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Gig report: From Swing to Bop


marino

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I recently did another one of those 'thematic' piano solo gigs... it went quite well, so I thought to post a short report.

Once again, I had very little time to prepare it, so I thought of this 'theme': From Swing to Bop. The idea was to make the process of 'bopization' of jazz clear to a non-technical audience. I was provided with one of those headset wireless microphones, so I could play and talk at the same time, and this proved wonderfully useful.

 

I started talking about the origins of bebop, Charlie Parker, the Minton's, and how they used to superimpose new jazzy themes to the changes of Tin Pan Alley songs. Then I played "Indiana" at a medium/slow tempo, in my best Teddy Wilson impersonation, followed right away by "Donna Lee" at a quite fast pace, with Bud Powellish phrasing. The change of key (from G to Ab) also helped to raise the excitement level...

I did another similar episode with "How high the moon" and "Ornithology". I played both melodies, for the audience beforehand, explaining how they were built on the same set of changes - then I played both of them again as a head for improvisation, and again at the end. I'm sure many 'hard ears' had at least some feel of the "Ornithology" theme in their brains by then! :D

Another experiment was to start "Just Friends" as a sentimental, medium tempo song, then gradually bringing the improvisation to bebop frenzy. Again, I explained beforehand what I was about to do, and they seemed to follow me with attention and curiosity.

I did something similar with the blues: I played a set of 'straight' blues changes for the audience, then started adding substitutions, to end with the "Blues for Alice" changes. I played a few themes, and demonstreated improvisation at every stage.

I did a whole section on Monk, playing "Straight, no Chaser", "Well, you needn't" and "Round Midnight", and telling stories on Monk's life and personality.

 

It was a success, with a few encores and lots of questions from the audience. The type of questions they asked made me think that it wasn't an audience of jazz aficionados, rather a bunch of people casually gathered in a Sunday afternoon... This made me rather proud for being able to catch their attention for a couple of hours. It's amazing how deep jazz can go with a bit of effort to interest people!

 

The club manager was happy too. She gave me carte blanche for the next concert, so... I'm going to play a trio gig there next week. No 'theme' this time, just my own stuff. Life is good sometimes!

 

Um, 'short report', did I say? Sorry...

:rolleyes:

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I wish I could have witnessed it. I sure could use a primer on Bop. I think as I advance I'll start to get it. I guess its a natural progression and you can't go from point A to D without understanding and encountering B and C. I guess I'm somewhere in the Blues/Jazz/Swing of things.

 

It sounds like you put on quite a show Carlo, maybe you could do a tour of the US colleges auditoriums

So when you comin? I'd love to hear it.

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That's such a great approach. :thu: And you may have created a group of new jazz fans there. I wish I could have been there to see that. Thanks for update Carlo!

Hamburg Steinway O, Crumar Mojo, Nord Electro 4 HP 73, EV ZXA1

 

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Carlo, that was an excellent approach to the thematic gig. Kudos for knocking it out well enough to get a trio date too. :thu:

 

How much carte blanche did you really get with that club owner? ;):cool:

PD

 

"The greatest thing you'll ever learn, is just to love and be loved in return."--E. Ahbez "Nature Boy"

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Originally posted by Trill:

It sounds like you put on quite a show Carlo, maybe you could do a tour of the US colleges auditoriums

So when you comin? I'd love to hear it.

He... I'd love to be back in the States, maybe in a few months. I'd also love to play for an American audience again. (First time it was '86!)

 

But... speaking in English to an American audience? About jazz?! I don't think I could!

:freak::D

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Originally posted by marino:

But... speaking in English to an American audience? About jazz?! I don't think I could!

:freak::D

Of course you could! You know more about jazz and communicate better in English than most Americans.
--wmp
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Wow, Carlo, I wish I had known about it beforehand! Where was that in Rome? Please, next time there is such a thing, send me an email! I have had quite a bit of problems in my life recently, but now things have settled down a bit and have more time for things I love, like music.
Korg PA3X Pro 76 and Kronos 61, Roland G-70, Integra 7 and BK7-m, Casio PX-5S, Fender Stratocaster with Fralin pickups, Fender Stratocaster with Kinman pickups, 1965 Gibson SG Standard
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Originally posted by Dreamer:

Wow, Carlo, I wish I had known about it beforehand! Where was that in Rome? Please, next time there is such a thing, send me an email! I have had quite a bit of problems in my life recently, but now things have settled down a bit and have more time for things I love, like music.

Andrea - you mean you aren't included in my little mailing list?! I was conviced that you were receiving announcements for all my gigs! If not, I owe you a huge apology - I goofed big time. I'll call you very soon, to check your email address.

 

BTW, next gig in Rome is on Dec. 15th. :)

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Originally posted by marino:

Originally posted by Trill:

It sounds like you put on quite a show Carlo, maybe you could do a tour of the US colleges auditoriums

So when you comin? I'd love to hear it.

He... I'd love to be back in the States, maybe in a few months. I'd also love to play for an American audience again. (First time it was '86!)

 

But... speaking in English to an American audience? About jazz?! I don't think I could!

:freak::D

We can get am interpreter for the your spoken word,none needed for the music :P:thu:

 

I have a suggestion. How about you record a video documentary on the subject and sell it to PBS (Public TV)for broadcasting . They are always having subjects about music history. I'd watch it. who knows you may have to come over and hawk DVDs in front of the phone banks during pledge drives for them. This would pay for your tour to get started.

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Hmm . . . maybe I should book some tickets for my wife and me to Rome. I'd love to have seen that show--live, on DVD, or otherwise.

 

Like jazzwee stated earlier, it's really cool that you were able to share your love for jazz with some new blood. :) Hopefully, they'll be converts, and who knows . . . you might have inspired a few in the audience to explore new depths in their own music too.

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