Inside a jazz workshop - week 10
I approached Monday's Gig Night with a finely tuned balance of self inflicted concern and anxiety. An attempt to temper it with a wee bit of preparation found me at 5.30, with the iReal Book blasting out of the stereo, roaring through all the tunes from the course and working out which ones I might be able to fumble through without calamity. Having settled on two of our earliest tunes Blue Bossa and Au Privave I did some work starting on the general scales then trying to focus on the chord changes. Of course I hadn't left myself enough time so threw on some sparkles in the hope that at least I'd look the part even if I didn't sound it. I packed my sax, my music and my nerves and headed off to the Hideaway.
Even by class standards we kicked off late and started by divvying up the tunes into small groups. One keys, one guitar, one electric bass and a selection of front line made up the class constituent with the tireless Max and Eric supporting us all on string bass and drums throughout. Working on the principle 'know your limitations', I sat firmly on my hands to stop myself getting pressed into other tunes but when Blue Bossa was up for grabs my hand was the fastest in the air. It was fun to watch the small bands playing and see other class mates doing their thing. The standard was pretty consistent but reminded me that the classes had focused largely on how to solo and not how to function in a band. It became more and more obvious that everyone on stage needed to be much more aware of one another for the tunes to flow and the solos to run easily one to the other.
Surprised by how small my Bossa group was, having expected it to be a popular choice, I was a bit unnerved to be the only front line at the rehearsal. It was good to be sharing the stage with my regular classmate and i'm sure knowing each other quite well helped us keep it all together. I was grateful for my earlier practice and felt like I'd almost held my own through the tune.
The gig kicked off and we rattled through the music from the course. Everyone that wanted to took solos in at least a couple of numbers, no one fell over or ground to a halt. It was nice to hear horn players tucking in some discrete comping through the solos and great that the sole vocalist got a proper number. I very relieved to be joined by another front liner in BB although she might have had the good manners to not be quite so brilliant in her solos! The final number of the gig was a variation on a theme of 'how many people can you get into a mini' with a 'how many horns can you get on a stage' blast through Au Privave it was a jolly end to the session finishing with us all trading 4s with the drummer.
The regular jam session followed and given that the class performance had over run perhaps it was to be expected that the jam should be dominated by other people although it was a shame to hear workshoppers not wanting to take part and join those on the stage because they didn't feel that they were good enough. Hopefully in weeks to come we'll all feel like we can take to the stage at some point during the jam.
My dad had come down to hear us playing and he wondered aloud if I thought I'd improved over the ten weeks. I decided that I did have more of an understanding of some of the theory behind what we'd been learning but that I wasn't sure I was any better at implementing it but he disagreed and looking quite relieved he said he thought I'd got better and more confident at playing. Then he asked about the next series of sessions and declared that he'd be joining us from next week so Duncan and his team must be doing something right!
If you've been wondering about coming down but didn't want to come mid course this is your chance. New sessions kick off from 7ish next Monday 28th March all the details are on the workshop pages of the site, hope to see you there.