Inside a jazz workshop - week One
As a child with teachers for parents there are two certainties: 1. that you will be embarrassed by your parents. 2. They will not, no never, do your homework for you! So it was with some delight that I opened a pair of emails from my Dad this week which included youtube clips of people playing "Sonnymoon for Two". Instead of feeling slightly shamed that he was properly prepared for the class I was busily wracking up one for the kids and taking full advantage of the short cut he had offered me.
This week's session was the first in a new series and it marked a bit of a change in the style of the classes. Instead of a more intensive whistle stop tour of one tune, Duncan has instead decided to work more slowly and with more detail on particular tunes or forms. This week was the first of four sessions on the Blues. A very pared back version of the chord progressions helped us better understand the fundamentals. The class felt more organised than previously and the soloing suggested that people were getting to grips with what was being taught, which was great. Certainly, the slower pace served me and gave me the chance to not only understand the principles but also start to actually employ them. It was helpful too to round up the session playing in smaller groups to help us become more accustomed to the etiquette of working with others on the stage.
It was great to see lots of new faces joining with plenty of regulars from the last series (I missed some familiar faces in the guitar ranks but understood at least one needed an extended lie down recovering from last weeks discovery of naked ladies dancing round the walls of the gents toilets - and yes, in the spirit of accurate reporting I have checked and yes, they surely are quite naked and no, for all you equal opportunities list checkers, there are no nudie gents in the ladies... but I digress...).
Dad and I come to the session with polar problems. I like notes, written down ones that I just have to play in time, in tune and sound nice with the group, give me a chord chart and I'm all at sea, my mother's daughter. By contrast, Dad is never happier than glancing at a chord chart then making all his own decisions, asked to read someone else's notes and rhythms and playing them the same every time, he's not so keen. Also, this jazz lark isn't really so much his bag stylistically so it turns out we're both making a bit of leap by taking the class, we're just leaping from different ends of the musical spectrum. I mention this because we both learnt something new and helpful from the session which seems to me confirmation that the class is for anyone who wants to understand and get better at improvising and playing in band.
As a first time attender I knew Dad was a bit anxious about how the class would pan out, whether he'd keep up, deliver what was being asked of him in class and when it came to his soloing he did really well. It was great to hear him playing and being part of the class. So in exchange for cheating on my homework it seems the least I can do is shake off any childhood embarrassment and say: 'You did me proud'