I'm posting this little conversation I'm having with a reader who posted anonymously regarding a bad gig experience he had recently. This is a common issue that rhythm section players have with playing for singers.
I'm a bass player. I did a gig last night with a singer that didn't bring her book. She called tunes in different and obscure keys. I didn't do to well.
The drummer told me it's not my fault. He said when you work with a singer for the first time, she needs to bring her book and have a set song list.
I thought it's my fault regardless because my 'ears' weren't big enough to fake through the tunes. Will somebody comment on this. So did I lose this steady gig because of my weak ears or she didn't bring her book?
EbMaj7 GbMaj7 FMAj7 E Maj7 EbMaj7
(G-7 C7 )F-7 Bb7 EbMaj7
Ab-7 Db7 GbMaj7 F-7 Bb7
It's better to think:
IMaj7 bIII Maj7 IIMAj7 bII Maj7 Imaj7
(iii-7 vi7) ii-7 V7 IMaj7
iv-7 bVII7 bIIIMaj7 ii-7 V7
Do you see what I mean? Roman Numeral Analysis is something that classical music students do in theory class. I think it's very helpful for jazz players, maybe even more so, because we actually have to know what's going on harmonically.
While having better ears helps as well, it might be a question of understanding the theoretical analysis behind the standard tunes. This sort of analysis works well with all the tin pan alley stuff. It might be tougher to analyze something like an obscure Wayne Shorter tune this way, but it is possible. I think this way is easier than just straight transposition, although that's a good skill to have as well.
|Anna-Lisa Kirby, getting on singer's cases!|
Anonymous, another trick is to stand BEHIND the piano player and watch his left hand. You'll notice that Oscar Peterson and Ahmad Jamal always set up that way with that idea in mind. It makes it easier to change up the harmony spontaneously. But in this case, you might be able to follow along.
I hope this helps. I remember what a rude awakening it was when I first started dealing with singers. But sometimes a rude awakening will kick your ass to get into the shed and practice. Sometimes the desire to avoid embarrassment can highly motivate.
|How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, Practice, Practice!|