Hello everybody, Willie Myette, creator of jazz edge Welcome to The Confident improviser podcast. This is episode number 24. And today I got a special treat for you guys. I got an interview with the band, I got my friend Tom kosali and Randy clue da who are going to be answering some, some questions. And we're just going to be wrapping for a little bit today. So hopefully you'll learn a few things. Remember, this podcast goes along with the confident improviser course that's found back at jazz edge, there will be a video replay of this as well for my jazz edge members. If you want any more information on that just go back to jazz edge comm or the confident improviser.com as well. And so let us start interviewing the band here. So first of all, I want to welcome you, Tom, and I want to welcome you, Randy. So, all right, so uh, Tom, Randy, and I just did a gig a couple of weeks ago that students have been talking about and asking me questions about and I just wanted to kind of talk about that a little bit. And then I also wanted to finish up with some questions that I got from students as well. So first of all, for those of you who haven't seen the concert, you can go right to jazz edge, comm slash concert. And you can see that concert from the parlor in Providence, Rhode Island. It was on March 20, I believe is when we did that. It was a chick Korea celebration. Unfortunately, if you did hear the sad news, chick Korea passed away a few months back and this was a celebration gig for the music of chick, which is absolutely gorgeous, beautiful and challenging music. And we're going to talk about that a little bit today. So Tom, you called me? Literally it was what like three weeks before the gig, right? Yeah, I think that's about it.
I mean, your chicken Lee died. February 9, I believe it was so yeah, there wasn't a lot of time between it. I was like, you know, I got a call to do a gig. And, you know, they asked me, I kind of do whatever I want. I do a lot of original stuff, too. So they asked me to kind of whatever I wanted to do a Chick Corea thing. And you know, I put you guys together very short order. And we did.
Yeah. And students had been asking, like, how did we do it, and they were kind of blown away at, you know, I don't want to hurt myself patting myself on the back. But I've heard from Susan, they were kind of blown away at how good the gig sounded, based on the fact that we literally only had three weeks of rehearsals. So I wanted to kind of talk a little bit about that and talk about our process. And like I said, also get out to some of those questions from students as well. But to kind of set the stage here. So Tom gave me a call, like, you know, mid February, and we had three weeks before we were going to do this gig. And we met every Tuesday for three Tuesday's, right, so we had literally three rehearsals. And Tom had an idea of the music, you know, that we were going to play. And then we get together and kind of work through and play through the music, and that first rehearsal and started to suss out which tunes we wanted to do and which tunes we didn't want to do. And one question I have, and I'll start first right? to kind of set the stage for you guys of what we did to prepare for this gig. So one thing that I did to prepare for this gig is on my phone, I put together a playlist of the tunes that we were going to play, right because obviously listening to the music and getting that frame of reference was extremely important. And and also I hadn't actually To be honest, we had to listen to chicks music in several years. I'm like kind of listening to other musicians right now. So it's a great deep dive back into chicks music. And again, a wonderful, just seeing just how musical and technically proficient this guy is. It's like cheese, how am I going to live up to you know, this standard of being able to play chicks music. So listening to that music was super important, obviously, practicing it every chance that I got as well. Super, super important. And then I also knew that I was going to be playing on a keyboard so I also started to kind of get that in my mind as well because we did our first rehearsal on a piano. The second rehearsal we did on the piano as well, but the third rehearsal I did on the keyboard cuz I had to make sure that I kind of got back into, you know, that technique, and not really gigging over this past year with a pandemic. I hadn't really played that Particular keyboard and a while so I had to make sure that I was really kind of, you know, ready to go on that instrument. Randy, for you, what did you do to get prepared for the gig?
Well, yes, getting prepared was it was a challenge, you know, just finding recordings, lead sheets just to begin with is I like to listen to melodies and I like to try to, you know, be able to memorize them at all possibilities, but as you know, some of the music, checks music, the forms are really somewhat challenging at times the roadmap, the musical roadmaps and you know, just really you know, listening and then looking at the sheet of music, you know, which is a melody part and you know, like, you know, it's not drum music so it's, it's, it's interpreting, you know, learning how to interpret what I'm seeing and listening to, you know,
you know, it's so important what you're saying there too, because I think especially for a young drummer, or a an up and coming drummer or up and coming musician, it's real easy to think, ah, you know, I play drums, all I got to do is just get down to form what do I care about melody, you know, I played bass, all I need to do is play the roots of the chord or whatever, why do I really care about the melody? But it really is important, isn't it?
Absolutely. I mean, I really listened to the harmony because you know, that that might affect how I approach something or play something you know, especially in terms of dynamics You know, there's a lot of ups and downs and that go through a tune and especially with his music chicks, music, you know, there's a lot of that where, you know, dynamics, really important part of the, you know, the music and so to be able to hear that harmony and it just gets me thinking, you know, away from more like drum drum mystics stuff, I tried to think more melodic and harmonic sense of playing. I know, like, bass and piano, you know, you have to know melody and chords
, and most drummers are like, What's that, you know, and it's, it's really, the more you know, can know about that I think you really get into the music more as well. So I think you know, learning you know, on top of being proficient at drums, you get a, you have to try to have an idea what the music is about and understand it, I think it's helpful especially in terms of soloing not just playing a groove or something, but like really, I try to utilize those elements in my playing, you know,
it definitely helps you when you're, you know, like those moments where we gave you solo time. The melody is definitely guiding you.
Not not always but most of the times Yeah, so that I always I try to base my improvisation
over the song that I'm playing I'm really thinking about that song. I'm not just thinking about all what lit Can I throw in here, I'm thinking about that song. And so it has more of a relation to that song. It's not just like, you know, how many notes Can I throw into this little right imagine whatever it's, it's like, you know, every every song to me is you know, I try to think in those terms of improvisation
. I try to relate it to the song that I'm playing Yeah. You You know, a piano player or a bass player, you know, you just play any notes, you kind of have to, I mean, you can play any notes, but I mean, you're, you're, you know, you're really paying attention to the the form and of course, the harmony, the chord changes. So, I tried to somehow make that happen in my playing as well.
So, I have an unfortunate thing to say. I didn't record your video while doing that. Okay. So I'm gonna have to edit that. But let's keep going. Right? Because what I'll do is I'll just bring that that video in afterwards. Okay. So So Tom, same question to you. What do you do to prepare to prepare for the gig?
Yeah, I mean, I mean, you guys kind of you got you stole some of the goodies. I mean, there's the what you guys have to say is is right on. I mean, I think like you I think we all sort of think along the same wavelengths, about how to approach the music, I made a playlist, you know about a tune so I can listen to it, I go for walks with my dog, I'm listening to the music, I played along with those songs, or sometimes I would just put it on and, you know, actually one of the things I was actually reading through when a chick chick she's proud of book actually, recently before he passed, and it's pretty interesting, it's, you know, suggests some different ideas about how he approaches things. And one of the things I kind of, you know, caught in there that I do sometimes, but maybe not as much as just, you know, like, not trying to necessarily transcribe everything because especially with this, we didn't have enough time to like go through and transcribe everything, but, um, you know, just to play along with stuff and try to catch the shape of the music and that's something that both you guys think you're talking about, she was trying to kind of echo some of the shape, even if you're not catching every single line per se, or every single note while you're playing Whoa, that really tried to internalize the different kinds of shapes in the way the music is moving. And so that was definitely a big piece of it. I mean, I tend to pop back and forth and not even remotely is proficient. And Aquarius, really, I will not even you know joke about it necessarily, but or maybe I will only joke about it, but I gotta sit there okay, kinda like Randy said, like I you know, I'll sit down at a piano to kind of go through the changes, to hear the harmonies to go through the melodies through the family even improvise a bit on it, um, and then, you know, bring that back and you'll go back to the base, so I kind of go back and forth across the room over here on my piano on that side, my bass on this side, and then I'll play all those melodies on the bass and you know, some very challenging chords
to improvise over. So sometimes it's isolating certain chord sections and say, like, how do we make the connections between these two chords
rather than how do we play through this whole song? Right? Because there are certain shoes you know, change you're like, Oh my God, he's gonna go from you know, this specific chord to that one, and how do I get there? You know, how do I hear where to get you know, how do I hear the direction of that and they serve they leave you certain ways to you know, you can hear it and explain to how he sort of deals with those spots in his own playing. As well as the other musicians he plays with him. We listen to guys like Eddie Gomez and john patitucci the bass players and he played with and listening to their lines and be like okay, well that's how they deal with those things.
Yeah, it's a chick's music I mean, I noticed in the tunes that we were doing are definitely sometimes it's like wow, you just don't think that the music is going to move the way that it does. It's really quite interesting the movement that he gets in his music and then when you're trying to build a soul All right, exactly. Right. I mean, you could solo over each chord, but then it sounds like you're just soloing in a silo right? You're trying to build this line so that it moves in between the harmony so that was definitely a challenge. Yeah, I'm curious. Randy the like these songs had some very different articulation to them as well right so like you take Armando is rummer Armando is rumba Spain, you know versus that versus like when we did was for Dave or something so like how does that articulation of what Tom and I are doing, how does that start to affect how you're interpreting the music?
Whoa, okay. Of course I'm listening very intently to what you're both playing because again you have the melody and the harmony go and therefore you know more rhythmic accompaniment hopefully not to get in the way of you know the melody or or overpower you know what you're doing so of course, listening is probably number one and then you know, making you know, for let's say, for Amanda's rumba now that the recording that I listened to didn't have drums on it so I use what I was hearing from the recording and then in making up my own kind of grew but it was more of a like a songul kind of groove is what I ended up playing and I thought it worked and in relation to what we were playing
do me a favor just for a quick second if you could let our listeners know So what is a song go
it's a Latin groove. I would play it on my drum say it would be a lot easier to play it but it's it's basically you know, you have this consistent pattern. I like a bell like it just To a quarter note pad and really, and then you have to
go I play it for us quick. Can you are you set up to do that?
I am, but I could do it.
Alright, well I'll move to Tom for the next question. If you want to go ahead and and play that that would be cool. I'm sure they would, they would love to hear it. But I actually will finish up what you were saying about like, you know, the articulation in the music and how you're interpreting that.
Right. So and as far as the articulation, I try to think of, you know, short and long tones. What's the short sound? How do I make that on the drums? And how do I make a long tone? That's really how I I try to I try to at least match what's happening that way rhythmically. So if you have a staccato note, I tried to play more staccato. If you have a long tone, or if there's a held out chord, I'm probably going to, you know, hit a bass drum and cymbal crash or something or something to extend it to sustain. Right to sustain. So I usually think of my notes as far as the articulations is long and short. Okay. Oh, some, some are also accented, or maybe, you know, have more emphasis. Yeah, it's
interesting, because I mean, I've thought about drums, like, you know, like typical drums being percussive as accenting, but never really thinking. I never put a lot of thought into the fact that like, long and short, I mean, obviously, like a cymbal crash is going to be long and you know, a snare drum hit, you know, short. So right. That's interesting. Now, for both of you, same question, we'll go to both of you, Randy, since I'm with you, we'll start with you. First. You both play multiple instruments. Why? And actually, if you don't mind saying what instruments you You play as well, even if you're just dabbling with it.
Alright, so you can probably see it right here. This is a vibraphone. So I have a vibraphone here. I just took out my steel pan, which I haven't played in a bit, but I have. So I do play all percussion instruments. Right now. This is this desk here is actually my timpani drums. I have tubular chimes. I just spent I just started playing the the upright bass recently. So I just that and again, getting that so
do you play any piano?
Do you play any piano?
Ah, badly, but not very good. I can play a little bit.
Now I haven't I haven't prepped you on this question at all. You'd even know I was going to ask this question. I tell my students why musicians play piano, so I'm not going to lead you on it. Why do you play piano?
Well, it's the easiest thing for as far as picking out melodies. Like if, you know, I mean, for me, before I had this instrument, you know, we I had to reference a piano, especially when I was in college, especially I had to, you know, take some theory courses
and where you had the vibes, you had a reference, okay.
You know, if I needed to learn a melody, you know, the easiest way was to go to a piano and, you know, fumble my way through it. And, you know, maybe my technique wasn't there, but I, you know, slowly would figure out what notes you know, read be able to read the staff and but at the beginning, I mean, it was really a challenge to you know, play because I didn't really have that. I had more of just drumming background drumset and then eventually I got into to theory later. Yeah. And, and then, you know, piano was, you know, probably the, you know, one of the first melodic instruments I've probably played, even as a little kid. You know, we have this old little organ in the house, it was, you know, something I would mess around with, but drums took over, but I still appreciate piano and the keyboard instruments. And I bought this instrument, the vibe, the vibraphone because it's more, I guess, in terms of using my hands as you know, mallets Yeah. Or instead of this, I don't have good facility on a keyboard. So
now it's probably a little bit easier. It was a transitioning
was probably learning to hit these notes as opposed to being having to play like 10 notes. A challenge for me so. So but to learn any melodic instrument, you know, especially, especially drummers, I mean, because I know it's, it's, it's a downfall for us, you know, to not be able to understand that part of music, some people just get into the mindset of, I just want to play drums. And that said that that's great, but I think once, once I got exposed to those other instruments, it really opened up my ears. And that's, that's to me is is, you know, I can hear things in music where things might be going, you know, harmonically like, and it forces me to play differently, like, you know,
and bingo, you just hit it, man. Like what I tell my students, is that the reason that I actually don't I'm not gonna say it, because I'm going to take, I'm going to go to Tom now, same question to you, Tom. So What instruments do you play? And I already know that you play piano, so you can go ahead and add why you play piano? Go ahead. Can
I start there for you? Yeah. So I mean, you know, I think I you know, you probably remember, Louis, I don't remember if it was like Oscar Peterson, or somebody said something like, you know, when you play the piano, maybe it was Duke Ellington, you got the whole orchestra under your fingers, you know, and I think one of the thing that is just so cool about the piano is it's got this, you know, great layout for trying to understand theoretical things, but also understanding multi voices, right, because you can, you know, the bass, generally, you're playing mostly one note at a time. You know, and the piano allows you to play, you know, 10 notes at a time, basically. So you've got this ability to play multiple, multiple voices simultaneously. I mean, really, I got into it, because I was trying to write my own music. And in writing my own music, really, that's kind of how I learned to do a lot of my piano playing. I mean, I had a lot of theoretical knowledge from school, and I did take some class piano classes at school, but then I couldn't use that basic knowledge. And I had wanted to write songs. And so I figured them out required me to learn certain things, and it just sort of one thing led to another and it helped me just in a great deal, you know, as Randy said, with understanding harmonic structure, you know, what are these chords
? How do they go to each other? What are the relationships between these chords
? How does the melodies fit into there, and it's hard to see those things when you're playing on a drum, or when you're playing on a bass? You know,
so? Well, right, what's that you want? Yeah, well,
so I actually started out as a guitar player. Um, you know, I guitar was my first instrument that I played electric bass and I played upright bass. I'm in the middle there, I started, I started to pick up piano a little bit. And then eventually, I actually run a band program. So I play a lot of instruments. I may play sax, clarinet, flute, trumpet, trombone, violin, cello. I probably missed a couple drums because I'm teaching kids how to play those instruments so I have to be proficient on all of them. I mean, I don't know that I could gig on all of them. I certainly couldn't play chicories music
on or Armando is rumba on cello if you don't mind
I should might be the hang on cello I did it we did a thing really well remember we did a thing a couple of years ago what was the tune we did it was one of the Oscar Pettiford tunes bohemian named Bohemia I'm forgetting the name of the tune right now. But um we did we did this egg I buy boy cello on it you know and I actually I will say I can play a cello the regular way but I tuned my cello like a bass. Oh, funny. Yeah. So so you can tune in the traditional cello is tuned in fifths. I have special strings that allow me to to my cello and fourths. Oh cool. It makes transitioning a lot
faster layout is the same. It's just smaller.
It's like just the distance between notes is closer. So intonation in playing in tune is a challenge but once you start to get comfortable you just got to feel the notes and where they are and then it like you said it's basically the notes are in the same places rather than the traditional cello tuning and fifths. The notes are in completely different places.
Well, you guys got me beat I play piano. And I play you know, keyboard instruments. I can play some electric bass as well. I could probably gig on electric bass.
We've all heard you play piano. So yeah, so no good. You are
My man but you guys are like the musicians everybody loves to hate because like yeah well I played cello flute sax for him ba I played the Balinese flute you know like yeah, like yeah, and now Randy playing the pans there that's that's a challenging instrument
yes especially with the the layout of the the notes or
again for those of you don't know, pans are the steel drums. That's that's another, you know, word for it. So go ahead, Randy.
This is what the diagram of the notes look like, oh, cheese. So there's, you know, and this is just one version of a pan, some lot of pans are different. So the notes are, you know, they're not numbered either. So you kind of you memorize the pan there and fifths. They go up and fifth. So the lowly note as a C can't play it. Then the next note is a G, then it's a D, lower than a, so goes all the way around.
So if you have a tune, that's the melody is just a circle of fifths, then you're golden, right? I know. The day I just go right around the pan. Yeah, I've heard that that that instrument is, is pretty challenging. It's actually an instrument that I want to actually get into myself. It sounds it sounds great sound.
You probably tear it up. I mean, it would be you'd probably be really good at it.
Thanks, man. Do it. I gotta dig into that one is Yeah, it's gonna be pans with Willie. Alright, so hey, let me ask some of these questions here. So Michelle, asked Randy and Michelle was at the jazz edge live event and Randy had a chance to to accompany Michelle. That one had Brian Rizzuto on bass. We didn't have you on that Tom. Sorry. But Brad's great. Sure. You did a great job. Oh, yeah, he did. He did. It was great. So anyway, Michelle, was Randy playing with his Swiss symbol.
Ah, actually, yes. good observation. That was that was the symbol on my right. That was my end, the high hats were also Swiss, pasty. pasty symbols that my right on my right and my hi hat. And then I had a had some other symbols in there. zildjian. And I forget the other names.
Cool. Well, just as a reminder, if anyone wants to watch that concert again, just go back to jazz edge comm slash concert. And you can watch it there. Here's a question for you, Tom. Tom kosali said that you all participate. You all three participated to create the list of songs played? Would it be possible to develop a bit so expand on that a bit? The tune selection, Tom?
Yeah, sure. So I mean, um, you know, we started with, um, you know, basically a bigger list, I kind of I mean, generally speaking, I kind of went through I think, initially, I reached out to both of the guys and said, You know, like, Are there any tunes you guys really, really want to play? Are there you know, and then from let's work from there, basically, and I kind of wanted to cobbling together. I think the first list technically, um, and you had way more, we probably needed at that point, the book had more tunes than we needed in it. And then it was just kind of a matter of we, I was trying to look at things somewhat chronologically, so I wanted to kind of give a little bit of the story of how he progressed through his life and sort of some of the album's and things that came out to give people an opportunity to kind of like, hear about, like, oh, that came from this album, or, oh, that was from this period of time. You know, that was, you know, Chicken 1968. And this was Chicken 2020. Um, so and then again, like, like I said, we kind of as we, you know, rehearsed, we talked through, like, certain tunes that we felt like, oh, that one's really good, or, you know, that one could wait, or we really should include this, you know, but we need to balance out because we wanted to keep it, you know, a certain amount of time. So, you know, there's other things we could have played, but didn't necessarily want to, you know, have it be too long. Also, there were other things like I mean, you know, bring up got a match, where government match this is great song that we could have worked on, but whatever was very difficult and challenging song. Um, we definitely could have done it, you know, capable of doing but it would have taken more time. So yeah, sometimes you guys say, Okay, well, that's gonna take more time to get that one down. Let's focus on making sure we can do well, the things that we're doing well, I think that can kind of apply to people's practice, too. You know, when you think about, you know, your own study, you know, there's times where you kind of do like okay like that's something that I might be able to do but it's gonna you know take me more time I'll wait on that for now and come back to it and focus on these things so it's definitely something that I think if we did it again you know I would love to add kind of match you know because it's a it's a really fun fun tune but it's also incredibly fast incredibly demanding
I was just talking about that with my coaching group today and talking about what I realized on that is like this like hidden your pinky there like like like just by changing around the fingering that you're doing. By using fourth finger there is much more powerful than using the pinky because going 543 is weaker in the hand but using 432 is a little bit stronger so it's like you know it's it's stuff like that where Yeah, it takes time to kind of work it through and start to pick apart the tune and not just a musical level but then also at a technical level as well. You know, one thing I said to you Tom over our group chat but I want to say in this podcast as well as just what a fantastic job that you did, you know, of course playing but then also all of the interlude talking like like it was just really well planned out and I you know, I give you a lot of credit for that and for anyone that you know, I would definitely suggest take a listen to that concert because Tom laid out just some great chick history, right? Like if you if you want to know some great history about chick Korean and where these tunes are from, it was it was really good. It was fantastic. Now on the the difficult to it's like Humpty Dumpty, there's an example. At first, it was like, I don't know, if we're gonna be able to do that one, right? You know, so I had to, like, really roll up my sleeves and really practice that we all do. But we were able, we were able to get that one together. And to kind of dovetail on what you're saying, there, Tom, it's like, you know, our job. I believe that our job is professional musicians is to do justice to music, right? Like, I feel it sounds corny, but I feel like not just in my lessons. But in my playing, my job is to bring art and beauty to the world through music, right. And in order to do that means I can't be claiming all over the place on a music and certainly on a celebration gig for somebody who just passed, the last thing you want to be doing is like, you know, butchering their music. So it's always weighing out that, like, what can we get done? But is it a stretch and is a too much of a stretch. And I think the thing that I want to say for the three of us is that, you know, that you have to be brave to go for that stretch, you know, on that first rehearsal, you know, it's some of the tunes like, we're gonna be able to get this together. So then each of us do our job, we each go back, we put in a time in the woodshed, right, making sure that we're practicing this stuff. When we get back together, we rehearse it again. Right? Take notes, go back again. But it's really the three of us have to come together. And we have to say, hey, look, we're willing to take that reach together. So and that's, you know, the fact that we're professionals, and we've worked together before now some people are also going to wonder, How much have you worked together before? Randy and I and Tom and I have played a lot over the years. I've known you, Tom for like, what, like, eight, eight years, 10 years, right? Around the same like about eight to 10 years as well. We've done dozens of gigs and different permutations. I don't remember how we are Yeah, we've done the three of us but probably at the wolf right. I think we probably did some of the best that sounds right. But certainly not this music, right? This was kind of a new thing for the three of us. Now another question here. Would Tom say a little bit more about the use of the bow? It gives such a different style than the user usual finger bass playing?
Sure. Yeah, so I'm actually I, you know, I was largely classically trained first, although I did always dabble in jazz. My, my, really my, my technical training kind of came in classical music as a classical bass player. And I actually kind of put that aside for a while I'm kind of just getting back to it now. And it does, it has like a really beautiful sound is much different than the the pizzicato sound that we're sort of used to in most jazz. I mean, there's definitely a tradition of it in jazz. There are some incredible you know, jazz bass players who you know who bow Paul chambers major Holly Christian McBride who happens to be on some of the you know Korea stuff. Also there are there's in Spain Spain starts off with with Boeing so that was actually technically there I didn't actually come up with the idea or anything I can't take credit for that. But I'm doing crystal silence with a bow. I was listening to a recording and see it was probably Joe Farrell playing sax, I'm not sure about the which sax player was I think was Joe Farrell though. And he was playing sax and I thought you know, that sounds really nice with a bow just because of how melodic it was, and what he was getting out of the saxophone. And it was actually just saxophone and and piano and so I thought you know, really cool if we do that with you know, both bass and piano and then of course we add drums to uh to to add you know color and that's what that's that kind of arranging piece where we can take some liberties with chicks music and sort of say like okay well this is how he arranged it but we can do it a little bit different we don't have to do everything the same and that's kind of what gives the music like a new life if you will or new breath you know kind of going forward it's one of the things I love about jazz and you know today like check who himself did that where he took music and he was always breathing new life into it by creating a different arrangement of something but to go back to the bow Yeah, so I mean generally speaking you see it mostly in classical but it does cross over to jazz quite well
yeah, yeah. So I have another question I wanted to ask and I'm drawing a blank now Oh, you know what? Back to the well let's bring it back to piano for one quick second all right so Oh, I remember what it was I wanted to tell our anecdote right of what happened between you and I Tom in between our first and second set the fight that you and I got in don't don't know we're gonna get everyone listening like what the fight What the heck is he talking about? Alright, so
the headlock was brutal Willie
degree black belt baby
Oh, I knew it I should have known better
so um, so something that I've I've I've done many times over the years is especially with bass players is asking bass players if what I'm providing to them in my playing is working for them because the thing that I've learned is like bass players Well first of all, like we have a special relationship bass piano and drums we are like the the core of the engine right? A lot of times we are the foundation of a group you know, you'll throw a sax player on top, you throw a vocalist on top or whatever, but it's really important that the three of us really lock in together quite well. And in order to do that there has to be open communication and it has to really be open communication without a bunch of bowl hockey right I mean, it has to you know, you have to be able to speak to one another and and be able to get the job done. And when you can't do that the music definitely suffers I know I've been in situations I'm sure you guys have to we could go down that whole rabbit hole of you know you're on the bandstand with basically you know what, right and they're very difficult to get along with and there's the communication isn't there and well obviously the music suffers as well. But one thing I asked Tom one of the rehearsals when we you know a while I'm comping behind a solo is I was asking him like okay, is that you know, Is that alright? Is it too much too little? You know you want something different? And it was a guy okay Tom was like you know, it's all fine but then between the first set and the second set during our concert there you came up and you remember what you asked me or told me I said
I suggested that you wait leave a little bit more space
right sorry. Right? And then you know and it was I taken aback by that no, no you
I you were beyond professional about it. I I always I must admit, I always hesitate to say anything because I do feel like I know it can be a personal thing but you're absolutely right and the way you dealt with it was beyond professional and honestly when I listened back and listened back to that person I'm like, I don't know maybe it was just the way I was hearing things in that moment, because it sounds pretty darn good.
But you know, what's really important is that when I am accompanying behind your solo or or anyone solo Randy Silla whenever when we are in an accompaniment role, it's our job to accompany it. And if if you're not hearing something, no matter, whatever it is, we maybe it's on you, maybe your ears or whatever are our you know, like, like not hearing something, it doesn't matter if that's what you want, that's what my job is to give to you is to is to make it because my job is to make it to give you a bed, or at least that's why I see my job is to give you a bed, that you can just float right over the top. And you can hear the harmony that you want to hear or hear the space that you want to hear. But it was, it was a great story. Because, you know, I remember you came up and you're like, like a little nervous about saying something I remember telling you like, Hey, man, it's totally fine. It's like, you know, it's, it's why I, you know, brought it up in the first place. So it's such an important lesson, you know, that communication with the band, if you can have that communication, it just makes the music so much better. And, you know, we were joking around with Randy there too, right? Like, you know, in rehearsals, like Randy, like can hear everything. He's like playing the drum beat, but hearing some other melody in a different key, like, you know, we like to bust chops and have fun.
Yeah, I think that it points to something to that, you know, about comping and how there's like an art to that, you know, you know, speaking specifically of not just a piano because it does apply to bass and drums as well. But there are different ways to approach comping to and it's not like one way is necessarily right or wrong. You know, we talked about how check, you know, approaches, comping. And Chuck has a very specific way that he approaches his comping. And, and you can listen to, you know, felonious monk or something that's totally different. Right, you know, so it's, it's just, it does, you know, creates an interesting discussion about, you know, what is best for a certain situation or a certain player and how to approach that. And, you know, yeah, I think there's, there's just, there's a lot to be learned from that from that. And again, you know, appreciated, I think I felt so much better in that second set, you made great adjustments. And when I again, when I listened back to that first set, I think I may have been being nitpicky or something, because I really liked what you played. But, um, yeah, you know, it's just one of those things.
It's my job. My job is to give you what you're looking for, right? Well, well
done. Well, I
mean, when I'm in that, when I'm in that accompaniment role, now when I'm soloing, one that's different now. Yeah, at that point, if I felt like you were playing too much, well, then I gotta tell you that right. Alright, so last two questions to go to the both of you. And I'm gonna shut up and just let you guys answer these questions. I'll give you both questions right now. And I'll let you guys jump in whoever wants to jump in first. So the first question is piano mystically speaking, if you could point to one thing in the gigs that you've played over the years, what is it something that you're looking for from the piano player, or would suggest that the piano player focuses on based upon your own instrument experience? So as a drummer, or as a bass player? What what are you looking for from the pianist? Or what should the piano player really like? Make sure they have under their belt? That's the first question. Since the This podcast is the confident improviser. I'd also love to either share, what's one improvisation
tip that you could share something you practice some idea, something improvisation
related, that you would like to share? Who wants to jump in first?
Well, let's I guess I'll go first.
Go ahead, Randy.
All right. So in terms of what I like to hear from a piano player, when I'm playing with is that what you're
trying and I'm hearing the butter that joke being nothing? Silence Yeah, yeah. Right. And so like, what like, like, if you have a piano play on a gig, all right, what what is it that that you're looking for? And it could be something specific, maybe you know, when trading fours, like, behind your solo? What are you looking for from the piano player?
Well, I mean, in terms of the playing, I mean, I really listened to the comping. I mean, that's something I try to lock in. I might, I might, if I'm listening, and I catch what maybe you're doing, I might try to kind of accentuate with you in that sense. Or I might respond to that and more or maybe have a call and response. You might have played something and I might be like, in plays something back to you. You know,
so dive into that a little bit more Would you say that you like, like a pianist, when comping or when you know, just approaching the instrument to give you some rhythmic stuff to play with like, like if they're just playing rhythmically flat like holding out whole note. quarter notes not really doing any syncopation, do you find that kind of difficult to work with?
Yeah, I mean, if it's if it's always like that I really, you know, syncopation is to me what makes the groove and the make the makes the music feel like it's going somewhere like, it's got that into anticipation or, you know, suspense almost, but it's like, if everything was just like, you know, quarter notes through the hallway, you know, that kind of gets a little old. So, and, of course, you know, a player like yourself, I mean, it was just a blast. I mean, you got so much going on, rhythmically. It was like, you know, there's, at times, I was, like, you know, getting excited what I was hearing about, like, Oh, I better, you know, get back on track. Yeah, you know, I'm also playing with them. There's times I just want to listen, and you know, I might just play less and just let you know, listen to that. But there's, it depends. You know, it's very, I guess, reactive, is part of like listening to, you know, if I'm hearing something, I'm gonna try to go there with them. And, you know, and, you know, I did listen to the recording. And I was, you know, really, I was like, Wow, that was, that was pretty cool. What we played, and, you know, sometimes you might not catch that while you're playing. It's just it happened. And it's like, I'd be like, Oh, wow. Or, you know,
and then finally, the other question, any tip you can give to budding improvisers.
Ah, yeah, I mean, as far as like, improvising, obviously, understanding rhythm has to be I think, I think essential. I'm not sure what you use for rhythm stuff but the syncopation book I don't know if you ever heard of that one. It's, it's,
it's part of my suggested books on my site. So I suggest the Louis Bellson one the reading. Yep. Yeah. And then there's also the TED read, you know, the Robert star as well, those are the three books that I recommend.
But those are great for even, you know, like melodic plain, like, take, take one of those lines and just play it play a scale
using those rhythms. You know, that's, that's something I do with the on the vibraphone. In addition to you know, I have all kinds of exercises that I do on the for the drum set, you know,
it's funny, that sounds exactly like I say exactly that same figure in my lessons, take the rhythm, apply a scale
to it. Absolutely. In fact, confident improvisers students are going to love to hear that because that's exactly the way the confident improviser program is structured we start with ingredients which is like a scale
we have a rhythm and we apply that scale
to the rhythm and we create licks and exercises so so that's good to hear. What about you Tom? What is it that you're looking for from the piano player?
I think okay, well that echo a lot of what Randy said in a moment but I'm now I would start from a base level and just say you know, I think you know the basic things that I talk about in These are not things these are things I get on a very basic level form and time I think when when it you know, when a piano player i mean this is these are things that you never have any issues with but I think at a more basic level we look at everyone's gonna
think that I'm paying you guys to say all this nice I mean, right here anyway, all right, sorry, guys.
Oh, no, but um, you know, like, I think that you know, that that knowledge of the of the form of a tune, that losing the form not losing a beat or something keeping good time and feel with the rhythm section, I think is is you know, of the utmost importance to just just to start with Yeah, then I think I know another layer layer higher level, which to echo again, what Randy is saying, It's, for me, especially, you know, I kind of come although I don't necessarily play just like them I kind of come on in like the Bill Evans School of bass players, and bass trio, which is a very interactive approach to to playing. So I want to, as Randy said, it's about like, you hear a rhythm that somebody plays to try to play off that somehow or try to echo it somehow. And then being able to like, listen to each other and hear different things and build and bounce those ideas. is off of each other. Um, and I think that, you know, while keeping that strong grounding of the other things that are going on, that's just that's what makes it the most fun. I think, you know, that's that's like what Randy said like about our GIG That was so fun was that there just moments of us just kind of bouncing off of each other and things happening that nobody ever talked about, right? You know, but it's happening because we're all listening and responding to each other. And that's a, you know, that's a special ingredient to jazz music is in a live performance in jazz, you know, this idea that anything can happen, and you never know what's going to happen. And then things just do happen to when certain things click, it's just, it's like, cool, it's almost feels magical. Yeah. So, you know, I think again, I think that other stuff has to come first. And you have to have that, you know, sense of form and tune, sense of time and feel. But then once you get by those things, the bigger picture, I think comes in being able to react to the other players that you're playing with on some level, and sometimes you fall on your face, and being somewhat okay with it. You know, I think I think we did well at not falling on our face. But I think that, you know, when you're when you're playing, you have to be okay with that, I think on some level to take those chances, and sort of see what happens, which kind of plays into my improvisation
thing. I think the you know, I don't know if you want to ask the improv question.
The next question, so, what's your improv tip?
So I think that like, you know, again, I echo a lot of the things that Randy said by one of the things that I you know, really kind of all about is just jump in, you know, I think, um, you know, fine, you know, start with something that is basic, but then jump in and do it, I think that like for me, um, and it's something that I'm still trying to develop and get better at, to be fair. One of the things that can hold us back is the fear of just doing you know, and you have to start somewhere. And I know like, I'm at teach young kids in middle school, jazz ensemble, for instance, one of the things I teach them is a basic blues scale
. And one of the things I tell them because there are a lot of times they're kind of afraid to just start improvising is alright Listen, just just play one note and just play a rhythm on that note and just and just see what happens and what sort of the band plays the blues or whatever and the student quiz that one note in rhythm and time Okay, great. That wasn't so bad play two notes. Just it's it's it's jumping in and just kind of kind of doing it you know, beyond that there's obviously other things that you know, can kind of get you there there's tricks when it comes to scale
s. And you know, in embro embellishment of melody, I think is you know, always know the melody you know, Randy talked about that before, like know the melody of the song that you're trying to play. So that when you're playing your solo, it's somewhere in the background and hopefully coming out of your playing a little bit. You know, the rhythmic qualities of scale
s and all that kind of stuff definitely applies as well. But I really do think a lot of it is just about jumping in.
I love it. And with that we're going to end right there jump in dive in both feet in can't agree with you more. So I want to thank you guys so much. Thank you, Randy. Thank you, Tom for joining me today. Just as a reminder, if anyone wants to check out that concert, just go back to jazz edge comm slash concert, Randy Tom and I do have plans to be doing some more playing together and we're kind of you know, everything's under wraps. Right now we're kind of working some of that out. But we will definitely keep all of you in the loop and informed of when we're going to be doing this again so that you can check out the live stream as well. So anyway, I am Willie Myette, creator of jazz edge. Thank you guys so much for joining me, and I will catch you guys in the next podcast episode.