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  1. #1

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    So I was watching this Mike Moreno video:



    And the point that landed home for me is when he talks about the artists you are inspired by and learning their music - properly and in detail.

    And it made me think of the essential passivity with which I’ve learned repertoire. Basically started learning the obvious tunes because that’s what the jazz players at the jams were playing, later on learned quite a few of the early and gypsy jazz style tunes because that’s what the band leader wanted. And although I know a few hundred tunes, there’s only a few by each composer.

    Because of this I feel I’ve had a very passive career so far, and I feel now is the time to start driving it in the direction I want. I like the idea that the starting point for this is falling in love with music and getting close to it, rather than just learning stuff for a gig (though you do that too.)

    I’m not saying it’s all like that - I’ve made more of an effort to learn tunes I enjoy as a matter of course, but I feel I could still make this more of the centre of my practice instead of bits here and there.

    In any case I think of younger students who can play very well but know almost no repertoire. I think it’s worth asking them the same question Moreno asks in this video. And we prescribe them the same ten tunes everyone learns.... it’s a bad pattern I think.

    What are your thoughts regarding your relationships with tunes and repertoire?

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  3. #2

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    Play what you love, I've you can't sing it you don't love it. If you can't sing it you shouldn't play it. If you can't work out the basic harmony from singing it you don't understand harmony. If you can't transpose the harmony it you don't know your instrument. If you find reasons to avoid these things you are missing out.

    D.

  4. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by Freel View Post
    Play what you love, I've you can't sing it you don't love it. If you can't sing it you shouldn't play it. If you can't work out the basic harmony from singing it you don't understand harmony. If you can't transpose the harmony it you don't know your instrument. If you find reasons to avoid these things you are missing out.

    D.
    In my experience these things don’t have that much to do with love. I can sing the melodies and transpose scores of tunes I feel nothing for at all just because that’s what I’ve played on thousands of gigs.

    It’s important to be able to do your job obviously, if it is your job. Amateurs have the privilege of never having to play music they don’t love.

    However, that’s really sad if you lose your connection with tunes. I need start by writing a list of tunes I learned entirely out of love. And that will be the start of my personal repertoire. Obvious really, but easy to forget.

    What’s your list?

  5. #4

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    Oh me I'm just an amateur. Anything I have ever sang in my life.

    D.

  6. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by Freel View Post
    Oh me I'm just an amateur. Anything I have ever sang in my life.

    D.
    Is there one or more composer/musician that has particularly inspired you?

  7. #6

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    One day when I was working as a music therapist (though I have not the qualification) in an acute stay mental hospital a woman there started to tell her life story.

    She did not use pitch but the most lyrical story emerged. Beautifully paced and the language all in her own idiom but forming the most wonderful verse and from the very outset it was clear that it would be perfect in structure and form.

    There were around eight of us, myself, the Occupational Therapist and some other patients.

    I had the misfortune of having a guitar in my hands and as she started there were some chords ringing and I knew that she and I were in this together and that she needed me.

    I tried my best.

    D.

  8. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    So I was watching this Mike Moreno video:



    And the point that landed home for me is when he talks about the artists you are inspired by and learning their music - properly and in detail.

    And it made me think of the essential passivity with which I’ve learned repertoire. Basically started learning the obvious tunes because that’s what the jazz players at the jams were playing, later on learned quite a few of the early and gypsy jazz style tunes because that’s what the band leader wanted. And although I know a few hundred tunes, there’s only a few by each composer.

    Because of this I feel I’ve had a very passive career so far, and I feel now is the time to start driving it in the direction I want. I like the idea that the starting point for this is falling in love with music and getting close to it, rather than just learning stuff for a gig (though you do that too.)

    I’m not saying it’s all like that - I’ve made more of an effort to learn tunes I enjoy as a matter of course, but I feel I could still make this more of the centre of my practice instead of bits here and there.

    In any case I think of younger students who can play very well but know almost no repertoire. I think it’s worth asking them the same question Moreno asks in this video. And we prescribe them the same ten tunes everyone learns.... it’s a bad pattern I think.

    What are your thoughts regarding your relationships with tunes and repertoire?
    You just play a kind of jazz that is very popular so it's kind of "easy", the more you play it, the best you play it. You have just to figure out you play it with better quality than before. Maybe people call you for that point.
    I know a bunch of guitarists, they all play the thing called "gypsy" jazz maybe except gypsies, they all play the same stuff but you are on the top of the basket, that's better, but you don't figure out about anything because it's something that is built slowly, so you see nothing.
    About repertoire, I just learn tunes on the bass, to play them without score, without a paper where the chords are written, without the help of a tablet or a smart phone.
    Technically it's good because you become functional even if I don't have any gig as a jazz bassist... just jam sessions time to time... I want to be functional.
    Why ? There is a snobbish tradition or illusion that says you have to play the upright bass.
    They sometimes call me as a saxophonist for a gig, but I don't dig it a lot sometimes because I would like the rhythm session to be a bit different, difficult.
    Just think about you did and are doing, it is not empty.

  9. #8

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    One of the things I loved about Joe Pass was the incredible depth and breadth of his knowledge of tunes. What jazz guitarist records "That's Earl, Brother"? On ACOUSTIC guitar? Joe's album Appasionato remains for me one of the most impressive sets of tunes, played in an acoustic archtop setting (Joe played John Pisano's dad's Epiphone!) that swings and bops like crazy. "The Red Door" "Stuffy" "When It's Sleepy Time Down South" and on it goes.

    And he could change them up and play them many different ways, solo, ensemble, duet, accompanying a vocalist, side-man. We should all love the music that much!
    - Lawson
    "Whenever you come near the human race, there's layers and layers of nonsense." - Thornton Wilder, Our Town

  10. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post

    What are your thoughts regarding your relationships with tunes and repertoire?
    In short answer- I personally don't see knowing and constantly learning new tunes as a virtuous path so to speak. You kinda do it by necessity to get more gigs that brings you money, and that's that for me. I'm not saying I don't like it, I love more than quite a few tunes and enjoy playing them. But I don't see it as an ultimate achievement, it's just a job. Frankly, I only work on tunes that I need for a particular gig.

    My point is, what is much more important for me, is to write your own shit! Work on your sound and concept, try to find a niche, and I love doing it through writing. I noticed a lot of enthusiasm from a crowd when you play an original tune. Much more than when you play another version of Body And Soul.

    It may have something to do that I play shitty versions of standards or just mediocre, and on originals I can really deliver... Maybe, but whatever entertains people better, whatever works.

    I guess not really short, haha, but my answer- add as much original music as you can to your repertoire . You'll love it, and people will love it, and it's better for the universe.

  11. #10

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  12. #11

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    I think yall overthinking this. It comes down to - what do you love? What turns you on. Doesn’t have to be one style.

    If you can’t answer that question and have dug into it some depth - I think that’s pretty revealing. And to be honest, I had trouble articulating an answer. The answer is there but it wasn’t fresh in my mind. I don’t want to be that sort of musician because you get pulled this way and that.

    Life is too short for that sort of thing.

    Of course your thing might not be that easy to pigeonhole, but if you wish to work you will end up getting pigeonholed as a specialist. It may as well be in an area you really like.

    Some areas are tougher than others. There’s more paying cover band gigs than there are bebop gigs for instance.

    I don’t agree with everything Moreno said - I don’t think you have to play one strict style necessarily though I can see it’s a good route (I don’t think Frissell ever did for instance, perhaps I’m wrong) but I do think you have to go deep and have some identity in your music if you want it be worth listening to.

    Checking out music and making an emotional connection with it is key, and I needed to be reminded of that.
    Last edited by christianm77; 08-27-2018 at 07:09 PM.

  13. #12

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    Joe Pass was a guitar genius!!!

  14. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    I think yall overthinking this. It comes down to - what do you love? What turns you on. Doesn’t have to be one style.

    If you can’t answer that question and have dug into it some depth - I think that’s pretty revealing. And to be honest, I had trouble articulating an answer. The answer is there but it wasn’t fresh in my mind. I don’t want to be that sort of musician because you get pulled this way and that.

    Life is too short for that sort of thing.

    Of course your thing might not be that easy to pigeonhole, but if you wish to work you will end up getting pigeonholed as a specialist. It may as well be in an area you really like.

    Some areas are tougher than others. There’s more paying cover band gigs than there are bebop gigs for instance.

    I don’t agree with everything Moreno said - I don’t think you have to play one strict style necessarily though I can see it’s a good route (I don’t think Frissell ever did for instance, perhaps I’m wrong) but I do think you have to go deep and have some identity in your music if you want it be worth listening to.

    Checking out music and making an emotional connection with it is key, and I needed to be reminded of that.
    Go deep is a must. But go deep where, and how to find the identity? Start analyzing hundreds of tunes, trying to find love for some that you don't dig yet? Or go deep to yourself and ask what do you REALLY like in music, discard other stuff( to a degree, of course), and just focus on that?

    I think both are legit. Personally I just focus on what I like to hear from myself, the other stuff is just work. Not that I wouldn't care if I do a bad job, I always try to play and treat any gig the best I can, but my alone practice time I know where are my priorities are.

    Re: Gypsy jazz, I never claim to be a GJ player, but a lot of the tunes I love to play are from GJ book of standards. I have a genuine love and can play it all day, tunes like Moonglow, but again, I don't treat it in GJ style. I use telecaster with a bigsby through a dirty enough amp, and that's my statement. (Naturally, I'm talking about when it's my own gig!)

    Another question how much do you really need to listen and connect to a lot of music to be able to create something good of your own? I'm honestly not sure anymore. Watched an Eddie Van Halen interview, and when he's asked what new inspiring music he has discovered, he said he doesn't listen to music, not since his Eric Clapton obsession days. I thought he was saying the truth too! I know I know, that's rock, and this is jazz, but still, kinda amazing...

  15. #14

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    My thoughts about tunes and repertoire:

    I like a lot of different kinds of music. I prefer to play jazz. I like blues and rock, but I never seek out situations to play those styles.

    I play in two horn bands (big band and octet, all American jazz) and I enjoy both -- but I don't listen to that type of music much. Between those two bands, that's a working repertoire of maybe 125 tunes.

    I go to a regular jam session. The repertoire there is every Real Book ever and charts that people bring in. Mostly, I don't listen to that kind of music either, but I did at one time.

    I host one session a week, and this is where my heart is. It's all Brazilian. I have amassed a book with about 160 arrangements. This is the stuff I listen to when I have time. I love this music.

    So, that's a pretty large number of tunes that I play with some regularity, some of which I like and some of which I love.

    There aren't all that many which I heard and then thought, I have to transcribe that! But there are some like that.
    Some are from an arranger I know. I have charts for tunes that I heard and loved and found charts on line.

    This does tend to focus on a few composers whose work I was exposed to by a teacher and loved.

    I also like to sing, and do so on gigs (usually as a one-off novelty, since I'm not really a singer) so I have a vocal book of about 20 tunes. I pick them mostly for interesting or funny lyrics.

    I don't gig the Brazilian music very often. If I were to get a call today, my set list would be based on the tunes that I feel have the greatest emotional expression -- at least, to me. I don't think any two people would pick the same ones. And, I like to hear a lot of music that doesn't strike me as especially emotionally deep when I play it -- but does when other people play it.

    So, for me it's a mix of passive and active tune acquisition. The passive part is because I enjoy being a sideman and I don't turn down opportunities to play with players I admire. The active part is because some music speaks to me emotionally.

  16. #15

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    Do you see yourself as an artist? Or a gigging musician? Both would be nice, a gigging artist!

    For me, an artist doesn't just go deep into a specific style or composer, but goes deep into his own style, right? Some folks know their own fave style early on, most probably don't. You can learn a bunch of tunes (even if you don't really like some), then narrow it down to a style or 2, and maybe eventually invent your own stylistic tweaks to the styles you're in deep with. Perhaps at this point one arrives as an "artist" - gigging or not...

    So if you wish to emerge as a true artist, then I suppose you have to shed (as in lose) some of the tunes you've learned, especially the ones you don't really like....

    Artist = Specialist.

  17. #16

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    Interesting topic! I guess I've always had a sort of 'twin track' approach to this. I've tried to learn at least some of the commonly played tunes. (But some I don't like so I didn't bother with them!). But at the same time, I couldn't resist learning some more obscure tunes just because they really appealed to me, even though I'll probably never play them with anyone.

    Some tunes I've learned in the second category are:
    Simple as That (by Peter Bernstein - funny that Moreno moaned about the PB fan who didn't learn any PB tunes!)
    Chant (Duke Pearson) - even done a video of this one! Inspired by seeing Bernstein/Goldings/Stewart trio play it.
    Lost (Wayne Shorter) - love the weird chord changes. But can't really solo on it very well yet!
    Signal (Jimmy Raney)
    Dee's Dilemma (Mal Waldron)
    Night Bird (Enrico Pieranunzi)
    For Minors Only (Jimmy Heath)

    All these I worked out by ear as I don't have any charts for them. (Although I think I got the changes for Signal from Jon Raney's blog or something). The last 3 are there simply because I love the way Chet Baker plays them.

    It's kind of a nice treat to indulge oneself with tunes like this.

    Mind you I am just an amateur so I can do whatever I like!

  18. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by grahambop View Post
    Interesting topic! I guess I've always had a sort of 'twin track' approach to this. I've tried to learn at least some of the commonly played tunes. (But some I don't like so I didn't bother with them!). But at the same time, I couldn't resist learning some more obscure tunes just because they really appealed to me, even though I'll probably never play them with anyone.

    Some tunes I've learned in the second category are:
    Simple as That (by Peter Bernstein - funny that Moreno moaned about the PB fan who didn't learn any PB tunes!)
    Chant (Duke Pearson) - even done a video of this one! Inspired by seeing Bernstein/Goldings/Stewart trio play it.
    Lost (Wayne Shorter) - love the weird chord changes. But can't really solo on it very well yet!
    Signal (Jimmy Raney)
    Dee's Dilemma (Mal Waldron)
    Night Bird (Enrico Pieranunzi)
    For Minors Only (Jimmy Heath)

    All these I worked out by ear as I don't have any charts for them. (Although I think I got the changes for Signal from Jon Raney's blog or something). The last 3 are there simply because I love the way Chet Baker plays them.

    It's kind of a nice treat to indulge oneself with tunes like this.

    Mind you I am just an amateur so I can do whatever I like!
    Yeah it’s really interesting from that standpoint. Moreno is almost advocating a high level amateur mind set. But I think this is an NYC jazz scene thing. Basically if you aren’t insanely passionate about jazz (and talented to boot) you aren’t going to be playing the modern jazz circuit.

    In London I’ve mentioned before that it’s possible to make a reasonable living playing if you get into the West End and sessions and so on. Many players get sucked into this and end up not playing much jazz. But until you get the money gig, you’ll probably do some jazz clubs etc.

    So the emphasis on being a well rounded player is almost the enemy of a jazz career lol. But many players here are able to play a number of styles to a high level.... (only problem to me is that jazz is not a style)

    (I suppose that also happens a bit in NYC with broadway and tv but there’s so many players who come just to play jazz otoh)

    The jazz players I know in london are able to do other gigs but tightly focussed on what they want to achieve. I think you have to be.

  19. #18
    Walter Inglis Anderson, an extraordinary Mississippi artist, had a really useful philosophy for this kind of thing. Basically, that it's the artist's "right" to pursue their art in its purest form without compromise , and that it's also societie's obligation to allow the artist this freedom to pursue an art that is mostly personal. In return...., it's the artist's obligation to produce a PORTION of consumer product. For Anderson, these were largely screenprints sold on weekends etc, and produced in bulk. Anyway, he really LIVED that life. He would go out to Horn Island for days or weeks at a time, or work on his private murals that no one would ever see in his lifetime etc. etc. From time to time sell too the community. I understand that music is never going to be AS private a pursuit, but I like the philosophical clarity that this way of thinking brings.

    The pursuit of personal passion of course is going to bleed over into the "other". Goes without saying probably. But I just feel like so many of these conversations get into EITHER/OR. There's a degree to which you HAVE to play to the people in front of you, without condescending or judging their tastes, I mean, if they're NOT artists. There's always that balance. I feel like some are only playing for other musicians. Meanwhile, others "sell out" at every level. At least that's the way they talk about it.

    Personally, I triy to let my passion drive the day job part as much as possible too. I mean, if the guy LEADING the group or PERFORMING isn't excited about what they're doing at SOME level, none of it works. I've been fortunate to be able to make a living and pursue the parts that are "just for me" . I'm always seeking the intersection of the two as much as possible.

  20. #19

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    Well I would sell out, but no-one's buying.

  21. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    Well I would sell out, but no-one's buying.
    It's hard to sell something new and original when the market is mostly interested in the same old recycled BS. The Post Modern Jukebox global success speaks for itself, for example.

    It seems to me it wasnt always like that, there were times when people were seeking for new and fresh as a way to consume art and music. 50' and 60's?

    Still, we own it to ourselves to keep trying

  22. #21

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    If I think about it, an extensive repertoir of standards learned well, with all intros and endings worked out is sure way to make a decent living as a pro.

    When I see guys like Vinnie Raniolo, that's top paying gigs in town, AND touring. To me it doesn't get any better, but also realization that I'm bound to get just bread crumbs from the table if I'm to compete at this level. Which still might be ok.

  23. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hep To The Jive View Post
    It's hard to sell something new and original when the market is mostly interested in the same old recycled BS. The Post Modern Jukebox global success speaks for itself, for example.

    It seems to me it wasnt always like that, there were times when people were seeking for new and fresh as a way to consume art and music. 50' and 60's?

    Still, we own it to ourselves to keep trying
    PMJ is of course based on a (probably bad) idea that's hard to do well, done fantastically well IMO. They deserve their success in my book.... But I see your point... We've gone from the Beatles to ..... this?

    Unfortunately for the rest of us, its now an expectation and a MASSIVE troll because it remains a concept that is hard (or at least, work intensive) to do well.

    If someone else MD's the gig and does it well with good charts, I'm all for it... IF.

  24. #23

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    To address the second point, these cycles of nostalgia now are self consuming.

    One odd thing about the more recent wave of the '80s revival (which seems to have been underway now for at least 15 years) is that many of the creatives involved in this stuff are not old enough to remember it first time around. The guys who made Stranger Things are too young to remember '80s pop culture first hand.

    It's not like Stephen King, Zemeckis, Spielberg etc looking back to their childhoods in the '50s during the '80s, for instance.

    I think this is what has changed. Probably Adorno saw it all coming decades ago, when he wasn't attacking jazz for being commercial trash.

  25. #24

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    I honestly think the jazz tradition here, which isn't talked about a ton, is that you know the book of the people you want to work with. A really great jazz bassist who's now a great singer songwriter, Alan Hampton, talked about making a list of people he wanted to play with, learning their book, apparently this is how (among other things) Alan got the gig playing with Andrew Bird. I remember reading a similar interview with Pat Metheny where he tells new members to basically learn the first 3-4 PMG albums because it all comes out of that. I am guessing that when Pat says that, he isn't also handing you the music.

    I was somewhat frustrated recently because I have spent (and continue to spend) a bunch of time learning songs I love, standards, in a lot of keys and memorizing things, and there doesn't seem to be much call to do that kind of thing anymore. and then lo and behold, last week I went to a friends' gig, was asked to sit in, and didn't embarrass myself playing a cole porter tune in the singer's preferred key.

    that said, I feel like every single time I go to a jam session, some tune gets called I barely remember or am rusty on.

  26. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by pcsanwald View Post
    I honestly think the jazz tradition here, which isn't talked about a ton, is that you know the book of the people you want to work with. A really great jazz bassist who's now a great singer songwriter, Alan Hampton, talked about making a list of people he wanted to play with, learning their book, apparently this is how (among other things) Alan got the gig playing with Andrew Bird. I remember reading a similar interview with Pat Metheny where he tells new members to basically learn the first 3-4 PMG albums because it all comes out of that. I am guessing that when Pat says that, he isn't also handing you the music.

    I was somewhat frustrated recently because I have spent (and continue to spend) a bunch of time learning songs I love, standards, in a lot of keys and memorizing things, and there doesn't seem to be much call to do that kind of thing anymore. and then lo and behold, last week I went to a friends' gig, was asked to sit in, and didn't embarrass myself playing a cole porter tune in the singer's preferred key.

    that said, I feel like every single time I go to a jam session, some tune gets called I barely remember or am rusty on.
    Yes that's it. That's the NYC mindset too, I think, the hard hustle! Which artists do you want to play with? Learn their albums. Go up to them after a gig and say, 'I love your music, I've learned all your tunes, here's my name and number if you are ever stuck for a guitarist.'

    I don't really know any London musicians who have this approach... Well maybe a couple....

  27. #26

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    Quote Originally Posted by grahambop View Post
    Some tunes I've learned are:
    Lost (Wayne Shorter) ...
    Just watched some more of the Mike Moreno thing where he says this was one of the Wayne Shorter tunes he learned too!

  28. #27

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    I've read a couple of interviews of John 5 in GP. He always seems to have something worthwhile to say.

    In one of them he talked about how to audition for a gig with a working group.

    1. Learn the tunes from recent concert recordings. Not the album version, but they way they currently play the tunes.

    2. Show up dressed like they dress.

    The idea is to have them feel like you're already a member of the band.

    I know at least one singer/pianist/composer who does only her own stuff, although I've heard her sit in on percussion (and play it great). Artist. My son, who wrote and recorded an album, is like that. He hears music in his mind and does whatever he needs to do to play it and no more than that. No interest in learning a new guitar technique - that doesn't cross his mind. But, if he hears an idea in his mind, he will spend hours working on how to play it on guitar or piano. No interest in being a pro musician, but, to me, the approach of an artist.

    I know another singer/guitarist/composer who does mostly his own stuff but can play literally anything. The entire package. Artist and Craftsman.

    I know other players who are terrific jazz sidemen, but who don't do original material much (everybody seems to have at least a few originals). Arguably, more craftsman than artist, but maybe that's not fair. There's a lot of artistry in playing a great rendition of even the simplest standard.

    I went a jam on Sunday at a local trendy restaurant (judging from the size, prices and crowd). Hosted by a terrific sax player (who I believe has a Grammy) named Tony Peebles. The venue has a B3 there and there is usually a guy kicking bass on it,rather than a bassist. Solid drummers. The whole thing is really energetic and the musicians who show up to sit in include some very capable players. Mostly standards, brisk tempos, high energy players. Everything right in the pocket. It seems to hold a young audience because the music kicks ass. To me, being able to do that is worth all the work it takes to prepare for it. That's love for a situation more than for a tune.

    Side issue: Tony was very kind and very professional in the way he handled the jam. He explained the protocol ("talk to me, and I'll call you up"). Two tunes per guest (there were several guitarists waiting). He asked me to pick the ones I wanted to play. Made everything clear on the bandstand. No surprises. Raw fun. Another guitarist offered to let me use his amp and even plugged it in for me. Couldn't have been nicer.

  29. #28

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    PMJ is of course based on a (probably bad) idea that's hard to do well, done fantastically well IMO. They deserve their success in my book.... But I see your point... We've gone from the Beatles to ..... this?

    Unfortunately for the rest of us, its now an expectation and a MASSIVE troll because it remains a concept that is hard (or at least, work intensive) to do well.

    If someone else MD's the gig and does it well with good charts, I'm all for it... IF.
    PMJ started is a goof. It is a goof, and they themselves wouldn't argue with that. A bunch of jazz guys and a singer got together and made a first video to amuse themselves. It got viral, who knew!

    What gets me, ok, it is funny and cute, obviously talented musicians took a well known pop tune and turned it into old jazz. Great, ha-ha, I had a good laugh, well done, now moving on. But how in the world people take it so seriously so they buy tickets many times to see the whole show live, of what is basically a goofy cover band?

    I'm telling you, the guys in the band were as surprised as I'm. But it is what it is, it's million dollar making machine, and it keeps on going.

    Unfortunately the co-leader of the band I have, a sax player who was with them from the beginning, he has to go on tours with them to make a good buck. Not as often as before, but it still f..ks up my gigs too. We write an original music, and I depend on him to a point.

    And you'd think since he has many fans from the PMJ fame we would have at least some of them turn up at our gigs... Not at all, no one gives a s..t unless it's another stylized cover of a famous hit everyone knows.

    So that's my beef, it's damn personal!

  30. #29

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar View Post
    I've read a couple of interviews of John 5 in GP. He always seems to have something worthwhile to say.

    In one of them he talked about how to audition for a gig with a working group.

    1. Learn the tunes from recent concert recordings. Not the album version, but they way they currently play the tunes.

    2. Show up dressed like they dress.

    The idea is to have them feel like you're already a member of the band.

    I know at least one singer/pianist/composer who does only her own stuff, although I've heard her sit in on percussion (and play it great). Artist. My son, who wrote and recorded an album, is like that. He hears music in his mind and does whatever he needs to do to play it and no more than that. No interest in learning a new guitar technique - that doesn't cross his mind. But, if he hears an idea in his mind, he will spend hours working on how to play it on guitar or piano. No interest in being a pro musician, but, to me, the approach of an artist.

    I know another singer/guitarist/composer who does mostly his own stuff but can play literally anything. The entire package. Artist and Craftsman.

    I know other players who are terrific jazz sidemen, but who don't do original material much (everybody seems to have at least a few originals). Arguably, more craftsman than artist, but maybe that's not fair. There's a lot of artistry in playing a great rendition of even the simplest standard.

    I went a jam on Sunday at a local trendy restaurant (judging from the size, prices and crowd). Hosted by a terrific sax player (who I believe has a Grammy) named Tony Peebles. The venue has a B3 there and there is usually a guy kicking bass on it,rather than a bassist. Solid drummers. The whole thing is really energetic and the musicians who show up to sit in include some very capable players. Mostly standards, brisk tempos, high energy players. Everything right in the pocket. It seems to hold a young audience because the music kicks ass. To me, being able to do that is worth all the work it takes to prepare for it. That's love for a situation more than for a tune.

    Side issue: Tony was very kind and very professional in the way he handled the jam. He explained the protocol ("talk to me, and I'll call you up"). Two tunes per guest (there were several guitarists waiting). He asked me to pick the ones I wanted to play. Made everything clear on the bandstand. No surprises. Raw fun. Another guitarist offered to let me use his amp and even plugged it in for me. Couldn't have been nicer.
    John 5 is a very smart guy, and a terrific player! I'd highly recommend anyone who didn't hear him play to check him out. Jazz guitarists can learn from him too, especially all things rhythm and groove.

  31. #30

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    Thanks for the Moreno link, Christian. I like that he doesn't pull any doesn't pull any punches. It's a strange state of affairs where so much is freely available online yet it's simply overwhelming to neophytes. A kind of level playing field where everything is accorded equal relevance. The more insightful of my own students are well aware of the situation and are looking for ways out.

    Your post touches on wider issues of how to choose a practical path through the maze and the example Matt gave seems pretty apposite. Film directors and actors often use the phrase, "One for them, one for me" as a way of addressing issues of financial and artistic survival. The trick for most is to find where the two can be successfully intertwined. There's a nice Charlie Christian story where he was playing on a street one day with a young Barney Kessel. A sax player passed by, took out his horn and started jamming. Charlie put his guitar away in its case soon after, offering some excuse about being late for an appointment. The sax player moved on and once he was around the corner, Charlie took his instrument out again. "Don't you have to leave?" asked Barney. Charlie's reply? "I only play music for three reasons - to make money, learn something or have fun - and that was none of those".

  32. #31

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    Regarding your comments about learning the songbook, for what it's worth I adopted a two-pronged approach some years ago that really helped. Rather than tackle tunes via some arbitrary method such as an alphabetical list, I firstly decided to concentrate on a single composer for a period. Whether that be Porter or Shorter, I gained lots of melodic, harmonic and rhythmic insights. Secondly, I decided to search for common defining features; for instance, tunes that move immediately to the II dominant such as A Train, Watch What Happens, Desafinado etc. and learnt those as a group. Eventually, you'll get around to knowing a few hundred standards including all the core repertoire but in a much less passive and more musically meaningful way. I also made a vow not to use lead sheets/iPhones on any standards gigs (I've played three in the last week). That was initially scary and can feel like one step forward two steps back for a while but it's an invaluable experience. Sure, you'll occasionally miss some thorny chords in a bridge but you'll know what needs addressing in the next day's practice session!

  33. #32

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    Quote Originally Posted by PMB View Post
    Regarding your comments about learning the songbook, for what it's worth I adopted a two-pronged approach some years ago that really helped. Rather than tackle tunes via some arbitrary method such as an alphabetical list, I firstly decided to concentrate on a single composer for a period. Whether that be Porter or Shorter, I gained lots of melodic, harmonic and rhythmic insights. Secondly, I decided to search for common defining features; for instance, tunes that move immediately to the II dominant such as A Train, Watch What Happens, Desafinado etc. and learnt those as a group. Eventually, you'll get around to knowing a few hundred standards including all the core repertoire but in a much less passive and more musically meaningful way. I also made a vow not to use lead sheets/iPhones on any standards gigs (I've played three in the last week). That was initially scary and can feel like one step forward two steps back for a while but it's an invaluable experience. Sure, you'll occasionally miss some thorny chords in a bridge but you'll know what needs addressing in the next day's practice session!
    Interesting... Do you ever play any duo gigs, like with a singer? Would you still keep to that rule, and how do you recover if you do? I mean if there's a standard you're not particularly sure about.

  34. #33

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    Two of those gigs last week were duos with different singers. If I don't really know it, we'll choose something else and I'll maybe learn it later that evening while it's fresh in my mind as I work with both women fairly regularly. On Sunday's gig, the singer presented chord charts for two originals so obviously I followed those (nice tunes incidentally) but even there, I prefer to scan the page and shut the book whenever possible. On the other gig (bari sax/flute, guitar, bass) there was one tune where I sat out and the sax and bass played it as a duo. No set so anything could be called by any one of us.

  35. #34

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    Quote Originally Posted by PMB View Post
    Two of those gigs last week were duos with different singers. If I don't really know it, we'll choose something else and I'll maybe learn it later that evening while it's fresh in my mind as I work with both women fairly regularly. On Sunday's gig, the singer presented chord charts for two originals so obviously I followed those (nice tunes incidentally) but even there, I prefer to scan the page and shut the book whenever possible. On the other gig (bari sax/flute, guitar, bass) there was one tune where I sat out and the sax and bass played it as a duo. No set so anything could be called by any one of us.
    Nice!

    I don't shy away from the ireal pro personally, because I don't feel my performance would suffer if I read a standard, and in a lot of cases i only need it for a chorus or two anyway, and then I'm good. But on the jams where I know someone can back me up I go with just ears, no charts.

    Btw, anyone ever uses set lists? Like if you play with the same folks regularly, do you ever come up with one before a gig? In my regular trio we started doing it, it helps with the flow of the show. And you really don't need charts then! But I don't see it with others much?

  36. #35

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    Maybe another post about set lists, Hep? It's a good topic but I don't want to derail the thread.

    As far as charts are concerned, I don't like them on the bandstand unless it's an originals reading gig. It looks crap, shoehorns people into one set of changes and puts a barrier between musicians. By the way, I have a very strong visual memory and see standard musical notation and chord charts in concert key. One of the reasons I chose to play with female singers was to force me to transpose on the spot and really internalise changes for tunes. Of course, it can also be great fun and does wonders for your guitar playing! I see it as one aspect of what Moreno's talking about - putting yourself in initially uncomfortable or at least challenging situations to get closer to where you want to be.

  37. #36

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hep To The Jive View Post
    PMJ started is a goof. It is a goof, and they themselves wouldn't argue with that. A bunch of jazz guys and a singer got together and made a first video to amuse themselves. It got viral, who knew!

    What gets me, ok, it is funny and cute, obviously talented musicians took a well known pop tune and turned it into old jazz. Great, ha-ha, I had a good laugh, well done, now moving on. But how in the world people take it so seriously so they buy tickets many times to see the whole show live, of what is basically a goofy cover band?

    I'm telling you, the guys in the band were as surprised as I'm. But it is what it is, it's million dollar making machine, and it keeps on going.

    Unfortunately the co-leader of the band I have, a sax player who was with them from the beginning, he has to go on tours with them to make a good buck. Not as often as before, but it still f..ks up my gigs too. We write an original music, and I depend on him to a point.

    And you'd think since he has many fans from the PMJ fame we would have at least some of them turn up at our gigs... Not at all, no one gives a s..t unless it's another stylized cover of a famous hit everyone knows.

    So that's my beef, it's damn personal!
    Well it’s all goofy now isn’t it? It’s a goofy world. It is annoying.

  38. #37

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    Quote Originally Posted by PMB View Post
    Thanks for the Moreno link, Christian. I like that he doesn't pull any doesn't pull any punches. It's a strange state of affairs where so much is freely available online yet it's simply overwhelming to neophytes. A kind of level playing field where everything is accorded equal relevance. The more insightful of my own students are well aware of the situation and are looking for ways out.

    Your post touches on wider issues of how to choose a practical path through the maze and the example Matt gave seems pretty apposite. Film directors and actors often use the phrase, "One for them, one for me" as a way of addressing issues of financial and artistic survival. The trick for most is to find where the two can be successfully intertwined. There's a nice Charlie Christian story where he was playing on a street one day with a young Barney Kessel. A sax player passed by, took out his horn and started jamming. Charlie put his guitar away in its case soon after, offering some excuse about being late for an appointment. The sax player moved on and once he was around the corner, Charlie took his instrument out again. "Don't you have to leave?" asked Barney. Charlie's reply? "I only play music for three reasons - to make money, learn something or have fun - and that was none of those".
    I feel his frustration as a teacher! Young students seem often to do things only when their teacher tells them to. OTOH someone with just an iota of passion about something (doesn’t have to be what I’m into) is easy to teach.

  39. #38

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    I feel his frustration as a teacher! Young students seem often to do things only when their teacher tells them to. OTOH someone with just an iota of passion about something (doesn’t have to be what I’m into) is easy to teach.
    Exactly! I just gave a lesson to a very engaged young student who's all over the map. We moved from playing his boogie piano arrangement of the Beach Boys' "California Girls" together to working on polyrhythms between thumb and fingers on the guitar and talking about Wagner's Tristan chord and how it was a half-diminished outside its usual tonal context... It's great. He just brings stuff from everywhere and we throw it at the wall for an hour.

  40. #39

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    I always hear that chord as a French Sixth (i.e. bVI7#11) with a very long apoggiatura lower neighbour on the 3rd. Kind of bluesy.

    Wagner is another musician I am knocked out by now every time I hear his stuff. It's really high level stuff.

    This puts me in a difficult situation as 1) Wagner was the the worst person, 2) The Nazis and 3) modern Wagner fans tend to be distinguished by their beards, sandals, and lack of personal hygiene.

    Come to think of it I'm already there.

  41. #40

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    I always hear that chord as a French Sixth (i.e. bVI7#11) with a very long apoggiatura lower neighbour on the 3rd. Kind of bluesy.
    Nah, minor 6th with the 6th in the bass

  42. #41

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    Quote Originally Posted by PMB View Post
    Nah, minor 6th with the 6th in the bass
    That's Django's chord!

  43. #42

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    Quote Originally Posted by PMB View Post
    Regarding your comments about learning the songbook, for what it's worth I adopted a two-pronged approach some years ago that really helped. Rather than tackle tunes via some arbitrary method such as an alphabetical list, I firstly decided to concentrate on a single composer for a period.
    I do this, too! it's really helpful. I also don't use any charts for standard tunes on gigs or at jam sessions. For gigs, I just ask what tunes and learn them if I don't know them. For jam sessions, I'm pretty comfortable saying "I don't know that one"; I used to feel bad about this, but no one knows everything.

    The other thing I do is make a list of tunes that were played that I don't know (at a jam session or gig), and I learn them.

  44. #43

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    In fly fishing, there is a lot of gear available. Very similar to guitar. There are guys who can catch fish with anything and guys who seem more interested in the gear than the fish. Why not? If stamp collecting is a hobby, why not collecting fly rods? Why do you have to fish to make it valid? Everybody has an individual relationship with music. So, if somebody enjoys doing what the teacher says and doesn't have an internal passion-compass, who's to say there's anything wrong with that?

    Unless, of course, your goal is to make it in the NYC jazz scene.

    I can't tell the story here because of privacy concerns, but I have been in the room when a sufficiently accomplished "new kid" was heard for the first time by some old lions in NYC. The new player (not actually that young -- he had an impressive record of accomplishment of which some of the lions were not aware) was welcomed with open arms. Got a recording gig and a playing gig that night, from just being heard play one tune. Has played more with the lions since.

    To do that - to be that guy, which is the dream of a lot of people - means you are better than great.

    In what way? The lions only heard the "new kid" play a common, simple, standard. Now, he is a composer whose stuff has been covered by some very good players, but that's not what got him in this particular door. In fact, he is a brilliantly accomplished player in several ways having nothing to do with jazz standards.

    My thought is that it's all valid, but most paths don't lead to that door in NYC.

  45. #44

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    Yes, fishing lures are for the fisherman, not the fish!

  46. #45

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    Best paying gig I had last year was a 1962 high school class reunion. I learned all those songs when they came out originally and have played them thousands of times since. To me, it was a paying gig; to the audience it brought back memories, so that means I did the job I was hired for. I'm just not an emotional person - I'm not passionate about music - it's just something I do to make $$$. Guitar comes out of the case when someone waves money at me, otherwise I have other things I'd rather do.

  47. #46

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    A jazz gig should be a show, with set lists and at least a few arrangements, including original tunes. The unfortunate tendency to play whatever you like at the moment, without arrangements or leadership, is a pretty good way to have a lot of nights off. The main item most audiences respond positively to is passion, whether you have great chops or take a minimalist approach. For me, it is being an "artist of the guitar", no matter what music you choose to play. I rarely play for money, although I never play for free. I play for those moments of being an artist of the guitar and of having audiences enjoy the passion. Money fuels my lifestyle, modest as it is; passion fuels my music.

  48. #47

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar View Post

    To do that - to be that guy, which is the dream of a lot of people - means you are better than great.

    In what way? The lions only heard the "new kid" play a common, simple, standard. Now, he is a composer whose stuff has been covered by some very good players, but that's not what got him in this particular door. In fact, he is a brilliantly accomplished player in several ways having nothing to do with jazz standards.

    My thought is that it's all valid, but most paths don't lead to that door in NYC.
    yeah, I mean you could say the same thing about Mike Moreno. I was at the new school at the same time as Mike, and he was an unbelievable player even then, and by all accounts was playing great in high school. Everyone knew he was a bad MFer pretty much immediately. I think there are probably a lot of things you could look at in retrospect and say, wow, the scene in that high school in houston was a really great incubator for jazz musicians, What Were They Like In High School? Today's Jazz Stars As Teens : A Blog Supreme : NPR, but obviously the kind of musicianship Mike has is a combination of talent and environment and all that.

  49. #48

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar View Post
    In fly fishing, there is a lot of gear available. Very similar to guitar. There are guys who can catch fish with anything and guys who seem more interested in the gear than the fish. Why not? If stamp collecting is a hobby, why not collecting fly rods? Why do you have to fish to make it valid? Everybody has an individual relationship with music. So, if somebody enjoys doing what the teacher says and doesn't have an internal passion-compass, who's to say there's anything wrong with that?

    Unless, of course, your goal is to make it in the NYC jazz scene.

    I can't tell the story here because of privacy concerns, but I have been in the room when a sufficiently accomplished "new kid" was heard for the first time by some old lions in NYC. The new player (not actually that young -- he had an impressive record of accomplishment of which some of the lions were not aware) was welcomed with open arms. Got a recording gig and a playing gig that night, from just being heard play one tune. Has played more with the lions since.

    To do that - to be that guy, which is the dream of a lot of people - means you are better than great.

    In what way? The lions only heard the "new kid" play a common, simple, standard. Now, he is a composer whose stuff has been covered by some very good players, but that's not what got him in this particular door. In fact, he is a brilliantly accomplished player in several ways having nothing to do with jazz standards.

    My thought is that it's all valid, but most paths don't lead to that door in NYC.
    Yeah, I can well believe it 100%. But whatever level you are at, doors open up as you get better. And for your player, the passion is already in place. This is not a person who will have done things by halves.

    And its not linear - it all shows up in the common standards because that is always the lingua franca, of course. And yes, of course you can tell how someone plays from one tune. But if you are on a bandstand and call a beautiful but less common tune with the guys who know the repertoire, they are going to go for that too.

    I'm pretty certain my road will not lead NYC high echelon jazz world - that ship has sailed in my life even if I ever had the early talent (which I definitely did not, I was not a good jazz player even when I was 18 lol) - but I can aim to be a better player within the situation I find myself; it's got me this far. And I think this is a drive that comes from within rather than thinking about what other players have achieved or some external goal.

    It's about YOUR relationship with music, whatever that is. And that's kind of beautiful.

  50. #49

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    -What are your thoughts regarding your relationships with tunes and repertoire?

    Heart and brain, we need both.

    Most titles (from any point in time) found their way into my repertoire because the composition moved me in some direction; energizing, romantic, soothing, exciting etc.

    But then there are tunes that are just fun to play. Honestly more fun to play than to listen to. And let me be the first here to say that, from the perspective of the audience, this is a well known problem for a certain category of musicians, some Jazz musicians included. However, and this must be emphasized, the audience is never homogeneous in this regard. Some would be content just by the fact that the band members appear to have a good time (not kidding). The show is what differentiate live music from recorded music and there's more than one way to set hearts on fire. I personally don't intend to set people's brains on fire, but some artists don't mind.

    A house god of mine said; "never practice things you don't like".

    At first glance it looks trivial, but after a second thought one realizes that this is applicable only to hobbyists and divas. Most performing musicians including session players have to be more pragmatic. The professional approach is to execute the part so that the listener believes the player is passionate. -How many times can you practice a piece before you get tired of it? Then could you play it like you're still in love?

    Maybe the important message is that we shouldn't force ourselves to practice music we are not ready to appreciate. And we should step away from playing stuff we find trivial and boring in order to evolve.

    These days I'm more interested in the actual compositions. I don't listen specifically to "guitar oriented music", whatever that may be. Bass and drums are cool, but are not mandatory, the human voice is just another instrument that can be substituted and so on.

    Like most guitar-players I like harmony and if the changes are boring it's most likely not in my repertoire (unless there is a cool lick, a groovy beat or some other hook).

    Being an electric guitar player growing up in the 70s, I've travelled a long way to free myself from the bonds of Rock (not to mention "R&B"). Chuck Berry, Bill Haley & the Comets, Elvis etc topped the charts before I was born but they completely changed popular music. Since those days Jazz has slowly but surely declined into a niche for the intellectuals. But fortunately the music from past golden eras is not lost. Seek and you shall find a fortune of beautiful music composed by skilled composers as a contrast to 70s "riff-meisters", 21st century beat-looping "DJ"s, rapping Hip-hoppers and strumming singer/song-writers.

    (By the way Bill Haley always said; "we're doing it only for the teenage kids". Problem was that when those kids grew older, they were still listening to the same beat-music. Just like some guys in their 60s are still listening to Kiss, maybe because they were always more interested in the show or maybe because people get programmed for life with whatever they get exposed to as teenagers.)

    ...Why am I writing this novel, the thread is old and you're all teachers, but the topic is sort of interesting...
    Edit: Also chech this out The TRUTH Why Modern Music Is Awful
    Last edited by JCat; 02-20-2019 at 01:11 PM.

  51. #50

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    I don’t think you should aim to be a pragmatic versatile session player unless that’s what you enjoy