Sunday, November 26, 2017

Moment's Notice Practice of 11-25-2017

Our band had a practice yesterday, in preparation for a gig on December 3rd.  We are using Jay of "Ship of Fools" as our keys man, since our regular keys man, Raf, is out of town.

If you wish, have a listen at this link:

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Musical Progress! Things Are Coming Together! A Musician's Growing Success.

I have noticed a growing success in my musical endeavors.  I am making new contacts and acquaintances who are musicians.  I recently quit the big band I was in -- the Cats' Jazz Band of Los Gatos, California.  I had been with them three years and did not feel they could provide me with more personal progress.  I needed the time practicing with my newer group, the Moment's Notice Jazz Band of San Jose, California.  I recently created a FaceBook page for MN Jazz at this link:

Meanwhile I made the acquaintance of Jay, lead singer and keys man for the band Ship of Fools. I met him through the guitar player, Gil DeLaRosa, who plays with Moment's Notice.  Jay has been wanting to do more jazz and invited Gil and Gil's bass player (me) to gig at a coffee shop in Big Basin, California,in an upscale business district near Saratoga, California.  We gigged with Jay on October 28, and Jay was happy with the result.  We will undoubtedly gig more with Jay in the future.  Jay is an important contact, and contacts are what a musician needs to find opportunities to gig.

I recorded the Big Basin gig (most of it anyway) and posted it at my SoundCloud page,  If you click on this link, the first song links you will see have a ship logo -- all of those are the gig with Jay (listen with headphones).  Scroll down and all the rest of the songs are of Moment's Notice practices.  Our singer Kelly Aynes does a nice job on vocals.  Most of these songs were played for the very first time in practice, yet still sound good.  Experienced musicians can do that.

Another contact I made recently is that of Wendy Starke, a piano teacher and pianist (who plays electronic keys) and who loves jazz.  I practiced with her once and will do so again soon.  We are doing a charity gig for disabled vets on December 22 in Salinas. We need a guitar player to join us for better results, and I will look for one.

Sucess as a musician involves (1) learning songs and expanding your repertoire, (2) jamming and gigging with other musicians, and (3) getting known in local music circles.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Great Names for Bands! Maybe. Ideas. Market Yourself!

In my prior post I discussed bad names for bands.  Avoid names with negative connotations or bad visual images. Now its time to discuss GOOD names for bands.

A good name shouldn't be overused, trite or hackneyed.  Ideally, it will create positive visual images that reinforce the types of gigs your band seeks, e.g., weddings, balls, corporate event or drunken orgies.   Well, if you are seeking the last of these, you are on your own.

It's a lot harder to come up with positive, good band names that have not already been done to death.  However, here is a small few.  I may add to the list as I discover other possibilities.  Suggestions are encouraged.  Consider:

Get the idea?

BAD NAMES FOR BANDS! (Avoid at All Costs!)

My jazz band recently selected "Moment's Notice" for the band name.  I hate it.  It is overused by many bands, isn't unique and conveys nothing positive.  However, I decided to live with it because it is a minor issue at this point in time.

While researching great names for bands, however, I came across worse names for bands.  Based on marketing research and psychological principles, there are some band names that you should NEVER use.  Here are some of them:

Bulbous Buttocks
Rusty Hinge
Ugly Woman
Toenail Fungus
Ingrown Toenail
Worms and Slugs
Bad Body Odor
Fingernails on a Blackboard
Full Spittoon
Rock In My Shoe
Festering Wound
Moldy Bread
Abscessed Tooth
Compound Fracture
The Drunk Tank
On Parole
Highly Infectious
Ripe Cadaver
Dead Fish

You have been warned:  these band names will not provide the public with a good impression of your band or your music.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Tips of the Week: Dealing With the Jitters; Real Book Choices

Dealing With Nervousness:  Yesterday my band played at the GVA Cafe in Morgan Hill, California.  Just before we broke into glorious song, I had a very small case of butterflies (nervousness).  There were two accomplished bass players in the audience.  Would they think I'm a jerk?  A rube?  A fool with a bass?

It was just a fear of being judged.  We all fear not measuring up to others' expectations.  But I had a quick talk with myself:  just play like there's no one in the audience.  If they like it or don't like it, it's all good.  So nervousness was not a factor in my playing that night.

Real Books:  Real Books are books of sheet music for musicians.  They are licensed for use, and not a violation of copyright, as were their predecessors, called Fake Books.  Most of them are for C instruments like piano, guitar and bass, but you can get them also for Bb and Eb instruments, that is, saxophones and trumpets.  The most popular Real Book on Amazon is Real Book 1, 6th Edition.  It has the notes and chord symbols, but not the lyrics.  This has been a problem for me, as I still get lost on occasion, and need the lyrics to keep me on track.

I found out this week that, instead of Real Book 1 6th Edition, you may want to consider Real Voice Book 1 for High Voice.  It has the same music, in the same keys, but with the lyrics.  The price is about the same, very affordable. Real Voice Book II is different from Real  Book II, but its songs also include the lyrics.  I have both of them.

Other great Real Books that have the lyrics are the New Real Book series, 4 books as I recall.  There is some duplication of songs, but enough differences to make it worth your while to buy.

First Gig of Our Jazz Quintet: "Moment's Notice" -- Lessons Learned

Fusion Blue at the GVA Cafe
Yesterday our jazz quintet, "Moment's Notice" played its first gig at the GVA Cafe in Morgan Hill, California.  We only played five tunes, in conjunction with a jazz fusion group of friends.  Basically, we opened for their band "Fusion Blue (see pic)."

It went well.  Not perfect, but you must adapt to unexpected twists and turns.  I forgot my sheet music to "It Had to be You," and was forced to adlib the song.  When we started to play "Fly Me to the Moon," our singer started off on the wrong note, forcing me to switch to the key he was singing in, instead of the key on the sheet music.  Still, it came out all right.  Lesson learned:  always start a song with an instrumental piece to set the key for the singer.  We need to practice our beginnings a lot more.

I recorded the gig with my Handy H5 Zoom recorder, but had the volume up too high and there is distortion in the recordings.  My bad.  So I won't post them here.  Another lesson learned.  I should have anticipated this because of the small stage and volume, and turned the recorder power down a bit.

Our guitar player came up with the name for the band, "Moment's Notice."  It's the title of a jazz tune by John Coltrane, and we don't even play the song, yet.  It wouldn't be my first choice, but it's better than nothing.  At least now I can start a FaceBook page for the band and start promoting it.

The big band that I play with, the Cats Jazz Band of Los Gatos, has a few weeks off, and will resume practice on September 7.  That's great, it gives me a chance to polish up our repertoire with the extra practice time.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

"Blues In The Night" Big Band Recording #jazz #bigbands

Our big band, the Cats Jazz Band of Los Gatos, meets every Thursday for practice.  This past Thursday was our last meeting of the semester and we said goodbye to our bandleader. Russell Zimmer, who has taken a more full time job as music director for a school.

I think the best song we played on Thursday was "Blues in the Night."  It was darn-near perfect.  Have a listen.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Planning My Next Bass Attack!

Tonight is the last semester session for the Cats Jazz Band of Los Gatos, California.  We will have a break for a couple of weeks, and resume in August.  I am not sure I am coming back, however.  I'm a bit bored and not terribly inspired.  Maybe it's time to give my rival a chance to play bass with the band.  I've been at it for three years now, and maybe it's time to move on.

I think my major goals right now are these:
  • Learn as many jazz tunes as I can, with a goal of 100 tunes.  This should prepare me for any jazz jam or gig.
  • Improve my knowledge of acoustic bass.  I need instruction on technique and how to avoid fatigue.  I have found a potential teacher.
  • Play in as many jazz jams as I can.  I will look for ones nearby this summer.
My Handy Zoom Recorder has been an excellent asset for practices:  it records the music very well and gives great feedback on how you actually sound.

Update:  I've decided to stay with the Cats Jazz Band for the time being.  I need the practice at reading notes.  Reading notes well takes time, and the Cats has improved my note reading considerably.  However, I'm not good enough yet, so I will stay.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

My Jazz Band Is Coming Along!

My jazz band is coming along. We still need a name. The band didn't like my suggestions of "Five Drunks on Methadone" or "Stogie the Bass Player and His Supporting Cast." Oh well. Links to songs in our last practice are below if anyone is interested in listening. I play a bass solo in the first song, "Watermelon Man."

Monday, May 8, 2017

Cats Jazz Band Recital of May 6, 2017

My practice big band had a recital last Saturday, May 6, 2017.  For some strange reason we were generally "on" and sounding fairly tight.  What a shock.  Having an audience surely helps one focus.

Here are recordings of each song.  Have a listen if you like.