I'm a freelance writer by day and a working jazz musician by night, and often I am able to combine my two lines of work. This blog is for posting gigs & various rants about music and life in general.

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Location: Central Illinois, United States
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Sunday, July 24, 2005

it's just talk

Or is it??

So today's discussion will be about the strange remarks conveyed to band members during (or after) a gig. I've got a whole list of 'em, but will only address a few here.

The most recent comment came from a fellow at a nice outdoor performance this past Thursday, after the band I was playing with, the Swing Daddies, concluded the first set. This man seemed to genuinely enjoy the music, and I was glad he said so, except his choice words were a bit annoying: "You're the best girl sax player I ever heard."

Ok. I realize this is a compliment. Sort of. I'm glad he liked the band...and my contributions to the music. But why stick the "girl" thing in there? That's like saying, 'You're the best black basketball player I've ever seen' or 'You're the smartest Jewish guy I know.' And I'll be the first to admit that I'm not the best all-around sax player he--or anyone else--has ever heard, but what's wrong with a nice, neutral, 'I really enjoyed your playing'?

I know it's a bit unusual to see a chick playing horn in a band. Most of us seem to gravitate towards piano or vocals. Not sure why that is, but rest assured that there are plenty of female instrumentalists out there. Check out Virginia Mayhew (alto, tenor, soprano saxes), Terri Lyn Carrington (drums), Kathy Jensen of the Hornheads (bari sax, alto sax), Clora Bryant (trumpet, played with Billie Holiday, Charlie Parker, and recorded with Dizzy Gillespie), to name a few. I've been fortunate to play with musicians that don't really care one way or another what sex their band members are. They just care that the musicians show up to the gig on time, play their best, and in general, take care of business. That said, we all get along just fine. And that's all that should ever have to matter.

BTW, here's an interesting story I found about a woman jazz musician who lived her life as a man, partially in order to be able to play the kind of music she enjoyed without judgment:

Other interesting comments at gigs:

"Can you play Old MacDonald had a COW??? Ha ha ha ha ha...." (Walks away laughing. Yeah. Ver'funny.)

"Oh, so (insert name of other local sax player here) couldn't play today?" (Um I always play with this band. There's more than one saxophonist in the area, ya know.)

"Gee, sure miss the bass player." (Comment directed to keyboard player playing left-hand bass on a gig...as well as or better than many actual bass players!)

There are many, many more where this came from. I'm sure you all have comments of your own. Feel free to share 'em!


Blogger Chef Kevin said...

I'll post a comment. I think one of the rudest (which also oozes of ignorance) things I've ever overheard (probably didn't know I knew the local artist playing) someone say at a gig was: Was that (fill in the blank name of a song)? It sure didn't sound like it very much. Ummm. I'm sure the musicians playing have the talent and the ability to play it exactly as written, but also have the gift to improvise at will. If you want it verbatim, go home and pop in the CD. If you want it real, support your local musicians.

7:42 PM  
Blogger Casper said...

The one that most stands out to me was one night after playing a hip-hop set. This guy wandered up to me and said, "You're pretty good.... for a white guy."

Um, thanks?

7:18 PM  

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