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My latest electronic addition has been the EV wireless mic system. I absolutely love it. For this gig the client asked for us to serenade the tables at a large party. This would require walking away from the band (Hayley the singer and I) to “serenade” each table as we performed.
I’d done this before with backing tracks and a DJ at the Hotel Westin Dallas, but never with a live band, nor in multiple rooms rather than one big ballroom.
I was apprehensive at first, because I wasn’t sure how well our sound would carry and if the band would hear us.
I set up my Mackie powered speakers and monitors, and hooked up the EV for a test run before anyone arrived. It was crystal clear all over the mansion, in different rooms.
The serenading was a big hit, and I think I’ll talk to future clients about the option. I’ll get a wireless system for my saxophone, though, as Hayley had to hold the mic up to my sax so the band back with the PA could hear.
We were able to lend the mic for speeches by the client, and overall I am extremely happy with my PA and wireless setup.
Here’s the McCune mansion, we played our first set on the first floor for cocktail hour, then went upstairs for the dinner set with our serenading, then back downstairs as the guests had dessert. In order to make this work, we set up two seperate pa systems, with two drumsets, two bass amps, etc. When our first set was over we just carried our instruments upstairs and played there.
Set up and tear-down took forever, but it was great to have the flawless changeover between sets.
There were a few stressful moments during the night, like when 3 of my band members called to say police had blocked off both state street and west temple because of the prop 8 protests. Luckily the band was able to get through the traffic and we were set up with about 15 mins to spare before downbeat.
The other stressful moment is actually pretty funny . . . just as we were to begin our first set and the guests were arriving, I bent down to pick up my flute and rrrriiiiipppp there went my tuxedo trousers, right in the front. Luckily my Brandon had an extra safety pin and I got it pinned back up. Denson told me that I should always wear black underwear underneath the tuxedo in case anything like that ever happens. Time to either lose some weight or get bigger tuxedo pants I guess.
Some people take doubling lightly. I think it’s a very important part of playing . . . but you can’t treat it merely as a “double” . . . doubles need to be played as if they were the principle instrument.
A “double” in musician’s lingo (specifically sax players) is an extra instrument that you “double” on or also play, typically flute and clarinet. Big band playing requires that you can play multiple saxophones (i.e. soprano), clarinet, and flute. Occasionally you may need to play bass clarinet or oboe, or even piccolo.
Doubles are a challenge for everyone . .. after years of playing just one instrument and achieving a professional level, all of a sudden you’re required to pick up another instrument and perform in the same professional setting . . . it can be daunting.
For me, I had to treat each “double” as if I were learning a completely new instrument. Although the fingurings are similar on the clarinet and flute as they are for the saxophone, there are huge difference (like Spanish and Portuguese). Starting with simple scales and moving to more complex, I had to spend about 2 hours daily for a 6 month period on the flute before I was somewhat satisfied with my sound.
Ray Smith, my saxophone guru, told me to practice classical flut rather than jazz, that if I learned to make a good classical sound the jazz would take care of itself. I got some James Galway cds, and Dave Valentine, and the Carribbean Jazz Project cds, and dug in, transcribing and imitating their sound as best I could. I foced myself to play at least one song on the flute at my gigs . . . that made me really practice hard to have th motivation to not sound like an idiot at the gig, I learned “Girl from Ipanema” and “Wave”, and eventually started playing in a brazilian group which called for mostly flute. Performing in salsa-merengue bands required that I played high notes on th flute, something that totally eluded me for a long time.
In Costa Rica I got a cane flute for my birthday, and I fell in love. I bought a full 2.5 octave samponia (pan flute) and hve used that for recordings and for fun.
The flute was a worthy foe, and I still struggle withcertain aspects of it, but now I bring my flute to every performance.
It was fun to have so many people dancing, people really got up out of their seats and moved!
We played 3 sets, first instrumental jazz, then Swing and big-band type music, then party and dance favorites.
Here was our set list:
8:45 dinner starts (instrumental) -9:45
Autumn Leaves (Gm)
I Let a Song Go out of my Heart
My One and Only Love
All The Things you Are
Night in Tunisia
In a Sentimental Mood
My Favorite Things
There will never be another you
Like Someone in Love
Take the A Train
Girl from Ipanema
Body and Soul
Prisoner of Love
Nearness of You
desert is done:
2nd set 9:45-11:00: swing music with vocals.
All of Me
Let’s Fall in Love
Mack the Knife (starts on Bb, solos over D6 section)
It had to be You
How high the Moon
Charade (AABA solos AAB)
Way You Look Tonight (the) (F)
At Last (No intro)
Don’t get Around much anymore (C)
Fly Me to the Moon
It’s only a paper moon
Almost like Being in Love
Aint no sunshine
Georgia on my Mind
My Funny Valentine
Oye Como Va
Killing me Softly
You are the Sunshine of my Life
Final Song:What a Wonderful World