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Just a guy who plays saxophone.
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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I waited until set break, but yeah, it happened.

preface: I co-captain a collection of 7-8 reasonably high-level players (4-5 per gig) in a house band that hosts a weekly open mic night for emcees and vocalists. We also open for bigger shows and play for/ behind touring acts and guest artists that come through and need a band. Our Tuesday thing is all improv with occasional drops and teases into tunes that happen organically. We let instrumentalists sit in, but it’s really all about keeping the vibe happening for the people on the microphone. We take short solos mostly to pace and space out the emcees a little bit.

This guy comes in who frequents the funk jam session I host at another club…like, he’s there every time and he acts entitled to the stage. We’ve talked about it. We’ve also talked a lot about him trying to play in the pocket and listen to other players instead of just wailing away on his licks. He has a pretty good sound for what he plays, trends quite a bit sharp almost all the time especially on altissimo, and has only one bag of tricks: very cheeseball smooth jazz. The bass, drums, and keys this week were on a heavy neo-soul kick playing with a lot of chromaticism, beat-shifting, and all the phat chords…not exactly the backdrop for syrupy stuff.

I told him before the night started that it’s not a jam session, the solos are shorter and spread around, vocalists are the feature, and he has to play lines with me. I also said to let us call him up after we played a couple jams and that he should play 3 tunes/jams with us…about 20-25 minutes. Instead He jumped up on the first tune and didn’t stop playing pretty much the whole first set. It was like the keys, bass and guitar weren’t even there, and he stepped all over me. Every time there was a sliver of open space he was playing one of his licks. I fed him line after line both verbally and playing off mic and he just wouldn't join me...forget about picking what I'm playing on the fly. When he did try to play with me he was so sharp I couldn't lip up to match, at least twice I asked him to play in tune if he was going to play unison with me. Just not even listening. To anyone including himself.

At set break he asked me what was wrong (I spent the last two tunes on bongo) and I said I stopped playing sax because there was no space for me. I said every time I grabbed one of his lines he went sideways and wouldn't stay with me, and that he didn't let any of my lines grow into anything because instead of joining me he just noodled around. The two times I started to build into solos he just started playing right over me, and again I mentioned his (chronic) intonation issue. I went outside to chat with the fellas and a woman approached him about playing tenor. He left before I came in. She came to talk to me, said she's a beginner and is learning slowly by ear, knows zero scales, and doesn't even play the full range of the horn yet. I fed her lines and sang them to her while I showed her the fingerings and it was a blast. She played four tunes with us to end the night (once she got up her nerve to come up on stage) and people in the crowd said we made an awesome section.

Feel kind of bad because he's a decent guy and what he does is fine for jam sessions, but I also feel that the dude disrespected the stage and way overstepped guidelines established before we said he could sit in. If people invite you to play with them on their gigs, don't overstay or overplay your welcome.
 

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Distinguished SOTW Member/Forum Contributor 2012
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Bummer. Not a fan of the ‘sit-in’. Just did a wedding where the bride and groom sat-in. Usually it’s amateur hour, however both were 20 something Vegas players and were amazing. Oh well, back to the practice room. 😉
 

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Cannonball Vintage Reborn Tenor Sax with Cannonball 5J hr (Meyer clone produced by JJ Babbitt))
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An aspect of music is playing with the band. If the band is not playing what you like, then don't play. Getting in the way makes lousy music. Sometimes spending all your time with tracks creates a mistaken understanding of music because of the missing human presence. Everything is not busking. And a good player must be able to play with the band. You had to do what you had to do.
 

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SW: I get it, man. That was a nasty experience, I'm sure, and I think we've all been there. The fact that you had more fun and got more accomplished with an inexperienced player speaks volumes. Two horns can do so much if both players have ears and want to cooperate - its a giving thing, and the great players typically have this gene in them where they just make that switch to part-playing and solo-sharing when other horns are involved, and they have a great time doing that.
 

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The people that i can tell know what they're doing listen really well and unless they have a solo focus on blending and adding to the whole sound of the band allowing it to be a cohesive unit. I have not played a lot with Sax players like this but i have with trumpet players and boy is it frustrating.
 

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Heh heh. Being a disciplinarian always comes with being a bandleader. One of your precious little charges will always take it upon themselves to stretch boundaries to make things better for them, not the band or show as a whole, but for them. Now it's your job as the bandleader, the boss, to pull things back in line.

He's not a decent guy if he's steamrolling you on your gig, so you have to deal with that aspect of his behavior while he's active within the confines of your musical endeavor.

I would tell the guy to get out, and never come back, LEAVE!!! And I would mean it. After all, this is your place of employment.

Most likely, after a certain period of time away from the scene, he will return to test the waters, and hopefully he would realize that how he handles himself on stage, in the environment of professional music, does matter.

I don't condone selfish ignorance and I don't allow people to bring that to me to cause pressure for me on my bandstand, things are tough enough without that. If they have the nerve to disregard my instructions, I have the nerve to enforce what I expect to happen onstage.
 

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I waited until set break, but yeah, it happened.

preface: I co-captain a collection of 7-8 reasonably high-level players (4-5 per gig) in a house band that hosts a weekly open mic night for emcees and vocalists. We also open for bigger shows and play for/ behind touring acts and guest artists that come through and need a band. Our Tuesday thing is all improv with occasional drops and teases into tunes that happen organically. We let instrumentalists sit in, but it’s really all about keeping the vibe happening for the people on the microphone. We take short solos mostly to pace and space out the emcees a little bit.

This guy comes in who frequents the funk jam session I host at another club…like, he’s there every time and he acts entitled to the stage. We’ve talked about it. We’ve also talked a lot about him trying to play in the pocket and listen to other players instead of just wailing away on his licks. He has a pretty good sound for what he plays, trends quite a bit sharp almost all the time especially on altissimo, and has only one bag of tricks: very cheeseball smooth jazz. The bass, drums, and keys this week were on a heavy neo-soul kick playing with a lot of chromaticism, beat-shifting, and all the phat chords…not exactly the backdrop for syrupy stuff.

I told him before the night started that it’s not a jam session, the solos are shorter and spread around, vocalists are the feature, and he has to play lines with me. I also said to let us call him up after we played a couple jams and that he should play 3 tunes/jams with us…about 20-25 minutes. Instead He jumped up on the first tune and didn’t stop playing pretty much the whole first set. It was like the keys, bass and guitar weren’t even there, and he stepped all over me. Every time there was a sliver of open space he was playing one of his licks. I fed him line after line both verbally and playing off mic and he just wouldn't join me...forget about picking what I'm playing on the fly. When he did try to play with me he was so sharp I couldn't lip up to match, at least twice I asked him to play in tune if he was going to play unison with me. Just not even listening. To anyone including himself.

At set break he asked me what was wrong (I spent the last two tunes on bongo) and I said I stopped playing sax because there was no space for me. I said every time I grabbed one of his lines he went sideways and wouldn't stay with me, and that he didn't let any of my lines grow into anything because instead of joining me he just noodled around. The two times I started to build into solos he just started playing right over me, and again I mentioned his (chronic) intonation issue. I went outside to chat with the fellas and a woman approached him about playing tenor. He left before I came in. She came to talk to me, said she's a beginner and is learning slowly by ear, knows zero scales, and doesn't even play the full range of the horn yet. I fed her lines and sang them to her while I showed her the fingerings and it was a blast. She played four tunes with us to end the night (once she got up her nerve to come up on stage) and people in the crowd said we made an awesome section.

Feel kind of bad because he's a decent guy and what he does is fine for jam sessions, but I also feel that the dude disrespected the stage and way overstepped guidelines established before we said he could sit in. If people invite you to play with them on their gigs, don't overstay or overplay your welcome.
I have to admit I was that guy along time ago but I had good friends that taught me to listen more and play less . They were patient with me and I progressed .Now when I see this in a musician I try to help them of course not everyone will listen . I am very happy I had musicians who were helpful and tolerated me lol
 

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Just a guy who plays saxophone.
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5,059 Posts
Discussion Starter · #13 ·
The people that i can tell know what they're doing listen really well and unless they have a solo focus on blending and adding to the whole sound of the band allowing it to be a cohesive unit. I have not played a lot with Sax players like this but i have with trumpet players and boy is it frustrating.
Yes! The cohesive unit idea is what we go for…all about the pocket and riffing off each other in this group. Don’t get me wrong, when it’s solo time it’s on, but the rest of the time we’re just simmering. As you and others have mentioned, it’s really a listening game and being confident that what you have to say is supportive of the conversation without dominating the action.
 

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Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2016
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There's something I am a little fuzzy on....for the sake of the thread more than anything else...

"Sitting In" to me, means a player not in the band is invited, or asks, to join the band for a few tunes. The band has its setlist already for the evening, whether an actual list or whether just calling out tunes from their repertoire with no list in front of anyone.
Sometimes the band may call the tunes for the guest, or in some cases the band leader may allow the 'sitter' to call the tune.

"Jam Session" or "Open Mic" is not, IMHO, the same as "Sitting In".

I reread your opening post a number of times, and I am trying to ascertain what exactly the context was. As I read it:

The rhythm section is playing grooves, and vocalists and instrumentalists are allowed to come up and join in for a few tunes. Notsomuch playing familiar songs, correct ? Or are you ? You mention vocalists, so I am thinking if there are vocal guests involved they aren't just improvising lyrics, or are they ?
So are you calling known tunes , vocalist sings, instrumentalists take short solos and provide some riffs ? Just curious....
Then, the roadmap (directions issued to the guest performers) is sorta impromptu, layed out by you, OP, while the tune is developing and being played onstage, or perhaps in a quick word or two before the song starts (?)

Would that be an accurate description ? If so, it isn't so much the guy 'sitting in'. It's a jam where players in the house take turns playing with the base group.

Perhaps an aside totally, but I just wanted to get some clarity on that; "sitting in" is being used in this thread, but it means something else... as I have come to understand it in my 40 years of gigging.

Back to the OP - As to the experience this guy put everyone thru....it was inappropriate and probably a real downer for the group.
As you have tried to respectfully discuss with him certain ground rules and aspects which you desire (require?)...and he repeatedly has ignored pretty much all of them...
I wouldn't expect that to change, so either you soldier on when he shows up and don't expect anything other than what he has been doing, or you ask him to stop coming unless he starts to tighten it up.
The latter might entail informing the venue manager that there is this thing going on with one particular 'patron'....
 

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Just a guy who plays saxophone.
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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I have to admit I was that guy along time ago but I had good friends that taught me to listen more and play less . They were patient with me and I progressed .Now when I see this in a musician I try to help them of course not everyone will listen . I am very happy I had musicians who were helpful and tolerated me lol
I’ve definitely been out of tune guy who didn’t know how to listen to myself before, and of course mistakes and less interesting/ bad playing have happened…but one thing I’ve always had naturally is the ability to stay out of the way.

I’ve been working on this guy at the jam session since November, but this time he was on our gig as a guest. Two or three weeks ago we were rocking out and this woman tells me she can play and that she likes what I’m doing but doesn’t have her horn with her. Two nights later she happens into the other gig (the jam session) and we end up on stage together most of the night trading riffs and creating melodies on the fly like we’ve been playing in a section together for five years…afterwards the guy this post is about was like: wow, you two sound fantastic together. I love it when horn players show up who listen and know how to fit in…or at least want to try to play nicely.
The reason I play the sessions I do is for networking and finding pieces for projects I’m working on. It’s fantastic ear training for me and I get to play with all kinds of different people every week.
 

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I am of the "keep them wanting more" process when it comes to just about anything creative that I do. Including solos and playing with a band. The one thing I don't want to ever do (anymore) is make a fool of myself on stage. Off stage.....? It's bound to happen. 🤷‍♂️
 

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I had a similar experience with a guitar player. What a terrible gig!!
I've had multiple experiences as described by the op. Except for a trombone player they've all coincidentally been guitar players.
 

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Just a guy who plays saxophone.
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5,059 Posts
Discussion Starter · #18 ·
There's something I am a little fuzzy on....for the sake of the thread more than anything else...

"Sitting In" to me, means a player not in the band is invited, or asks, to join the band for a few tunes. The band has its setlist already for the evening, whether an actual list or whether just calling out tunes from their repertoire with no list in front of anyone.
Sometimes the band may call the tunes for the guest, or in some cases the band leader may allow the 'sitter' to call the tune.

"Jam Session" or "Open Mic" is not, IMHO, the same as "Sitting In".

I reread your opening post a number of times, and I am trying to ascertain what exactly the context was. As I read it:

The rhythm section is playing grooves, and vocalists and instrumentalists are allowed to come up and join in for a few tunes. Notsomuch playing familiar songs, correct ? Or are you ? You mention vocalists, so I am thinking if there are vocal guests involved they aren't just improvising lyrics, or are they ?
So are you calling known tunes , vocalist sings, instrumentalists take short solos and provide some riffs ? Just curious....
Then, the roadmap (directions issued to the guest performers) is sorta impromptu, layed out by you, OP, while the tune is developing and being played onstage, or perhaps in a quick word or two before the song starts (?)

Would that be an accurate description ? If so, it isn't so much the guy 'sitting in'. It's a jam where players in the house take turns playing with the base group.

Perhaps an aside totally, but I just wanted to get some clarity on that; "sitting in" is being used in this thread, but it means something else... as I have come to understand it in my 40 years of gigging.

Back to the OP - As to the experience this guy put everyone thru....it was inappropriate and probably a real downer for the group.
As you have tried to respectfully discuss with him certain ground rules and aspects which you desire (require?)...and he repeatedly has ignored pretty much all of them...
I wouldn't expect that to change, so either you soldier on when he shows up and don't expect anything other than what he has been doing, or you ask him to stop coming unless he starts to tighten it up.
The latter might entail informing the venue manager that there is this thing going on with one particular 'patron'....
Yes, That’s the scene…no tunes. We’re supplying beats for the rappers/ vocalists. There’s a lead emcee who’s part of our group and he keeps the mic rotation going. Basically we establish groove and they’re the feature trading verses. The guitarist and I feed off each other to create texture and lines behind and fills between verses. It’s about 50/50 on the vocalists: some have tons of written work (“bars”) while others totally freestyle completely off the cuff. The looseness of the night is why I gave him ground rules (pocket, lines, feature the vocals) and tried to establish a flow for him. We run the stage, just a matter of setting better boundaries. I made the mistake of thinking the guy would/ could play and behave differently than he does at the other session, which is much more suited to him and his abilities/ maturity as a player.
 

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I have to admit I was that guy along time ago but I had good friends that taught me to listen more and play less . They were patient with me and I progressed .Now when I see this in a musician I try to help them of course not everyone will listen . I am very happy I had musicians who were helpful and tolerated me lol
I think we all go through that stage, some of us act out and some of us don't, are more aware of what's going on around us and lay back and learn.
 

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Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2016
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Yes, That’s the scene…no tunes. We’re supplying beats for the rappers/ vocalists. There’s a lead emcee who’s part of our group and he keeps the mic rotation going. Basically we establish groove and they’re the feature trading verses. The guitarist and I feed off each other to create texture and lines behind and fills between verses. It’s about 50/50 on the vocalists: some have tons of written work (“bars”) while others totally freestyle completely off the cuff. The looseness of the night is why I gave him ground rules (pocket, lines, feature the vocals) and tried to establish a flow for him. We run the stage, just a matter of setting better boundaries. I made the mistake of thinking the guy would/ could play and behave differently than he does at the other session, which is much more suited to him and his abilities/ maturity as a player.
Thanks for clarification...that's very cool...

...but holy cow I cannot say I have ever been to anything like that...

(...I feel very old right now.....)
 
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