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I sat in with a band last Sunday I have never played with before. I was struck watching them play before I came up that they looked like 5 guys dragged off the street in street clothes, not dirty but looking like hanging out with friends at sports bar, the band set up was weird , horns split up on either side of the stage and bass and drums not together. (why I suspected that the horns were out of tune and the bass and drums not together) The songs were kind of but not tight and everybody soloed every tune with what I thought were overlong /boring solos. They never seemed to interact with each other on stage, nobody seemed to enjoy themselves, and if I hadn't personally walked the tip jar around they would have had next to nothing there. So, I'm friends with one of the horn players who's a co leader of the group. I mentioned all this to him after the gig and his response was they are all players and view themselves as artists not entertainers.? Hmmm. I can understand seeing yourself as a good player (they I think are) I don't think you sell out as an artist if you acknowledge that there is an audience out there listening and make some attempt to put on a show) after all why come to that establishment to play if you dont' care what others think? and I didn't expect them to do steps or dance moves or whatever but nobody smiled, rarely looked at each other and it seemed like 4 guys with an tebersold playalong. The solos showed technique and some chops. But I texted my friend after the gig to forget playing every scale he knows and the latest cute lick and just tell a story. We are still friends but he seems to think that we just have different approaches? Mine is to connect and reach an audience and his is his jazz exploration? I don't think they are mutually exclusive. I remember my heros of jazz wearing nice clothes and trying to Jazz up their appearance in addition to their music. I remember them looking like they were enjoying them selves, member to member interaction. Solos made sense , had beginning middles and ends? not just blah blah blah for 10 minutes then its your turn. For what was most frustrating was that I thought these guys were good players and I wondered what they would sound like if it did feel like a band/polished project. Lastly , they all had the music stand thing going. I personally like to see it all memorized but maybe they hadn't rehearsed the arrangements? Combine music stands with wind and no clothespins and you have where are we now looks all over. I m happy I did sit in. I really hadn't intended to so all I had was my flute not my sax. When I soloed I did what I described, I tried to make musical sense, have a beg mid end to my solo and "tell a story". And I was into others as they soloed. In short I was making no money so I was trying to have good time and get other to also? K
 

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Right on, Keith. It sounds like the band you cite should keep their music to the rehearsal space, and not bother with the issues of performing to an audience. And there's nothing wrong with that at all. I've played for many years with a "rehearsal" band that met only to play for the sake of playing. There was a lot of great music but the only ones there to enjoy it were fellow musicians.

And amen to presentation on the band stand. To riff on Dave Pollack's ball cap: "Make Jazz Great Again".
 

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I sat in with a band last Sunday I have never played with before. I was struck watching them play before I came up that they looked like 5 guys dragged off the street in street clothes, not dirty but looking like hanging out with friends at sports bar, the band set up was weird , horns split up on either side of the stage and bass and drums not together. (why I suspected that the horns were out of tune and the bass and drums not together) The songs were kind of but not tight and everybody soloed every tune with what I thought were overlong /boring solos. They never seemed to interact with each other on stage, nobody seemed to enjoy themselves, and if I hadn't personally walked the tip jar around they would have had next to nothing there. So, I'm friends with one of the horn players who's a co leader of the group. I mentioned all this to him after the gig and his response was they are all players and view themselves as artists not entertainers.? Hmmm. I can understand seeing yourself as a good player (they I think are) I don't think you sell out as an artist if you acknowledge that there is an audience out there listening and make some attempt to put on a show) after all why come to that establishment to play if you dont' care what others think? and I didn't expect them to do steps or dance moves or whatever but nobody smiled, rarely looked at each other and it seemed like 4 guys with an tebersold playalong. The solos showed technique and some chops. But I texted my friend after the gig to forget playing every scale he knows and the latest cute lick and just tell a story. We are still friends but he seems to think that we just have different approaches? Mine is to connect and reach an audience and his is his jazz exploration? I don't think they are mutually exclusive. I remember my heros of jazz wearing nice clothes and trying to Jazz up their appearance in addition to their music. I remember them looking like they were enjoying them selves, member to member interaction. Solos made sense , had beginning middles and ends? not just blah blah blah for 10 minutes then its your turn. For what was most frustrating was that I thought these guys were good players and I wondered what they would sound like if it did feel like a band/polished project. Lastly , they all had the music stand thing going. I personally like to see it all memorized but maybe they hadn't rehearsed the arrangements? Combine music stands with wind and no clothespins and you have where are we now looks all over. I m happy I did sit in. I really hadn't intended to so all I had was my flute not my sax. When I soloed I did what I described, I tried to make musical sense, have a beg mid end to my solo and "tell a story". And I was into others as they soloed. In short I was making no money so I was trying to have good time and get other to also? K
If they actually believe that, they will be doing the same thing in 20 years. It's show business! At least dress better than the crowd and act like you're enjoying yourself. Here's why - people are not musicians - they don't know what you're doing, which is why 'jazz' only makes it with a select few. Its really on almost a feral level - they react to what they see and hear. 90% of information we take in is through our vision, so its very important to look the part and at least ACT like you're having fun - be energetic - smile at them - establish a sort of 'contact'. Unfortunately, most musicians do not get how to play in the same way they act. IOW, they can play the music but they never will establish that 'bridge' to the non-musicians. Sometimes you will see a whole band like this and its sad to see. More frequently a band partly like that will have one or two 'aware' performers who are getting across. Rarely, you will see a whole group that is 'on' - it probably will be in a major venue.
 

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...I was struck watching them play before I came up that they looked like 5 guys dragged off the street in street clothes...

...the band set up was weird...

...The songs were kind of but not tight and everybody soloed every tune with what I thought were overlong /boring solos. They never seemed to interact with each other on stage, nobody seemed to enjoy themselves...

...I texted my friend after the gig to forget playing every scale he knows...

...Lastly , they all had the music stand thing going. I personally like to see it all memorized but maybe they hadn't rehearsed the arrangements?
Man Keith, you just listed most of my pet peeves when it comes to some bands. The ironic thing is, most of this stuff is fairly easily addressed, much easier to 'fix' than say, learning to actually play to a really high level.

For example, I've always had the idea that the band members should be dressed better, in most cases, than the audience. That's easy enough to do, especially on most gigs (weddings aside). Band set up is important also, not so much from the audience perspective but in terms of balance and communication on the bandstand.

Playing with tight arrangements, good intros, endings, reasonably tight solos, are all things that separate a rehearsed band from a loose jam session (most audiences will much prefer the former).

And at least look like you are enjoying yourself (if you're not enjoying it, what are you doing it for?--but that's a separate issue) and maybe even banter a bit with the audience.

Finally, aside from a big band or really large ensemble situation, I see no need for music stands. The music should be memorized, at least the parts that aren't improvised.

I would put all of what you describe under being an artist; it also touches on being an entertainer, but is really just the basics of presenting the music in a digestible way.
 

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I agree with everyone. (so far)

In answer to the question, yes - you can be both. Dizzy Gillespie, Louis Armstrong, James Moody, Dudley Moore, Slim Gaillard.

Some are weighted one way more than the other but if you want to be all artist or all entertainer you'd better be a damn good one.
 

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In a band where the players challenge & appreciate one another artistically, the audience gets caught up in the interplay & feels entertained. Moves or banter are not necessary; engagement is.

Good sightlines on the bandstand help players stay in the moment & signal to one another. Music stands kill this dead. Would you read a newspaper while making love? No, you wouldn't. Not twice, anyway.

A well-constructed set list has a dramatic arc, with tunes sequentially embodying intro, exposition, rising tension, conflict, climax, denouement. An audience can stay with the band through a gamut of emotions & remain captivated 'til the end.

Solos need to be efficient & not too terribly self-indulgent. Get in, say your say, get out.

I was fortunate to work for years in a band that understood these principles & developed these skills. I can testify that this works, whether one is busking in the street, playing in a club, or headlining at a festival.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Agree 100% and I didn't even notice the Set list. I don't think there was any thought put into that. Its what do you want to do next on the bandstand. I really agree a good set list with anarc that hits at the end of the set really can get get acrowd going . but thats my whole point. this gig looked like it was for them not an audience. But its not my band , not my worry. I was just struck by my friend saying that were artists not entertainers.and thats why it wasn't necessary to engage the crowd? He's right it wasn't very entertaining. If I wasn't a friend i wouldn't go back.
In a band where the players challenge & appreciate one another artistically, the audience gets caught up in the interplay & feels entertained. Moves or banter are not necessary; engagement is.

Good sightlines on the bandstand help players stay in the moment & signal to one another. Music stands kill this dead. Would you read a newspaper while making love? No, you wouldn't. Not twice, anyway.

A well-constructed set list has a dramatic arc, with tunes sequentially embodying intro, exposition, rising tension, conflict, climax, denouement. An audience can stay with the band through a gamut of emotions & remain captivated 'til the end.

Solos need to be efficient & not too terribly self-indulgent. Get in, say your say, get out.

I was fortunate to work for years in a band that understood these principles & developed these skills. I can testify that this works, whether one is busking in the street, playing in a club, or headlining at a festival.
 

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Agree agree agree :) As an example of how artistic integrity and high entertainment value can occupy the same space, this popped up in my Youtube feed this AM. Better than a cup of coffee...
 

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Dr G thanks for the shout out!! (Make Jazz Fun Again)!

I absolutely think you can be both!! I'm a firm believer in playing to the gig/room/etc. Even if you're being incredibly creative, artistic, and musically adventurous, you can still give the audience (AND THE OTHER BAND MEMBERS) something besides the sonic enjoyment. I'm a firm believer that if you're having fun (or even just TRYING to have fun) while you play, the end result will be better. It might not be more harmonically dense, more rhythmically diverse, but I bet there will be elements of the performance that are elevated from both the audience and performer's points of view.

Now I'm not saying at your next standards trio gig at the Vanguard you should be doing backflips while playing (re: playing to the room...don't do that at the Vanguard) but just the mere sight of a performer interacting with and enjoying the company of his/her bandmate does loads of good for the onlooker.

I could keep going and going, but I need to cut it short at some point. One of the reasons I started my MJFA crusade is that during a lot of gigs I noticed people seeming like they were having a BAD time. Not just "not getting into it," but they actually looked bored/pissed off to be there. Now I don't know what some of their motives were for taking the gig, but that doesn't matter- we were playing uplifting, engaging, and downright fun music and they looked like they were getting audited by the IRS. People would be playing a KILLING solo- audience hollering, me clapping/hollering/wooing/doing all my wild $#*T on the bandstand, and other band members were just stoic- no reaction at all. I just kept thinking to myself...man, I hope they're ok. And they were FINE- that's the issue! They were just playing the ink on the page and getting through it- sounding great, but lacking other aspects of PERFORMANCE.


Ok, sorry. /rant

#makejazzfunagain
 

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Excellent video...that's entertainment and great musicianship. The issue of Artist vs Entertainer doesn't (IMHO) require a one way or the other split. Having a purpose to what your doing and being clear about it is important though. Why would anyone go to play (entertain) and audience and have nothing they are giving them. The "I'm an artist so revere me" attitude works for very few people, and it's usually after they have paid some hefty dues and may even deserve it.

OK...this may offend some...too bad: it's way too often that people playing jazz have an attitude of trying to impress an audience and TAKE from them approval, rather than GIVE them entertainment. Playing technical solos, one band member after another, is not an audience pleaser unless you are an unbelievably great musician. For the average player you're giving your audience nothing. As Keith said you need to connect and be telling stories and GIVING them something. The "I'm an artist" attitude is mostly a cop out to having nothing to say. In my mind a real artist is a communicator who is trying to give their listener/viewer an experience, an emotion, or a vision. They are not trying to TAKE approval, that's a "watch me mommie" syndrome and gets about the same amount of respect. Altogether I think it coming to a point where the lack of audience interest in mainstream style jazz is starting to sink in for musicians. It's about the music played and communication and not doing endless solos that are ego driven technical variations on "standards". The formulae is flawed and the end result of the mainstream style is a group of technically proficient players who are each trying to be the fastest gun in the West. Most audiences don't care and you're just boring them. It's time to move on. Mainstream style was a fashion of the mid 20th century. It has little/no relevance to the majority of today's audiences.
 

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Excellent video...that's entertainment and great musicianship. The issue of Artist vs Entertainer doesn't (IMHO) require a one way or the other split. Having a purpose to what your doing and being clear about it is important though. Why would anyone go to play (entertain) and audience and have nothing they are giving them. The "I'm an artist so revere me" attitude works for very few people, and it's usually after they have paid some hefty dues and may even deserve it.

OK...this may offend some...too bad: it's way too often that people playing jazz have an attitude of trying to impress an audience and TAKE from them approval, rather than GIVE them entertainment. Playing technical solos, one band member after another, is not an audience pleaser unless you are an unbelievably great musician. For the average player you're giving your audience nothing. As Keith said you need to connect and be telling stories and GIVING them something. The "I'm an artist" attitude is mostly a cop out to having nothing to say. In my mind a real artist is a communicator who is trying to give their listener/viewer an experience, an emotion, or a vision. They are not trying to TAKE approval, that's a "watch me mommie" syndrome and gets about the same amount of respect. Altogether I think it coming to a point where the lack of audience interest in mainstream style jazz is starting to sink in for musicians. It's about the music played and communication and not doing endless solos that are ego driven technical variations on "standards". The formulae is flawed and the end result of the mainstream style is a group of technically proficient players who are each trying to be the fastest gun in the West. Most audiences don't care and you're just boring them. It's time to move on. Mainstream style was a fashion of the mid 20th century. It has little/no relevance to the majority of today's audiences.
I agree with A LOT of what you are saying, but it sounds like you're saying jazz is completely dead or something. Your location says South Pacific- I have no reason to think you're lying about that, so I assume the jazz scene isn't that great there? I only say this because I play in NYC/Philly a lot and there is a ton of audience interest and interaction with jazz gigs I'm at (whether playing or attending).
 

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I saw Chris Botti recently and he had both, as did the entire band.

Great to see this these days. I was incredibly entertained and the caliber of musicianship was simply off the charts.
 

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Yes you absolutely can be both (and should, if you want to make more money/get more gigs). Engage with the audience, even if it's between songs, a little banter, something to get them involved in what you're doing... it goes a long way.
 

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Anybody who calls himself/herself an artist and not an entertainer, will not get a job in my band.

And anybody who isn't having fun while performing isn't welcome in my band.

They call it PLAYing music for a good reason.

Sam Butera was a great sax man, Louis Prima was an excellent songwriter and trumpet player, and their band had exaggerated, playful, almost camp comedic movements, contrasted by Keely Smith who stood deadpan most of the time and made them look even more silly and energetic. They had a long run as a top act in Vegas.

That's just one example.

Guitarists make "guitar faces" saxophonists grimace and hold their horn high when wailing, Chuck Berry did the Duck Walk, Elvis shook his hips, the Beatles shook their heads and let out falsetto whoos and the girls screamed,

Work is for practice and rehearsal, by the time you get an audience, it's time to have as much fun as a child playing his/her favorite game.

Insights and incites by Notes
 

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Anybody who calls himself/herself an artist and not an entertainer, will not get a job in my band.

And anybody who isn't having fun while performing isn't welcome in my band.

They call it PLAYing music for a good reason.

Sam Butera was a great sax man, Louis Prima was an excellent songwriter and trumpet player, and their band had exaggerated, playful, almost camp comedic movements, contrasted by Keely Smith who stood deadpan most of the time and made them look even more silly and energetic. They had a long run as a top act in Vegas.

That's just one example.

Guitarists make "guitar faces" saxophonists grimace and hold their horn high when wailing, Chuck Berry did the Duck Walk, Elvis shook his hips, the Beatles shook their heads and let out falsetto whoos and the girls screamed,

Work is for practice and rehearsal, by the time you get an audience, it's time to have as much fun as a child playing his/her favorite game.
I agree with you in general, but don't forget this is a thread about jazz, so although the Sam Butera Louis Prima example is good, I'm not sure about Elvis and the Beatles being that relevant.

But yes, when I was a bandleader anyone wo just looked po-faced or didn't wear decent stage clothes and be engaged in the performace didn't last long. The word performance is an important one to me, players need to perform, otherwise it's a recital.
 

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Sam Butera was a great sax man, Louis Prima was an excellent songwriter and trumpet player, and their band had exaggerated, playful, almost camp comedic movements, contrasted by Keely Smith who stood deadpan most of the time and made them look even more silly and energetic.
Just an aside, but recently I heard an interview with Keely Smith that was recorded on npr some years ago and it was really interesting, on a lot of levels. One thing she said was that her deadpan 'act' was not an act. It was just the way she was on stage and, given the contrasting antics of Sam and Louis, it worked.

Hey Pete, I like your take on performance vs a recital. I know which I'd rather watch/hear as an audience member!
 

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Check out the look Bird gave to Earl at 0:34, after Earl referred to them as 'you boys!' And, during their performance, while they weren't dancing around (which I have seen Dizzy do), that band was definitely performing. Bird and Diz stood tall, blowing their ^&%s off, while the bass player and drummer were communicating and swinging like crazy, with huge smiles.

I saw Dizzy in live performance several times back in the early '70s and it was always an uplifting spectacular experience. I could only imagine what it would have been like to have seen him with Bird. I'd give literally anything to go back in time and see both Dizzy and Bird playing together.
 

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I've seen Cannonball Adderley and Joe Williams in person, and those guys put the rap on the audience and had everyone in stitches. Their personalities were extroverted and they brought that to the stage. People are attracted to that.

But could you see John Coltrane interacting with an audience like that?
Check out Osibisa and see a band that really engages the audience. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wcup5JKTpOc
 
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