Someone, I think it was Dizzy, said you should only do this if you absolutely have to. Talking about playing jazz for a living. I agree it’s a tough road to hoe. I’ve been lucky enough to have extended periods of my life when I was able to make a living playing only jazz, but if one wanted to have any kind of home life in LA, the Jazz only rule didn’t suffice. At least for me. I missed the golden age of house bands and staff orchestras. I couldn’t make a living wage staying home unless I was willing to do everything. I also honestly wasn’t as good as the guys who were in town doing it at the time. I didn’t have the experience or the skill set necessary to compete. So I took whatever came my way, played keys a lot. There was more work for mediocre keyboard players then mediocre sax players. In my off time I practiced and jammed and listened a lot to the people who were doing what I wanted to do. I don’t regret that period of time at all. I spent a whole year doing nothing but blues gigs on keys and sax. Learning what not to play. Learning that you must study the idiom if you want to fit in. There are so many idiomatic inflections and linear ideas we develop as horn players. If we try to fit the jazz ones into the straight blues, or rock, idiom, it doesn’t fit. If you are smart enough you can bring all the knowledge of all the idioms you’ve studied, for me: jazz, classical, rock, funk, fusion, rhythm and blues, Brazilian jazz and its various grooves, et al. , and bring them into all the idioms you may be asked to play in without disrespecting the idiom. (A good rock player can spot a jazz purist a mile away). Michael Brecker was this kind of player. I’ve always endeavored to be as well. I’ve always found it a fun and interesting challenge. Now I’m getting older, and mostly back into jazz, but can still hang. I’m glad of that.
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