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I go to a small college in the South Side of Chicago and our band director has asked us to play at a cafe/club where they are looking for music... Our combo has really just been "jamming" for about 3 months and we are totally student run... Problem is, i don't really know if we're any good... It's the honest truth, we have a regularly gigging pianist, a few music ed kids as the rest of the rhythm section, and me and trumpet as horns. I have so many fears coming up on this gig, 1 being that all we really know are pretty basic standards (i.e. Blue Bossa, a few rhythm changes heads, a few blues heads, etc.). I guess the fact i really know nothing about the venue is the problem... From what i hear though, they have all different kinds of music come in. So after all this I have a few simple questions...

1. Besides the basics we have down already, what are few other tunes we could look at to give more of a variety to what we do. Or at least a few lesser played standards that won't have people saying "Oh, they're playing this..."

2. Any tips on actually rehearsing rather than jamming? Or is there really that big of a difference?

Thanks, and any other various tips are appreciated.
 

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Time to shed tunes...learn 2-3 every week. You'll have a large library in no time.

But how about...
All of Me
All The Things You are
A Child Is Born
Afternoon in Paris
April in Paris
Angel Eyes
Au Privave
Autumn In New York
Autumn Leaves

And those are just a few real book tunes starting with "A." There's many more where they come from and don't forget to look for other cool tunes outside of fake books.
 

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Oh and as for lesser played standards...
Serenta by Leroy Anderson
Goodbye by Gordon Jenkins
Nina Never Knew by Burton Lane
Moonray by Artie Shaw
CTA by Jimmy Heath
Receipt Please: Ron Carter
Duke Ellington's Sound of Love by Mingus
Warm Valley by Ellington/Strayhorn
Blood Count by Strayhorn
Junior Cat by Art Pepper
Surf Ride by Art Pepper
Johnny Hodges by Phil Woods
O.P. by Mingus
Zingaro by Jobim
A Handful of Stars by Lawrence/Shapiro
Lester Left Town: Wayne Shorter
Waters of March: Jobim (Incredibly famous, but usually sung)

Some of these tunes are heavy. Take your time and really learn them.
 

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fenix424 said:
1 being that all we really know are pretty basic standards (i.e. Blue Bossa, a few rhythm changes heads, a few blues heads, etc.). .
Those standard tunes, blues heads, etc, may be well-known to jazz musicians, but the general public won't be as familiar with them as you may think. Play what you know and play it as well as you can. Relax and have a good time, and you'll do fine. There is no shortage of tunes to learn; that will be a lifelong pursuit. All the best on your gig.

Oh, on the rehearsing vs jamming question, yes there is a difference. Rehearsing means you take the parts that need work and really work them over to get them right. Also spend some time working out intros and endings to get them really tight. The audience will hear your intro first thing, and then the last thing they hear is the ending. So those are very important to rehearse. Make sure the tempos are solid and consistent. Play together and in tune. All those things are worked out in rehearsal. Then on the gig, as I said, relax and enjoy playing the tunes.
 

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JL is spot on...rehearsing is all about working out the "rough" spots, and getting those intros and endings tight...It's OK to stop and play a section over and over again until everyone gets it right...Remember: hard practice makes easy performing...

Here's a few tips on performance:

1. It's OK to play familiar tunes...especially crowd-pleasers
(Blue Bossa, Pink Panther, Sweet Georgia Brown, Wonderful World, Misty, Any-Broadway-Showtune...etc.)
Yes...we all play certain songs over and over again...but there's a reason why...the crowd loves em'...One of the most common complaints I hear from the audience is that if they don't recognize any tunes...they think it's all avant garde jazz - OR all original stuff...and if it's not stunning, they tend to get bored and put the band into the background...Remember, a lot of the audience won't appreciate the subtle thematic nuances you play over a complex chord change if it's not fundamentally interesting to average ears.

2. Unlike a jam session...limit the soloing to only 2 or 3 per song...
If you each take a 2 or 3 chorus solo on say..."The Girl From Ipanema"...20 minutes later the only applause you will hear will be the 3 people not yet asleep...and that will be in gratitude for finishing the song...

3. Speaking of sleep...ballads are fine...
but a song played too slow, too long, and non-dynamic...will render your audience into a near coma by the end...One jazz favorite, "Summertime" is actually listed in wikipedia under the heading...lullaby...;)

4. Clubs and Cafes are small...
Depending on your venue...remember that too loud = stress...Yes..a wall of sound is good sometimes...but all loud all the time will fatigue your audience...Also, remember that pro's don't noodle on their instruments (at all) in between songs, nor do they "give away" the song, by somebody playing a riff from the up-coming song...,they don't talk during each others solos, or take a lot of time between songs flipping pages of real/fake books.

To ensure smooth transition between songs...Make photo copies of your songs...put them in the order you want to play them...and staple them together, OR use a binder and page protectors...then you can just roll right to the next song. If you want, you can announce the songs either before or after each one...

5. Remember to have fun!
It's a club/cafe...not a stadium...your audience is there to be entertained, but not necessarily entirely by you...In other words...there is no pressure to pull off a flawless performance...They get what they pay for....and unless you are charging world class covers...they won't be demanding world class style...if you make mistakes...just smile and keep on going...It's better to tell the audience you are brand new...and let them be pleasantly surprised...than to pretend you are a working pro band...and have them disappointed...

Good luck...and let us know how it goes...:D
 

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IMHO most jazz groups have no clue how to rehearse. 90% of the jazz going on here in Houston is groups who have never rehearsed anything. I myself play a weekly gig with some guys and we have never rehearsed together, and we've been playing for 2 years. Now I will say jazz musicians are about the only group of people that you can throw 4 guys who have never met before and the can play a four hour gig together. But, to really take your music to the next level you should be rehearsing together, a lot. My quartet rehearses at least once a week. We work on intros and endings, arangements, hits, listening, and a lot of odd time signature stuff. The differences in my quartet and the other quartet I play with is tremendous, even though the level of musicianship in each group is relativly even.
 

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SaxxMan in particular gives some good advice. Don't worry about your repertoire being too boring, and don't think that solos are going to be judged on creativity or pushing the envelope. A club isn't a jazz recital or a venue where you'll be judged on how far out you can go. At best people will listen to some tunes and talk to friends, and worst case you will be wallpaper while they talk to friends.

One more thing. Many people can't tell what's good or bad. I've often stood next to someone who's stinking up the place, only to see an audence member turn to a companion and say "he's really good". That's usually good for a chuckle or a feeling of despair, depending on my mood at the time.
 

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paulbrodt said:
Now I will say jazz musicians are about the only group of people that you can throw 4 guys who have never met before and the can play a four hour gig together.
This applies to other styles of music as well. Bluegrass, society, blues, dixieland, etc. Whenever the genre has an established format and repertoire, pickup bands made up of musicians experienced in the genre can get through an evening without ever having met one another. Happens all the time. Even more so when it's a reading genre.
 

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some very good ideas. I might add the use of set lists, for the gig and for rehearsals. Makes for better use of time during rehearsals and at the gig, it eliminates standing around looking at each other deciding what to play next, and it also enables you to have some variety, and not play too many tunes in a row that are too similar in key, or style or have too similar chord changes.
Composing a simple head for rhythm changes or a blues makes it fun, also; it's fun to do your own tunes, and no one can comment on if you did it right.
Working up simple intros and outros make a head tune sound a lot more arranged. For a lot of tunes, the last four or eight measures can make a decent intro, with improv or maybe just the rhythm section comping, and then the horns come in at the top of the tune. One other thing to consider - if someone shows up and asks to sit in, it's probably best to politely decline.
Good Luck. Have fun!
 
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