Tuesday, October 30, 2007

off my perch

last w/end was bristol for harmonica 2007 where, following two years of coming first in the jazz competition, i didn't get placed. not too down hearted as it happens. the guy who won was a good player but hardly improvised. and improvisation really is 80% of jazz. i got up under pressure and played my guts out. which is a triumph in itself.

involved playing footprints, a rehearsed melody from the dots, plus impro, to a backing track. as such its completely different from my pre-jazz performing experience where i stand up with a guitar and warble on. or off. this approach is much more demanding and requires a lot more effort/concentration and much more technical ability.

its meant i've had to grow a lot as a performer. last month i even managed to get up in the jazz club and go through some songs there without falling off the tightrope. A BIG STEP FORWARD.
i do accept that my impro @ the fest had a few wobbles & wasn't really in the jazz groove as such. more in the harpwales groove. but i got up and did it nonetheless. it was in six four and actually was more of a groove than a tune. felt good but is harder to make it musical than when the foundation is structured with middle 8 and stuff to lift it.
think the judge, a classically trained trombonist, kind of missed the point. but i don't have a grumble there. he's been all right in the past. and i went down well with the audience. got some very positive feedback at the time and when i didn't get placed there was a lot of 'you wus robbed, man. it shudda bin you.' from several quarters.

on balance playing one's guts out to a piece that one enjoys and earning a warm response from the audience is a good second to getting it 'right'. not even sure its a second actually. nothing wrong with pushing the envelope. what is life without taking a risk or two after all?
the previous week (ie too late) my jazz tutor unearthed a perfect piece for the comp. my funny valentine. the right length. nice key. a beautiful melody and funky harmonies. maybe next year. although i had said i wouldn't be entering again. if i can keep up the drive for another twelve months i'll nearly be a jazz player. then we'll see.
for the moment tho am completely stuffed. absolutely knackered with looking after dad plus continuing flu/cough thing. and end of a long musical skill building haul.

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