[Dixielandjazz] Showmanship

Jim Kashishian jim at kashprod.com
Wed May 23 06:02:20 PDT 2012

I'm dropping the word "trombone" from the Subject Title, as the discussion
should really be about showmanship, not who is doing it in a band (although
trombonists usually end up with the task as we are such a jolly lot!).

Marek asks:
>Will the tricks make the audience remember the music?

First, I see no reason that tricks/gags/clowning/humor (whichever you
prefer) should be removed from the music.  In fact, it should be a part of
the music.  That is why I said I only resort to the slide thing when the
moment is right....band, audience, etc. all clicking.  If it is not one with
the music then it is not appropriate.

Secondly, I can vouch after so many years of live performances that these
little bits that a band can do will be what the band is remembered for, IF
that band performs good music.  If the band is not good, then they will not
be remembered no matter what.

As an example, I remember Teddy Buckner's band very, very well.  Along with
their good music, I remember Teddy's wonderful smile and what seemed to be
his pleasure in playing.  Trick?  Yeah, probably, 'cause it would have been
hard to be pleased 6 nites a week playing to a semi filled lounge.

Teddy had a trick he would use sometime during most nights.  He would start
to count off a song, but start laughing.  He'd start to count again, but get
the giggles.  This went on until the rest of the band was laughing...and,
then everyone in the audience was laughing.  He then followed that with a
romping bit of jazz!  Ohhhh!  Such an ugly trick!  Horrors!!  Oh, so
terrible to have your audience in stitches and applauding you!  What a
shame, yes, that the music alone won't create that, but that's the way it

Boring for the public to see the trick over & over?  I used to take friends
along & say, soon Teddy's gonna do something that is going to crack you up.
Then, if he didn't do it that night, I was let down!  

Same thing with my foot thing. I had a lady stop me on the street along the
beach in the North of Spain.  We had nitely concerts in a string of 5 cities
along the coast one summer.  She said, with no warning whatsoever, "you
didn't take your shoe off".  Turns out she had taken her grandson to see the
band & had told him to wait for a surprise on the last song.  It hadn't been
an enthusiastic audience, so I didn't do it that night.  I invited her to
that nights concert, and promised to do it, but she couldn't come.

People often ask me if I'm gonna do "it" tonight.  I always say I don't know
until the moment arrives.  Need the magic!

Everytime this subject comes up, those of us that can pull these things off
rave about the success, and those that don't do it, run the idea down.  I
would leave it at that:  if you enjoy doing that sort of thing (& can pull
it off successfully), then great!  If you don't....don't!
Just make sure whatever you do is based on good music.

For my part, I seem to be in fairly good company (Georg Brunis & Bob Havens)
as far as the trombone gags go, so will continue doing it when the mood


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