

  16. #15

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    It was Jerry Seinfeld who said, "If you only bomb half the time, you've got something." He bombed a lot, for years. But it doesn't mean he's not funny. Interesting thing about Seinfeld: he used to tape all his shows and listened to them later, noting what worked and what didn't. He said, "The audience will teach you how you're funny." This works for musicians too. Heck, Nat Cole never thought he'd become famous as a *singer*!
    "Learn the repertoire. It’s all in the songs. If you learn 200 songs, you will have no problem improvising."
    Frank Vignola

  17. #16

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    Can't disagree with any part of either of those two posts Mark. I'm certainly not nearly as knowledgeable in comedy as I am in music. But the same rules apply . . content & delivery. Know your craft and occupy your spot.

    But, ya gotta know your audience . . . even more so than the venue. You used the Saturday night vs. church scenario before. Picture this; a bunch of really staunch ultra religious church goers decide they're going to check out the local comedy shop . . . on a Saturday night during the midnight showing. You're the stand up comedian. You definitely know the venue. So, you tailor your material and delivery toward the venue . . . the liquored up raunchy Saturday night riff raff. You deliver your X rated routine . . . along with crotch grabs, profanity and the whole bit. Knowing the venue and not the audience just might work against you in that hyperthetical. It's obviuosly an over exaggerated scenario . . . but . . .
    Patrick2 . . Heritage representative (now former)

  18. #17

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    Sometimes you have to wait for the audience to come to you, all about conviction. For awhile I played with a couple of the former Animals and they had worked with Bowie at one point. They were saying the stuff that Bowie was doing when he made it big, was same stuff Bowie had been doing for ten years before that. Bowie believed in his music and persisted and eventually the audience caught up to him. You see this type of thing in the arts all the time, someone is boo'd, then considered cutting edge, eventually become mainstream and the "new" thing years later.
    No, I'm not going to give you the answer to your question. I don't want to deny you the pleasure you'll receive when you figure it out yourself. -- Bill Evans talking to his brother.

  19. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by Patrick2 View Post
    But, ya gotta know your audience . . . even more so than the venue. You used the Saturday night vs. church scenario before. Picture this; a bunch of really staunch ultra religious church goers decide they're going to check out the local comedy shop . . . on a Saturday night during the midnight showing. You're the stand up comedian. You definitely know the venue. So, you tailor your material and delivery toward the venue . . . the liquored up raunchy Saturday night riff raff. You deliver your X rated routine . . . along with crotch grabs, profanity and the whole bit. Knowing the venue and not the audience just might work against you in that hyperthetical. It's obviuosly an over exaggerated scenario . . . but . . .
    This ain't how it works. Comedians who have edgy material always "seed" the audience early, usually with an apparent ad-lib. They do this to gauge the audience's reaction. Sometimes the audience "isn't there yet" and the comic knows he has to try a few more times to see if he can get them there, and if he can't, he goes onto something else.

    Even in New York clubs, where people know what to expect, the audience mood can shift dramatically. A lot of comics went onstage the night people heard about he shootings in Aurora, Colorado. They might not mention that at all, but they know it is on everyone's mind and it might change the way they react to any references to guns or violence, or even the term "joker".

    But dragging this back to jazz: people who come out to a club to hear music want to enjoy the music. But some crowds are more "up" and some are more into a 'slow-groove' thing, while still another may start in one place and end up somewhere else. It's always the same audience in the generic sense of 'people who came to hear jazz' (-or whatever is being played), but it's not always the same audience *mood* and you can't know that in advance. The way in is to give a definite sense of what you're about and see how they react. Go from there. But since you're the one on the stage, not them, you've got to initiate things.
    "Learn the repertoire. It’s all in the songs. If you learn 200 songs, you will have no problem improvising."
    Frank Vignola

  20. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by markerhodes View Post
    This ain't how it works. Comedians who have edgy material always "seed" the audience early, usually with an apparent ad-lib. They do this to gauge the audience's reaction. Sometimes the audience "isn't there yet" and the comic knows he has to try a few more times to see if he can get them there, and if he can't, he goes onto something else.

    Even in New York clubs, where people know what to expect, the audience mood can shift dramatically. A lot of comics went onstage the night people heard about he shootings in Aurora, Colorado. They might not mention that at all, but they know it is on everyone's mind and it might change the way they react to any references to guns or violence, or even the term "joker".

    But dragging this back to jazz: people who come out to a club to hear music want to enjoy the music. But some crowds are more "up" and some are more into a 'slow-groove' thing, while still another may start in one place and end up somewhere else. It's always the same audience in the generic sense of 'people who came to hear jazz' (-or whatever is being played), but it's not always the same audience *mood* and you can't know that in advance. The way in is to give a definite sense of what you're about and see how they react. Go from there. But since you're the one on the stage, not them, you've got to initiate things.
    So then . . . a quick summation of your post;

    Paragraph 1= "ya gotta know your audience"

    Paragraph 2 = "ya gotta know your audience

    Paragraph 3 = "ya gotta know your audience"

    Seeding the audience . . anticipating their moods . . know them in advance . . . what ever term you want to use, it all relates to knowing your audience.

    The scenario I offered of the church people and the comedy club was just a very fetched analogy. But, you could actually turn it into many others. Example; You're hired as part of a trio to do a dinner party. You definitely know the venue. It's a dinner party, it's gonna be dinner music . . (duhhh!). So you arrange the set charts accordingly. However, you don't know the audience. The audience just happens to be a local association of the areas hardest be bop jazz playing sons a bitches on the planet earth. Your first set starts out with some whimpy ass laid back elevator music type of popular song and you deliver as soft as possible so as not to upset their dinner mood and conversation . . . kinda like the first tune of a wedding band. Hopefully, the appetizer doesn't include any tomatoes and if it does . . . hopefully the trio isn't wearing their best suits.

    Ya gotta know your audience man!!!!
    Patrick2 . . Heritage representative (now former)

  21. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by Patrick2 View Post
    .Ya gotta know your audience man!!!!
    Like I said at the beginning, this is fine advice as far as it goes but it doesn't go far. Look at it this way: the only thing you know about THIS audience (-the one you see yourself before) is how it responds to YOU. That's it. You may tell yourself you know them but you don't (-unless you bussed them in).
    "Learn the repertoire. It’s all in the songs. If you learn 200 songs, you will have no problem improvising."
    Frank Vignola

  22. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by markerhodes View Post
    Like I said at the beginning, this is fine advice as far as it goes but it doesn't go far. Look at it this way: the only thing you know about THIS audience (-the one you see yourself before) is how it responds to YOU. That's it. You may tell yourself you know them but you don't (-unless you bussed them in).
    Ok . . . Chill man!! You win. You're right and I'm wrong. Now we can be done with it.
    Patrick2 . . Heritage representative (now former)

  23. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by Patrick2 View Post
    Ok . . . Chill man!! You win. You're right and I'm wrong. Now we can be done with it.
    Hey, this IS me chilled! I was a philosophy major---just because I take issue with something, doesn't mean I'm angry / upset. Actually, if I were *mad* I would sulk off into a corner. I like to kick ideas around, consider things from a different point of view. (I remember as a kid, my friend Geoff argued that EVERYthing was about sex. He went on about this for several minutes--and he was quite funny. But when he finished, I said, 'You know, that's wrong. Not even sex is about sex." And as I thought about down through the years, there was more in that line than I was old enough to realize at the time.)

    On the 'know your audience' side, I remember reading Joe Pass saying that people really wanted to hear the melody. Jazzers focus on the solos, but most folks (-who go to hear jazz musicians) love to hear the tunes, and echoing the melody in a solo is a great way to keep their attention. That was not about a specific audience, just 'people in general.'
    "Learn the repertoire. It’s all in the songs. If you learn 200 songs, you will have no problem improvising."
    Frank Vignola

  24. #23

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    Thanks, folks.

    Very informative - from people that have "been there."

    I think that if I ever play live, I will just bus my audience in and pay pay everybody on a sliding scale according to how much enthusiasm they show me.

  25. #24
    Personally, I don't mind a "boring" musician as long as he produces great music. I hate guys who cover up their lack of talent by "entertaining" the crowd like some host in a game show

  26. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by lotsofguitars View Post
    I hate guys who cover up their lack of talent by "entertaining" the crowd like some host in a game show
    Bit harsh: entertaining is a talent as well. One of the most memorable gigs I have ever seen was Slim Gaillard, by then in his seventies or so, but I don't think he had ever been anything close to what you could call a virtuoso musician (this is the man whose biggest claim to fame might be having inserted the "Switch-a-roonie" in "Satin Doll"). But he mesmerised the audience. Fine by me.

    And it seems to me that the biggest sin of the guitarist in question - and the rest of the band - was probably not the failure to make eye contact with the audience, but not preparing. The very minimum an audience demands is something that separates them from the guy on the stage, preferably that he's a genius of a musician, or wonderfully professional, but in general they'll make do with some sort of indication that he cares about what he's doing. If he hasn't even taken the trouble to prepare a set properly, they'll up and leave, it's natural.

  27. #26

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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnRoss View Post
    Bit harsh: entertaining is a talent as well. .
    John, I'm glad you said that. I think that "entertaining" is often looked down upon by jazz fans---an attitude that would've astounded Louis Armstrong, who naturally assumed people hired musicians to be entertained by them.

    It's true that some forms of jazz have little mass appeal but this doesn't mean that Miles and Coltrane sucked because they sold a lot of records. (Miles is an amazing case---in the overall context of this discussion--because he was known for *not* talking to audiences, for sometimes turning his back on the audience while playing--and yet he *entertained* more people than most jazz musicians manage to do. He knew how to play music that emotionally connected to people, and he was quicker than most to realize how a group of songs should be sequenced for maximum impact. And he had this magnificent persona that utterly fascinated people. Genius? Of course. Entertainer? Oh, yeah, big time.
    "Learn the repertoire. It’s all in the songs. If you learn 200 songs, you will have no problem improvising."
    Frank Vignola

  28. #27

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    Of course, I'd argue good playing is entertaining.

    I saw John Pizzarelli a few years ago...he was hilarious. He also played his ass off and swung like mad...top form.

    The thing is, could have exhibited the personality of a slug and played like that and i still would have left exhilarated...

    If he was affable and funny but his playing was weak, i doubt i would have stayed for two sets.

    We look for different things in musicians...to me, the entertainer aspect is icing. I understand some folks want more, and that's cool too.
    Jeff Matz, Jazz Guitar:
    http://www.youtube.com/user/jeffreymatz

    "Jazz is like life...it goes on longer than you think, and as soon as you're like 'oh, I get it,' it ends."

    --The Ghost of Duke Ellington

  29. #28

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    Mile Davis . . . . . I've got a personal hard on for Miles, that I'm dead certain is very unfair. None the less, I can't get beyoned it. I'd be curious about how some of you feel about my "issue" with Miles.

    But, first . . a very nice story about last night .. (I love stories). Yesterday was mine and my wifes 43rd wedding anniversary (I think, we're both still a little uncertain about that). After a day of enjoying each other company, we decided to go out for a nice dinner (Italian, of course!!). We managed to find a very nice Italian restaurant in Long Branch, NJ . . the Jersey Shore are . . that we weren't familiar with. We decided to give it a shot. Upon entering the establishment . . . whose mug shot do I see as part of the featured entertainment?? My current Jazz Guitar instructor, Bob Ferry! Unfortunately, he plays there every Friday night . . . not Saturdays. Small world!!

    Back to Miles. I believe that Miles was the fortunate recipient of a bit of "right place-right time" . . . which might have been equally as responsible for his almost unparalled success as a jazz artist, as his skills and talents were. It's true that Miles made his bones as a player . . even though not the best trumpeter of his time, IMO. Also as a composer and as a band leader. But, some of the very things that got Miles to his level of recognition with other jazz artists . . which should have been the main reason he became as much of a draw as he was . . . were totally over looked (not even understood?) by those who were totally oblivious to what jazz was at the time. Jazz was really starting to have more of an impact on a lot of fans . . more because it was hip . . than due to its content. (By the way . . same shit happened in Japan early on. The Japanese initially embraced jazz because it was American. We had it and they didn't. Strangely enough, they probably understand and appreciate jazz now even more so than most Americans) You'd find more than half of the audience at many a jazz venue totally clueless of what they were listening to at a live jazz performance attempting to appear knowledgeable and mezmorized by something that many might not have even really liked. But, jazz was happening at the time. It was hip man!! Conversations went kinda like . . . . . . "hey man . . are you digging jazz?" . . . "Yeah man . . ain't it cool??" "You got any jazz albums? Who you got?" "I got Miles . . . who else do I need?"

    Then, Miles started playing some really far out there shit . . dis'ing his audiences . . taking them for granted. But, even though some of what he was laying down was probably hurting their heads and their ears . . . it was Miles man!! Even though it was strange and they knew they hated it (some, or most anyway) . . it was Miles man!!

    Anyway . . I grew really resentful of that . . .and of him. Thus, the hard on for Miles.
    Last edited by Patrick2; 07-23-2012 at 09:13 AM.
    Patrick2 . . Heritage representative (now former)

  30. #29

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    Sorry, totally off-topic, but as I am supposed to be a linguist of sorts, I can't let it pass. I've always thought that 'to have a hard on for someone' meant you liked them. Is this a transatlantic difference or some meaning of the phrase 'hard on' I wasn't aware of?

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    LOL! i remember back in the 1970/80s when jazz fans were lamenting the loss of george benson to the pop world. some people got quite hateful about it. i told a friend of mine to ignore benson for a while and go back to wes, joe pass, lenny breau, etc. i said, "let the guy enjoy his kids, for crying out loud." in an interview, benson had stated how he missed seeing his first set of kids grow up because while playing jazz he was going from town to town doing one-nighters. he loved playing pop and making good money—and the best part was he could watch, and participate in, the growth of his second set of kids. i suppose all of his kids are grown now, so he's playing more jazz. i have no problem with that.

    as far as miles is concerned, when he went too far outside for me, i listened to someone else. he'll always be one of my favorite trumpet players. i don't know why some people act as if they own these musicians and get bent out of shape if they displease them somehow. they don't owe it to you to play what you like and act as you feel they should. just enjoy the bits you like and discard the rest.

    ooh, i think i'll go listen to some lee morgan now!

    update: after posting the above, i googled around out of curiosity and learned that george benson has already lost three of his seven kids! wow, just another way to remind us that musicians are only people and that they have no obligation to discuss with their fan bases or the media each and every decision they make regarding their careers. if you don't like what they're doing, go somewhere else to find your entertainment. there's a lot out there. even in my little city!
    Last edited by patskywriter; 07-22-2012 at 01:05 PM.

  32. #31

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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnRoss View Post
    Sorry, totally off-topic, but as I am supposed to be a linguist of sorts, I can't let it pass. I've always thought that 'to have a hard on for someone' meant you liked them. Is this a transatlantic difference or some meaning of the phrase 'hard on' I wasn't aware of?

    HA!! Excellent point. I often forget this is an international forum. When you have a hard on for some one it can have several different meanings. (see Johnny Depp's character Donnie Brasco as he describes the many meanings of "fuggedaboutit" . . *forget about it . . for those of you international folks, as well as those of you outside the NY NJ area* . . in the movie "Donnie Brasco).

    Here in New Jersey, I can have a hard on, in a negative way, for someone if I really hate them, if I'm just mildly pissed at them, or if I am seriously pissed at them, or just resentful of them. I can have a hard on for someone, in a positive way, if I envy their guitar skills, if I'm jealous of the fact that their home is larger than mine . . etc.. However, in a truer sense of the word, I can also have a hard on for . . . let's say . . . Charlize Theron or Dana Perino . . just because they're such damn fine examples of sexy women. It's usually the rest of the content of the dialog that defines which "hard on" is referenced. See the final sentence of my rant on Miles for further edification.
    Last edited by Patrick2; 07-22-2012 at 09:54 PM.
    Patrick2 . . Heritage representative (now former)

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    Quote Originally Posted by markerhodes View Post
    But one thing all performers need to realize is how dependent upon the performer the audience is. (Not perpetually, just while you're on stage and they are not.) I learned this while doing stand-up. I came to understand why comics get booed off stage sometimes. It's not because people are mean. (Some are but most aren't and nobody goes to comedy club hoping it *won't* be funny.) It's because when a performer is bombing, the audience is *helpless* and people *hate* that feeling. They can't do anything for you, and the misery can only end when you leave, which is why they may try to speed that up. It's a miserable experience for the audience. (It's no picnic for the performer, either, but that's another story.)
    I don't buy this. I did improv comedy in NYC for years and my fair share of stand-up, including MC on occasion. The people who do this are morons and feel "I paid for my ticket so I can abuse the comic." It's also anger stemming from the fact that they don't feel they are being entertained. In some cases they are right that the comic is terrible. In other cases they don't care for the comedy, and go off on the comic. It's bullshit behavior either way. You don't have to laugh but you don't have a right to abuse the person. It takes balls of brass to get on the stage and do any kind of performing, especially comedy.

    One night we were performing as the opener for an open mic at one of the NYC clubs, a very slow night, I think a Thursday, early, not a great comedy vibe. We had a good set, however, and people dug it. Typical short form, the type you would see on "Whose Line Is It Anyway." After we were done the MC comes out for the open mic, a real pro. A couple of guys from our group, accomplished stand-ups, are going to perform so I hung around to watch. Like most open-mics, there are some real amateurs, same as any jazz jam you go to. An obvious first-timer gets up, he's awful. Some "Jersey Shore" type (no offense Patrick, I mean the people on the show) won't stop heckling this kid, an obvious attempt to make his tiny dick seem larger to his equally ignorant girlfriend who's helping him heckle. Of course he wasn't exactly Steve Allen; his heckles were worse than the guy's routine, sophisticated things such as "you suck," "you're an asshole," etc. This poor guy was nearly in tears when he left the stage. Our guy gets up next, leaves his regular act behind, and instead goes after this P.O.S., made slamming him the routine. To say it was hilarious would be a profound understatement. The bouncer had to escort him out of the club, because these idiots wanted to kick him up to the Bronx. We used to call people like this "pole climbers"; they climb a pole all day for the phone company, hate their lives, and have to come to a club and take it out on you. You have talent? You know so much about comedy and music? Then get up and do it. Otherwise, STFU. I really don't want to hear it. Of course, this is not directed at anyone here, and if you work for the phone company I hope you're not offended.

    Listen, the performer has a certain responsibility to present an entertaining show and not suck. I get it. If you are consistently terrible and can't improve the act through time and practice, you need to move on to something else. I'm a great comedic improviser and an OK stand-up, so I stopped doing stand-up. I didn't want to be OK at something I really didn't like doing, largely because the removal of the fourth wall gives you direct involvement with those one or two neanderthals who don't know how to behave in public and don't realize that the world doesn't revolve around them. I didn't dig it and that is unfair to the audience because I'm not connecting and giving them my best. When I do characters people respond positively, and I give my best. And even when it's great, not everyone will love it. But it takes so much courage to get up and do it, jazz, comedy, whatever, that you should never have to suffer abuse for it.

    I agree with AlsoRan and anyone else here who believes you have to connect. The angry Miles persona, head down, back to the audience, doesn't do it for me. If you believe in what you're performing and are enjoying it, you can get others to like it.

    I'm pretty sure I saw one of our members, Dave Kain, performing the other night, though he doesn't know I saw him. It looked like him. I was walking from the train to a friend's home where I was going to play cards and passed a restaurant where I heard guitar coming out of the window. Looked in, saw two guys playing guitar, one was Dave. They sounded great. But here's the main thing; they looked like they were enjoying themselves. Communicating to each other musically, big smiles on their faces. It seemed to be one of those "Nouveau Curisine" type joints where music is used as background yet they were having fun and really playing some nice stuff and the audience wasn't pelting them with rocks. They could have gone the other way, like "artistes" who are owed something, and been pissy but they weren't. They were having fun and it came across.

    And I liked it, which is really all that matters to me.
    Last edited by paynow; 07-22-2012 at 12:49 PM.
    Barney Kessel was asked, “What’s the hardest thing about studio work?” He replied, “Finding a parking place.”
    "I don't know what other people are doing - I just know about me."- Thelonious Monk

  34. #33

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    The musical term "artist" has two definitions in my observation. One, the generic definition referring to everyone who performs, "pop artist", "jazz artist", "rock artist", a term that differentiates the person at the front of the stage whose job it is to entertain from everyone else. And second, the "artist" who is so dedicated to his art that he unaware of his audience, it's just him and his art.

    The first one knows his audience. The second one the audience knows him. He doesn't necessarily worry about pleasing anyone but himself, but in the process pleases a lot of people.

    It's a tough thing to discern sometimes. The lines can be blurry. Even to the artist.

  35. #34

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    Thanks, Patrick, crystal clear now.

  36. #35

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    Quote Originally Posted by paynow View Post
    I don't buy this. I did improv comedy in NYC for years and my fair share of stand-up, including MC on occasion. The people who do this are morons and feel "I paid for my ticket so I can abuse the comic." .
    Those are hecklers. That's a different deal. When the comic is bombing, the audience is helpless and they hate that feeling. (It was guys with many years in the comedy business who pointed this out to me. "The one thing beginners don't know in their bones is that the audience WANTS to like them. And when performers are *obviously* nervous, it makes the audience nervous too.") When the performer---maybe it's a speaker whose teleprompter died and has no back-up notes---or, as I once witnessed, a visiting priest who began his homily with a over-long story about Mother Theresa that had been printed in the church bulletin the previous week, so everyone knew it, and it was *hell* waiting for that guy to get to the end of that bit, which was met with a deafening silence--or poor Tom Wolfe in the infamous "Tonight Show" appearance when he was talking to Johnny but all anyone *else* could think about was how this long, thin, chunk of hair was dangling over the middle of his forehead and all you could think was, "that poor bastard" followed by, "Change the channel, I can't look at that bastard anymore!" These things were painful for the audience to endure.
    An off-key singer is an example we all get. "Just stop, please!"

    Some great talents have had a hard time finding the right audience for them. Some greater talents---Miles is one---can take an audience to a new place and make them enjoy the ride.
    "Learn the repertoire. It’s all in the songs. If you learn 200 songs, you will have no problem improvising."
    Frank Vignola

  37. #36

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    Quote Originally Posted by tstrahle View Post
    everyone who performs, "pop artist", "jazz artist", "rock artist", a term that differentiates the person at the front of the stage whose job it is to entertain from everyone else.
    Not to mention the "peace artist." You get them a lot in trad jazz, particularly. Unaware of his audience and practically everything else, and for whom lines are blurry to the point of undiscernability.

  38. #37

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    Does anyone *else* find your asterisk use annoying?

  39. #38

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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnRoss View Post
    Not to mention the "peace artist." You get them a lot in trad jazz, particularly. Unaware of his audience and practically everything else, and for whom lines are blurry to the point of undiscernability.
    Good point. I forgot about that one. And I've never really aspired to be either type of artist but rather part of the support team as it were. I think mainly because I didn't want to lock myself down to one style of playing. Consequently I'm a jack of all, master of none. With which I'm completely fine.

  40. #39

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    Quote Originally Posted by Buster Loaf View Post
    Does anyone *else* find your asterisk use annoying?
    Asterisk? Do you mean "parentheticals"? I "annoy" even "myself" with "parantheitcals".

  41. #40

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    **well, I certainly don't find them to be annoying at all** . I especially like them when they're . . . **doubled up**
    Patrick2 . . Heritage representative (now former)

  42. #41

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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnRoss View Post
    entertaining is a talent as well. One of the most memorable gigs I have ever seen was Slim Gaillard,
    Yeah, I saw him at the 100 club in London way back and he was really enjoying the fact that the audience was really digging him. Made the gig, he blew the support act out of the water. During the break he came over to our table for a chat, we were in our late teens and early twenties and he announced that we were 'His team,' and then he produced a hip flask of vodka and gave us all a wee nip. Then when the backing band dragged him back on stage dedicated 'Flat foot floozy on the floy floy' to 'His team.' Wow
    Then after his encores he came back to our table with more vodka and started hitting on our girlfriends! What a night man, Thanks for reminding me John. Were you at that gig?

    Anyhoo, he had the audience eating out of his hand, I would have gave him the cab fare home (but not with my girlfriend tho'). He would have been in his late 70's at the time and I guess the fella was having the time of his life.
    “When a wise man points at the moon the fool considers the finger.”

  43. #42

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    Quote Originally Posted by Buster Loaf View Post
    Does anyone *else* find your asterisk use annoying?
    ??

  44. #43

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    Quote Originally Posted by jazzbow View Post
    Thanks for reminding me John. Were you at that gig?
    Slim Gailard, 100 club, London. 1980's?
    “When a wise man points at the moon the fool considers the finger.”

  45. #44

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    Quote Originally Posted by patskywriter View Post

    as far as miles is concerned, when he went too far outside for me, i listened to someone else. he'll always be one of my favorite trumpet players. i don't know why some people act as if they own these musicians and get bent out of shape if they displease them somehow. they don't owe it to you to play what you like and act as you feel they should. just enjoy the bits you like and discard the rest.
    Miles got it from the other direction with his later work, such as "Tutu." It was too "popular," too "commercial." "My god, he's covering a Cyndi Lauper tune!" (I think his version of her "Time After Time" was good.)

    You know, Miles had a curious idea about improvising: he didn't think very many people were good at it! I think Miles never bought into the idea that a jazz musician should be able to improvise chorus after chorus of good music on a nightly basis. He soloed like a songwriter, which is something I love about his playing.
    "Learn the repertoire. It’s all in the songs. If you learn 200 songs, you will have no problem improvising."
    Frank Vignola

  46. #45

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    Quote Originally Posted by jazzbow View Post
    Slim Gailard, 100 club, London. 1980's?
    No, not there, I saw him in Newcastle. Very likely it was the same tour, though. I don't know if it was because Joe Jackson (Jumpin' Jive (album), 1981) and others had put that sort of swing/jump/rhythm and blues Louis Jordan/Cab Calloway sound back in the pop arena, but instead of the usual two or three of us (or just me on my own), we were a biggish group, two or three tables. Good, wasn't he?

  47. #46

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    Quote Originally Posted by paynow View Post
    The angry Miles persona, head down, back to the audience, doesn't do it for me.
    This brings up another type of artist - the "prima donna."

    They have succeeded in creating their own cult and can say or do just about anything and their will be a horde of apologists their to protect them when they get out of line.

    Whether it be a radio host, newspaper column writer, talk-show host, politician, rock star, actress, some of these folks can do no wrong.

    I love Miles Davis' earlier CDs, and on the right night, can appreicate some of his later Post -Bitches Brew efforts. But from what I can see of him as a person, he was not a role model for my kids. But some say that is supposed to be beside the point.

    Also, I know of several Jazz artists, besides those on this forum, that also do comedy. Interesting! And we get the benefit of their humor here in our discussions.

  48. #47

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    Quote Originally Posted by AlsoRan View Post
    But from what I can see of him as a person, he was not a role model for my kids. But some say that is supposed to be beside the point.
    It is beside the point.

  49. #48

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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnRoss View Post
    It is beside the point.
    Au Contraire, Mon Ami.

    For me, there is a line that an artist can cross that would make me not buy there music. The tried and true stereotype is Hitler. I don't care how nice his Jazz guitar would be; I would still not be interested.

    That being said, Ol' Miles does not come near crossing that line for me. He was what we call in some areas of America "a fool." But he was one was a "fool" with a great musical vision.

    Many of my good friends were fools, and come to think of it, so was I at times. (But it sure was fun at times, but there was always a price to be paid...)
    Last edited by AlsoRan; 07-22-2012 at 10:42 PM.

  50. #49

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    Quote Originally Posted by markerhodes View Post
    Miles got it from the other direction with his later work, such as "Tutu." It was too "popular," too "commercial." "My god, he's covering a Cyndi Lauper tune!" (I think his version of her "Time After Time" was good.)
    LOL! i'll bet lots of jazz fans had no clue who cyndi lauper was before hearing miles's cover. i grew up hearing beatles tunes by jazz musicians way before hearing them by the beatles!

    Quote Originally Posted by markerhodes View Post
    You know, Miles had a curious idea about improvising: he didn't think very many people were good at it! I think Miles never bought into the idea that a jazz musician should be able to improvise chorus after chorus of good music on a nightly basis. He soloed like a songwriter, which is something I love about his playing.
    nice observation! thumbs up!

  51. #50

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    Quote Originally Posted by AlsoRan View Post
    For me, there is a line that an artist can cross that would make me not buy there music. The tried and true stereotype is Hitler.
    Whoa, not being a good role model is one thing, genocide and world domination bids are another. Though I'm not sure I wouldn't buy a CD of Hitler if he could hack it. Now that I think of it, I used to play with a drummer who was about on the same level as a racist, and he wasn't even a good drummer.