Today I'd like to discuss an issue that's common to all musicians (especially improvising ones ) today. A big part of developing a concept and identity as a band involves working out material in front of an audience. There is really no substitute for this. Practicing and jamming are all good but, as Jim Vivian recently said to me, "You have to see the whites of their (the audience's) eyes".
The conundrum is that it's very difficult for one band to work very much, especially without traveling. If we look at the schedules of bands like Coltrane's or Miles' in the 60s or earlier, it's staggering how much they played, including residencies at clubs that went on for months sometimes. Now, I'm not taking anything away from the incredible talent in these bands, but even the worst group in the world would benefit from schedules like that.
I'm including a video of Kim Ratcliffe's trio. We were recently playing at the Rex, doing mainly Kim's original music and it certainly developed, but that was through playing a gig every Wednesday for a month. When I first moved to Ontario we would have gotten to that point halfway through playing a week at George's or the Senator.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not longing for some bygone era or making excuses for not developing with my fellow musicians. I think we all need to realize that this is what we face currently and we have to get deeper into the music than ever before. EVERYTIME WE PLAY!
That's my plan anyway.....
P.S. Has anyone noticed that I look more and more like Popeye when I play?