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I've been invited to sit it with a band that is light years ahead of me and accepting would probably prove an embarrassment to everybody. Is it a common courtesy for them to ask with the understanding that I'll pass?
 

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It really depends... you can sit in with a band that is light years ahead of you as long as you know your own limitations. If it's a context you can play simple stuff over and sound good, then sitting in could be fun and cool. If it's a jazz group playing standards where anything could get thrown at you, asking you to sit in may have been as a courtesy. It's hard to know more without more back-story. Is there another horn player? Do they know what level you are at? Are you further along than you give yourself credit for? Have they heard you play? :)
 

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It's always best to play with better players than yourself. It will push you in a way that performers at the same level won't. Plus, you can learn a lot.
 

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In my experience it also depends on if the invitation is for a gig or rehersal.
If you join them for a rehersal and play your best - IMO they will get a feel for where you're at and perhaps next time they are short for a gig they may be more inclined to call you to fill in.

In short - can't hurt - could help - the rehearsals are fun anyhow and still very good experience-
 

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Agreed. Take the chance. You can do nothing but get better. Don't go in apologizing, and you might find that you're better than you think you are. Like Jason said, don't try to play more than you are capable just because you perceive them to be great. Just have fun! That's what it's all about anyway!

Dave
 

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I wish when people ask for personal opinions they would give more information. :roll:

Have they heard you before? Seems to me that's some important and relevant information before you make a judgement...and before we can give an opinion that's not general in nature.
 

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There is nothing wrong with failing. It teaches you your limitations so you don't need to ask these questions...do it!
 

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Use Your Judgement, But Push Yourself A Bit

Like Gary said, if they have heard you play, that counts for a lot.

However, I got an invitation by e-mail to come sit in with a drummer at a pretty serious jazz club in DC. We had played together at a jam so he had heard me play. And I was having a great night the night we played together. One of those where the horn seems to be playing itself. I didn't feel I had enough jazz tunes memorized to do it. I told him that I would love to come sit in at sometime in the future.

You should push yourself a bit. But there's also nothing wrong with being honest about your abilities. If you undersell yourself a bit it might take some of the pressure off.

In another situation I went to a jam with some jazz players who were and still are a lot better than I am. I just told the guy running the jam. "Hey, if you don't mind playing something like (named several tunes that escape me now), I would love to get up and play. He called two or three. It went fine. He called one I didn't know and I just told him I didn't know that one and sat down.

There is nothing wrong with saying something like: "Hey, If we could do a blues tune or a nice medium tempo standard that I'm familiar with, I'd love to play. If you want to call a bop tune at 300, I'll enjoy listening to you guys play."

I love playing with people who are better than I am. I don't mind falling on my face a bit at a jam. But I'd prefer not to screw up someone elses gig.

Scott
 

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Anglo said:
I've been invited to sit it with a band that is light years ahead of me and accepting would probably prove an embarrassment to everybody. Is it a common courtesy for them to ask with the understanding that I'll pass?
Never ask a question if you are not prepared for the answer!

You should go for it and not let down. This could be one of those moments!

If you can't make it, when is it? I'll do it.

Oh, by the way, what do they play and can I drink scotch while on stage with them?
 

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What Martysax said.......

Actually for me, it would depend on the music they play. If it's a blues band, I'll definitely go for it, even if they were the best blues musicians on the planet. In fact, I'd go for it especially if they were the best and "light years ahead of me." It's not that I would be able to play as well as the rest of them, but I'd know the genre and would be able to contribute in some way, and I wouldn't sound bad.

If, otoh, it's some very heavy beboppers, playing Confirmation or Donna Lee at a breakneck tempo, I'd probably pass unless I had a couple of months to really do my homework. But I might still do it in a jam situation.

So it depends. We need more info, as gary pointed out.
 

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If they are waaay over your head maybe they want you to do just parts, which is a very cool way to begin acclimation. And, if they are way over your head, and it's a gig, think of your reputation. I know nobody claims that your rep matters, but, it does, and big time. It all depends on a lot of things, as Gary intimated.
 

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"Risk is what moves us all forward. If you're playing in the comfort zone, that ain't jazz." -- Herbie Hancock
 

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Sam said:
"Risk is what moves us all forward. If you're playing in the comfort zone, that ain't jazz." -- Herbie Hancock
I love this quote. Can anyone help me verify the source?
 

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Discussion Starter #15
gary said:
I wish when people ask for personal opinions they would give more information. :roll:

Have they heard you before? Seems to me that's some important and relevant information before you make a judgement...and before we can give an opinion that's not general in nature.
With all due respect, I wish people would read questions more carefully. Whether I play with them is irrelevant. I was simply asking more experienced folks if this was the kind of thing done as a common courtesy. To make an analogy, when someone, say a clerk in a store, says, "How are you today?" I know he/she isn't interested in a lengthy description of my prostate gland; we're just exhanging pleasantries, and I reply, "Fine, how are you?" Being an outsider to the music world, I simply wondered if the invitation was a pleasantry.
 

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Anglo said:
With all due respect, I wish people would read questions more carefully. Whether I play with them is irrelevant. I was simply asking more experienced folks if this was the kind of thing done as a common courtesy. To make an analogy, when someone, say a clerk in a store, says, "How are you today?" I know he/she isn't interested in a lengthy description of my prostate gland; we're just exhanging pleasantries, and I reply, "Fine, how are you?" Being an outsider to the music world, I simply wondered if the invitation was a pleasantry.
I agree Anglo. It must be Boston bashing or something.

This raises the question: How should someone properly respond when a Lower GI specialist says "What's Up?"
 

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Anglo said:
I was simply asking more experienced folks if this was the kind of thing done as a common courtesy.... I simply wondered if the invitation was a pleasantry.
I highly doubt it was done as a pleasantry. It's possible, but unlikely. I know I would never ask someone to sit in if I wasn't totally serious about it. In fact, I go out of my way NOT to ask people to sit in until I know for sure how they play, and if the rest of the band will be into it. I don't think I'm alone on this. Most musicians and bands prefer not to have anyone sit in unless they are pretty sure the person sitting in will actually contribute to the music and help the band sound better.
 

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johnnysax said:
I love this quote. Can anyone help me verify the source?
Portland (Maine) Press Herald, October 30, 2003

And anybody who's seen Herbie's recent 45-minute deconstruction of "Dolphin Dance" knows that he lives those words too.
 

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Anglo said:
With all due respect, I wish people would read questions more carefully...I was simply asking more experienced folks if this was the kind of thing done as a common courtesy.
Fair enough. OTOH, including why they would be extending you the courtesy in the first place could be helpful info.
 

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Anglo It was nice of them to invite you, just tell them your concerns that they might be more advanced than you. I say go for it and and have some fun.
 
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