So. I've had a couple of days to think really hard about the direction of my coveted Thursday night gig at Panache. Since my talented and reliable bassist left for the Peace Corp, I've been experimenting with various personnel, in various combinations, in trio formation. Being a horn player I need to solidify a two-member rhythm section, which usually includes bass and piano. Sometimes bass and guitar. And occasionaly piano/LH bass and drums.
Some of these "expreiments" have worked. Others have not. I've come home from these gigs lately very frustrated--both with my own playing and with the direction many of the gigs seem to take. So after having a very
under par night last Thursday I decided I need to make a few decisions. Sat and thought about exactly what the trouble has been and how to attempt to fix it.
I came to the conclusion that
(1) I need to just book rhythm sections that are comfortable playing together...no more mixing and matching to see what works and what doesn't. I think I have a pretty good idea now. So, while I'll still be having various folks play with me each week I'll be making some decisions based on who plays best with whom, which in turn will probably cut back the number of various folks' appearances. This is unfortunate but I think necessary in order to enhance the quality of music.
(2) I need to be stricter about having people sit in. I hate to do this, because part of the local music scene is based on friendiness and easy-going attitudes. It's fun to hang at other peoples' gigs and join in every now and then. But there have been a few sitatuions lately where it's gotten out of hand. So, I still want people to come out and sit in, but I think I'll reserve the first set for the hired musicians only for the most part. This leads to the next point....
(3) Playing with different people all the time makes it tough to really get a handle on any specific tunes. We end up reading stuff out of the Real Book--the same tunes everyone else plays b/c everyone is familiar with them--week after week. I'd like to take my reformed groups and make a list of stuff everyone would like to play, for each group. Have a few arrangements maybe, or learn some new tunes, but really just concentrate on not flying by the seat of our pants all the time. And a few guys I play with write their own stuff, and we should be doing more to promote original music. Dave has written lots of great tunes, and so has Kevin, and I have a few of Larry's tunes in my book now. There are also tunes by musicians we all know (but who live out of town and I can't ask them to drive an hour or more for what they'd be getting paid) that we could work up. This will also keep the sitting-in thing to a minimum...if you don't know the tune, don't play. (Unless you have an unbelievable ear, which some folks do...then it's cool.)
I'm hoping this doesn't hurt anyone's feelings, but it's time to establish a few boundaries. I think it will help us musicians enjoy our time together more, and I think that because the quality of music will be enhanced, our audiences will notice a change for the better as well. Panache is a great place and I don't ever want to take this gig for granted. My plan will hopefully make Thursday nights better for everyone.
Wish me luck.