Overwhelming Response, First Run-Through Of New 10-tet Music, What I’ve Taken From Clinics On The Jazz Music “Biz”

group_noodle_shot2Hello, good morning, and welcome to the Saturday Morning News Post!

First off, my sincere thanks to all those readers who took the time to answer last weeks questions regarding changes to my web site and the SMNP.

Yes, thank you all,… all 3 of you.

I’m going to take that to mean that most of you think that everything is just fine the way it is. I get it,…why mess with perfection? We got a pretty good thing going here don’t we?

Anyways, it’s never too late to send brilliant ideas my way (james@jamesdanderfer.com) if any should come to you. Of the suggestions I did get, starting a “comments” section on the blog seemed to be a popular one. So you’ll be seeing that feature next week! That’s right, because when Danderfer hears the call for change, he delivers at the speed of molasses sound!

Plowing ahead here; in the last week I’ve been to two clinics on the “Jazz Business”, as it were. One from saxophonist/club & label owner Cory Weeds, and one today with saxophonist/composer Christine Jensen. Both great musicians who gave very interesting, informative clinics on the daunting business of jazz.

Lectures on “the jazz music business today” are pretty bleak and usually include depressing statistics regarding CD sales dropping steadily, jazz radio programming in decline, goverment arts council support in decline, and CD distribution companies and small labels going out of business. I left both clinics feeling a bit dazed, like I’d been beat over the head repeatedly with a fun noodle for an hour.

But alas, there they were… two band leaders who are actually making a living at music. Yeah sure, they both seemed pretty exhausted by the amount of work involved but,… they continue to do it!

As best I could tell, the path to a career in music (after the part about spending years and years working on your craft) looks something like this: 1.) Have a lot of faith in the music you’re producing. 2.) Invest in recording a great CD with the best possible artists you can find. 3.) Try not to lose too much money on your first couple of tours. 4.) Then make a considerably riskier (and larger) investment on an agent, manager, and publicist. 5.) And, finally continue producing music and touring it. You may not brake even on record sales but, if all goes well, you may make a living off of performances, royalties, and some teaching.

Am I close? Is this pretty much how it works?…hey!… would everyone please stop hitting me over the head with fun noodles again for Christ sakes!?!

So anyways, I’ll be taking this information back to my artistic plan and making some adjustments and some more specific dates to work towards. It’s easy to be overwhelmed with the odds stacked against you but really, what choice is there,… if you gotta do it, you gotta do it.

OK, so I’m going to stop writing out my own personal pep talk here,… YEAH PLAN!

On the composition front, this week I had my first ever 10-tet charts played. A 10-tet in this case is a band with bass, piano, drums, guitar, trombone, 2 trumpets, 3 saxes, et moi! A 10-tet isn’t as big as a big band (16 members) but much bigger than what I normally write for (5-6 instruments).

And how did it go? Surprisingly not disastrous! As I mentioned in a post several weeks ago, I was prepared for an onslaught of criticisms from the arranging teacher, so when “Yeah, I think it’ll work” was his response to hearing my charts, I was pleased. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t writing the most advanced arrangements ever but, yeah…not bad. All this means is that I don’t have to spend too much time “fixing” the old charts and can instead continue with writing more charts, because,…em… 2 tunes for a semester ain’t gonna cut it! I could get away with 4-5 tunes but I’m aiming for 8-10. We shall see.

On that note, I must leave this cafe in Little Italy (they’ve been playing the same Michael Buble CD for several hours now) and go practice!

Thanks for reading and have a great week!

  • http://www.johndoheny.com John Doheny

    “But alas, there they were… two band leaders who are actually making a living at music”

    This always seems like a slightly disengenious statement to me and, indeed, you contradict it yourself three paragraphs later:

    ” You may not break even on record sales but, if all goes well, you may make a living off of performances, royalties, and some teaching.” (yeah I corrected the spelling mistake. I’m a pedegogue. Deal with it).

    I made myself rather unpopular on a certain jazz discussion board a few years back by saying “show me a jazz musician without a day job, a teaching gig, an indulgent,employed spouse, or a private income, and I’ll show you someone who lives in a cardboard box in the park.”

    I think I may have followed this with some sort of addendum like “unless your name is Marsalis.” However, having subsequently made the aquaintance of a Marsalis or two, I’m in a position to know that even with that surname it may occasionally be necessary to do the odd highschool clinic to keep the wolf from the door.

  • http://jamesdanderfer.com james

    Good point John, after further consideration I realized that almost all the “top dogs” do at least a little teaching, or if not teaching then…something else like recording, mixing, writing for video games, etc.

    By the way, is disengenious actually a word or did you mean disengenuous? …oh, and you misspelled pedagogue. Does this mean I’m a future pedagogue myself?
    : D

  • http://kevinsblog.chatchata.com/ imanibekNeems

    Good article, great looking blog, added it to my favorites!