Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The Count or Ooooooooo Scary

Actually, this post is not about this Count ( although I have no doubt he'd be a fine bandleader ).

Rather, it's about the count in or the count off, depending on your use of terminology
An interesting discussion opened up on social media recently regarding bandleaders who change tempos DURING THE COUNT OFF! I have been this place more than once, and it can be truly painful. Mind you, I'm not talking about the odd time when this happens, but a chronic situation. I was surprised by how many people used terms like " let it flow' or " don't be a metronome " during this discussion. I'm certainly in favour of letting the music breathe, but people who habitually move the tempo they're counting off while it's in progress, are really demonstrating a lack of consistency and control. The tune starts from the count off, and everyone needs to be committed to that tempo. I heard thirdhand from a person that worked with Dizzy Gillespie that Dizzy spent a long time on his count offs so everyone in the band was very aware of the tempo.

Closely related to the above mentioned is the problem of people who count in a consistent tempo, but then realize it's not the tempo they wanted so then try to get the band to speed up or slow down to where they really wanted it. Again, unprofessional, to say the least. If you want to seriously annoy your drummer, this is a very effective way of doing it!

Also, there's the person who counts in the tune far outside it's practical tempo zone. Yes, playing tunes at extreme tempos is good for concentration etc., but in a performance setting it's amazing how difficult it makes them to play. Speaking of Dizzy, I once played " Groovin' High" at a medium slow tempo because of bad band leading, and I was flabbergasted at how silly the melody sounded at that speed! ( Maybe this happened to Dizzy too, and that's why later he was so aware of his count ins! )

Finally, a lot of problems are caused during the count off when it's NOT LOUD ENOUGH. I bust my students on this all the time, and I'm sitting only a couple of feet from them. How is somebody on the other side of a big band going to hear them?  I often have the the count ins delegated to me, simply because I do it so loudly!

So, if you can, talk to your bandleader about letting someone else count the tunes in, or of them being a little more aware of the tempo. Of course, if they are going to take offence to this and fire you, then it's probably best to grin and bear it.

Of course, none of this applies when Dee Dee Ramone is counting the song off.....

Happy Halloween, and I hope the ratio of of tricks to treats is to your liking......

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Ted Rides In A Time Machine or Portrait of the Artist as a young Doofus

No, I haven't discovered a machine that will make my time better. ( Although that would be awesome! ) 

In 1988, a big band of young Canadian musicians was assembled to play in honour of the winter olympics in Calgary. Rob McConnell led the band and by a recommendation and other flukes I was invited to be involved. Many long term musical relationships were formed from that experience. ( In fact, this week I'm doing 3 gigs that involved both bassist Jim Vivian and Saxophonist Perry White, who were both in the olympic band with me. I also eventually worked with the Boss Brass after that early meeting with Rob. It's sad to think that far fewer of these type of opportunities exist in this current political and economic climate. 

I had forgotten that the band was recorded and recently I was sent the mp3s of the performance. It is indeed strange to go back in time almost 30 years. It is, however ,fun to hear how I played the time, the way I tuned, the sorts of ideas I was playing, etc. I hadn't even recorded professionally yet at this point so to say I was green and rough around cannot be overstated. That said, there's a fun energy and enthusiasm that only a 22-year-old that thinks he has something to prove can provide.

The 2 mp3s are about 45 minutes each, so again, unless you're my Mom, I don't expect you to plow through all of it! It is, nevertheless, a nice capsule of a time gone by and of Rob McConnell's wacky sense of humour. Enjoy!

Friday, October 27, 2017

The Gig Triangle

Hey all,
I wanted to talk briefly about a concept I attributed to saxophonist Dave Neill, but now I am told it comes from former U of T prof Paul Read. Either way, here it is, the Gig triangle.

It's a simple enough concept. When one is deciding whether to take a gig, there are 3 main factors to consider. These factors are, the amount of musical satisfaction , ( top of the triangle ) , the quality of respect and attitude of the people involved,  ( left side ), and the fairness of the renumeration ( right side ). It was explained to me that if one doesn't potentially see at least 2 points of the triangle filled, then probably one shouldn't take the gig. ( Note: This applies to working professionals with a certain degree of experience. If one is just starting out, one should take almost ANY gig that comes your way!)

To conclude, here's some awesome footage of the great Jon Christensen. It has nothing to do with the rest of this post, but he's great, so it's worth checking out! :)

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

RIP Grady Tate

A great drummer/vocalist/actor that unfortunately I never got to see live.