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'I've Suffered For My Art, Now It's Your Turn!' (Jazz Musicians and Their Audience)

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by mtto, Aug 31, 2013.

  1. mtto

    mtto

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  2. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

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    I think Matt is spot on. Everybody should have PIE.



    Jazz was born in a world where "good" music was harder to come by. And if it did, you were either there for the live sessions or listening to low quality recordings. IMO, given the alternatives in entertainment, the days of showing up to listening to music are pretty much over for the general public. People want an experience and if you don't engage them, I think they'll just ignore you after a while.

    If people wanted to just listen to good music regardless of format, then you're stuck competing with records and Youtubes. I'm certain I have no chance competing against the likes of Miles, Bird, Coltrane, etc. Nor do I have the chops or experience to offer what a top tier player can in a live situation. I might as well play to something other than my weaknesses, and if it means engaging the audience, why not? If I can get a stranger to come back to my show multiple times, I'm doing something right, especially if they're not a jazz listener.
  3. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Supporting Member

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    I'm not sure about all this - I have been in many bands and the ones that lasted and were satisfying, were where the band played the music they liked and didn't think about the audience - the sole aim was to play the music.

    I have also been in bands that thought about what the audience wanted and these have inevitably ended up in acrimony and inevitable split - it was also a very poor experience - nobody was dong what they really wanted to do and this came across as bad feeling and it was pleasant for nobody!

    Personally my view is that bands are best when everybody is doing what they want to do - in the 1950s, it was a different world and I don't think you can look back to then and apply those values to now - we just have to do what feels "right" to us or it will inevitably be too hard to maintain any kind of pretence just for an audience.
  4. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Supporting Member

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    Now on the other hand - as an audience member - if I see somebody who looks "dressed up" and uncomfortable that doesn't make me sympathise with them.


    I go to a lot of Jazz gigs and basically I don't care what the band looks like - what is more important is that they give the impression of being comfortable and relaxed, confident and happy in what they are doing.

    OK - they have to communicate to the audience - but I want to see their real personalities - not some false persona that they think they should be promoting. If somebody is trying to look like Michael Buble - becuase he is popular, then that is more likely to make me cringe and switch off!
  5. lfh

    lfh

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    I don't think you have to compromise your repertoire or dress code. This is about other things. E.g. if you play intricate original compositions, tell the audience a little about the pieces -- a small motif to listen for, or what went through your mind when writing it ("this was inspired by..."). The bottom line is to establish a two way communication, to let them know they're important to you, that they're part of what's happening. Wear a t-shirt if you wish, but remember to shine your shoes. :)
  6. bass12

    bass12 Fueled by chocolate Supporting Member

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    The audience is there to be entertained. What's going to entertain them depends on the audience, but it's show business. To me the band should never be the worst dressed people in the room. Guys onstage looking as if they rolled out of bed and put on yesterday's t-shirt? No thanks. It's never "just about the music". Give people a show - a live experience they can't have any other way - and they'll come back. Entertainers back in the day would give it everything, and that was when there was little competition regarding other forms of entertainment. Now there are countless options for people who want to be entertained and you have musicians going on stage in faded Alf t-shirts, wondering why no one is interested in the show.
  7. Michael Glynn

    Michael Glynn Supporting Member

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    Well, there are some good points in there, but some misunderstandings, too.

    On how the band is dressed: He mentions Bird and Trane wearing suits on stage--which is true--but that was also the social norm at the time. Look at rock bands in the earlier 60s--even the Beatles and Rolling Stones wore suits. The entire social concept of what is proper concert attire changed, at least for popular music, later in the 60s. I would say that the beginnings of jazz musicians not wearing suits stemmed not from laziness, or not caring what the audience thought, but rather precisely from trying to stay relevant and hip in a changing society.

    On the other hand, it is true that musicians should be aware of how the way they are dressed, and how they physically present themselves on stage, matters. It's OK to dress casually as long as it is appropriate to the venue/audience/music.

    In any case, the point that we should realize that the audience is seeing a band(pace Paul Warburton) and not just hearing it is valid. What we do with that information is up to us.

    Can't remember if this has been posted at TB already, but it may be relevant:
    People trust eyes -- not ears -- when judging musicians
  8. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Supporting Member

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    That's what I was saying - we can't go back to the 1950s and impose the cultural norms of that time, just because Jazz was successful then.

    If I go to see a top-level Jazz group - say Dave Holland's quintet - I couldn't care less what they are wearing. It's about how they come across as people - their confidence and level of communication - yes. But who really cares what they wear?

    I go to Jazz gigs regularly and talk to people in the audience a lot - in about 15 years, I have never heard anybody mention how the band dressed. They might well complain about things - they don't like bass guitar in Jazz, or the drums were too loud, or the band didn't swing, there were no tunes they recognised, the piano was slightly out of of tune, etc etc.

    But the one thing I have never heard any audience member at a Jazz gig talk about, was how the band dressed !!
  9. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Supporting Member

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    I agree that this is important and is what endears Jazz performers to an audience - people really remember it when the leader has little anecdotes about tunes and if they are funny, you are really onto a winner! :)

    The gigs I remember are where the personality of the performers has come through.
  10. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member

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    'I've Suffered For My Art, Now It's Your Turn!'

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Art is not worth suffering for.
  11. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

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    It isn't if your art sucks.

    One point about my previous post. It also depends on the setting. There are times when it's better to try to cater to the audience and there are times to ignore them.
  12. brad houser

    brad houser

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    no shorts on stage.
  13. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Supporting Member

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    [​IMG]
  14. M0ses

    M0ses

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    Roasted.
  15. isolated

    isolated

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    I don't think it's really possible to play a gig and NOT consider the audience, unless the room is empty. Even then, you still have to consider the lack of audience....

    It really seems to me that a big factor anymore is the dwindling attention span of the patrons. I was at 55 Bar a couple of weeks ago for the early set (no cover charge). Most people were listening except for one table of tourists who talked louder than the band for nearly the entire set. This is not entirely uncommon in the few clubs that are left (I've witnessed the same thing at the Vanguard where people have paid a not-insignificant cover charge to ignore the band) but very confusing to me.

    If one attends a jazz gig these days, I think it's taken for granted that you're going in order to listen more than you're going to see a "show." I always believed that if you got up there and played your *** off, then that was showing respect for the audience. And I think that will win them over more than just about anything else (if they need winning over.)

    But then there are those people you just can't get to....
  16. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

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    +1 The top two jazz clubs in Chicago, The Greenmill and The Jazz Showcase both enforce a "no disruptive talking during the performance" policy.
  17. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

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    I see this is a challenge of ones musicianship. If people aren't paying attention, then I'm not doing something right. Apparently, my musical communication directed at them is not getting through. Of course, as you say, some people can't be helped.
  18. Sam Sherry

    Sam Sherry Inadvertent Microtonalist Supporting Member

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    Euphonic Audio "Player"
    This is a topic I've thought a lot about (not that you'll be able to tell based on what follows).

    There are simple steps anyone can take to reach out to their audience without pandering. For example, in no particular order:

    1. It is not pandering to tell people something about the song. Even if you simply tell them why you like the tune, audiences appreciate both the glimpse into the process and the break from constant playing.

    2. It is not pandering to vary your solo order from tune to tune. People do not want to go on the same musical journey over and over again all night.

    3. It is not pandering to use introductions and interludes. Even people as artistically-minded as Ornette Coleman do it. The audience appreciates a brief respite to regroup in the midst of your ensemble's explorations.

    4. It is not pandering to be committed to everything you play. Even in background settings, if you invest yourself thoroughly in the music, you will have a deep time and your 'audience' will enjoy their restaurant experience more. The chef is invested. The servers' very livelihood depends on a great experience. The diners are paying cold cash to be there. Why should the musicians get a pass?

    5. It is not pandering to consider your musical message. Nobody expects you to get a personality transplant in between "Wave" and "Holy Land." But if the only message you're trying to convey all night is, "Damn! I'm reeeel good!" don't be surprised if people tune out.

    For me, that ties it all together. If your band puts out the vibe that they don't much care about the other people in the room, those people will be more inclined to treat the band like background. But if your band puts out the vibe that you care about peoples' experience people will be more willing to follow you in your musical explorations.

    Ultimately you can only bring what you've got. If you are someone who just doesn't care what the audience thinks there's no point pretending. Of course, you never know when {insert name here} is in the audience and you wind up wishing you had cared . . .

    NEXT
  19. notabene

    notabene

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    Like all of us, the issue of inattentive audiences is irritating to me. Especially on ballads. But, feeling irritated at it recently, I waxed nostalgic and remembered some great musical highlights of my own listening past.
    Around 1964, Slug's Tavern, on third street between Ave B and C in the lower east side NYC, now, for real estate sales more glamorously called Soho, or The East Village, or something similar, had great music every night (I lived around the block on B street) with mostly hard bop players such as Jackie Mclean, Booker Ervin, Lee Morgan (shot outside sometime after) and Roy Haynes, admittedly high energy guys. The place was always packed, and always really really loud, the pimps, hookers, and stoned Bohemians talking loudly through everything. And somehow, through the din, the ecstasy (the feel, not the drug) of the music still was palpable, and plied its magic through the chaos. So even though the audience didn't apply concert hall standards of behavior, they "got it".
    I know how frustrating it is to seem to be casting pearls before swine, but sometimes the swine are "getting it" despite boorish behavior.

    Steven
  20. John Goldsby

    John Goldsby Supporting Member

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    Thanks for the Slugs observations, Steven. I wish I had been there to catch that vibe! What a scene.

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