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New York guys: repertoire question

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by Snarf, Dec 4, 2012.

  1. Snarf


    Jan 23, 2005
    New York, NY
    Hey, so I'm starting to go to the sessions at Tea Lounge, 5th Estate, etc, and while my technique is pretty good, my rep knowledge is AWFUL. When I was in school all I worked on was technique and just read off the lead sheets, never bothering to memorize anything. I need to make good use of the practice time that I have (when I'm not shedding 80's cover tunes . . . ) to make sure I cover the tunes that get played most often at the NYC sessions.

    So what tunes come to mind? I've got about 30 standards in my head, not counting blues and rhythm. I'm finding that the tunes that get called, I don't even recognize, just assuming they're Wayne Shorter tunes or something. Any help on the rep?

  2. dperrott


    Oct 3, 2005
    Go to the sessions first and see what tunes or type of tunes get called. Talk to some people there and ask them. That is probably the best method. We could all chime in tons of tunes, but if they aren't appropriate to the session, its not helpful.
  3. isolated

    isolated Zenkaku

    This statement indicates to me that you have spent insufficient time listening to records. Your profile indicates that you were educated at a Well-Known Music School. Does the Well-Known Music School not have any required listening lists? Did your private teachers not impress upon you the importance of listening to this music? Do you not like to listen to this music?

    That being said: after the session, do you go up to the players and ask them what the tunes were? That might be the fastest way to find out.
  4. pnchad

    pnchad Supporting Member

    Nov 3, 2005
    with the other comments above

    I've seen this more than once lately - young players, who might have some skills, not informed and/or exposed to the 'jazz cannon'

    forget about memorizing chord changes - spend some time listening to all the greats - there's a boatload of resources

    you should be able to identify the tune (standard) in the first 8 (hell even 4) bars by the melody

    once you can do that you'll start recognizing patterns, commonalities and even when substitutions are being used

    walk before you run
  5. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Not giving us much to work with Snarf. What are some of the titles that get called? Cause if it was me and I was on the stand and somebody said "Let's play THIS TUNE YOU NEVER HEARD OF BEFORE." instead of just assuming it was by Wayne Shorter I'd probably say "I never heard that before, what record is it on?" And when they told me I'd say "Solid, let's do it next week."

    And just so I understand, are you playing the sessions or just making the hang?
  6. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    That's the way I've done it as well - so I go along to Jazz gigs and when I've heard a nice tune that I hadn't heard before, I went and talked to the band members and asked them what it was. I think this is a good way to get involved and nobody has ever been dismissive or unfriendly - I think most Jazz musicians are "open" and like to meet people who share the same interest in the music.

    It's a great way to get tips as well - at one gig I talked to the Scandinavian bassist Jasper Hoiby and he explained about a tune I liked, that it was in 15, split into a 7 and and 8 but which was pushed. It was a very interesting feel that made no sense, until he explained it to me .
  7. Jimnastix


    Jan 21, 2011
    +1 on talking to the players on the gig.

    I blew into NYC a few years back and inadvertently ended up sitting in at a few places. I felt intimidated at the time but every (without exception) bass player and other muso I talked to was receptive to having someone play.
    It's not Kansas City 1935, and no one is gonna pitch a cymbal at you for blowing a wrong note, if you have some idea.
    As for concrete suggestions, if you don't know a tune, call one you do. Find a couple outside the canon to pull out to show your awareness of the broader repertoire. And don't sweat if you have to pass - as mentioned, talking to guys you admire about tunes you don't know could ultimately be just as good a way to get in the loop as playing the same tune with them immediately on introduction, and probably a better way than ballsing it up straight away.
    Good luck...
  8. gerry grable

    gerry grable Supporting Member

    Nov 9, 2010
    Huh :confused:
  9. I kindly suggest some jazz homework, Gerry.
  10. gerry grable

    gerry grable Supporting Member

    Nov 9, 2010
    When I was living in KC in the 60s, I heard a lot of stories from Basie's dear friend, Milton Morris, who ran a jazz speakeasy through the 30s and still (1960s) had Milton's Bar where he had unpaid bar tabs and bad checks from all kinds of famous and unknown musicians taped to window shades which hung at the top of of the bar mirrors. He always cashed musician's pay checks, but not until he dramatically pulled down the shades to show how many tabs and bum checks he had. Anyway, I never heard a cymbol-throwing story from him though he had tons of stories about Walter Paige, Jay McShann, Lester, et al. The cymbol anecdote sounds, off the top of my head, like an embellishment of the Bird-gets-cut story. I personally always found KC to be a very friendly jam session town, and note at that time they still had the infamously segregated musician's union! As for jazz homework, I'm getting too long in the tooth for that, and I might add, I have two or three years on you, son ;)
  11. hgiles


    Nov 8, 2012
    Yeah, its better to go to the session and just listen to whats being called. You should at least know the titles of the tunes as you hear the melody.

    Or get RB1 and start shedding:

    1 The tunes you know
    2 The tunes you recognize
    3 The tunes youve heard of
    4 The remaining tunes youve never heard of

    ."..once youve learned a thousand tunes you realize there's really only ten tunes"
  12. Spell Check is yer friend, son. :help:
  13. Don't feel bad Gerry. When you were doing some of those schlocky gigs in the house band at the Pocmont other PEOPLE were doing their share working the casinos out west. :help:
  14. chicagodoubler


    Aug 7, 2007
    Chicago, that toddling town
    Endorsing Artist: Lakland, Genz Benz
    Pedagogues- please take note. The current model is NOT preparing players for the real world. Around these parts (an excellent albeit smaller scene than NYC,) the term "college kid" is used as a pejorative.

    Kids need more transcription, more analysis of classic albums, and functional grasp of working repertoire. There are tons of "burning" players coming up that I would only sub a gig to if I really really really hated the leader.

    Knowing 26-2 and antiquated big band rep is fine and everything, but if we aren't teaching real world job skills we are *woefully failing our students,* and should be admonished for such failure.

    One final note- many of us who are moderately competent learned how to play jazz on the stand, with elder professional musicians, not on a friggin' chalkboard.

    Sorry for the rant, but this makes me a little more pissed everyday, and a little more terrified about the future of our art. The shrinking audience isn't the main issue; it's the lack of properly trained, passionate, empathetic young artists.
  15. TroyK

    TroyK Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    Well put, I have a similar thoughts and observations here in Seattle. Don't apologize for the rant, but please do claim your celebrity spirit narrator voice here:

  16. chicagodoubler


    Aug 7, 2007
    Chicago, that toddling town
    Endorsing Artist: Lakland, Genz Benz
    Done, and done.
  17. RSBBass


    Jun 11, 2011
    In my neighborhood there is a vibrant jazz scene with many good young players and some not so good ones. It has been enjoyable to listen to the latter group joint the former as they gig, study, and improve. One thing that is nice is that there are some low key places for newer players to try their skills out.

    As for learning on the bandstand rather than the classroom, these days we need both. There are not enough gigs (nor the right kind) for new players to learn only on the bandstand. Nor are there enough for many fine musicians to make a living by gigging only. The new players make their start by going to school and the more experienced players supplement their income by teaching. That is the current paradigm. It is up to all of us to make it work rather than complaining about it.
  18. Phil Rowan

    Phil Rowan Supporting Member

    Mar 2, 2005
    Brooklyn, NY
    Amen, brother!
  19. gerry grable

    gerry grable Supporting Member

    Nov 9, 2010
    Ha,ha,ha. Ya got me, Paul. What's a couple of misplaced a's between two geezers?
  20. gerry grable

    gerry grable Supporting Member

    Nov 9, 2010
    Yeah, Pocmont was the worst, luckily it didn't last too long. But don't forget Mt. Airy, Fernwood, Skytop, The Summit, Pocono Manor, and the neatest bar lounge--the Buckhill Inn. There were a lot of great, even name-players doing those gigs.
    And by the way, I moved to the Poconos because I got tired of NYC grind and didn't want to go to Caesars Palace (Las Vegas) with the piano player I was playing with at Jilly's.
    I forgot we also played Tamiment, Unity House and Caesar's of the Poconos :)