The World According to Keitho

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Posts Tagged ‘Cole Porter’

Singer’s choice

Posted by keithosaunders on July 30, 2016

Imagine that you are a singer living in a world that has known composers such as Duke Ellington, George Gershwin, Jerome Kern, and Richard Rodgers. Now imagine that between these (and other) composers that there are hundreds, if not thousands of great songs to choose from. Finally, imagine that from this wealth of repertoire you select Van Morrison’s Moondance.

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New Years memories part II

Posted by keithosaunders on December 31, 2015

Alcoa presents: Keitho’s New Years gig memories!

I used to do this solo gig at the Empire diner on 10th Ave & 22nd st. My slot was Saturdays from 11pm-3am. It paid $25.00. After a couple of years it went up to $30.00. I was living large after that. They had an upright piano which was right next to the bathroom. One day this lady went into the bathroom followed a minute later by this guy. The next thing I knew I heard this rhythmic pounding and I turned to my right to see a woman’s face plastered against the plate glass window. What could I do? I went right into “Easy to Love.”

Anyway, one year in the late 80s New Years eve happened to fall on a Saturday and the Diner asked if I wanted to play the late set for $100.00. The hours were 3-7 AM. Cha-ching!

I already had a normal New Years gig in Englewood, NJ with this horror show club date band who shall remain nameless (R*bby S*ott). In between gigs I came back to my apartment on the Upper West side at which point my buddy, Jeff, gave me a ride downtown. People were so drunk at that hour that Jeff had to have the reflexes of a Mario Andretti to avoid getting into several accidents. It was like being on Mr Toad’s Wild Ride except instead of Disneyland we were in Manhattan. Things were so much more interesting when everybody was drunk and high on blow. These days on New Years Eve people only need to grab their pipe and slippers and they’ll fit right in.

Posted in jazz, New York City, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Jam sessions: Not for the faint of heart. (or the humorless)

Posted by keithosaunders on November 10, 2015

For the past four years I’ve played in a house rhythm section at a jam session in Oakland. The gig follows a common jam session template: The house band plays a set which is followed by a break after which the jam session starts.  Anybody can sit in.

Anybody.

The singers are the worst.  At least with the horn players you can assume that they have spent time actually studying how music works.  For instance, it is useful to understand that songs are divided into equal units we call measures and that these measures contain smaller, equidistant units known as BEATS.  The singers don’t understand this.  If they’re lucky they will intuitively feel the beat and are able to maintain their place in the song.  But often they can’t feel the beat leaving them with two options.

a) They can listen to the band and try to hear where the downbeat is. Often the pianist (that’s me) will feed them the melody as a cue.

Needless to say option a is rarely utilized.

b) They can guess.

Option b is a very popular option.

So what happens when you have the singer and the band in different parts of the song?  It works out just fine if you’re performing a Yoko Ono song, but not so well for Gershwin or Cole Porter.  What ensues is a kind of musical free for all. The pianist may follow the singer while the bassist may stay put hoping the singer gets back on track.  Now you have people in three different spots of the song while the drummer silently congratulates himself for choosing an instrument that doesn’t require the playing of notes.

If you are ever in the audience when this happens check out the expressions on the musician’s faces.  The pianist, with lips pursed and glowering eyebrows will be doing the slow burn, resembling a constipated ombudsman. The bass player will probably be stifling a laugh, while the drummer, having given up on the tune entirely, will be at the bar flirting with an out of work tarot card reader with breasts the size of basketballs.

To sum up, you have to have a sense of humor to play at a jam session.  Especially after receiving your paycheck.

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Groom dancers

Posted by keithosaunders on August 20, 2015

https://fbcdn-video-j-a.akamaihd.net/hvideo-ak-xpf1/v/t42.1790-2/11892782_10153050178321200_708825761_n.mp4?efg=eyJybHIiOjkwNSwicmxhIjo0MDk2fQ%3D%3D&rl=905&vabr=503&oh=9ebb3f931ffc45b25ad758b3599e2640&oe=55D63A0D&__gda__=1440099161_a64afba0b7aebc28a8a9eae982e868e6

Someone posted this on my Facebook feed last night under the heading, ‘ Without a doubt the best groomsmen dance ever.’  I watched a few minutes of the video before clicking off in disgust.  It’s one thing to surprise your bride with a couple of minutes of rehearsed dancing.  It’s cute, precocious, and slightly romantic in a contrived kind of way.  But to make your bride and guests sit through eight minutes of endless, cornball drivel?!  The conceit of it!

You see, this is what I’m talking about with these ‘viral videos.’   These people are out of control. Under the rubric of doing something romantic and selfless for the bride this nimrod has forced his captive audience to endure a two-bit vaudeville act.  And I’ll tell you what he’s doing.  He’s bragging.  This is a classic implementation of the humblebrag.  What is the humblebrag? It’s just as it sounds — one effects a selfless act while in reality drawing the attention to himself.  I see it all the time with musicians on my feed.  “I was so honored to get a chance to play with [insert famous musician’s name here]”  No you were not honored — you were blessed with the opportunity to brag en masse to your Facebook friends.

How much do you want to bet that these cretins forced their guests to travel thousands of miles to some remote location and pay for quaint and expensive B & B on some god forsaken island.  Oh yeah, they’re one percenters without a doubt.  I will have the last laugh however.  I’ll be onhand two years from now while they’re signing their divorce papers.  As they exit the courthouse they will be treated to my flashmob’s version of Cole Porter’s “Get Out of Town.”

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