I have not gotten better at introduction sentences during my transition into NCCU. But I have gotten better at playing saxophone (and segues) opening me up to many more playing opportunities. I am going to use this blog post to tell one of my performance stories and compare it to one of my offstage stories.
During NCCU’s homecoming I was asked to play with the Vocal Jazz Ensemble in the Chancellor’s dining hall (which is fancier than Iggy Azalea). During this performance I did not have a chair and was confined to a smaller space than usual, so I took most of my solos leaning against a counter. Most of the songs went pretty well and the crowd liked it (which is all you can really ask for.) So after this performance we were required to unload and a man recognizes me from ten minutes prior (who looks very similar to Dizzy Gillespie) saying “You sir, are Cool Personified!” (Trademark, it’s mine and you can’t have it). He went on to explain that my demeanor during my solo was relaxed and akin to having a conversation. I told him I appreciated it, while my inner nerd pushed up his glasses and laughed nervously. This made me think to myself, what if I really am cool in the deepest part of my being? Which leads me into my next story.
About a week after this event I realized I had a paper due that I need to get like three more sources for. I thought to myself “Bet” (my new word, you can borrow this, I’m test driving it right now). After this realization, I decided to go to the library…right after I listened to Partynextdoor. Of course as a jazz musician I couldn’t let my day be fully influenced by non-jazz music (I’m a Nardis), so I turned on You don’t know what love is by Sonny Rollins a song that I am currently trying to learn because I love ballads.
After getting a ways through it, I thought I don’t know the lyrics!! How can I play a song I don’t know the lyrics to, which lead me to Karrin Allyson’s version. Then my friend called and asked if I had ate, and since I hadn’t we went to the café, and decided, we look kind of scruffy, I think we might need a shave (No Sweeny Todd). Needless to say, I spent a large portion of my day just procrastinating and listening to great music (including Mos Def, Joe Lovano, Illinois Jacquet and many more). By the time I actually decided to go to the library it was about 8 o’clock. I suited up for the weather, preparing for a battle already in the opponent’s favor. During the walk I saw very few people in the library which made my brain happy because I wouldn’t need to walk past people seventy three times. Come to find out, I wouldn’t even walk past them once. The library was closed. The library is open on Wednesdays. The library is contributing to my procrastination, but this time I was prepared for work. And it was so cold. Ohhhh so cold. I walked back to my dorm where I saw some of my RA’s and one of the said “Hey Shaquim!” and I waved like a cool guy while sipping water, like a cool guy, and then I choked on the water…in front of my four RA’s…like a cool guy? I sat in my room for a while and contemplated my coolness (or lack thereof). Then I laughed and wrote this post.
On a semirelated note, do you know the only time you will really see a blind snake (no pun intended)? When you are supposed to be editing your essay that is due on Tuesday. I’ll give you the link just in case you are there too. Have a beautiful day and thank you for reading!!! http://didyouknowblog.com/post/102472256596/in-2011-engineers-building-a-dam-in-the-amazon
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)
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.
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.
(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!