|Rehearsing jetlagged at Jazz Station
in Brussels, with Martin Mereau
and Olivier Stalon
A little tour documentation here. These are the tunes I had in my book on our 2012 outing, along with some notes on how our actual performance rep shaped itself. The gigs were all two to four hours long, mostly for listening audiences, with one regular restaurant gig at which we were mostly playing background music. The group consisted of trumpet, vibes, bass, and drums. I set out with a big pile of tunes, not knowing what was going to work best with this collection of players, who, except for bassist Olivier Stalon, I had never played with before. The new players worked out great, and we ended up with a couple of very effective, nicely-programmed sets of music.
Tunes with an * are on Little Played Little Bird, the CD we were promoting with this tour. Tunes with a † are my own transcriptions/arrangements; others are fake book charts. The Steve Swallow/Carla Bley tunes are from their site, which has a bunch of free lead sheets.
We played these tunes from my record on almost every gig:
†*Check Up — Ornette Coleman
Friendly tune, an easy swinger.
†*Comme Il Faut — OC
We used this free jazz anthem as our set-opener several times. We would keep it fairly short, since the gig was just starting, and I would be paranoid about scaring off the audience.
Bright swing tune with drum breaks on the head. By the end of the tour we were doing the first solo as a trumpet/drums duet, and trading eights with the drums after the other solos.
A grooving, crowd-pleasing tune.
†*Lonely Woman —
One of our set pieces. You can’t do an Ornette Coleman presentation without including this tune. We played it with the drums in an Afro 6/8, with the other instruments floated in at a ballad tempo. Since we were already playing a couple of other full-blown Afro-jam numbers, I had to remind the group not to play on the same 6/8 grid as me— similar to the original, in which the drums play a fast bop tempo while the rest of the group plays slowly.
More after the break:
We also played these arrangements of mine:
†Guinea — Don Cherry
†Mopti — Don Cherry
These Cherry tunes from the Old and New Dreams recordings are basically world-music pentatonic jams, which the audience digs.
†Owl of Cranston — Paul Motian
We played this totally free, with each of the solos played as duets with the drums. We would often start our second set with this, after the audience got a sense of what to expect, and would give us some latitude for playing a little more open.
At the end of sets we played these tunes from my previous albums/tours, partly for variety and partly to help sell my last CD:
†Je Suis Venu Te Dire Que Je M’en Vais
— Serge Gainsbourg
Half time feel early 70’s pop. The title means “I came to tell you I’m going”, and the song is at least distantly familiar to French-speaking audiences, so we used this as our last tune of the night. Programming-wise it’s pretty remote from the preceding music, but that didn’t matter and it worked.
†Valse de Melody — Serge Gainsbourg
A slow, European-sounding waltz. I think these darker things— like Las Vegas Tango, Olhos de Gato, and Estate— take the place of ballads in my sets. We use these as palate-cleansers, to change the mood and give the audience a break from the more demanding listening.
We played these fake book tunes at least once each. They are either good blowing tunes, which relax the band with something familiar and easy, or they are “mood” pieces for giving some contrast with the rest of the set:
Alice in Wonderland
Eighty-One — Miles Davis
Las Vegas Tango — Gil Evans
Nardis — Miles Davis
La Nostalgie de la Boue — Steve Swallow
Olhos de Gato — Carla Bley
Question and Answer — Pat Metheny
Remember — Steve Swallow
†The Shadows of Paris — Henry Mancini
Syndrome — Carla Bley
Here are tunes which I had in the book, but which we didn’t end up playing, for various reasons. Some of them require a lot of familiarity (either of the musicians with the tunes, or the musicians with each other), or demand a lot of creativity/confidence from the players (which I didn’t want to rely on, since we were all just getting acquainted), or fit a place in the set occupied by other tunes. Some of them are just reserve in case the other stuff I brought wasn’t working, or if we found ourselves needing to fill more time.
All My Life —
From OC’s Science Fiction album. Chart by friend and Seattle drummer Eric Eagle.
Brownout — Mick Goodrick
Nice funk jam, not quite appropriate for the places we were playing.
†Circle Dance — Paul Motian
Easy, fun, vamp-based tune. Not needed thanks to the Don Cherry tunes.
†*Country Town Blues
Hard tune, easy to mess up.
Equinox — John Coltrane
Feet First — Steve Swallow
Great tune, but takes some familiarity, and we didn’t have time to work it in consistently.
†*Friends and Neighbors
Requires a creative leap from the rhythm section, and it was not immediately forthcoming in rehearsal, and we had enough stuff that was actually working that we didn’t need to revisit it on the gig.
Lawns — Carla Bley
Mevlevia — Gary Burton
Hard tune in 5/4. I would’ve loved to have played it, but we would’ve needed more time to do it justice.
†*Mothers of the Veil
What I said about Country Town Blues and for Friends and Neighbors goes double for this tune.
Never — Steve Swallow
Ramblin’ / Round Trip
†Rise and Shine
Round Trip / Blues Connotation / WRU
†*Strange As It Seems —
Very slow, dreamy, easy to go too long on it. We played it once and it seemed to put people to sleep.
Stuff — Miles Davis
†T & T
This tune and The Blessing are classic Ornette filler. We just didn’t need them.
Vashkar — Carla Bley