Fifty years ago on October 28, 1973, my first band "Focus" played a gig in Hyde Park at the Quadrangle Club. I used to have lunch there with my father where he would point out two or three Nobel Prize laureates (not intimidating at all). This place was a home-away-from-home for some very serious world-class brain power professors (including my dad Benjamin Bloom) from the University of Chicago.
I had my usual band with world-class musicians: Earl Crossley on tenor and soprano sax, Danny Dobek on electric piano and organ, Jim Hamilton on electric bass, Robert Shy on drums, and me on flute and guitar.
These musicians were better than I was. But fortunately for me, I got the gig. The band was happy to play with each other, and they appreciated my player-friendly original tunes.
On this particular night, the band was on fire. For the right ears, these tunes will be a great gift. I hope you like them. I would appreciate any comments you have.
This is the 50th anniversary of these recordings:
As you can hear, these tunes were not particularly demanding. If you have a one-night bar gig, give the musicians tunes that they can shine on, NOT tunes that require significant rehearsals (which can't happen). If you give demanding tunes, but without the necessary rehearsal, it will dramatically inhibit the musician's expression. I am not averse to difficult songs, as you may know if you've heard my compositions with Arranger Cliff Colnot. Different playing contexts demand varying degrees of preparation. Make sure the level of difficulty of a song matches the rehearsal time available.
With very little thought, knowledgeable musicians can write a complex tune that would stop a master musician like Coltrane or Freddie Hubbard. You surely don't want to do that if you are fortunate enough to have master musicians play with you. No self-respecting jazz musician wants to rehearse in front of an audience.
Do not present a math problem to the band. Instead, present music that will bring the best out of the musicians, no matter what level they are at.
For years, students have asked me to enroll them with musicians who were better than they were—but those better players wanted to play with players better than they were. In my case "I got the gig." I have learned that you can play with almost anybody you want, if it's your gig.
Develop Your Playing in a Group Setting
Get started with the January Combo Course at Bloom School of Jazz. It's a nurturing place to develop and discover how good your ensemble playing can get. Develop solos and increase comping skills with Bloom's Master Exercises. Learn how to make things happen in the heat of the moment.
This combo course far exceeds "jam sessions." Our guided playing sessions are a bridge between private lessons and playing out with a band. You will learn the specifics on how to accompany soloists, how to expressively play the melody, and how to take storytelling solos that go somewhere.
Imagine the benefit when you have a consistent committed group to play with once a week. Held at the school, this 8-week course also includes a final all-student recording session at a professional recording studio.
All instruments and all ages are welcome. Backline (amps, drum kit, and piano) are on site. Get started with the Combo Course and build the skills needed to make your own prideful musical statements.
Call (773) 860-8300 to see if you qualify for this course.