The World According to Keitho

Just another WordPress.com weblog

Posts Tagged ‘jazz’

Can I get a vestibule over here?

Posted by keithosaunders on November 20, 2017

I don’t know if I have any restaurant or bar owners follow this blog but now that the colder November weather is upon us this is as good a time as any to leave this public service announcement:

Close your fuckin’ doors, OK?  I don’t care if this is California, Hawaii, or Ethiopia, it is in the low 50s outside. It is not balmy.  It is no longer t-shirt weather. In fact, in San Francisco, where most of my gigs are, it is rarely warm enough to walk around without a jacket in the summer, let alone the cold months.

Back east they have vestibules which keep the heat contained inside of the establishment.  How ironic that one is warmer indoors in New York City winters than in those of California.

Your establishment is not cozy and what little charm you gain by having an ‘open air’ ambiance is negated by your customer’s discomfort.  Look around you, for crying out loud:  Your customers have not taken off their down jackets!  They are not happy.  Neither am I.

No Vestibule

vestibule

 

Vestibule

Image result for restaurant vestibule

 

 

 

Advertisements

Posted in San Francisco | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Busy weekend

Posted by keithosaunders on November 12, 2017

This was one of those impossible weekends where I found myself with seven gigs on my calendar:  Two on Friday, a triple-header on Saturday, and two more on Sunday.  With six of the seven out of the way I can see the finish line ahead, but will still will have to power through a three hour solo piano gig in San Francisco.  (the fewer musicians around me, the harder I have to work)

Saturday morning’s gig – a one hour lecture/demonstration for toddlers and grade school kids proved to the hardest and most frustrating gig.  We were teaching kids about the fundamentals of music and jazz improvisation.  The leader was a trumpet player who gives me lots of work, but who happens to be an extremely unpleasant individual.  He’s one of those people who lectures you didactically nonstop (the lecture/dem gig was right in his wheelhouse) and enjoys arguing.  Everything goes one way, however — outward bound.  I’m pretty sure he’s on the spectrum somewhere.

He was particularity unpleasant during the rehearsal, stopping me every few seconds over minutia until it was all I could do not to pack up my keyboard and leave.  I toughed it out, however, and finished the gig without incident.

The thing is, you can’t blame people for being themselves.  This trumpet player can’t help being an asshole.  He was born this way.  He’s a miserable individual and its unfair and unrealistic to expect him to act out of his comfort zone.  No, I blame myself.  I’m the one who accepted the gig knowing full well what I was getting into.  If I accept future gigs with him I should expect more of the same.  Hopefully, in the words of Nancy Reagan, I’ll just say no.

Posted in jazz | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The exposition

Posted by keithosaunders on November 5, 2017

The hardest part of dating as a middle aged man, and the main reason I am not enthusiastic about dating, is the amount of exposition that goes into the first date.  It’s exhausting having to recount my life’s story with all of its layers and complexities. First of all, the breakup with my ex-wife doesn’t have a good narrative.  It would be one thing if one of us cheated or embezzled – now that’s a juicy breakup.  But no, we just grew slowly apart, split up, and remained good friends.

Then there is the career.  Yes, playing piano is my job, no I do not make tons of money, yes I’m talented, (you have to say you’re talented so she doesn’t think you’re a schlub, but you run the risk of coming off as arrogant) no, it’s not glamorous, yes I sometimes play gigs I don’t want to play.  Oh, and by the way, I work nights, often 6 or 7 a week, and I always work on New Years Eve.

What a catch!

 

Posted in life | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The dating blues

Posted by keithosaunders on October 31, 2017

I began to gig in jazz clubs in my late teens back when I lived in Los Angeles.  I had decided to eschew college in pursuit of a career as a jazz musician – a decision that has netted me upwards of hundreds, if not thousands of dollars.  I was having a great time practicing 5-6 hours during the day and gigging at night.

One unfortunate byproduct of this situation was that I was invariably the youngest person in the club by over ten years.  Not being in the cocoon of college made it difficult to find a girl close to my age to date.  Where was Tinder when I needed it?!

Fast forward 40 years and all of the practice paid off.  I’m gigging most nights, and I play at an extremely high level.  However I’m now often the oldest person in the club by over 15 years.  Somewhere up in heaven Rod Serling is having a good laugh.

Posted in jazz, life | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

We get requests

Posted by keithosaunders on October 17, 2017

Part of the craft being a solo pianist at a restaurant is taking and fielding requests.  I take a certain amount of pride in knowing a lot of tunes – hundreds, if not over a thousand – and as long as I know the song reasonably well I will play it, regardless of how corny it is or how much I don’t like it.  I’m grateful for requests; one of the hardest parts of doing a three hour solo gig is thinking of songs to play.  When I don’t know a song I’m always a little embarrassed, even though I realize that it’s impossible to know every song ever written.

A few weeks ago, however, I received a request that was as original as it was inane.  Someone asked me to play video game music.  I must have looked puzzled because the person quickly added, “You know, like Super Mario Brothers.”

This time, instead of stammering out an apology, I decided to try a new approach. I reached into my backpack, pulled out my new Smith & Wesson M & P9 Shield, fired a few rounds into the kitchen (taking care to avoid hitting the chef) and calmly set the gun down on the piano.

“Now,” I replied, “what was it you wanted to hear, some Bud Powell?  That’s what I thought you said.”

Posted in jazz | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Mensa memory

Posted by keithosaunders on October 10, 2017

The Trump-train chugs on.  Last week it was reported that Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, referred to the president as a ‘moron.’  Donald J. Trump, ever the sportsman,  challenged Tillerson to an IQ contest.  Once the news of this reached the high IQ society known as Mensa, the international society offered to oblige by hosting the test.  You can’t make this up!

Mensa is in the news, possibly for the first time ever, and this jogged an old memory of mine.  Years ago I had a gig on a cruise ship. My band mate, with whom I shared a cabin, was a member of Mensa.  How did I know?  He had a Mensa t-shirt which he wore practically every day.

One day we played chess and somehow I beat him. He must have let his guard down, playing a non-genius. I couldn’t believe it, and neither could he. You’ve never seen an angrier sax player. I believe this was the last I saw of his Mensa T-shirt.

Image result for mensa tshirt

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Scrapple From the Apple

Posted by keithosaunders on August 30, 2017

Last night I played a gig at a bar in the Haight Ashbury section of San Francisco called Club Deluxe.  The band, which plays at Deluxe every Tuesday,  is led by a great saxophonist named Smith Dobson and includes Eric Markowitz on bass and Jimmy Gallagher on drums.  These are some of my favorite musicians.

Last night we paid tribute to Charlie Parker on the 97th anniversary of his birth.  I went live on Periscope for one song – Scrapple From the Apple.  Unfortunately there was no ideal placement for the phone so the only band member you’ll see will be me.  But you can hear everyone and I feel it’s a great representation of what we do.

Click through for some nice licks.

https://www.pscp.tv/w/bHW-fDFlVmpZZG9xTU13S0x8MWRSSlpubm1WelFKQhPbfhROCU-Ev8Rg2eXOHrLkvC6q3-OwlN31nAAQdrNK

 

Posted in jazz, San Francisco | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Happy Bird’s Birthday!

Posted by keithosaunders on August 29, 2017

Today should be a holiday.  It is the birthday of one of the most important musicians of all time — Charlie Parker.  He was born on this date in 1920 which means had he lived, he would have been 97.  As it was he died at the tragically young age of 34.

He left us, however, with an ample discography, as well as this snippet of video footage of him playing live with Dizzy Gillespie.  They perform Tadd Dameron’s Hot House.

I would strongly recommend to anyone who has not heard of Charlie Parker, to Youtube him.  Your mind will be blown.

The New York radio station WKCR, as they do every year, is broadcasting a marathon Bird broadcast until tonight at midnight.  I highly recommend this.

https://www.cc-seas.columbia.edu/wkcr/#

In this dismal age of dangerous politicians and natural disasters why not take a few minutes to explore the beauty that exists in this world.  Happy Charlie Parker day.

 

 

 

Posted in jazz | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Keystone Korner

Posted by keithosaunders on July 10, 2017

This past weekend I took part in a 45th anniversary of the great, long-gone San Francisco jazz club called Keystone Korner.  The North Beach club was in existence from 1972 until 1985 – not terribly long by jazz club standards – but long enough to make an indelible imprint on the Bay Area jazz scene.  During its time it played host to the greatest names in jazz – from McCoy Tyner to Stan Getz, Elvin Jones, Art Blakey, Sonny Stitt, Dexter Gordon, and Horace Silver.

This weekend’s celebration featured such luminaries as Azar Lawrence, Gary Bartz, and Charles MacPherson, all of whom still sound great.  I played in the host band, led by tenor saxophonist, Mel Martin.

It was a bittersweet weekend.  I realized that the era of local jazz clubs hosting top touring musicians for six night stints (at affordable prices) is long gone. Sure, New York still has the Village Vanguard, but you would have to practically float a loan to attend it more than once a month.

Furthermore, the Vanguard is very much the exception.  Many cities, San Francisco being one of them, no longer have clubs devoted exclusively to jazz.  Corporate arts centers such as SF Jazz and Lincoln Center help, but do little to foster the sense of a local jazz community.   Not only that, they will rarely host an act for more than a couple of nights.

We have to enjoy our few remaining jazz clubs while we have them.  One day we’ll only have youtube and our memories.

Image result for keystone korner

Posted in jazz | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

My jazz camp adventures

Posted by keithosaunders on July 3, 2017

I have just returned from a week long stint spent as a teacher and performer at a jazz camp in La Honda, California.  La Honda is located deep in the Santa Cruz mountains –  a beautifully  scenic place.  I had a great time teaching, playing, and connecting with old and new friends.

The last day, however, my friend, Michelle, and I had a little disagreement. Nothing that serious, but, well, let me just tell you about it…

We were eating breakfast when I casually mentioned how much I hate scat singing and that no one should be allowed to do it.  Michelle responded, “I don’t give a fuck what you think.” As I was preparing my carefully worded response, Michelle removed some nun chucks from her backpack (that she happens to carry) and cracked me across the knee caps. As I was doubled over on the ground in the fetal position, crying like a little girl, I could hear the sound of a switch blade opening and before I had time to apologize, or beg for mercy, Michelle had slashed open my nose – just like Roman Polanski did to Jack Nicholson in Chinatown!

She stuck me in a wheel barrow and wheeled me to the camp nurse, who told me that she had never seen someone so severely injured at jazz camp. The silver lining is that now my photo hangs on the wall of fame at the jazz camp infirmary.

jazz camp woods

 

Posted in jazz | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »