Jazz & The Beginning Of A Wonderful Thing

My Jazz Gig With Rosie Mountjoy

Hey there… once again I have a tale of me doing something a tad interesting, I’ve also made a photo click link to My Funny Valentine by Chet Baker, I feel that my cover’s a bit more accurate to his version.

So for the past week (that’s right, a week) I was given the deadline to learn a 2 hour set of jazz standards for a background music gig at a local Italian restaurant with a lovely singer that I’ve only known as an acquaintance for a few months. We we’re both excited to be playing despite the tight deadline we tried to make as much time as possible through our lectures in the week, luckily we had a third party that had gotten us the gig and was guiding us through what we we’re expected to do. So with our merry gang I we planned a rehearsal!

The rehearsal was due in which I got to college a tad early to prepare for both singer and conductor to attend, I also took the liberty of buying room temperature water (So it didn’t hurt her vocal chords) and set up my sound and sheet music stands. I think little things like this showcase my professionalism, throughout the whole time I spent with them both I tried to make a good impression and show the HND Level 5 Music Performance are very focused and polite musicians that have the tools and skills needed for professional life. Well after already using my spare time as productive as possible I researched most tracks and got them down, as both parties got to the rehearsal room they said “Thank you,” as they actually noticed those “Little things,” I mentioned earlier so I reckon I made a good impression. As we started our first track which was “Fly Me To The Moon by Frank Sinatra,” I started smiling to myself as she sung it beautifully, I could only sit and play but admire as she was pretty much doing all the work and I was just following instructions on a piece of paper. “This is what I want to do,” i thought to myself as I was using different chord voicing and adding dynamics such as finger picking, staccato, modal soloing and a gentle riff here and there in my lousy attempt to show to her that I’m pretty good… it sort of worked as she was pleased enough after every song but we both knew near the end of this rehearsal that the pairing was right and that we’d be able to hit that deadline and produce quality songs.

As we got to the second rehearsal my conductor (Also good friend Ollie Patton) had some good notes mainly on my playing giving good direction on certain songs whether to give them more of an upbeat or “Lounge-ish,” feel. I took this in good stead and followed his instruction to the letter… or word, the problem that was arising was the fact that we we’re running out of jazz standards we knew and time was running out for research and listening so we opted to use modern songs in a jazz style which was entirely down to her vocal phrasing and my chord inversions.

I was lucky, my tutor Mr. Phi Yaan Zek gave me a chord sheet on inversions, I thought to myself “This has saved me!” so we had around 2 days left with about 4 hours practice under our belt including private rehearsal so the nerves were kicking in but I had used my chord inversions on all the plain originals of these modern songs so they were sounding a lot better and Rosie and Ollie were loving them. Using this we were able to get about 3-4 hours more practice before the gig!

Gig time! so throughout the day we polished on “Billie Jean – Michael Jackson,” and a few others just to tighten them up but this is what our set list looked like:

– Fly Me To The Moon – Frank Sinatra
– Autumn Leaves – Various Artists
– My Funny Valentine – Chet Baker
– Make You Feel My Love – Adele
– What A Wonderful World – Louis Armstrong
– Starry Eyed – Ellie Goulding
– Moving To New York – The Wombats
– Dream A Little Dream – Etta James
– Back To Black – Amy Winehouse
– Someone Like You – Adele
– Killing Me Softly – Roberta Flack
– Too Close – Alex Clare
– Billie Jean – Michael Jackson
– Last Request – Paolo Nutini
– Your song – Elton John
– Way You Look Tonight – Frank Sinatra
– Ordinary People – John Legend

So we mixed modern and classic alike to get a good vibe all thanks to our conductor, Ollie really helped in which I thanked and relied on his direction a lot during the rehearsal period. As I got to the venue I was greeted by the owner who spoke very little English but due to the fact I had my guitar, music stand, P.A, Speaker and my amp he realized who I was ( big thanks to James Chatfield http://bassistchatfield.wordpress.com/ & Daniel Whybrow http://danwhybrowsmusic.wordpress.com/ for the help and equipment). Me an the conductor started to set everything up as the restaurant was beginning preparations for the evening parties, as Rosie got there with her equipment it finally dawned on us “Damn, we’re actually performing!” so we kept asking each other questions about the set and chordal choices due to nerves. As the public started to come in we waited for at least 3 tables to be set up, the back drop is a very vintage Italian space filled with large round tables with a varied wine bottle perfectly centered with sparkling glasses and cloth surrounding, keeping the red white and green (Italian flag) theme across the whole space with the constant smell of beautiful food in which we were to be a part of. As we started our first song we realized that people aren’t really giving much attention but rather conversing between themselves and having a great time, as the space really filled up we relaxed because we weren’t the center of attention although each song was given the kudos we we’re looking for.

As the set was getting past it’s salad days (Shakespeare’s term for beginning, early stages… that’s right, I’m quite the poet) we we’re delved so far into the swing of things that time didn’t matter an I thought to myself “I’m really enjoying this, this is brilliant, I hope Rosie’s enjoying it,” applause after applause after our hard work paid off, then one of the workers (also very Italian) said “Why don’t you spice it up a bit,” so we added tempo and a tad more treble to my toneless guitar in which was well received by the audience. During our set I was greeted by my improvisation guys who I mention all the time in my blog as well as my good friend and fellow musician Mr. Danny Whybrow, this was huge to me as it made me feel comfort and they could see me enjoying myself. Once it was over Rosie smiled to me and said “Thank you,” as every table on the way to the bar wanted to speak to her and ask her 20 questions ranging from “When are you coming back?” to “Next time, could you play this?” so I think she gained a fan base, or we both did?

The owner shakes my hand and thanks us massively for our performance, I was taking a back when he said excitedly “When can I have you back?” with his little English slur, I was massively honored if anything to be given the chance to do it again and as Rosie managed to get away from her new friends we spoke about the future of us playing there in 2 weeks. Last but not least it was time to talk money, we got paid, it was very rewarding anyways to see our rehearsal flourish into applause and congrats but to get paid was just the icing on top of very delicious cake!

I’m not expecting anyone to read it all but thank you for following me this far, if ever in doubt about music, rehearse some songs talk to people and get out there, the enthusiasm you gain from doing a gig is like nothing else so what’s stopping you? I’d like to read about your gigs!

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