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Session 10

Performance

The approach to performance will depend to a great extent on the given circumstances; whether the gig is for a solo piano or a trio or a larger group; whether the venue requires an amplification system; whether the situation is a jazz club or a bar or a concert hall. These various situations will make different demands on the musicians.

The following recommendations are offered from the experience of the author and it is hoped that they will be helpful in all situations.

1. If the gig is professional then the fee must be agreed before hand and the leader must be responsible for the payment of each individual in the group (getting 'cooled out'). The normal tradition (at least in the UK) is that each member of the group receives the same fee.

2. Arrive at the venue at least half an hour before the gig is due to start. Set up drums and mikes etc. so that all testing of equipment is completed before the music starts. No musicians are to 'hang around' on stage 'fiddling' with gear. The performance must start with a good entry of players. It's a good idea to open a concert with musicians appearing on stage one at a time. In this way the drummer can start with a good 'up tempo' rhythm for a few measures, then the bass player joins him with a twelve bar blues followed by the pianist, and so on until the whole group is assembled. The MC might introduce each member as he arrives on stage.

3. It is always good to start the program with a good 'up tempo' number with which all the players are familiar and confident. Be sure to smile at each other and at the audience. If you are not happy your audience will pick it up immediately and go home.

4 Never play after a disco or before. Disc jockeys are to be avoided at all costs.

5. Plan your 'sets' carefully before hand. Never be in a situation in which you are wondering what to play next. Each set should have three numbers which should have something in common ie. the same composer, but have contrasting rhythms and keys. The set should be introduced by the leader before playing. A space of three minutes should be allowed between sets.

6 Each number should be performed according to an agreed formula. The following is a typical example:-

a) A clear introduction of four or eight measures, usually from the piano.
b) The 'head' is played by soloist with rhythm section.
c) Each player then takes one or two improvised solos in turn.
d) The pianist (or other soloist) plays one chorus of 'fours' with the drums (four bar exchanges - see Session 7 ).
e) The head is played once again with a good clear ending - usually a coda of four or eight bars.

7. The leader of the group should be placed so that she can be seen by all players. The leader is responsible for setting the tempos and counting in each number.

8. If you are booked at a new venue, make sure you have the date and time right and you have a map with the venue clearly marked. It is good if a musician can read music - it is good if a musician can busk - but it is vital that a musician turns up at the right time and in the right place.

Have a good gig. In conclusion, a jazz musician can only be as good as her degree of exposure to all music regardless of the instrument or the period and, of course, as his degree of technical mastery of his instrument.