As I mentioned in my latest Basics Blog and also in my last regular Blog, I was about to do a great gig at NYC’s Iridium Club. This was mainly a “jam” with folks like Jimmy Vivino, Johnny A., Gene Cornish and also the wonderful Lou Pallo, along with Les Paul’s Trio.
It was a true example of “making it work”, as all these musicians, many of them “wailing” all at once, managed to, in a very professional way, really turn it into an evening of fine music, full of dynamics and musical intensity. Also, above all, it was full of good spirits, friendship and great vibes, as we all realized that the sum total, or “whole” was what it was really all about, as opposed to individual performances.
It was wonderful how, with all that experience onstage, we could summon up so easily all of our musical abilities to make it all work together so smoothly. I really believe, as a result of these kinds of evenings, that it is often better to not rehearse at all, and far better to call upon the well-honed musical “instincts” we all can really allow to shine in these very improvised moments. After all, the only way you’re going to really show what you’re really “got” is when you can improvise, and that’s exactly what we did, all night long! Nobody knew what songs were going to be called out, only the keys, about one second before launching into the songs themselves!
This would be a great exercise for you to do with your bands, and your “sitting in” in other non-band situations. That ability to “think on your feet” is a key element to your musical success, and it’s what I’ve had to do from day one of my “real” career! Many times, I’d be onstage with an artist, and would be able to just “wing it” when it came to learning the songs right in front of the crowd! It’s the same skill one must develop as a studio musician as well…the ability to “hear it, and play it”, and to do it with feeling, skill and most of all creativity!
So, give it a try….there’s nothing to lose, and you will end up developing your ear and your experience will keep on building and building till you reach that incredible moment when you know you are at “one” with your instrument! It happened over and over for us all the other night at The Iridium, and it was a true reminder of what it’s all about to be a “real” guitar player!