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When is it 'my trio'?

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by Kitschead, Oct 12, 2010.

  1. This is a bit of an odd question I guess. I know there's no real proper answer but I'm just intrigued to hear some opinions.

    When my schedule clears up a bit more I'm going to start actively looking for some gigs around the area. I've got a couple of guys in mind who I'm pretty sure would be interested in doing some work however they're both probably more experienced and better integrated into the local jazz scene than I am (we're all young, around the age of 18-20).

    Providing I book the gigs and select the tunes, would it be weird of me to promote it as The [my name] Trio considering I'm probably the least experienced out of the three of us? It would really only be for the convenience of having a simple band name to save having to come up with some other one. Besides, having a band name seems a little inappropriate if we'd just be playing standards in a quiet cafe/bar.

  2. I see no reason not to call it your trio- perfectly appropriate.
  3. You book the gigs, you can call it whatever you want..........
  4. eddododo

    eddododo Supporting Member

    Apr 7, 2010
    haha i definitely agree that if you book it its yours

    but more to the point, do YOU feel comfortable with that title? What made it Mingus's group or Mile's group was that they were undeniably in charge, musically and otherwise. It's a little different when you're calling realbook tunes and what-have-you; are you calling the shots? I don't mean dictating, but rather are the musical (repertoire and how its played) decisions yours
  5. Krakmann


    Jan 6, 2009
    Madrid (Spain)

    How would the others feel about it?
  6. Tampabass

    Tampabass Going Viral By 2080 Supporting Member

    Feb 16, 2006
    Why not?
    If it's a pick-up/playing standards gig, then the guys you hire aren't going to care. If they did, then THEY'd be the ones going out and getting the gigs.
    Plus, if the group sounds good, then it can help get your name out there. And if that leads to more gigs, that's nothing but positive for you AND your bandmates.
    Don't overanalyze it. And yes, you do need a band name, even if you're "just playing standards." Unless you don't care if you ever play anywhere else.
  7. SteveC

    SteveC Moderator Staff Member

    Nov 12, 2004
    Eastern North Dakota
    Call it what you want. You're taking the initiative, you're getting it together, you'll probably book the gigs - maybe with some help from the other guys, but that's no big deal, you'll be calling tunes, deciding arrangements, etc. Even though there will and should be input from everyone, in the end there needs to be one person in charge or it won't work. That's true no matter the size of the band or genre.

    You do need a name, even if you're juts calling standards...and there's nothing wrong with that.
  8. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004
    I agree that, given you're the one doing the organizing, getting the gigs, etc., you have every right to call it what you want. That said, personally, I wouldn't choose something eponymous. It would just make me uncomfortable because it can be seen as smacking of a bit of ego and publicly relegates two other musicians to subordinate status. Of course, many trios have been named after their musical leaders. They were clearly the dominant and featured musicians and, in those cases, it seemed to make sense, e.g., The Ray Brown Trio. I have been involved with two guys organizing trios. Neither one was comfortable with that approach. If you are, then fine because it's your decision to make. Just offering my $0.02.
  9. I'm rarely the "dominant" musician in any group I play in, but if I book the gig, I usually book it under my name so there is no confusion regarding to whom the check should be written. ;)
  10. Sam Sherry

    Sam Sherry Inadvertent Microtonalist Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2001
    Portland, ME
    Euphonic Audio "Player"
    I'm the other guy. I always felt like, 'What's the point of naming the band after Joe Doaks?' Unless your name happens to be "Miles Davis" of course.

    I am not "trying to build a name for myself." Nobody comes to see Sam Sherry except my parents. Consequently, bands which at one point or another might have been booked as "Sam Sherry And His Overbearing Ego" have instead benefited from appellations like The Orion Ensemble, Sam Sherry & Ursa Major, and The Local Buzzards.
  11. Tampabass

    Tampabass Going Viral By 2080 Supporting Member

    Feb 16, 2006
    "It would just make me uncomfortable because it can be seen as smacking of a bit of ego and publicly relegates two other musicians to subordinate status."

    I used to worry about this, but now I don't. and I disagree. It's not at all an ego thing and it doesn't relegate anyone to subordinate status. It's just a convenient way to book a gig, and everyone in the band knows about that. And it makes it easier to get other gigs in the future, because it's easier for potential bookers/clients to remember a person's name than it is to remember the name of the band.

    Now if you're talking about what I call a band band, a group where all members are equally involved in writing songs, putting together arrangements, thinking about the "concept" of the band, then, yeah, all should be involved in coming up with the name of the band and it shouldn't be one guy's name.

    But for playing standards, etc.? Again, don't overthink it. Just use your name, and book the gig.

    Another positive for using your name for these types of gigs: If you have to get a sub for one of the positions, you won't have to worry about whether the "original" player's absence means you need a different name. The Joe Smith Trio is still the Joe Smith Trio if one of the guys can't make the gig (unless, of course, it's Joe Smith).
  12. TroyK

    TroyK Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    I think the question of "when is it my trio" is fairly easy to answer. If you assemble the musicians, build the book and book the gigs, it's your trio.

    Whether you want to name it after yourself is a person decision. I see nothing wrong with it, but I made a decision long ago never to name a band after myself. It goes against my comfort level as "guy behind the guy", even if I'm actually running the band.

    I have put my own trio together and we're getting busy these days. It's very rewarding, but we have a band name. It's preference and personal comfort.
  13. SteveC

    SteveC Moderator Staff Member

    Nov 12, 2004
    Eastern North Dakota
    I play in the Matt Strand Group (MSG) and have no problem with it. Matt plays piano and sings, he picks tunes, provides charts (via our iPads) and books gigs. There's a little ego involved, but he'd never admit that. He'd list the reasons I did, and that's fine. If I had a problem with it I wouldn't play with him I suppose. Doesn't seem like the drummer or guitar player have issues either.

    We've joked that we should name one of our bands "Steve Plays Bass" as that is my usual response when asked opinions about things band related - "I'm just the bass player." I actually think it has a nice ring to it.
  14. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004
    Now, you may be comfortable with it and that's fine. It does, however, by its very nature, highlight and elevate one member over the other two.

    Precisely. It's a matter of personal comfort and the OP should do as he wishes.
  15. Tampabass

    Tampabass Going Viral By 2080 Supporting Member

    Feb 16, 2006
    "It does, however, by definition, highlight and elevate one member over the other two (subordination, by definition)."

    Maybe it's a perception/reality thing. In my case, the "subordination" only occurs if the listener is solely paying attention to the name on the bill. Anyone actually listening to the band would be aware that there is no subordination, and that it's all about a group effort.

    Again, I've rarely used my own name for groups, for the reason that you mentioned (worries about appearing egotistical, etc.). But in retrospect, I've come to understand that people do this for the sake of convenience, and for the sake of making it easier to get more work.

    I played a couple of festival dates where I didn't want to use my "regular" group, so I used my name - the XX trio or XX quintet or whatever. Anyone watching or hearing the band was well aware that it was a group effort, and not all about me. No egotism involved, just a decision made for practical reasons - it wasn't a "permanent" band, just a one-off, so no reason to devise a special name.
  16. Nathan Parker

    Nathan Parker

    Oct 10, 2008
    Seattle, WA
    In my limited experience, the person who books the gig names the group. In regarding jazz groups, I would say the most common thing is to call it the: Insert your name here trio. That seems to be the norm in Seattle. I've never perceived it as an ego thing, but I am pretty dense. I see it more as tradition. If it was good enough for Cannonball Adderly, it's good enough for me.
  17. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004
    I was limiting my comments to a "permanent band." Seems like a different story if it's a one-shot gig. Also, it wasn't the listener that was/is my concern. It's the fellow musicians. There's no real disagreement here among all of us-- just, perhaps, different comfort levels. Everyone seems to agree that if the OP is comfortable with it, then there's really no basis for the other two to object. I think that answers the question he was asking. Summed up by "whatever floats your boat." :)
  18. TroyK

    TroyK Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    And just to clarify, I have no issue playing a good group named for someone else. If the music is good and we've got work and they can pull off putting themselves out there like that, it makes literally no difference to me. As a matter of fact, I prefer it to having that awful 3 month argument of what we're going to name the band.
  19. Big B.

    Big B.

    Dec 31, 2007
    Austin, TX
    If you have a reputation as a local player it might be more effective for a group to be named after one of the members. When my current trio started playing together we just booked it under the name of whoever booked the gig. As familiar faces we felt that we were more likely to make an initial draw than with a band name that no one recognized. Once we established ourselves as a trio we changed to a catchy band name.

    Personally, I have never had an issue with the gig being booked under someone else's name.
  20. Anonymatt


    Jan 3, 2009
    Brooklyn, NY
    If you're playing for a jazz audience, they probably won't perceive it as a funny ego thing. When I was younger, I always thought things like "Well who does Steve Miller think he is anyway?"

    But when I walk in a place and a jazz group has something more like a rock band's name, I think it's a little funny, like, "There's not one of you that is down with identifying yourselves as a leader?"

    In a trio, there could even be room for "The LastName, LastName, LastName Trio".

    I mean, I know that instrumental songs have titles that are some kind of abstraction of the feeling the music gives the composer, but band names don't really have to be. (I guess some classical composers didn't really name their songs either) Uh...but I digress...
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