[Dixielandjazz] Getting tired of popular songs

Elazar Brandt jazzmin at actcom.net.il
Fri Jun 24 00:55:36 PDT 2005

Hi Larry,

I suppose you could call us a garage band, although I don't think of us that
way. I moved to Israel almost 10 years ago, and one of my goals was to find a
few young Israelis and teach them to play OKOM, and from this group to form a
working band. It took 5 years of playing on the street to find the first 2
students, who are now my primary partners in Dr Jazz. They each took about a
year of learning their instruments before we started to perform together. My
barometer has always been the street. I take students out there to get them used
to playing for an audience in a relatively low pressure situation. When we get
good enough, we start getting gigs. I am proud of the fact that most of our
customers are native Israeli, middle eastern types, and religious Jews, and not
so much from the aging Anglo expatriate population that the conventional wisdom
tells me to cater to.

Until I came top Israel, I never tried to make a living playing music. I've been
playing all my life, and have been paid here and there both to work in bands and
to do solo gigs, and I did some street work in California. I do have a degree
that includes music as my minor subject. Here in Israel I teach privately, and
have a campaign going to get kids interested in traditional band instruments and
music. Most kids here can't figure out how a horn can make music when there is
no place to plug it in.

Now that Dr Jazz is in our third year of operation and starting to get a more
steady flow of gigs, we're running into the problem that you mention: that not
all the guys want to work that much, and we need back-up players. In the past
I've tried to put make-up bands together from pro players, and have not found
this a good way to go. We could play the music, but the band had no identity, no
personality. The players didn't want to rehearse, only to come when there's
money. They didn't want to wear, never mind buy, costumes or uniforms. Worst of
all, they had no vested interest in the band, because the "band" was virtual. It
existed only when there were jobs. I opted instead to find and train a crew that
would be a more coherent band.

At this point we have the best of both. We have our 3 core players, and are
training another couple to add to the core, and we have a couple of pro players
who we call when we need them, but they're on our CD and the additional players
are usually the same 2 guys. We find that, as long as we have me and one other
core player and a couple side men, the band is still Dr Jazz. I'm working on
having a back-up for me, since there are times when I can't make it to a gig
that I'd like the band to take anyway.

My two main partners are recent university graduates, about to get married, and
I am not expecting them to dive into a career of full time music, even if the
band succeeds and that were to be possible. They arrange their jobs so they can
have some flexibility to take gigs, and as I said, and as you suggested, we have
to build up a back-up crew. They don't want to and cannot work every day, while
I gladly would. So I take a lot of solo, duo and trio gigs that don't tie up all
the guys, but we still fly under the Dr Jazz flag.

Finally, another solution for me is to start another and different kind of band,
which I am in process of doing. I suddenly have a lot of trumpet students, so
we're forming a trumpet ensemble which I hope will eventually be a more diverse
brass ensemble. Different style, different repertoire, but with a little
overlap, and a couple of these guys are also learning the Dr Jazz repertoire and

So it's taken awhile, but I feel like I'm getting into the best of all worlds.
Thanks for your advice and thoughts.

Doctor Jazz Band
Tekiya Trumpet Ensemble
Jerusalem, Israel
Tel: +972-2-679-2537

> -----Original Message-----
> From: LARRY'S Signs and Large Format Printing [mailto:sign.guy at charter.net]
> Sent: Friday, June 24, 2005 12:04 AM
> To: larryb at actcom.co.il; DJML
> Subject: Re: [Dixielandjazz] Getting tired of popular songs
> It sounds like you have what is called here "a garage (basement) band"

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