Posted by keithosaunders on March 7, 2017
Alcoa presents: The Jazz Ethicist…with Keitho!
Dear J.E. When is the proper time to employ the jazz ‘woo?’
Good question! First of all, whatever you do, do not use it on the bandstand. Horn players, when they are not soling, should effect an insouciance with head cocked at 45 degree angles, looking passively into the audience, occasionally snapping on the 2 and/or the 4.
NOW. During the break you will be talking about great musicians with your fellow band members. For example, someone one will say, “Herbie was killing it on Speak Like a Child!”
Now is your chance.
With a barely audible, yet excited 2 second falsetto, you proclaim, “Ooooh!”
Note: The W in ‘woo’ is silent – if you say ‘woo’ you’ve blown it and will be instantly ostracized from the herd.
I hope this helps.
Posted in jazz, Uncategorized | Tagged: Herbie Hancock, jazz, jazz gigs, jazz musicians, Speak Like a Child | 3 Comments »
Posted by keithosaunders on September 20, 2016
For the most I love living and gigging in the Bay Area. I’ve been here for six years now and am firmly entrenched in its jazz scene. That said, I have a bone to pick.
I’m sick and tired of going to a gig at a club or restaurant only to discover they have left their door open. ON PURPOSE. I’m sitting there trying to play the damn piano and I’m freezing. What’s more, I look around and the customers are freezing too. They’ve all got their jackets and sweaters on and they’re rubbing their hands together like they’re trying to make fire.
Now I get that the management wants their establishment to be all charming and rustic, and that we’re in California with the year-round mild temperatures. But here’s a news flash: It gets unusually cold on summer nights in San Francisco. You see, there’s this little thing called fog. Face it, ‘Frisco, you’re not an outdoor dining city. Get over yourself.
I’m trying to play music and I can’t even move my fingers. This may be difficult for restaurant owners to understand but I have to manipulate individual fingers in rhythm at distinct parts of the piano. It’s not like I ball my hands into fists and smash them against the keys and Our Love Is Here to Stay comes out. NO. I am moving my fingers to form patterns which in turn yields shapes and colors. SHAPES AND COLORS, FOR GODS SAKE.
Would it kill these people to build a vestibule? They don’t even know what a vestibule is out here – I had to explain it to somebody last week. If they had vestibules a musician might be able to enjoy a damn gig instead of feeling like a character in a Jack London novel.
And by the way…how do you think they caught the Chelsea bomber? He was lying in a vestibule in Linden, New Jersey.
Vestibules: Is there anything they can’t do?
Posted in jazz, San Francisco, Uncategorized | Tagged: Bay Area, California, Chelsea bomber, jazz, jazz gigs, Linden, New Jersey, San Francisco, vestibule | Leave a Comment »
Posted by keithosaunders on May 5, 2016
The music business is capricious at best. Last year I probably played over 300 gigs which is my personal best, probably by far. This year has started out busy but in the last couple of days I’ve hit a bump in the road. I lost my Monday steady jam session gig in Oakland due to low attendance. It was easy to see coming but it’s never pleasant to lose a gig. A steady gig gives the week form and structure. They’re like old shoes — comfortable. That being said, I’m actually looking forward to having my Monday nights back. I can use them to catch up on transcribing music (solos and songs) as well as get some errands done which will free the days up for extra practice.
What has irked me is having my second Sunday of the month brunch gig cancelled with four days notice. This month’s second Sunday happens to fall on Mother’s Day and the management decided to book a different band for the occasion. I have asked for half payment, but this is the restaurant business which is only a few steps more legitimate than the gangster business. Suffice it to say that it will be a cold day before I see that money.
In the meantime I am still extremely busy, gigging between 5-6 days a week and juggling 7-10 students. I’m one cancelled steady, however, from turning into a whining simp. Tom Hanks said it best: There’s no crying in jazz!
Posted in jazz, Uncategorized | Tagged: Bay Area, jazz, jazz gigs, Mothers Day, oakland, Tom Hanks | Leave a Comment »
Posted by keithosaunders on April 6, 2011
Singer: Is this Keitho, the piano player?
Keitho: Yes it is…
Singer: Are you available to do a gig tomorrow night? I’m not home and don’t have my book in front of me. I may have already gotten someone, but are you available?
Keitho: No, I’m not. I’m already gigging.
Singer: Darn it!
The question is, was she upset because she really wanted me on the gig, or that she missed out on a chance to double-book? It’s a question worthy of Talmudic scholarship.
Posted in music | Tagged: aggravation, gigs, jazz gigs, musician, singers | 2 Comments »
Posted by keithosaunders on March 10, 2011
One of the things I like most about being a musician is that your life rarely gets boring. You never know who you will meet, or what you will play at any given gig. In the old days, when I was first starting out, all I wanted to do was burn. If I wasn’t playing straight ahead jazz with great players, I wasn’t happy. Of course this is still the pinnacle for me, but my criteria for enjoyment on a gig has evolved throughout the years. Part of this is due to the systematic beat-down perpetrated over the years by club owners, rude audience members, and shady band leaders, but it’s also due to my own ever-changing priorities.
Here’s what I need: First of all I need a good parking spot, one fairly close to the gig, preferably on the side of the street that is facing in the direction of home. I would like the club to have a TV tuned to whatever sporting event is in season, and I would like it to be facing the bandstand. If it’s baseball season, I need the Mets game to be on. Free beer goes a long way towards my gig enjoyment, and dinner is a plus as well. I do not require filet mignon, just enough sustenance to get me through the evening without any light-headed dizzy spells.
All these criteria were met at a gig I played in North Beach the other day. The gig was with a quintet, led by a singer. It was one of those gigs where everyone in the club was pleasantly half-drunk, extremely convivial and obliging. A good time was had by all.
The singer had a sore throat that night so she asked us to transpose everything to lower keys. You would think that she would want the keys taken down a whole step, or at the most, a minor 3rd. Nope. She had us transpose a 4th, sometimes even a 5th lower! It got to the point where she was approaching Barry White territory.
Towards the end of the night this older lady sat in. She said to me, “Play All of Me, but play it like Louis Prima would!” So I did, and although she clearly was not a trained vocalist, we had a good time romping our way through the old standard in the swing-shuffle style of Prima.
At the end of the night the bass player asked if I knew who that singer was. I said I didn’t, so he informed me, “That’s Carol Doda, who is credited with being the world’s first topless dancer.” Apparently she is also the first woman ever to have breast implants.
There you have it. A true brush with greatness, and according to Keitho’s Approved Standard of Gigs — ASOG ™ — a succesful evening.
Posted in music, San Francisco | Tagged: All of Me, Barry White, Carol Doda, jazz, jazz gigs, Louis Prima, North Beach, San Francisco | 3 Comments »