Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The One-Off

Isn't flying fun?

I've had many conversations with older jazz musicians over the years, and inevitably, the topic of conversation turns to the old days and how many gigs there used to be(compared to now). Billy Hart told me that he wouldn't tour for weeks, he would tour for MONTHS. They would go to the West Coast for six months. A club gig would be many weeks in a row. Musicians stayed on the road for as much time as they could stand. Vincent Herring told me that even in the 80's, you could move to New York, decide who you wanted to work with, and stay on the road, OR, you could make a living IN TOWN if you chose that way. Sadly, those days are over, unless you are with a pop or rock group. Now, the days of the one-off are here.  A one-off essentially means one gig, although it implies that you had to travel, and maybe quite a long way, just for one hit. I've been doing one-offs in New York and North America since the 90's. And occasionally, there might be a one-off in Europe.(UGH!)

I suppose you could relate the one-off to a one night stand. The freedom of not being "tied down" to one band has a certain thrill. I've certainly benefited from playing with many different bands, as opposed to just a few. In 2001, I counted that I had played the original music of about 30 different bands, just within that year. And most of the bands had only one gig, or maybe a handful at best! Eventually, however, just as in personal relationships, you might want to develop something more than just the one-off. That takes possibly more than the jazz scene can offer these days. Without more than one gig, how can the musicians really develop the music and be a "band"? Still, we musicians persevere, and try the make the most out of the one gig every once in a while.
Donald Edwards


I wanted to give a round-up of some of the fun one-offs I did in the last few months. One was with drummer Donald Edwards. A promoter in Italy asked Edwards to put together a band for a jazz festival which featured drummers in San Remo, Italy. Edwards called Boris Kozlov on bass and Jaleel Shaw on alto saxophone. The four of us have worked together as sidemen with the Mingus Band. However, it was a pleasure to play Edwards' music instead, which was quite challenging. Also, Edwards' treated the gig as somewhat of a collective, so we could also bring in some charts to play. The performance was musically satisfying enough to warrant the almost 5 days of travel(including layovers and extra days in San Remo). This is what makes the one-off so frustrating;a lot of hours in transit for a small, intense amount of music. It's times like this that I wonder when they are going to invent teleportation!

E.J. Strickland
Speaking of drummers, I've been associated with E.J. Strickland for a few years. He's been in my trio and we've toured and recorded a bunch. However, Strickland has aspirations of his own, and has been working diligently on his composing. Strickland had a one-nighter at the Jazz Gallery in New York in July; the band consisted of Jaleel Shaw again on alto, Strickland's twin brother Marcus on Tenor and bass clarinet, and Dezron Douglas on bass. Considering that we only had one short rehearsal, the performance conveyed an actualized musical vision. Strickland's writing has really developed in the past few years, and he's become a bona fide bandleader as well, leading his sidemen with his compositions and with his interpretive drumming.

The next week, I got the chance to play with my good friend and guitarist Tom Guarna. Guarna has been plugging away in New York as a sideman and bandleader, and he's working on some music for a potential recording(which will hopefully take place this winter). Guarna is a very well rounded
Tom Guarna
musician, and knows everything from classical to rock. He's influenced by fusion, but he has a deep understanding of bebop and more traditional styles. Guarna booked a night at the 55Bar in New York, with Richie Goods on bass and E.J. Strickland on drums. I played Fender Rhodes and a midi keyboard controller powered by my laptop; Guarna was very specific about some of the keyboard sounds for each song. Guarna has a great concept, and if the gig was a preview to the recording, then it's going to be a winner for sure.

Ari Hoenig
I love the challenge of getting to play new music, especially with the kind of virtuosi that populate the New York jazz scene. One such virtuoso is drummer Ari Hoenig. He's been on the scene for years, and he's really developed a unique conception as a drummer and a composer. Hoenig is a master of metric modulation, and he uses those techniques to enhance his compositions. Although Hoenig has been influenced by drummers like Jeff Watts and Ralph Peterson, he has developed a melodic concept on the drums that is all his own. He's an energetic, exciting performer, and it takes a lot of energy on my part to keep up with his exuberance. I was thrilled to get a chance to play with Hoenig one night at Small's in New York. We had a young bass player named Sam Minaie, who helped to keep the foundation of the music, while Hoenig and I rhythmically battled it out in a friendly musical boxing match.

Sebastian Noelle
One more challenging gig in New York for the summer; Sebastian Noelle is a German-born guitarist who has lived in New York for a few years. His original music pushes rhythmic envelopes as well as harmonic envelopes. I had recorded with Noelle during the previous summer; Noelle asked me to join him again on a CD release performance at Cornelia Street. The band was impressive: Thompson Kneeland on bass, Tony Moreno on drums, and Marc Mommaas on tenor saxophone. All of these guys are amazing players. I felt more like an observer than a participant, in that the other cats were playing so much information, I was more interested in listening to them than my own stuff. Noelle's recording is called "Koan" and it's available on the Fresh Sound New Talent label.

Buster Williams
A one-off in your town of residence is acceptable in that you can sleep in your own bed when it's over. However, the one-off which involve hours, maybe days of travel, are annoying. However, if the music is inspiring, one forgets about all the jet lag and inconvenience. I had two fairly lengthy trips recently; the first was in Sardinia, a Mediterranean island which is part of Italy. My itinerary was as follows: Portland to Minneapolis, then Detroit, then Rome, then Cagliari(the capital of Sardinia), then a harrowing hour drive around winding mountain roads(I was almost sick) with a borderline reckless driver(maybe it's a cultural thing). However, the concert was with bassist Buster Williams, drummer Cindy Blackman, and alto saxophonist Mark Gross. Once I dragged my sleepy head up onto the stage for sound check, my troubles were over. I've played with Williams off and on since 1995; playing Williams' tunes fits me like an soft comfortable sweater. And Blackman and Gross, although newer to William's band, gave a new perspective to the tunes. Again, it's unfortunate that a band like this couldn't do more than one gig, but we tried to make it count!

Don Byron
Finally, a trip to, of all places, Bogota, Colombia, for a long running festival called Jazz En El Parque. This gig came up rather last minute, and for some reason, the flights had to be routed from Portland to New York, to Bogota. It seemed a bit circuitous, but this is the reality of the modern airline industry; a more direct flight last minute would have added thousands to the price tag of my voyage. I decided to bite the bullet and make the gig; fortunately, it was with another long-time employer, clarinetist Don Byron. The music was repertoire from Byron's "Ivey Divey" recording. This music normally employes a trio with no bass player(clarinet,piano,drums). We were fortunate to have drummer Mark Ferber rounding out the trio. Again, a long way to travel to play a 50 minute set, but the Colombian crowd was incredibly enthusiastic. Its a really well organized festival, and it's quite a big event in Bogota. Our trip was entirely too brief to do any exploring, but I did come away with a good vibe from the Colombian people. And it was a musical challenge and thrill to play with Byron and Ferber. Even if it was only a one-off.......







26 comments:

  1. Really nice bit George! At this point just watching how many gig's you have had I fell so lucky to have the chance to play a couple gig's with you here in the Peg and have you sharing your amazing talent in some of my originals that I have recorded this year in my "Trip to Brazil". I'm looking forward to hear from you, your clever impressions about it. Thank you for sharing your experience all the time, even knowing the reality of been musician. Sometimes it's hard, but I don't change my life for nothing and seeing examples like you I feel even more motivated to keep working hard and dreaming in better days ahead. They may invent the tele-transportation! Who knows!

    ReplyDelete
  2. really good informative article, George. I think back in "the day" those groups that toured for months had the time to really get to know each other; the era of the one-off has the disadvantage of different players on different nights....keep em coming!

    ReplyDelete
  3. No mention of your "one off" with a certain BB to a capacity crowd at your favorite mid-town jazz club complete with a freshly varnished stage....???

    ReplyDelete
  4. I'm looking forward to hear from you, your clever impressions about it. Thank you for sharing your experience all the time, even knowing the reality of been musician. Sometimes it's hard, but I don't change my life for nothing and seeing examples like you I feel even more motivated to keep working hard and dreaming in better days ahead. They may invent the tele-transportation! Who knows!

    ReplyDelete
  5. This is so exciting! Can't wait for the Special Friends edition.Thanks for the links big bro!I just want to say that you're doing a great job, keep it up!



    For reliable, fast, Cheap WOW Gold is over. The Pig was created so you can buy cheap WoW Gold fast and get back to raiding. The PIG says 'NO' to false promises, and scammers. The PIG is not a "leading MMORPG Service Provider offering luxury personal concierge services" and other buy eden goldhogwash. We cut through the B.S. and get straight to the point. eden gold, right here, right now, guaranteed by the PIG. Wanna buy Gil? Go somewhere else.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Ethiopian authorities have denied the incursion. Their soldiers have not been in Somalia in large numbers since 2009 when they withdrew after a controversial three-year presence.
    steroidshotel in bukit bintang
    These reports come as Kenyan troops continue their efforts to defeat fighters of the Islamist group al-Shabab in the south of Somalia.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Assuming everything goes to plan, once construction begins it should take about two and a half years to build.
    purchase order financingbathroom hand dryer

    ReplyDelete
  8. The performance was musically satisfying enough to warrant the almost 5 days of travel(including layovers and extra days in San Remo) Toronto Condos For Salehow to make websites

    ReplyDelete
  9. solar heatingmouse pads for advertising your business
    Yes. This information is useful for me. It useful ... Wish you a nice day :D

    ReplyDelete
  10. A recent model by Fernando and Rowe suggests that the enclosure of an autocatalytic non-enzymatic metabolism within protocells may have been one way of avoiding the side-reaction problem that is typical of metabolism first models.Deutsch Englisch Französischbest e-cig 2011

    ReplyDelete
  11. badsalles de réceptionNazis abandon their uniforms once the war concludes and go about their lives without consequence? Though the Basterds are

    ReplyDelete
  12. The PIG says 'NO' to false promises, and scammers. The PIG is not a "leading MMORPG Service Provider offering luxury personal concierge services" and other buy eden goldhogwash. We cut through the B.S. and get straight to the point. eden gold, right here, right now, guaranteed by the PIG. Wanna buy Gil? Go somewhere elsehow to improve concentrationMessages On Hold

    ReplyDelete
  13. The Pig was created so you can buy cheap WoW Gold fast and get back to raiding. The PIG says 'NO' to false promises, and scammers. The PIG is not a "leading MMORPG Service Provider offering luxury personal concierge services" and other buy eden goldhogwash. We cut through the B.S. and get straight to the point. eden gold, right here, right now, guaranteed by the PIG. Wanna buy Gil? Go somewhere else. Promotional Codeshawaiian noni

    ReplyDelete
  14. On May 8, in Hue, a crowd of Buddhists protested against the ban on the Buddhist flag. The police and army broke up the demonstration by firing guns at and throwing grenades into the gathering, leaving nine dead.
    Full color custom printed mouse pads for advertising your businesskush potpourri

    ReplyDelete
  15. unique mousepadsproduct reviewsThe temple was founded in the 8th year of Koan (1285) by nun Kakusan-ni, wife of Hōjō Tokimune (1251-1284), after her husband's death. Because it was then customary for a wife to become a nun after her husband's death, she decided to open the temple and dedicate it to the memory of her husband. She also made it a refuge for battered wives.

    ReplyDelete
  16. A recent model by Fernando and Rowe suggests that the enclosure of an autocatalytic non-enzymatic metabolism within protocells may have been one way of avoiding the side-reaction problem that is typical of metabolism first models.Deutsch Englisch Französischbest e-cig 2011real estate tucsonnot for profit fundraising

    ReplyDelete
  17. When Scott, in Norway to test his motor sledges, telephoned Amundsen's home to discuss cooperation, the Norwegian would not take the call.
    siti e-commerceshipjobs

    ReplyDelete
  18. free textWedding Photographer Croydon

    Freighted with hope,
    Crimsoned with joy,
    We scatter the leaves of our opening rose;
    Their widening scope,
    Their distant employ,
    We never shall know. And the stream as it flows
    Sweeps them away,
    Each one is gone
    Ever beyond into infinite ways.
    We alone stay
    While years hurry on,
    The flower fared forth, though its fragrance still stays.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Superb! Normally I never ever examine total content but the approach an individual composed this post is just wonderful this also held my interest in studying and i also loved it.

    http://foreverhumor.com/
    http://handsomeboysclub.com/
    http://style-shows.com/

    ReplyDelete
  20. macchine utensili usatePersonal Insurance
    There are some of us who agree with you, and we are in the minority. I would Senator Olympia Snowe to your list. I used to be on her staff and committee staff before going into the Air Force. Thanks for bringing this.

    ReplyDelete
  21. it business supportAtlanta search engine optimization
    Gillingham F.C. is an English professional football club based in the town of Gillingham, Kent. The only Kent-based club in the Football League, they play their home matches at the Priestfield Stadium. In the 2008–09 season, the club was promoted to Football League One after victory over Shrewsbury Town in the League Two play-off final; however, they were relegated back into the basement division the following season. The club was founded in 1893 and joined the Football League in 1920. They were voted out of the league in favour of Ipswich Town at the end of the 1937–38 season, but returned to it 12 years later after it was expanded from 88 to 92 clubs.

    ReplyDelete
  22. литье пластикаPashmina
    In the hands of these criminals your hard drive could be worth a fortune and may very well lose you a fortune. Remember they could have possession of all your bank account numbers, user names and passwords

    ReplyDelete
  23. maritim hotel mauritiusrestroom accessories
    SHINGLES FACTSShingles is caused by the reactivation of the chickenpox virusPeople who have not had chickenpox cannot develop shinglesSomeone with shingles can give another person chickenpox if they have never had the childhood infection

    ReplyDelete
  24. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  25. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.