****** Musician's Meanderings******
Steve Hashimoto's Journey Journal – News From the Trenches – 08-17-2003:
Had an unbelievable gig with a singer -- I won't name him, because, contrary
to what some of you believe, the purpose of these dispatches is to entertain
and educate, not to damage reputations. He was really a very nice guy, and he
had a pleasant voice, too. Unfortunately, those two things do not in and of
themselves a singer make.
There were a couple of red flags and one land mine. The first red flag was
that when he counted the band in, he snapped his fingers on one and three. For
those non-musicians amongst you, I refer you to any biography of Duke
Ellington, any of which probably include Duke's famous lesson on how to snap your
fingers in a hip manner. The first couple of times this character counted a tune in
I could see the drummer on the band go cross-eyed. Finally he took the poor
guy aside and convinced him that the band was used to the way that he (the
drummer) counted things, and to just give him the tempo and he'd get us started.
Unfortunately that was only one of the problems.
The second red flag was the guy's book. It was a big band book, and for you
local big band veterans out there, you'll know what I'm saying when I say how
scary it is when you look through a book and the Fred Wayne charts are the best
things in there. The rest of the charts were just depressingly terrible, and
combined with the impossibility of getting any kind of swing feel going given
the way he counted off tempos, the first set sounded sort of like Frankie
Yancovic playing Sinatra's greatest hits.
The land mine was that this guy had no concept of putting a set together.
Every tune had the same tempo and the same feel. The only distinction between
tunes was how badly the chart was written. By the end of the first set most of
the guys in the bed looked like they were ready to chew their own legs off to
get out of the trap.
And like I say, the guy could sing. A personable guy, and obviously serious
about what he's doing -- serious enough to put a big band book together, and I
don't mean just 20 or 30 charts, like a lot of combo singers who have what
they claim are big band books. He had maybe 100 charts in his book (perhaps
more). Even if he bought the charts at Swap-o-rama he still had to pay for copies
and binders. And he sort of knew the charts (he dropped a couple of bars out of
one of them, but that could have been anything by that point; I wasn't
exactly conscious anymore so maybe I blacked out for a second). You almost had to
root for him in an underdog kind of way and hope that eventually the light in
his refrigerator goes on.
Several astute rock historians corrected one of my trivia nuggets from last
week. Richard Milne, Nathan Sturm and John Kimsey all pointed out that Hurdy
Gurdy Man, not Sunshine Superman, was the Donovan record that featured future
members of Led Zeppelin and Allan Holdsworth (there's still some discussion over
whether John Bonham was on the session, but that's what the book says).
And finally, played a really great leader date tonight -- the clients were as
good as their word. They let us play what we play, they didn't interfere (and
better yet didn't allow their guests to either). They fed us and paid us like
the princes we'd like to believe we are. Thanks, Mike and Elise.
This week Steven Hashimoto will try to remember to snap on two and four at:
SUN. 8/17: at THE SOUTH ELGIN RIVER FEST, Rt. 31 and Rt. 20, 2-4pm, with
steel drummer Bill Riddle's Quartet; then later on at SIMON'S TAVERN, 5210 N.
Clark, back in Chicago, 9-11:30pm, with a stellar Steven Hashimoto Quintet (Dan
Hesler, sax; Neal Alger and Zvonimir Tot, guitars; Heath Chappell, drums). If
you love guitar, you really ought to check this one out.
MON. 8/18: at GOODBAR, Halsted north of Fullerton (sorry, that's all the info
I have), 9-11pm, with Q-BLUE. I don't know any of the guys in the band other
than my young friend Owen Yen on guitar, but I'm looking forward to this gig,
'cause I've heard the band and they're good players.
WEDS. 8/20: I think I have a retirement community gig with trombonist Dan
Sniderman's Quintet. Is that right, Dan?
THURS. 8/21: at THE SKOKIE PUBLIC LIBRARY, 5215 W. Oakton, 7-9pm, with Sueños
Latin Jazz Quartet (Mike Levin, sax; Bob Long, piano; Heath Chappell, drums).
FRI. 8/22: at THE GREEN MILL, 4802 N. Broadway, 9pm-1am, with Sueños
Latin-Jazz Sextet (Mike Levin, sax; Joe Sonnefeldt, steel drums and percussion; Bob
Long, piano and keyboards; Alejo Poveda, percussion; Heath Chappell, drums).
Then, later on (1:30-3:45am), as always, pulling the double shift with The Green
Mill Quartet (Barely Winograd, bari sax; Bob Long, piano; Rick Shandling,
drums) for The After-Hours Jam Session.
SAT. 8/23: at a place called (I think) NAUGHTY GRACE'S (or something like
that), 513 Main Street, Crown Point, IN, 8pm-midnight, with guitarist Marco
Villareal's Quartet. Marco's a nice player with absolutely stunning technique; if
you're in Hoosier land stop on by.
SUN. 8/24: a leader date, thanks to Mike Glick.