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For all those people who want to play Jazz...

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Blackbird, Jun 15, 2001.

  1. Blackbird

    Blackbird Moderator Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2000
    A friend just e-mailed this to me. I figure one or two people haven't seen it yet.:D


    List of Characters:


    Pianists are intellectuals and know-it-alls. They studied theory, harmony and composition in college. Most are
    riddled with self-doubt. They are usually bald. They should
    have big hands, but often don't. They were social rejects
    as adolescents. They go home after the gig and play with toy
    soldiers. Pianists have a special love-hate relationship with
    singers. If you talk to the piano player during a break, he
    will condescend.


    Bassists are not terribly smart. The best bassists come to
    terms with their limitations by playing simple lines and
    rarely soloing. During the better musical moments, a bassist
    will pull his strings hard and grunt like an animal. Bass
    players are built big, with paws for hands, and they are
    always bent over awkwardly. If you talk to the bassist during
    a break, you will not be able to tell whether or not
    he's listening.


    Drummers are radical. Specific personalities vary, but are
    always extreme. A drummer might be the funniest person in
    the world, or the most psychotic, or the smelliest. Drummers
    are uneasy because of the many jokes about them, most of which stem from the fact that they aren't really musicians.
    Pianists are particularly successful at making drummers feel bad. Most drummers are highly excitable; when excited, they play louder. If you decide to talk to the drummer during a break, always be careful not to sneak up on him.


    Saxophonists think they are the most important players on
    stage. Consequently, they are temperamental and territorial.
    They know all the Coltrane and Bird licks but have their own
    sound, a mixture of Coltrane and Bird. They take exceptionally
    long solos, which reach a peak half way through and then just
    don't stop. They practice quietly but audibly while other
    people are trying to play. They are obsessed. Saxophonists
    sleep with their instruments, forget to shower, and are
    mangy. If you talk to a saxophonist during a break, you will
    hear a lot of excuses about his reeds.


    Trumpet players are image-conscious and walk with a swagger.
    They are often former college linebackers. Trumpet players
    are very attractive to women, despite the strange indentation
    on their lips. Many of them sing; misguided critics then compare them to either Louis Armstrong or Chet Baker depending whether they're black or white. Arrive at the session early, and you may get to witness the special trumpet game. The rules are: play as loud and as high
    as possible. The winner is the one who plays loudest and highest. If you talk to a trumpet player during a break, he might confess that his favorite player is Maynard Ferguson, the merciless God of loud-high trumpeting.


    Jazz guitarists are never very happy. Deep inside they want to
    be rock stars, but they're old and overweight. In protest, they
    wear their hair long, prowl for groupies, drink a lot, and play
    too loud. Guitarists hate piano players because they can hit
    ten notes at once, but guitarists make up for it by playing as
    fast as they can. The more a guitarist drinks, the higher he
    turns his amp. Then the drummer starts to play harder, and the trumpeter dips into his loud/high arsenal. Suddenly, the
    saxophonist's universe crumbles, because he is no longer the most important player on stage. He packs up his horn, nicks his best reed in haste, and storms out of the room. The pianist struggles to suppress a laugh. If you talk to a guitarist during the break. He'll ask intimate questions about your 14-year-old sister.


    Vocalists are whimsical creations of the all-powerful jazz gods.
    They are placed in sessions to test musicians' capacity for
    suffering. They are not of the jazz world, but enter it
    surreptitiously. Example: A young woman is playing minor roles
    in college musical theater. One day, a misguided campus newspaper critic describes her singing as "...jazzy."
    Viola! A star is born! Quickly she learns "My Funny Valentine,"
    "Summertime," and "Route 66." Her training complete, she embarks on a campaign of musical terrorism. Musicians flee from the bandstand as she approaches. Those who must remain feel the full fury of the jazz universe.
    The vocalist will try to seduce you _-and the rest of the audience- by making eye contact, acknowledging your presence, even talking to you between tunes. DO NOT FALL INTO THIS TRAP! Look away, make your distaste obvious. Otherwise the musicians will avoid you during their breaks. Incidentally, if you talk to a vocalist during
    a break, she will introduce you to her "manager."


    The trombone is known for its pleading, voice-like quality.
    "Listen," it seems to say in the male tenor range, "Why won't
    anybody hire me for a gig?" Trombonists like to play fast, because their notes become indistinguishable and thus immune to criticism. Most trombonists played trumpet in their early years, then decided they didn't want to walk around with a strange indentation on their lips. Now they hate trumpet players, who somehow get all the women despite this disfigurement. Trombonists are usually tall and lean, with forlorn faces. They don't eat much. They have to be very friendly, because nobody really needs a trombonist. Talk to a trombonist during a break and he'll ask you for a gig, try to sell
    you insurance, or offer to mow your lawn.

    Picking the Tune

    Every time a tune ends, someone has to pick a new one. That's a fundamental concept that, unfortunately, runs at odds with jazz group processes. Tune selection makes a huge difference to the musicians. They love to show off on tunes that feel comfortable, and they tremble at the threat of the unknown. But to pick a tune is to invite close scrutiny: "So this is how you sound at your best:


    It's a complex issue with unpredictable outcomes. Sometimes no one wants to pick a tune, and sometimes everyone wants to pick a tune. The resulting disagreements lead to faction-building and-under extreme conditions-even impromptu elections. The politics of tune selection makes for some of the session's best entertainment.

    Example 1: No one wants to pick a tune.
    (previous tune ends)
    trumpet player: "What the hell*? Is someone gonna to pick a tune?"
    trumpet player: "This crap is lame. I'm outa here." (Storms out of room, forgetting to pay tab).

    rest of band (in unison): "Yes!!!" (Band takes extended break,
    puts drinks on trumpet player's tab).

    Example 2: Everyone wants to pick a tune, resulting in impromptu election and eventual tune selection
    (Previous tune ends)
    (pianist and guitarist simultaneously):
    "Beautiful Love!"/"Donna Lee!"
    guitarist to pianist: "You just want to play your fat, stupid
    ten-note chords!"
    pianist to guitarist: "You just want to play a lot of notes
    really fast!"
    saxophonist: "'Giant Steps'."
    (a treacherous Coltrane tune practiced obsessively by
    guitarist and pianist (together): "Go ahead, jerk."
    trumpet player: "This sh*% is lame. 'Night in Tunisia'."
    (a Dizzy Gillespie tune offering bounteous opportunities for
    loud, high playing.)
    saxophonist: "Sorry, forgot my earplugs, Maynard."
    (long, awkward silence)
    pianist, guitarist, saxophonist, trumpet player all turn to drummer: "Your turn, Skinhead." (drummer pauses to think of hardest possible tune; a time-tested drummer ploy to punish real musicians who play actual notes.)
    drummer: "Stablemates."
    trumpet player: Forget this! I'm outta here." (Storms out of room. Bartender chases after him.)
    trombonist: "Did someone forget to turn off the CD player?"

    Not only are these disagreements fun to watch; they create tensions that will last all through the night.

    (As an educated audience member, you might want to keep a flow chart diagramming the shifting alliances. You can also keep statistics on individual tune-calling. Under no circumstances,though, should you take sides or yell out song titles. Things are complicated enough already.)
  2. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    Funny stuff. I wonder where your friend found it or did your friend make it up himself?
  3. cassanova


    Sep 4, 2000
    thats funny stuff. gave me a much needed laugh. thanks!
  4. Blackbird

    Blackbird Moderator Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2000
    Someone forwarded it to him and he forwarded it to me.

  5. Deynn

    Deynn Moderator Emeritus

    Aug 9, 2000
    Funny!!...and all TOO true.....:D
  6. Ahhh what to say, i fully agree! Damn drummers. lol


  7. Blackbird

    Blackbird Moderator Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2000
    Ah, memories...
  8. Don't_Fret

    Don't_Fret Justin Schornstein

    Dec 10, 2003
  9. bassjus


    Mar 30, 2004
    Hahaha, great read.
  10. westland


    Oct 8, 2004
    Hong Kong
    Loved it ...

    It's all true ... right?

    There's more as well ... you should finish this up at Bill Anschell's site
  11. lefty


    Sep 25, 2004
    i just went through the tune selection thing at an an old farts jazz sit in. no one would pick a tune, and the trumpet player was pissed off.
  12. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    Hahaha, I've read this one once before. Good stuff. TBH, after spending several days at a jazz summer camp, it's actually also remarkably accurate ;).
  13. Bard2dbone


    Aug 4, 2002
    Arlington TX
    Now THAT'S funny!

    And this one on newbies...
    I've got to try that some time. :D ;)
  14. phxlbrmpf


    Dec 27, 2002
    Not sure about the bassist playing "simple lines" in Jazz. Oh well, perhaps I only feel this way because my "walking" abilities are extremely poor. -_-
  15. AuG


    May 22, 2005
    Fort Collins, CO

    HAHAHAHA too funny!!!! :p We call our drummer "skinhead" amongst other un-postable names. :D

    Great thread! Glad I could get a laugh at work.
  16. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    It's a joke -- surprisingly enough. Didn't see that one coming, eh?
  17. Im a Trumpet player , and I play more gigs on trumpet than bass and let me just say, he nailed trumpet players dead on.................
  18. westland


    Oct 8, 2004
    Hong Kong
    So the girls and the lip indentation ... that's real?

    His website recants the history of this article ... it was purloined from his website (initial profiling suggests a guitarist or vocalist), and Anscell started receiving emails with his own text attached
  19. phxlbrmpf


    Dec 27, 2002
    I know it's a joke, but I guess I was pissed because of two possible reasons:

    Possible reason 1: this article is pretty damn funny and well-written but whoever wrote it still couldn't think of something more original when describing the bass player

    Possible reason 2: As I'm struggling with improvising decent walking lines at the moment, this means I obviously can't even play "simple lines".

    Who knows, perhaps I was pissed because of both reasons.

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