Things you can’t say on a gig

The reason that I started this blog was to explore all of the random thoughts that I have in random situations.  One constantly present thought is the old “Things you can’t say” social appropriateness….thing.  I would never ever say these things, but they cross my mind in a what-would-happen-if-I-said-this type of way.  At a performance, things are bound not to go particularly as planned, so for instances like those, these are the thoughts that were in my head, as bad decisions.
1.  I swear on everything I love, if you miss this ending, I will cut your strings/break your sticks (Whatever is applicable.). 
Have you ever rehearsed a song and taught your bandmates a specific ending and they struggle with it for a while.  And you KNOW they haven’t practiced?  What are the options that you really have on the gig?  You aren’t able to just kick someone out, but you know that they are about to mess it up, like…their finger is on the red button.
2. Drums, play louder!
Do you remember the last time you were taking a solo and you just felt that the music was too balanced.  I know personally that happens to me constantly.  In these instances I turn to my drum and say “why am I able to make cohesive ideas!!!”.  We all know that situation never, ever, evvvveeeeerrrr happens.
3. Sweet Jesus!!! You didn’t suck!!!
This line is always great for making people not ever want to associate with you musically (or personally).  Even though the grammatical setup is compliment styled, the actually meaning is “You know, usually I would have swore when you played that, but somehow you progressed just enough to where I could bear it”.
4.  Can you accelerando to about double the time throughout the solo sections, turning Misty into a bop head?
A lot of music from the postbop era such as Coltrane, and more emotional artists depended on energy for solo sections.  Sometimes the entire rhythm section would be so passionate that it would slightly rush, adding to the emotional content of the song.  HOWEVER, (comma) that does not mean that I should be taking In a Sentimental mood at 200 bpm.  Certain things are not done, not because it doesn’t sound good, but because it will unravel our perception senses.  It would break the world.
5. You don’t need to know the changes, just play what you feel.
So imagine me at a gig, calling out Giant Steps at regular tempo, but playing a slow blues on the solo section.  Imagine me playing Donna Lee blazing fast over Polka Dots And Moonbeams.  It’s great to play what you feel, but if you don’t know the changes, you have no musical foundation and should not solo on this particular song.  Now on a blues, you can go to town!! Everything goes in blues, however it’s up to you to sound listenable.
Since these thoughts of what not to say are very common, you can expect this to be a semi-frequent occurrence.  I would also like to thank everyone who reads this blog! I really appreciate your support and good vibes and look forward to more helpful hints and constructive criticism, thank you!  If you have things that you shouldn’t say, put them in the comments! (But I’m really not trying to be an accomplice)

Introverting

There are many things that I have realized about myself recently (or rediscovered).  Most of them are personality attributes and things that influence my communication (or lack thereof) with people.  The main identifier is: I am an introvert.  As an introvert, I am not extremely good at talking to people, small talk, and many, MANY other social events.  However, I have tons of opinions and thoughts which is why I started a blog.  When I try to express these thoughts it is either extremely eloquent or.. Bleeeeeegggghhhh.  It comes out more nonsensical than a Dr.Suess book.  Here is an example of a “conversation” I had when my introvert was on high.
Me: Hey! How are you?
Responder: I’m doing pretty good, how are you?
Me: Well, I saw you right? And I told myself, I’m going to say hello, but since I’m generally nervous talking to people I was like, “No”.  Then I says to myself I says, “Shaquim?”. I respond “Yes Shaquim?” “Put your man pants on” “Put I’m an introvert” “But that’s your friend!!” And I say “You are right, thank you Shaquim!” So I come over here and say “Hello”. But I don’t want to keep you too long, so! Goodbye!
Classy Huh?  So I’ve tried to counter these responses with a change in mindset.  I have labeled it, “The Cool”.  Basically, when I do anything, I think, Relaxxxxx, it’s all good, just be cool.  Which takes me a tad bit further until I end up in a conversation about a topic I know little to nothing about, like!  Cars.  There are other things, but Cars are common for guys to talk about.  I try to prepare myself for conversation through lots of analogies and stories.  Unfortunately when I am in a car conversation, this is my story.
“You know, I was in a car once….it drove.”
Sometimes I might throw in some exaggeration.
“Morgan Freeman crafted this car for me when I was a child, and I have to go to him to fill up on gas because it is fueled by freckle sweat.”
This may be my subconscious mind fighting off other members of society to fully isolate me to make space for: Saxophone, Homework, and Latin American cuisine.

  Sword Fight

Brain Chill

However, I have to train my mind to be more socially acceptable and plan out more spontaneous  dialogue (Ironic isn’t it?). Oddly enough, I have little to no trouble talking about engaging subjects such as politics, music (things that I am interested in.)  Which shows my inner GOOD-BAD-GOOD.  (Great article, great website!!).  So after reading that article, you now know that I should have amazing social skills, however I just have enough social awkwardness to make people think I am hilarious. (I’m going to write an article about that very soon).  But! Feel free to ask me when you see me how am I doing on my small talk/introversion, thank you for reading and special thanks to my beautiful girlfriend for the pictures!!  I told her the idea and she drew it perfect!!

A Night with The Cool Kids

On February 4th, Claflin University students decided that instead of waiting on “legislation” to certify events, they would just start scheduling them when they wanted.  Fortunately my friend Jacqueline Pleasant invited me to be apart of this momentous occasion (Which my introverted side thought of passing up, but my inner Saxophonist made me consent to).  This was an event hosted by the ever poetic Shaketa, whose words always resonate deep within my heart.  The crowd wasn’t large, but people just kept showing up, presenting their talents with other students.  In between sets the musicians got a chance to shine with musical selections (and at the end of my short stay I presented a saxophone solo that was very decent).  It was so inspiring to be apart of a gathering that was semi impromtu, with people putting themselves on display.  Not some fictional character to impress people, but the emotions they feel, and the thoughts that accompany them throughout their life.  Several of my friends sung songs (Jackie even did a few freestyles including “Is anyone else cold” Featuring Krista Bradley lol!) And people I’ve never met blew me away with their talent and soul.  This whole gathering was incredibly soulful which was helpful as a musician.  Freedom engulfed everyone present, allowing me to stray away from chord changes, licks and theory, and really get back to the basics.  The unadulterated emotions that get lost in the many practice sessions and the repetiore.  Sometimes you just need to step back and ask yourself, what am I saying?  When the audience listens to my music, do they care that I substituted the V with a b2 or used a different scale? NO!! All they want is to be moved in some way, and playing Giant Steps in all 12 keys doesn’t mean anything unless you are saying something.

Before I went to the poetry event, I listened to John Coltrane’s live version of Resolution from the Suite, A love Supreme.  Growing up, this album played several times through my youth.  When I picked up Saxophone, I listened to the Album, and said “I can make those noises”. So I made a couple of noises and realized that me and Coltrane sounded vvvveeeeerrrrrryyyyyy different.  I didn’t know why for a long time.  However, at this point in my life I understand that it is more than just notes, more than licks, it is about emotion.  Note that John Coltrane was not alone on that stage, he shared/portrayed his emotions with 3 other musicians.  They had a musical conversation in a language that not everyone can speak, but can understand PERFCTLY if you listen right.  Needless to say, when I got on my saxophone in front of those people, I became a canvas.  I left all my tools (Licks and rep) and I aimed for feeling.  After I was done with my last improvisation, I felt like I had finally expressed myself, and it was a extremely fulfilling experience.  To know that people left, feeling what I conveyed…that is powerful.  I would like to extend thanks to my friends Jackie, Krista, and Shaketa for allowing me to create music and be apart of a potential culture growth at Claflin University.

It’s early in the morning

Good Morning All!

You may be thinking to yourself, “Even though it is technically the morning, does he have to say good morning?”  Nope! I don’t however, it provides a pretty nifty segue into the topic for this blog post.  When I was younger, I didn’t hate jazz, but I didn’t really care that much about a music that wasn’t “saying anything”  However I always had memories of songs my mother used to play when I was a child such as Lullaby of Birdland (if it isn’t Sarah Vaughan it isn’t the right version) and Equinox by John Coltrane.  One day I received a present from my father which enclosed one of his favorite Cd’s:  Joe Williams, Blues Under a European Sky.  Image

(Note that this album for a long time sat next to my first rock album, Panic at the Disco’s A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out, which I bought because the cover was intriguing.)  Being of youth, I had to see why my dad liked this album so much.  As I listened to it, only three of the songs actually caught my attention and those were Satin Doll, What a Difference a Day Makes, and! Early in the Morning.  The later song is my inspiration for the post.  This song is heavy in the tradition of the blues and speaks of the loneliness of the speaker, tragically yearning for his love.  This is my take on the song as a now 19 year old Jazz musician.  At the age of 12 or so, I thought this song was HILARIOUS because at one point he says “I went to her mother’s house and she began to shout ‘get away from there Joe'”.  I listened to this song so many times just to hear that part that only THAT song would skip.  I never told my dad how much I appreciated him giving me his favorite CD, but I will make sure to add Early in the Morning to my rep list to show him I listened!