We are doing a little bit of everything this month. We’re still playing regularly every Thursday and Friday at the West End Wine Bar of Chapel Hill (check out the Spreaker recording above!)
Our Station gigs in Carrboro have changed into quartet shows as we have added John Palowitch on alto sax whenever he can find time amid his PhD research.
If you play jazz but have been sitting on the fence about whether you want to play live, please come out and sit in at one of DotCombo’s two weekly open jams. The Blue Note Grill is a classic funky barbecue place, and Indoor Greens is a golf place with, (drum roll…) indoor greens. They also have a P.A. system, and a backline of a Fender Vibrolux, a Princeton, and an Ampeg Fliptop. Guitarists and bassists take note!
I was talking to my saxophonist friend John Palowitch the other day. We were talking about jazz practicing, and how to apply the things that we practice.
When we practice arpeggios or bebop licks, our goal is not to ‘plug in’ these figures wholesale into our playing. The ultimate goal is to internalize these elements of jazz and use them as we create and express ideas on our instrument.
Similarly, when we say the word ‘Dishwasher’, we don’t think to ourselves ‘Now I’m going to use the word Dishwasher’, but rather we automatically use it to express our thought.
Brad Maiani on guitar and Tyler Leak on drums.
Brad Maiani on guitar and Jeff Crouse on drums…
I forced Brad to wear a necktie for these.
Recently, a excellent drummer friend of mine got some advice from a jazz master who lives in the Triangle Area. To roughly paraphrase the advice: “Tony Williams used to practice in front of the television in order to be able to stay focused while distracted.”
Immediately I was alarmed, because what the jazz world DOES NOT need is another drummer playing their “Tony Williams S**t” while ignoring everything else happening on the bandstand!
With all due respect to the jazz master who offered the advice, my personal feeling is that it is terrible. Jazz musicians should listen to and integrate everything with total clarity. Yes, perhaps there may be unwanted distractions, but they can be accepted and discarded on a case-by-case basis (e.g., ball games on TV at the gig.)
It’s perfectly fine to say “That was a tough gig, because people were being loud and watching the basketball game.” or “It was a drag because the audience wasn’t listening”, because to me those types of comments indicate musicians who listen and who care deeply about what they are doing.
In my opinion, a musician who patently ignores what is going on around him is doing so at the peril of the music.
To investigate further, I did a google search on “Tony Williams practice television” and came across this article. Here’s an excerpt:
“Tony Williams practiced every day and did almost nothing besides that. He’d get up in the morning and move to the drums in his pajamas. He’d play on a practice pad while watching television..”
I think this article gives us a different interpretation. Rather than using TV as a practice tool, Tony Williams was simply combining his daily routine with practicing. He was probably watching the morning news while warming up on the practice pad rather than training himself to ignore his environment.
We had a great jam session last night! Joe MacPhail, one of my favorite keyboard players, dropped by and sat in on the organ (with Tyler Leak on drums):
When I was in high school, I picked up the electric bass because bands needed a bass player. Over the 25 years that I have been playing bass, it doesn’t seem to me like I had clear musical goals for myself. I didn’t have any burning desire to become an acclaimed soloist or bandleader. I was happy enough whenever I could be a part of a decent band, and earn enough money to pay the bills. I had fun playing with friends, but I wasn’t driven to practice in a particularly disciplined way. I would be just as happy faking it and getting by (although I did feel recognize the importance of developing great time.) I don’t think I was ever in love with playing the bass, although it was satisfying to be a part of a band which sounded good.
Playing the organ is different for me. I’m much more inspired by the organ in general than the bass, and I have goals that I work hard to accomplish. Among those goals is to have my own jazz organ trio, which would play great grooves in different styles. I wanted to find regular gigs for my trio and always continue to expand our repertoire.
It feels great to be accomplishing these goals and to be making steady musical progress. I’m lucky to have found my passion, and I try not to take that for granted- even though I didn’t discover it until age 36.
Triangle area sax man Aaron Hill blows me away with his tone and musical ideas!
Todd Proctor, ladies and gentlemen: