Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Music Music Music!

Last Saturday, I was asked to play the bass with a nine piece jazz band for a wedding reception.
Let me preface this post by saying that I usually play the piano with them. The bass player is vacationing in Florida. It was easier for the leader to find a sub for me on piano than a sub for bass. I must say that the pianist that he got to replace me did a marvelous job at covering the part. He had a different style of playing than  me.

I thought it was refreshing that I finally found another pianist that knew to stay away from the lower keys when playing with a bass.

 The event lasted four hours. Here is where I would like to interject that: whenever I booked a gig that lasted over three hours, I would stipulate that the band would be fed. Since I was not the band leader for this, I packed two ripe apples in my bass case and an energy bar in my shirt pocket for the last hour. The band leader offered to pick me up and transport me to the gig provided that I help him set up for the entire band. since the band leader is a close friend of mine, I agreed.

The event was to be held in an abandoned car dealership and was quite lovely. I was introduced to the mother of the groom who informed me that the buffet was indeed open to the band. Crab-cakes and shrimp appetizers won out over the apples hands-down.

The leader asked if I would set up on the right of the drummer with the pianist on the left side. Since I pack a 30 foot cord for the bass, it made sense that the amp be positioned there, but I walk over and looked off the pianists music.  One pet peeve I have is that the piano music is often 10 to 14 pages long per song. This is far too much for the music stands to hold. I decided not to use the bass book at all and totally look off the piano parts. I know it was wrong, but I had to secretly laugh at the horrible time the pianist was having finding and negotiating the sheet music from the book and the music rack. I was loving not having to touch a single page of it.

The regular vocalist couldn't make it and sent a female vocalist in his place. The band leader had not auditioned her and took the vocalist word that she would be fine. She wasn't. 

Don't get me wrong. Her voice is lovely and she can sing wonderfully. The huge problem is that she is a gospel singer and hadn't hear of any of the songs we were singing as she doesn't ever listen to secular music. 


I found myself singing the vocal lines to her moments before the leader was counting off the song. 

Never use anyone for a performance that you haven't investigated thoroughly!

In spite of this, the crowd was happy and the gig was a success.

When the bass player comes back, I dread the thought of wrestling the piano charts again. I am just going to have to suck it up for the good of the entire ensemble.

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