Soren Reiff and Will Lee playing together at the Copehagen Jazz festival

Guest appearance with a house-band – part 4

I’ve written about some thoughts concerning the length of the song and I’ve written about the style and what can happen if the material ask for a lot of virtuosity from a band member, when you do a guest appearance with a house-band. Today I’ll write about tempo changes and how you can prepare your guest appearance.

Tempo changes

Just like some of the other issues I’ve written about, this might not seem like a problem for a person who knows the song well. But it can be … for a whole band, that hasn’t heard your way of going from one part to the other, and who don’t know all their parts by heart, it can be a challenge … Of course everybody will do their best, but if you add eventualities, such as bad monitors, and the fact that the band might have played 10 or 15 songs after your 10 minute rehearsal and before you are playing together again at the concert. Then tempo changes and giant medleys of songs that only you have known for years are a big challenge … At least if you only have one or two play-thru’s at the rehearsals many hours before you do the show.

It was a kind of a guest appearance together with Will Lee, when we played with David Garfield at the Copenhagen Jazz Festvial some years ago ... great fun

I did a kind of guest appearance together with Will Lee, when we played with David Garfield at the Copenhagen Jazz Festvial some years ago … great fun

All these challenges

How do you handle all this I written about in my former posts – all these things concerning the style, arrangement and how difficult a certain song is may be difficult to understand for non-musicians. What is easy to play, what will sound good and what is realistic to play live for a smaller band than the line-up on the original version? Well the internet is a giant help. Is there a song you want to sing? Google it … Go on YouTube and find some live versions. You do not need to hear everything through from start to finish. You will quickly be able to determine whether it is a version you like, and whether that could be used as a reference. Musical Directors love references, just like they love when you arrive openminded to the version the band prepares. Encountering things with an open mind does fortunately not force you to sell out or do something you do not want to. It is just being open minded for new possibilities. And it’s not the intention of a house-band to rearrange everything beyond recognition – a good house-band does everything they can to lean against the original or the version you are referring to … Within the possibilities of the lineup and the time schedule.

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