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  1. #51

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sam Sherry View Post
    I just want to be certain I've got this right:
    You have jazz gigs.
    Your regular people can't make them.
    Instead of hiring other musicians you want to play with tracks.

    I'm having trouble adding it all up. Maybe you're a lot more loyal to this group of musicians than they are to you!

    Just to be clear: I'd be hiring different musicians and playing the jobs with them. Because for me, the essence of both joy and growth in music is working with other people, and you can triple that for jazz. Tracks are for practice at my house.

    Heck, you live about 45 from a school with a decent jazz program -- you could probably hire a full sixteen-piece band for the cost of two large pizzas.

    What a great problem to have! Has gigs, needs to find players! Yessah!
    Sam,
    Here's the the thing: Unfortunately I don't have a huge list of jazz musicians who I can call to "fill-in" and almost all the ones that I'd prefer to work with (i.e., reliable & competent) are an hour or more drive from from these gigs. I'm in the eastern part of Long Island NY( North Fork) and they're not really interested in low paying gigs. They want $$ so they can reconcile taking a day off from their day jobs without hurting themselves in their wallets and these are weekday gigs that are not paying much at all ($100-$150 plus tips at best for 3 sets.)

    As far as using students - have you tried this before? If so, has it worked for you? I can only say, from personal experience when I was in school, that almost all my friends in the jazz ensemble were out of control most of the time (especially the horn section!) and we drove our teacher crazy. Those were great times!

    Let me also be clear: I'm not playing music to support myself and neither are my two friends. We do it because it's fun and convenient since all the gigs are local. While we do enjoy the extra cash earned from these gigs it's more about getting us, and sometimes our wives, out to have fun. This is something we love. So the dilemma of using backing tracks has nothing to do about being loyal to my friends who I regularly play with, the issue is more about me - am I just being a selfish-self promoter by doing something like this? Or am I truly sharing the gift of music? I also feel hypocritical - I used to cringe when I saw anyone using backing tracks live and although I never acted or said anything impolite, in my mind I was being so hyper-critical of the performer. Now, here I am - seriously considering doing something that just a few years ago I thought was so pedestrian. So this is my struggle.

    I truly wish I could play three sets of music as a jazz guitar soloist, as some have suggested, but I can't at the moment, maybe someday.



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  3. #52

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    Quote Originally Posted by NorthForkJazzGuitar View Post
    But I also feel really weird about doing this and the potential for some respected musicians I know to see me doing something I have always thought was "not-cool" could prove to be embarrassing.
    In my original post I made the comment above. I really feel a need to qualify that statement a bit. What I should have said is that I would feel very awkward if any of my former music teachers walked in on a gig. Although I am not 100% sure how any of them may react, I just couldn't bear to see them shaking their head in a non-approving fashion or simply "rolling their eyes" in disappointment. This is what I meant when I wrote by "some respected musicians I know". I'm really not all too concerned what any others think, hell, there will always be detractors no matter the quality of one's playing.

  4. #53

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    This thread touches on the issue of just what do we as Jazz musicians owe to one another.

    That same issue can be extended to what do we owe each other as humans.

    To address a small piece of that question I would forego making "right or wrong" judgments and take a practical approach, since right or wrong is so subjective and is often twisted to meet the needs of the one judging.

    How do musicians in your area react to your use of backing tracks, and what are the long term consequences to you personally?

    You may one day need the very musicians that miss out on work because you use backing tracks. Or you may not need them. Many might not really object to what you are doing and if they had your resources, would do the same thing.

    Reminds me a lot of unions, CEO dues-paying clubs, lobbying groups, Homeowner's Associations, Chambers of Commerce, political groups when they are trying to preserve a certain way of life. Individuals are expected to fall in line for the sake of a "greater good."

    There are going to be winners and losers and no one wants to be a loser, and will fight it even if it makes someone else a loser. Revolutions are borne of this type of thinking - sometimes for the better, other times for the worse.

  5. #54

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    It certainly wasn't meant to be insulting, but I guess I see how it could be taken that way...and because of that, I do apologize.

    thanks, and sorry for being think skinned, for which I apologize.

  6. #55

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    I'm coming to this conversation a bit late, it seems, having stumbled upon it as I was searching for more information on the iReal Pro app.

    I guess I oughta inject my two cents worth, especially since they seem to have moderated some over the years.

    Back in the 70s, I hated disco because it put a lot of talented musicians out of work. Plus the music was real LCD stuff -- bubblegum for the cerebellum. My opinion of disco hasn't changed much at all in the ensuing 35+ years. Although, I gotta say your modern DJ has about as much in common with one from the disco era as a -- what? An iPad to a paper notebook, maybe? Hrm . . . maybe too far. But you get where I'm coming from. I recall attending my nephew's wedding reception a couple years ago and the entertainment was a couple of guys who were running a pretty hefty sound system into which was plugged a rather compact laptop that was attached to an iPhone. They took requests and downloaded the songs from iTunes if they didn't have them in their library already. Hell, they probably didn't even need the laptop, truth be told. I felt kinda lukewarm about the whole process. Because no musicians were hired for the gig, for sure. But also I couldn't help but be impressed by their setup.

    Several years ago, I got the idea of putting together a solo act using Band in a Box for backing tracks. Now, I didn't feel the least smidgeon of guilt over the idea of using backing tracks and the reason why was very simple: my goal was not to replace a band of hard-working musicians, but to enhance a solo act. And that to me is the crucial difference. If a person is planning to use backing tracks to enhance a solo act, then there is no harm done, is there?

    Now as far as whether or not other musicians feel using backing tracks is cheesy, well here's my thoughts on that. I have a friend here who gigs around town -- small venue stuff because it's just him. He has this really antiquated setup he uses. He's got all his backing tracks on cassette tapes and he hooks his cassette tape player into his PA system. And the backing tracks are all just fairly basic MIDI instrumentation. He and I have discussed DAW software at some length and, although I never asked him specifically, I'm figuring that he probably used his DAW to put together these tracks. So anyway, he plays his Fender Mustang and sings the tunes, and it's all old stuff too. From the Ventures to the Moody Blues. Whenever I catch his act, I get a pretty big kick out of just watching him pull it off. That, in itself, is entertaining.

    Would other musicians think his act was cheesy? Undoubtedly so. But they also probably have no sense of humor either.

    So anyway, as I mentioned above, I got the idea to do the whole backing track thing several years ago. I was actually working up a song list when I caught a hellacious cold and wasn't able to sing at all. To make matters worse, it was one of those malingering kinds of colds that gets down into your chest and just won't go away. It was a couple of months before I finally had managed to get rid of it. Concerned that something as common as the common cold could put me out of action for so long, I decided to pursue other things musical, and it was at that point that I began learning how to build guitars. And I've been doing that, off and on, ever since. But just recently I've been kicking around the idea of giving a solo act a go again -- using backing tracks. Haven't made my mind up about it yet. But I tell you what, if I do, one thing that I will not care at all about will be what other musicians think or have to say about it. I've reached the age where I just don't really give a flip about what other people think about things I do. I do these things because I want to, because they please me, or for some other reason that means something to me and I really could not care less what other folks think. So there. Besides, a good number of these tunes will be pieces I've written and when I get to writing a piece of music, it's all bets are off when it comes to instrumentation. From harp to sitar to bass clarinet to a synth sound that's a Hammond B3 with string bends. Whatever works best for the particular part. So if I'm going to play any of my music at an event, I won't have much of a choice other than using backing tracks. Cuz I don't play the bass clarinet or the harp or most of the other instruments I write for.
    Best,
    Michael

    Live to Play, Play to Live