[Dixielandjazz] cartoon music"

Larry Walton Entertainment - St. Louis larrys.bands at charter.net
Wed Jan 17 11:30:06 PST 2007

At present I play off an on with three Mickey bands.  If you get even a 
little off the section just doesn't work.  Everything is very precise.  I 
have pretty much made the decision to not play with these groups because it 
requires very good and precise reading skills.  Alas mine are up and down 
and it makes me nervous and it's too much like work.  I prefer working from 
a fake book much more than heavy reading gigs.  This is why I never play 
lead alto in big bands.  I have a friend in the AF band who has way above 
average reading and technical ability with great sound but his jazz solos 
always seem staged and stiff.  I also know another guy in the same band that 
can blow away almost anyone in both areas.

If you had a ruler (disregarding technical ability) that had  Jazzers who 
couldn't read at the zero end and  readers who couldn't fake at the 12 inch 
mark with people who did both equally well where would you fit?  I think I 
would be at about the  four inch mark.

I got a good laugh the other day.  I checked into the web site for a local 
radio station that has a Jazz hall of fame.  One of the big bands had their 
entire lineup on the list.  Virtually everyone in that group wouldn't know a 
jazz solo from selling shoes.  They mostly fit on the 11 and 12 inch mark 
with a couple at around the 7 or 8 inch mark.

There are two distinct skills required and I'm not convinced that very many 
musicians are good at both.  Expert reading skill almost precludes 
improvisational skills.  I know that's not a fast rule but it just seems to 
work out that way.  It may have more to do with the ability to focus on 
drills and precision as versus relaxed and laid back.  It may have more to 
do with a person's general attitude toward life in general than left right 
brain thinking.

Food for thought.  I have noticed that really good readers I know TEND to be 
of differing political parties than jazzers.  It would be interesting if a 
scientific survey could be conducted to see if there is any truth to that. 
I wonder if that has a bearing on who musicians elect to office in their 
unions.  Cities that have a strong Symphony orchestra might be expected to 
elect non jazzers whereas some place that has a lot of jazzers might be 
expected to elect their own kind.  Are good readers more religious than 
jazzers?  How about being more or less patriotic?  Left or right handed? 
Divorces?  Sex?  There are a zillion different things that might be 
interesting to ask.

I think that there are a lot more differences between people who improvise 
well and don't read well and those who read well and don't improvise than 
you think.  Hey students that would make a great Doctoral.
St. Louis
----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Charles Suhor" <csuhor at zebra.net>
To: "Steve Barbone" <barbonestreet at earthlink.net>
Cc: "dixieland jazz mail list" <dixielandjazz at ml.islandnet.com>; "Russ 
Guarino" <russg at redshift.com>; "Bill Haesler" <bhaesler at bigpond.net.au>
Sent: Tuesday, January 16, 2007 5:12 PM
Subject: Re: [Dixielandjazz] Porte ñ a Jazz Band/"cartoon music"

> Agree with both Russ and Steve that the "cartoon" music and related
> styles are precise and take a good reader to play them well. In fact,
> you can ruin a good Mickey arrangement by getting either careless or
> too hip.
> I don't enjoy playing those styles, but that's a a matter of taste. I'm
> not a good sight reader, so that makes ANY reading gig a challenge, and
> "harder" than a fake/jam/jazz gig for me. Just the opposite for most of
> the players in the 18 piece band I play with. Jazz isn't just harder
> than playing the charts for 13 of them. They flat can't do it. I could
> improve my reading, a matter of degree, much easier than they could
> make what's a quantum leap for them into jazz. They've mastered the art
> of jazz section playing, no small accomplishment, but as Steve says,
> it's rarer to find competent jazz improvisers in any style. Of course,
> many are good at both, and they work a lot.
> Charlie Suhor
> On Jan 16, 2007, at 4:06 PM, Steve Barbone wrote:
>> on 1/16/07 4:40 PM, Russ Guarino at russg at redshift.com wrote:
>>> Call it what you will,
>>> If you have ever sat in a band that played this kind of music, you
>>> know how
>>> challenging it is.  Requires fast, precise playing in ensemble
>>> settings.
>>> Everybody had to be an exceptional musician.
>> Yes, I totally agree and said so in my original post.
>>> I have always found it exhilarating to play this music.
>> Each to his own. I can understand that. I hate to play it. To me it is
>> like
>> playing Glenn Miller arrangements.
>>> Trad jazz is easy by comparison.
>> Totally disagree. Any trained musician can play cartoon music well.
>> Only a
>> very few musicians of any sort can play trad jazz well. Especially the
>> improvisation part which many cannot do at all.
>> Cheers,
>> Steve Barbone
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