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Postby CongaTick » Tue Mar 04, 2008 4:09 pm

Sat in Thurs night --as I often do- with a trio of exceptional straight jazz musicans. First few times I did so I was a a bit intimidated, but managed to settle in with nice swing patterns and fills that were appreciated, often getting “good job” compliments from these guys and the other musicians who sit in. My solos however, (in this straight jazz set) were not as strong as they should be. I was/am a bit nervous about them and find myself playing out the timing with timid emphasis on some of the beats. And yes, on occasion I would “lose it” but get it back with the drummer’s help.

On Thurs, the drummer – the leader of the group-- came up to me during the break after one of my solos and in a friendly way said, essentially: 1.Jazz is all about the tune/ melody. I had to understand the melody. 2. He would keep time during my solo, and I should just play, improv and have fun. 3. During his solo, I would keep time. 4. I needed to exercise "those muscles" (meaning my solo chops, I think he meant) 5.This was not a problem during the weekly jams, but in a gig situation it would be.

He didn’t offer these comments in a way meant to be a put-down, but as helpful advice—which is how I took it and thanked him for it. Since then I’ve tried working on some solo patterns that would fit into a straight jazz set in the interim, but still have to admit a lack of solo confidence, but no lack of confidence in backing the rest of the music.

Here’s the question: Given this scenario would you show up to sit in on Thurs night, or not?
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Postby zumbi » Tue Mar 04, 2008 4:16 pm

i would sit in: no better way than build your confidence than by testing it on the line of fire, so to speak.
assuming you're not "disturbing" and i think you aren't or, otherwise, they would have make it known to you as musicians know how to.
peace & blessings
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Postby Garvin » Tue Mar 04, 2008 4:32 pm

Yeah totally. I completely understand this situation as well. I think the important thing is not to let his advice psych you out. I've always really enjoyed accompanying jazz groups, but I really never felt like soloing was entirely necessary in that context. The few times I did solo I always asked the drummer to play cascara and bombo for me, or at least something as a counterpoint. I'm not a shredding conguero. I've got a few licks but can still feel kind of naked in the context of a 32 bar progression.

Anyway, in your situation it sounds like the folks are digging it and you are too. I think you should really take the reigns and let them know when you feel like its the right time to solo. Maybe think about waving one off if you feel like you've said all you can say. I bet they'd probably appreciate the input. Above all, I think its important to remain confident overall about the fact that you are playing something that is a little outside your comfort zone. You are making yourself a better player by virtue of that fact alone. Good Luck!




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Postby Gallichio » Tue Mar 04, 2008 4:40 pm

Yes, I think you should show up and sit in. The more you sit in the better you will get. Try to find out what music you will be playing. Listen and play along with it. Relax, Practice. Play along with a metronome to help develop your timing. Play and listen to as much Jazz as you can and try to develop a nice swing feel. Don't overplay. Talk openly with the leader and ask him for suggestions on what you could do to make the music sound better. This could be the best learning experience you will ever have. Not every Jazz tune will have congas. Don't play congas in every tune. Some times just sit out. Bring some small hand percussion to color the sound. Have fun! Enjoy it! I hope this helps you.
All the Best!
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Postby CongaTick » Tue Mar 04, 2008 4:43 pm

My instincts kinda fell in with your advice Garvin/Zumbi. I've come to rely on all you guys for good advice, great lessons and how to present oneself as a conguero with humility, honor, fun and a dedication to one's craft. I find straight jazz very, very challenging and seek to master my place within that setting, so thanks big time.

Anybody else?
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Postby OLSONGO » Tue Mar 04, 2008 6:48 pm

Congatick, my recommendation is that you practice and learn the songs at home throughly , that will give you the confidence at the sit in or gig; that way when you solo, you can do what ever you want, get creative...go really out if you want throw in a 6/8 and if you know the song ; you know the feel to come back in. That will blow their minds.
Also if you can record the set and listen to later at home, that will give you a clear idea of how you are doing.

Paz
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Postby Garvin » Tue Mar 04, 2008 6:59 pm

I think the hard part about "learning" the tunes is that on a jazz gig usually there isn't a setlist persay. More likely they are just randomly calling tunes and counting off and launching into it. Playing along with some standard tunes would help you solidify your feel though. No harm in that.

Recording is always a good idea as well, but I've personally always been bad at listening back to what I recorded.
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Postby OLSONGO » Tue Mar 04, 2008 7:21 pm

If they are calling tunes at random, better yet to record...and ask the guys for the name of the tunes, there is a Jazz fake book that has most of those tunes or buy the CD to hear the original. And Garvin not listening what you record as you said, is a personal thing of yours.

Paz
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Postby CongaTick » Tue Mar 04, 2008 7:32 pm

Yeah, you're right Garvin. That's pretty much the way it is during the set. One guy'll call out a tune, count it off and and they're into it. I've got a bundle of straighjt jazz tracks at home I've been working with and I think I can get a handle on it. Oslongo, it would be great if there was a set to learn, but these guys know about 500 songs and featured guests add to it. Here's a few of the guys I play with

trumpet:
http://profile.myspace.com/index.c....3891757

Keys
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HiGlKEnCQmc

http://www.emusic.com/album....10.html

Drums:
http://www.cduniverse.com/sresult....6216824

guitar
http://www.brianbetzjazz.com/

bass (Paul Klinefelter)
http://cdbaby.com/cd/mikefalcone
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Postby OLSONGO » Wed Mar 05, 2008 12:45 am

Congatick, You sometimes have to weight the balance and see where you stand. I remember when I wanted to play with the Jazzers, 'cause I love the music. So I would listen to Jazz til very late at night , day after day. Also I would practice and observe other players... and little by little I became part of the scene. I have played with some heavy cats in my time, mentioned on another topic. Remember sometimes is not what you play , but what you don't play.

Paz

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Postby Coco » Wed Mar 05, 2008 1:11 am

Learn the melodies. If you can consistently play stuff that works with and off the melody and can keep the form (even in your solos) and there is still a problem then it's the band that is wrong, not you.

Keeping the form is the most important thing.

I know some jazz trap kit players who take this approach and they are always welcomed back even though they are not technically amazing.




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"Relax...you'll get there quicker."
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Postby Garvin » Wed Mar 05, 2008 2:45 am

Wow! Congatick those are some incredible players. I'd say if you are already sharing the stage with them, then you've got something good going already. Really great talent there. Just hang in there and find your spot. They are obviously mature enough players to tell you what they want, so just listen with an open mind and don't be averse to giving your input as well. Try and post a recording with you in the group if you can.

G
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Postby zumbi » Wed Mar 05, 2008 11:20 am

OLSONGO wrote:Remember sometimes is not what you play , but what you don't play.
Paz
Olsongo

crucial piece of advice here!
it echoes what miles davis used to tell his musicians: don't play anything until you feel you HAVE to play something.
peace & blessings
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Postby windhorse » Wed Mar 05, 2008 2:01 pm

If it's really slow deep and cool, and then you're time to solo, I'd recommend a nice Yambu or Guaguanco ride with little fill.. It'll sound really sweet and each note will ring out super kind if you've done a lot of practice with it.

But, if it's fast and energetic, another nice ride, when it's solo time, to work from is the Mozambique lead.
And hey,, by all means keep playing with them!
you'll just get better,, and another thing is, there is so much to learn when you aren't the "expert"..
I think it's the best spot to be in..

hth Dave
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Postby CongaTick » Wed Mar 05, 2008 3:32 pm

All you guys are a great source of encouragement. Your advice and counsel is golden. I am always looking for advice and help from better/more experienced musicians. Learning what not to play.... ahhh... that's the real secret, grasshopper. I'll let you know how it goes tomorrow night.
Mil gracias, hermanos.
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