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  1. #1
    Hey everyone,

    this week I have my first ever solo jazz guitar gig. It's a corporate event and I'm providing background music. I have had plenty of experience playing duo, trio, quartet for these kinds of events, and I have a good repertoire of chord melodies and solo tunes, but is there any advice anyone can give on things that work and don't work in these situations, or just any general advice about playing solo background gigs?
    Last edited by JArent; 09-26-2009 at 04:07 PM.

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  3. #2

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    Hi JArent,

    I would make a list of the standards I know best and play those.
    I've had similar type gigs for private parties. Enjoy yourself and you
    will sound great.

    The Earl of Soco

  4. #3

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    if you get lost in a tune, backcycling is your very best friend.

    if you have limited warm up time, start with a rubato piece, as the freedom of tempo will allow your chops to warm up while not worrying about a strict rhythm.

    consider some different things for improvised sections--stop time, soloing with chords, walking bass, etc...

    throw 'em a bone...a beatles tune or something sinatra sang will usually result in a tip.

    poker face. no one will know if you screw up unless you make it look like you screwed up.

    keep your amp on the floor for a nicer bass response--these gigs aren't about cutting thru, they're about nice musical wallpaper for folks to enjoy.

    don't get discouraged if it seems no one is paying attention. there's likely a guitar player or two in the room who might really appreciate you... otherwise, treat the idea that no one is saying anything to you as a seal of approval.

    have business cards ready. corporate events are the best places to score more corporate gigs/private party gigs.

  5. #4
    thanks everyone for the help. I had the gig tonight and it was a success. It made me realize one issue, which is the fact that I tended to speed up tempos on every tune, but its "naked" gigs like this that can help point out areas needing attention.

  6. #5
    Glad your gig went well. I've had a few of those solo gigs over the years. On some that go 3 - 4 hours I've found a way to stretch out the time is to do interludes now and then prior to jumping into a song. I've also used a looper on a few gigs. I have one of those Boss RC-50 loopers that can loop for a zillion minutes, and have s parts A, B, & C of a tune that you can switch back & forth. I'll comp through the changes of a standard and then circle back around and play over the changes. Kind of fun.
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  7. #6

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    Congrats. Solo gigs really provide opportunities to play that might not otherwise happen if we are trying to do the band thing. Hectic schedules, various levels of commitment matter not when we are the only player.

  8. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by JArent View Post
    thanks everyone for the help. I had the gig tonight and it was a success. It made me realize one issue, which is the fact that I tended to speed up tempos on every tune, but its "naked" gigs like this that can help point out areas needing attention.

    often this is nerves. were you particulrly nervous on the night?

  9. #8

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    Congrats on the solo gig. I had my first solo gig last weekend. Similar situation as yours (background music for an event). It went fine. Old folks seemed to like hearing Misty, and the Baby Boomers enjoyed a nice arrangement by Joe Negri of Yesterday.
    everything all of the time

  10. #9

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    hey guys,

    I am a senior in high school- i've been playing jazz a few years and guitar about 7. I might be getting a gig at this restaurant playing pop/folk background guitar with as much jazz as I can do. I've worked out the usual chord melody songs like autumn leaves/blue bossa/all of me- whatever the regular ones you get the idea! I have enough popular tunes to go around unaccompanied but I was really wondering if some of the seasoned players could tell me some chord melody arrangements or songs that would work great for such a setting at my level. I am auditioning for jazz guitar performance next year at 6-7 schools so it would really be nice to get these in my repetoire.

    thanks!

    Jesse

  11. #10

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    Any of the standards can be arranged for whatever level you are currently, so that really is not an issue. We had a thread in this section a year or two ago where everyone listed CM tunes they have up and running. I will give you my current one. It fluxuates some as tunes drop and I add others. Hope this helps.

    All The Things You Are-Amazing Grace-Autumn Leaves-Alone Together-But Beautiful-Beautiful Love-Body & Soul-Bb Blues-Call Me-Corcavado-Deacon Blue-Don't Get Around Much Anymore-Don't Know Why-Flintstone's Theme-Gentle Rain-Georgia-Girl From Ipanema-How High The Moon-I'm In The Mood For Love-In A Mellow Tone-The Look Of Love - Minor Blues-Misty-Michelle-My Favorite Things-Nature Boy-Red Blouse-Somewhere Over The Rainbow-Stella-Shadow Of Your Smile-When You Wish Upon A Star-Yesterday

    Add a couple more blues and a couple of originals, and that is pretty much my current list. I will add White Christmas, Christmas Time Is Here, The Christmas Song, and Blue Christmas next month.

  12. #11

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    Wow thats impressive! I will be playing a bunch of pop/blues/folk covers for now as well as originals. I really want to play a lot of jazz though! I will definitely work some of these out though thank you! In your experience, would it be acceptable for me to comp changes with a bassline on some songs and not play melody (I am just background music, mind you)?

  13. #12

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    it's acceptable, but you get tips when folks can recognize the song.

    start small. it took me several years to build a chord melody rep big enough to do a whole gig. the process of arranging these myself was so beneficial--i cannot express how much you can learn by doing them yourself and not learning other folks' arrangements. the overall concept is rather simple:

    learn the chords to the tune.

    learn the melody. ideally, try to keep the melody on the top two strings.

    play the chords of the song, using different inversions, putting the melody as the top not of the chord.

    you need not harmonize every note.

    it takes time. the first arrangement i did (a lousy one, for "i could write a book") took me two weeks! 6 years and 100 or so songs later, I can knock one out in an hour or so now. The process of doing it over and over is what made me better.

    so pick a song or two. it might be a while before you can fill a whole set. it might be longer before you can successfully improvise in the solo environment too. no rush. take your time, sit back, and enjoy the ride.

  14. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by jesse11 View Post
    Wow thats impressive! I will be playing a bunch of pop/blues/folk covers for now as well as originals. I really want to play a lot of jazz though! I will definitely work some of these out though thank you! In your experience, would it be acceptable for me to comp changes with a bassline on some songs and not play melody (I am just background music, mind you)?
    Well, not so impressive when it took about 4 + years to put all that together. The benefit now is, I can arrange or learn an arrangement and have it gig ready in a week or two if I play it a few times each day. So many moves repeat, and you begin to gather some stock intros, outros, and changes that can be used in different tunes. I consider myself only an intermediate player.

    Same thing with the basslines you are talking about. After playing a tune once thru with the melody, then comping thru just using chords for a chorus, then with just a bassline, etc., these are some of the ways to stretch a tune out. A couple of those tunes I can play for close to 10 minutes, doing different things each time thru. I shoot for getting 5 minutes out of each tune if I can, without repeating what I am doing exactly.

    So, things like starting off rubato, and then 2nd time thru swing it, then chords only, then single note lines for a bar, chords for a bar, then basslines, then melody with sparse chord punches, etc. By the time you mix and match these sorts of things, you can squeeze 5 minutes out of a 32 bar tune fairly easily. Good luck.

  15. #14

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    that is very helpful! I will definitely try to add some popular tunes in there that most people will know for the tips ;]

    All of that stuff I will take into consideration!

    I'll let you guys know how it goes!

  16. #15

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    I thought the simplest way to generate a C-M is fingerstyle--where you already have the top and bottom voices from the leadsheet (root progression from the chord symbols with the thumb, melody from the lead sheet using i-m-a combinations), so all you have to do is develop the inner voices (or not, if you want to leave them out, i.e., based on one's ear and taste). Is there a more convenient or simpler way?

  17. #16

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    NSJ,

    i like to think about the whole chord and create arrangements that are a little more skeletal, so they can be improvised on a little more freely. I don't like the idea of arranging the whole thing really, so i'm more looking at the melody first, then simply thinking chord inversion with melody on top. A lot of times, as I cycle through inversions and substitutions, the connectable ("walking") bass thing just sort of happens. But i've done very few arrangements when i've active thought out exactly what i'm going to do as a full "piece" or music.

    but that's just what works for me.