Monday, December 15, 2003

A Few Measures of Rest

The long string of performances is finally over; I can hang up the gig clothes for a while (maybe even wash 'em first, haha). I can also now claim the fact that I have done the guest-artist thing for a band without a single rehearsal (granted, on a tune I've played about 18 zillion times).

So how did it go? Well...people liked it. Was I among the people? Umm...I guess it was OK. There were a lot of unexpected things going on, like the backgrounds not coming in every second chorus like we always do at the college. I had forgotten till I got there that there was no chording instrument behind me--very different (and the bass dropped the last four bars after the unison lick)...also, I wasn't miked for the "SNL" opening solo, which really felt strange.

But, all that aside, I did get to have a little friendly "battle" of choruses with Fizban, which is always fun--Luke and Yoda jousting with plastic light-sabers, if you wish. Fizban said on his site that I annihilated him, but I still felt like I left a lot of my good stuff in the warmup room (driven away by the distraction). Maybe we can reprise the battle again another time after I've been able to be there for at least a soundcheck or something.

So I chalk this up as a learning experience, as are all gigs...yes, I'm still learning; anyone who thinks they've stopped learning is either 1) fooling himself or 2) dead. I guess the next step for me is to be so "on" for a performance that any sort of distraction or mishap won't faze me in the least. I found out on Friday that my onstage "ball of focus" is immune from, say, having a mike fall off its stand into my hands, but I obviously need to work on making my own strong statement through the horn even if the rhythm section has less emotion than Band-in-a-Box. It's also possible that I got myself too hyped up for this one, just because so many people who are so important to me were going to be there. The thing is, they supported me anyway...but it's all good. I'll learn from it. I will be better.

(UPDATE: After sleeping on this, I decided that the thing that put me most out-of-sorts last night was the whole thing of not being miked. You simply have to mike a saxophone playing over a big band in a large auditorium, or the player will have to change the way he plays to get an acceptable volume, which will make all kinds of other things not-so-acceptable. The director, a trumpet player, may not really be aware of this, as a trumpet can soar unamplified over a big band like few other instruments [Dingus had the same problem I did on his trombone feature of getting buried in the texture]. I didn't press the issue when the director said "well, nobody else has been miked tonight" because I didn't want to come off like a prima donna...but next time I'll hold my ground.)

I did test out a sort of extreme version of Inspiration Theory tonight: from about 1:00 this afternoon on, my car was radio station KLUK--all Chicken, all the time. I must have rolled the Jaco "Birthday Concert" version with Mintzer and Brecker at least seven times before I got to the school. It definitely gave me some more licks for that tune, even if some of them never left the horn.

Oh yeah, and Dingus had a feature too (was supposed to be his trombone instructor's, but the guy bailed on it a day or two ago). He talks about it here so I'll let your Dingus do the talking (laugh if you get that really, really old joke).

So now it's about time for the New Orleans Bowl trip. It's a mini-trip, really; I'll be there less than 24 hours. I doubt there'll be a "Kev, Live From New Orleans" entry like Demon Halfling did recently, because I'm not likely to be near a computer when I'm there (though we are staying in a Marriott Radisson, so who knows...this is assuming I actually get any sleep to begin with). I'll leave in the morning after a short stint teaching four three beginners (one already called in sick). This will be the shortest trip I've taken to the Big Easy since I saw Sonny Rollins at the House of Blues in '99 and stayed there about 16 hours, but it'll be nice to have a change of venue for a time, and very cool to cheer for my alma mater on the big stage. Go Mean Green!

SECOND-BEST QUOTE OF THE DAY: (excerpted from a conversation between me and a high school student I teach at the store)
ME: Do you have exams this week? I didn't know if your school was on semesters or trimesters.
HSS: My school's on semesters, but there are a lot of girls at school on "trimesters" alright...

Scary, but true, no doubt.

BEST QUOTE OF THE DAY: (excerpted from a phone conversation between me and the fraternity brother who's letting me crash on his hotel floor in New Orleans)

ME: So how's everything going out there? Having a good time so far?
HIM: Yeah, it's been great. We got our picture taken with an actual pimp!

And I'm staying with this guy? Forget what I said about getting sleep...

OK, I'll be back here on Wednesday with a full report and a non-review (can't give away the plot *snickers*) of the new LOTR, for which I secured tickets tonight. (Btw, to the guys going: the tix were $7.50, but they tacked on a .75 charge per ticket for buying over the Net, so it was $8.25 total. So Will, I want my two quarters back, plus another one. *grins*)