Friday, September 5, 2014

New Tunes September 2014

Haven't posted in awhile but gigs are pretty regular.

Fee Fi Fo Fum
I've never actually played this tune before at a gig. I did get a chance to learn the head but I can't say I did much practice otherwise. Not an easy tune but it came out ok.

Afro Blue Jam
A little free jazz/modal something. Hard core.

Killer Joe
This is just a snippet of the solo section.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Piano vs. Organ

I just want to post a comparison between my piano playing and my organ playing (as of this moment). I still think that my capacity to express articulation on the organ is at a baby stage. I'm a little better on piano.

There's obviously a different articulation approach on the organ. I hear the A-List players and they are so expressive. But an organ has a square envelope, as they say. There is no decay. So I haven't found the answer yet.

Articulation, as you get more advanced is about dynamics at each note, and micro-time control at the note level. These are subtle elements that often cannot be heard by beginners. I can do it to some degree on piano now. Now that I'm able to hear it on piano, it's glaringly absent on organ and it is frustrating.



I'm thinking though that learning control of the organ articulation may add to development in piano control, at least at the time level (clearly not in dynamics).

Friday, May 23, 2014

Started on Organ!

I just got myself a Nord Electro 4 HP 73, which, in addition to the sounds of my prior Nord Piano 88 (Piano/EP), now has a Hammond Organ sound.

I'm frequently corrected that I'm not on a real organ, but a "clonewheel". But I'm no purist here. It is not likely that I will be bringing some 400 lb beast to my house. I will always have a clone wheel.

Anyway, just to set some sort of starting point here, I recorded a practice session playing Giant Steps.

The first recording is the Piano sound. Then I switch over to Organ. There's so much to think about on organ at this point so it's a bit distracting. I've got to control two feet with some fine motor movement required for the expression pedal. So sometimes I lose track. Anyway, I'm not posting this because it's good. It's simply a marker and then we'll see how long it takes to get better.

Actually, I don't think it will take that long as long as I exclude playing Left Hand or Foot Pedal Bass.



(Edit: Here's a recording the next day)

I'm more comfortable on piano at the moment. But this is an exciting new endeavor. I will try to document the learning process because the instrument is a bit different.

For example, on piano you do the articulation by control of accents and time of attack. On organ, there is no velocity control, but you do have to time your RELEASE exactly as well. Because it's opposite of piano, there's a bit of practice required to play it perfectly. Not so bad though. I realized today that the proper way to articulate this is to play detached rather than staccato (a longer version of staccato but not legato). This allows the percussion effect to be heard.

Anyway, here's my first goal on organ.

1.  Comping. I've practiced this and it's quite doable. Use the expression pedal to control the shape of the comping with more volume on the attack then quickly pulling back as I've heard from Larry Goldings.

2. Being in the pocket is important on organ. Even more critical it seems than piano because the volume of the instrument screams out your errors. So I will focus on it more than ever.

3. Next I will just practice playing a mix of detached and legato playing. Keeping it simple for now. I will not worry about other organ effects.

4. Learn to use expression pedal, Fast Leslie, CV, and percussion to shape a line. This can be planned out in advance.

I will prioritize on these for now. There's a tendency to want to experiment on too many different things but I have to think like I did when practicing piano. Bite in small chunks.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Our Band Sound

I just collected a sample of tunes that probably represent the band's current sound. These are all pretty different. I indicated vocals where applicable.  I've had the luck of hanging with some pretty talented musicians.

Cantaloupe Island (Funk - Sax + Piano)

Afro Blue (Modal - Sax + Piano)

You Don't Know What Love Is (Ballad - Vocals + Sax)

Blue Bossa (Bossa - Vocals + Piano)

Route 66 (Swing - Vocals + Sax)

Blue Monk (Swing - Sax)

Ain't No Sunshine (R&B - Vocals)

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Friday, August 16, 2013

Singer Sat In and Gig Stuff

Here's from tonight's gig. Singer sat in. She's pretty amazing and the crowd just loves her. She sat in a couple of times before. Just love it when musicians of this quality just drop by and it shows respect for what we can do as well.

Blue Bossa

Here's another singer from another prior gig (June I think) doing Blue Bossa (who would have known that Blue Bossa had lyrics!).

Blue Bossa #2

I wonder how people judge these two singers. Both very good in different ways.

Also I should note that this is the first time I've played as a Trio and I was quite comfortable. I wasn't rushing and we pretty much played completely different tunes than on my set list in reaction to the crowd. But I didn't get fazed.

Now I felt stiffer than usual but I didn't feel that it affected anything I was actually doing other than perhaps not smiling much at the audience. Maybe time to learn things outside of music (like professional demeanor).

Friday, August 9, 2013

Recent Recordings August 2013

I've been a little busy and didn't have time to update the blog. However, the music goes on and gigs are still frequent. Here's a couple of recordings from a few days ago.

Afro Blue

Getting a little more comfortable with this modal kind of playing. Afro Blue is a one chord vamp so you really have to use your imagination. I have to think about Kenny Werner's mantra a lot here which is "There is No Wrong Note". Really works actually.

Night Dreamer

This is a beautiful melody from Wayne Shorter and we gave it a try. I had only seen the changes the day  before and then realized it was actually quite difficult. But we survived and it actually sounds good. It will sound better when I actually know the tune. No one in the group has played it before so it was actually amazing.

Free Jam

Here's another of the open style of playing. Unfortunately, there are other parts to this with the piano portion that did not get recorded. There's a theme here and I'm finding myself and the band moving to this more free style of jazz. Everyone in the band is liking the approach. Getting more hardcore jazz I suppose.

I have this one regular gig (Monthly) at a restaurant that just been turning into a big local hangout. We have this fabulous singer who can just work the crowd and an audience who specifically comes to listen to jazz. I've been playing here with my band for a year now and it's really a good feeling when you have a happy audience that really enjoys your music. I never thought I would experience this at my age.

But clearly, the band as whole is improving. Nowadays, we do this gig as a trio + singer. So I have to carry the load as the pianist. Not that intimidating at all. I'm just getting more confident about what I can do and the musicians around me are top notch.

I always look back to this mantra (second mantra for this blog post): "Always hang out with players better than you". This has paid dividends. Of course, after awhile, everyone equalizes as skill levels increase for all.

Practice time has been cut down lately due to numerous pressures on my time. However, I  noticed that development doesn't seem to stop as long as I keep thinking of what to improve. At my level, it isn't necessarily a technical skill but an awareness (developing an ear) for what's happening around me. This relates to both rhythm as well as solo lines.

I'm getting close to 9 years on the instrument so perhaps it is natural to expect to sound better. It looks like I'm on track to sound pro by 10 years. Of course, I'm already gigging regularly so this is more of a quality marker for me.

Need more chops though. Just can't seem to rush this.