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  1. #1

    Gig duration...how much is too much?

    Any opinions on playing 3 or 4 sets a night? The greats usually do an hour or 1.5 hours max. How do you leave 'em wanting more after 4 sets?

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  3. #2
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    do you mean jazz club gig?

  4. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by kris View Post
    do you mean jazz club gig?
    Typical $ gigs: restau, cocktail party, wedding...I've never seen anyone do more than 2 in a club, and a show in an auditorium is usually 1/1.5 hrs.

  5. #4
    3 or 4 set gigs were real common in the history of jazz as were week long or even longer engagements at the same club.
    No surprise, there was some audience turnover due to attrition or money factors (cover charge per set/minimum)
    Good or bad on the financial front aside, it was a great training ground for real working bands.
    And then there were the after hour jam sessions. These days one or two sets for one or two nights seems to be the average gig.

    From a working musician vantage point, I hope that increased hours performing translates to increased pay.
    Playing private events, the rules are pretty established but it seems every club establishes it's own reality.
    Up to you to figure out what working condition parameters are acceptable.

  6. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by bako View Post
    3 or 4 set gigs were real common in the history of jazz as were week long or even longer engagements at the same club.
    No surprise, there was some audience turnover due to attrition or money factors (cover charge per set/minimum)
    Good or bad on the financial front aside, it was a great training ground for real working bands.
    And then there were the after hour jam sessions. These days one or two sets for one or two nights seems to be the average gig.

    From a working musician vantage point, I hope that increased hours performing translates to increased pay.
    Playing private events, the rules are pretty established but it seems every club establishes it's own reality.
    Up to you to figure out what working condition parameters are acceptable.
    Good points...I agree that from a chops perspective, playing 4 sets a night is great, but is it too much for the listener? I've seen many people leave a Metheny show after an hour and a half, and I certainly am no Metheny.

    The old adage goes that the people who most enjoy a jazz concert are on the stage. Are we overplaying?
    Last edited by andrew42; 01-15-2018 at 02:31 PM.

  7. #6
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    45 is enough for me much of the time. 2 x 45 is the upper limit.

    I need time to digest what I’ve heard.

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    Gig duration...how much is too much?

    Background gigs are different. But I think people often overestimate how much live music they actually want... they want to feel they have a good deal though!

  9. #8
    My first jazz group, in the mid '60's, did four sets five or six nights a week, with three ten-minute breaks. We played primarily at military officer's clubs where there was dining and dancing, and the crowd usually turned over at least once during the evening.

    Forty years later my small jazz group primarily did concerts, typically two hours with a fifteen-minute break, or, much more rarely, dances with the same hours.

    My current big band does similar gigs, but we also do 3-hour dances with two breaks, and 1.5-hour concerts without a break. Typically we get to go home early on the long dances, since our audiences are just as old as we are and run out of steam before the three hours are up.

    Danny W.

  10. #9
    I would think for the most part, if you're playing 3-4 sets, you're in a club setting and you're expecting audience turnover...there might be some folks there to see you, for others, they're patronizing the club, and you happen to be playing there.

    I've always felt each set is it's own little microcosm of the "show" as a whole...it should stand on it's own, have a shape to it.
    Jeff Matz, Jazz Guitar:
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    "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

  11. They have these traditional folk gigs in areas of greece where the gig lasts for about .. 16-17 hours..! They 'lll start warming up / playing around 6 in the afternoon, usually it s in an open space and people will come and go. Then they dance throughout the night, and if you go back there 10-11 in the morning they are still playing. And its intense music, also usually the bands are old people with a history... i don't know how they do it.. And then they wrap up and go to the next one, they might do dozens of these through the summer..



    For a jazz gig, 3 sets a night were a teaching experience for me.. They require economy of motion if anything, can't just tap away at these fast tempos all night..

  12. #11
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    I know that I've played thousands of 4-hour gigs in a variety of contexts, from jazz clubs to commercial clubs to weddings and parties, including solo restaurant gigs. None of these are really "shows", though, and most of the high-end jazz clubs, even in the 60s, presented 2 shows nightly, with perhaps 3 shows on weekend nights. Most of the great masters came up in 6-night, 4-hour situations, a far better training ground than any school could be. Most of the Metheny shows I have attended were 2.5 - 3 hours long, and it went right by; I've never seen any of his audience leaving halfway through. There is a large difference between doing a gig and doing a show, as far as I'm concerned, a gig is pretty easy, even 4 sets. A show is very hard, and must be carefully planned and executed. Jazz players were often not interested in the show aspect, although the ones who "made it" learned how necessary it was.

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    6 sets, seven nights a week were the deal back in New York in the mid to late 60s.
    Beauty is as close to terror as we can well endure. -Rainer Maria Rilke

  14. #13
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    I've always felt each set is it's own little microcosm of the "show" as a whole...it should stand on it's own, have a shape to it.
    I think it's very good observation (often overlooked) especially for standards jazz gigs... you lead the audience till the end of the set and then there's a break - and you start it all over with different pieces ... if someone leaves or comes in between he also feels as if he was respected and did not miss anything)

    I noticed some American jazz clubs sell even two 45 min sets of the same players separately (music charge and reservations)... of course it's money related too but I believe it makes both ausdience and players care more about what's in the set 'cause listners now pay for a set, and players know that and try to make a set more independent and integral (maybe they are also payed separately for the sets and where it it depends on total sales per set they are interested more in certain set too)... maybe it's not concious but it works I believe...

  15. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Cunamara View Post
    6 sets, seven nights a week were the deal back in New York in the mid to late 60s.
    Good for chops. Can't imagine that now...

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    Yeh, that's how Martino and Benson got those chops. Organ trios, most horn players probably couldn't play that much without blowing out their lips. Horns can be brutal to play for long periods- guitar is a mechanically easy instrument. Playing something worth listening to is the hard part.
    Beauty is as close to terror as we can well endure. -Rainer Maria Rilke

  17. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by ronjazz View Post
    I know that I've played thousands of 4-hour gigs in a variety of contexts, from jazz clubs to commercial clubs to weddings and parties, including solo restaurant gigs. None of these are really "shows", though, and most of the high-end jazz clubs, even in the 60s, presented 2 shows nightly, with perhaps 3 shows on weekend nights. Most of the great masters came up in 6-night, 4-hour situations, a far better training ground than any school could be. Most of the Metheny shows I have attended were 2.5 - 3 hours long, and it went right by; I've never seen any of his audience leaving halfway through. There is a large difference between doing a gig and doing a show, as far as I'm concerned, a gig is pretty easy, even 4 sets. A show is very hard, and must be carefully planned and executed. Jazz players were often not interested in the show aspect, although the ones who "made it" learned how necessary it was.
    That's a great point, 'gig' and 'show' are two different things. Most of what I and many others under the radar jazz musicians do are gigs in restaurants, bars, clubs, where music is just a part of the program, but not THE program, so to speak. So those gigs normally are 3 sets, 45-50 min each with breaks. Sometimes 4 sets. Important part is there is no cover for those usually, people come and go, it's a traffic.

    A show, oh the other hand, is when people are supposed to pay a cover to see you, and you are the main attraction of the night. Normally it's 2 sets, and longer time for each. Like Ronjazz said, you really need to be well rehearsed and prepared for those, with a concept and stuff... Unlike gigs, where a pickup band will do, and you can argue about the next tune for 5 min

  18. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by Hep To The Jive View Post
    That's a great point, 'gig' and 'show' are two different things.
    Yeah, I play mostly "gigs" and go hear mostly "shows" as a listener. For me, as a listener, two sets is my upper limit. A long set (> 1 hour) is perfect for me.

    As a player, I really hate playing any gig less than 2 hours. 3 hours is ideal for me.

  19. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by pcsanwald View Post
    Yeah, I play mostly "gigs" and go hear mostly "shows" as a listener. For me, as a listener, two sets is my upper limit. A long set (> 1 hour) is perfect for me.

    As a player, I really hate playing any gig less than 2 hours. 3 hours is ideal for me.
    Same here, exactly.

  20. #19
    For me it's all about the situation.

    From the point of view of the audience, I don't expect people to sit in rows of chairs facing the band and listen to instrumental music for very long. The greats might be able to keep an audience interested for a couple of hours, but I don't expect to do that at my level, especially without vocals.

    Personally, I prefer a gig where people can talk at tables and enjoy the music as background, or, pay attention at whatever level they want. My goal is to see feet tapping along.

    From my point of view, how long the gig should be depends on the nature of it. Reading big band charts without adequate rehearsal (a staple of what I do) is tiring enough that a two hour gig feels like a very long time.

    OTOH, playing standards or Brazilian (from my band book) is so relaxing that three hours doesn't feel long.

  21. #20
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    [QUOTE=rpjazzguitar;837948]For me it's all about the situation.



    Personally, I prefer a gig where people can talk at tables and enjoy the music as background, or, pay attention at whatever level they want. My goal is to see feet tapping along.

    I think that's entirely understandable, but sometimes the talking can get out of hand - not to mention chinking glasses. This makes it difficult for others to 'pay attention at whatever level they wish'. Reminds me of an anecdote about a player in a Manhattan club checking levels pre-gig asking the proprietor if he was loud enough. 'Don't know, why not ask (guy in front row) him?' He did - 'Excuse me, is this loud enough for you to talk over'?!

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