Join us every Friday evening from 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM PDT during the quarantine for live jazz on Facebook with Tubop!
John Noreyko, tuba & leader
Paul Navidad, saxophones
Andrew Carney, trumpet & flugelhorn
Mark Massey, Rhodes
Jimmy Ford, drums
For years, I had a Beechler Bellite #7 as my go-to for fusion, rock, and R&B. But about 6 years ago, I decided to start doing everything on a hard rubber Meyer, and was much happier with the sound, despite having to work a little harder in a fusion setting. In 2017, I switched to a Retro Revival New Yorker #6 for everything, but in the back of my mind, I felt like I still needed a little more zip for fusion gigs. Just for grins, about an hour before going on stage at the 2018 Newport Beach Jazz Festival, I put my old Beechler back on to see if it was the right thing for that day, but to my surprise, it sounded very shrill and harsh. I put it away and did the gig on the Meyer-styled mouthpiece.
When Retro Revival released the Eric Marienthal Special, I had no desire to try it, having left the Beechler world behind (Interestingly enough, years ago, Eric had let me try out a mouthpiece that Beechler had made for him, but at the time, I liked my own much better.). But this year at NAMM, I figured I’d give it a try. I had been to the Beechler booth a little earlier in the day, and had gotten several compliments while trying out a hard rubber Beechler. And while a lot of people liked what was coming out of the horn, I was dissatisfied with my sound on it.
I went over to the Retro Revival booth, with the sole intention of picking up a backup for my tenor Dukoff Stubby. But out of curiosity, I decided to give the Eric Marienthal Special a blow. I wasn’t expecting to like it, but that all changed from the very first note . . .
It didn’t play like any Beechler I had ever played on before, and I have owned several over the years. It was surprisingly warm sounding, even though it has the ability to cut through all the electronics on stage. One saxophonist friend who was also at the booth turned around when he heard me playing and was surprised to discover that I wasn’t playing on their Meyer-styled mouthpiece. He was intrigued and began to listen closely as I continued to try out the mouthpiece. Over the course of the next few minutes, even though I was trying to stay under the radar, a number of people started gathering around as I played, each of them attracted to the sound. I had no desire to play metal on alto again, yet this mouthpiece was so much fun to play! I ran the gamut of styles from really bright rock to very dark classical, as well as everything in between, and it proved to be a very flexible mouthpiece. A few people commented that it didn’t sound like I was playing on a metal mouthpiece. Even my friend Geoff Nudell, who was working the booth and is not a fan of metal mouthpieces on alto, mentioned that not only did he really like my sound on it, but also that he thought that I could play credible lead alto with it.
Needless to say, I left the booth with a new mouthpiece that day, and not the one that I intended on buying! While I haven’t had the opportunity to see how it works in an electronic setting yet (and with the quarantine, it will likely be a while), it has definitely worked well in an acoustic setting, and everyone has liked my sound on it. I look forward to getting back on stage with The Patrick Bradley Band once quarantine is over and seeing just what it can do when called upon. If you need a little more zip to cut through the electronics on stage but are hesitant to play a metal mouthpiece on alto, give the Eric Marienthal Special a test drive . . .
Buddy Rich may have passed away in 1987, but his daughter, vocalist Cathy Rich has kept her father’s band active, with several BRBB alumni, and featuring drummer Gregg Potter. On Sunday, September 29th, the band returned to Herb Alpert’s Vibrato Jazz Grill. Making his debut with the band was saxophonist Paul Navidad, filling the lead alto chair. The band performed two sets in front of a sold-out crowd, playing such BRBB classics as Love for Sale and Groovin’ Hard. Cathy, Gregg, and the BRBB will be returning to the Los Angeles area for another show in January of 2020.
In a Facebook saxophonists’ forum, the topic of “doubling” and its importance to making a living as a saxophonist was raised. I responded by sharing a video of Eddie Daniels (below the text of this article) and adding my own comments.
Someone told me about Eddie Daniels’ philosophy on doubling many years ago, and I adopted it as my own (see video below for Daniels’ philosophy). So, I am a saxophonist. I am a clarinetist. I am a pianist/keyboardist. I am a vocalist.
I am, however, a flute owner. I consider it my only true “double.” It is the bane of my existence. But I am more proficient on the flute than many other flute “doublers” who I personally know.
My saxophone teacher in graduate school, Leo Potts, once related a story from his time at the Paris Conservatory:
Once a week, he had a masterclass with Marcel Mule (at the time, Mule only taught the masterclasses; Leo studied privately with Daniel Deffayet). On one snowy week, Leo was the only student to show to the masterclass, so it ended up being a private lesson with Mule. Mule said to Leo, “So you’re a doubler?”
Leo responded, “That’s what we have to do in Los Angeles to survive.”
Mule replied, “In France, we only chase one rabbit . . . but we always catch him.”
In a saxophonists’ community on Facebook, one poster asked “What’s the point [of endorsements]?” I made a point of responding as a potential teaching moment about a concept in the music business that many young musicians are neglecting in this current age of immediacy and e-commerce:
The point of endorsements is that of establishing relationships. John Donne wrote, “No man is an island.” Different types of relationships contribute to our success in life and career, or lack thereof.
Most musicians eventually realize that success in the music business relies very little on skill. The current state of popular music is certainly evidence of that. But let’s look at the word “business” for a moment:
If you had to describe the word “business” with one word, that one word would be “people.” In order to conduct business, you need other people with whom to transact. Therefore, establishing and cultivating relationships with other people is essential to success in the music business. Most musicians are notoriously bad business people. Most of us would much rather focus on our art rather than take care of business.
Have you ever stopped to notice that many band leaders tend to be the weakest musician in their own bands? Much of that has to do with the fact that they need to devote time to the business aspect of their careers. They choose to surround themselves with better musicians in order to make themselves look good.
Good communication skills are necessary in order to conduct business. We need only look at some of the negative interactions in Facebook musician groups for evidence that many musicians are severely lacking in their interpersonal skills. And therein lies a problem when they desire to establish fruitful relationships from which each party can benefit.
Consider the process of networking when trying to break into a local scene: You come across people of all walks of life when playing in a rehearsal band or sitting-in at a jam session. Certainly your skillset as a musician will contribute to the amount of musical activity that you see. But how often do you go out for a bite with your fellow musicians after a rehearsal, gig, or jam session? Do you get to know them on a personal level? Have you ever had a conversation with them when you didn’t talk about music? Have you ever sat with them for 3 hours at a sporting event? Have you ever played golf or gone bowling with them?
Think about all the discussions and gossip that occur when conferring about other musicians. Perhaps this sounds familiar to you:
“So-and-so is a monster player, but I don’t want to work with them because they are a total ass.”
Or how about:
“You should call so-and-so. They’re a solid musician and a good team player.”
On Facebook, how many times have you come across a post that asked, “Where is the cheapest place to find reeds?” or some other product? Now, don’t get me wrong, I know that we all would like to save money. But by shopping online, we lose the opportunity to establish a quality relationship with the personnel at a traditional brick-and-mortar store. When I was in graduate school, for a 3-year period, I got all of my repairs done for free. And the reason for that was simply because I shopped at that establishment on a regular basis and built a relationship with the owner.
I currently have quality relationships with two other stores. At one of them, their repair shop will take me at a moment’s notice, even if they are backed up with repair work. They’ve also given me priority on several discounts not available to the general public, or even some of their other regular professional clientele. The other store will allow me to take equipment out in the field to test without leaving a deposit or a credit card number. And if for some reason I can’t cover a large purchase in one lump sum, they will allow me to make interest-free payments.
Endorsing products is no different. You are establishing a relationship with a company in which the benefits should be mutual. The obvious advantage is that in exchange for the company getting support from a reputable artist, the artist receives product at a discount, as well as publicity from the company. You may have heard the old adage: “All publicity is good publicity, as long as they spell your name right.”
But a quality endorsement relationship will go beyond that. I currently have endorsements with multiple companies:
One of them has custom-built non-production-line horns for me to my own specifications. They have also sent me out to do clinics in support of the company. And of course, I always perform at their booth at The NAMM Show.
Another company has sought my input when beta testing new products, and they really do value my opinion. This year at NAMM, they released a new synthetic clarinet reed. One of their reps spent an entire hour and a half with me at the Show, with a reed knife, dialing-in 4 of the new reeds to my liking. And this was at a busy trade show where they didn’t need to sell me on a product.
Are endorsements of value or a total waste of time? That really depends on what you want to get out of your involvement in music. As the saying goes: “Your mileage will vary.”
But learn the value of cultivating quality relationships, both in life and in business. Some of them may even overlap. And remember, success in the music business is not determined by who you know, but rather, by who knows you.
Join Paul Navidad and the Revenge of the Sidemen at Barley Forge Brewing Company on Thursday, June 13, 2019, at 8:00 PM for an evening of contemporary jazz. It isn’t often that these guys get out as a unit, so don’t miss out on this rare opportunity to see them live. Hope to see you there!
Paul Navidad, saxophones
Gary Matsumoto, keyboards
Bart Broadnax, bass
Nick Scarmack, drums
About 20 years ago, I was really burned-out on both my theme park gig (a band in a major theme park) as well as the biz in general. One day, I got an offer to play bari on a $50 bar gig with a blues band, and something in the back of my head just told me that I should suck it up and say, “Yes,” to driving 65 miles in Friday night traffic to play a horn I that I really didn’t want to play for really bad money.
As it turns out, the other sax player on the band that night was Chris Mostert, who was Glenn Frey’s saxophonist for many years. After playing together and getting to know each other that night, he got my number. A few days later, Chris got me on a band backing a big-name singer. Within a few weeks, I was doing my first gig with true rock star treatment.
At that first gig, as we were lounging in our green room waiting to go on, Chris taught me a valuable lesson: as a server was bringing the band this large platter of jumbo scampi prawns, Chris said to the trumpet player and me, “Scott, Paul, if you guys ever get to the point that you hate your gig, just take a look around and look at the poor bastards that have to serve the food.” Chris reminded me that the ability to make a living playing music is a blessing, and that I should never forget that.
Join Patrick Bradley and his band for an evening of jazz fusion at Spaghettini on Friday, April 5th. We will be welcoming two new members to the band: guitarist Philip Gough and drummer Suzanne Morissette. Tickets are available now. Visit the Spaghettini website to make your reservation today!
Patrick Bradley, keyboards
Paul Navidad, saxophones
Andrew Carney, trumpet
Philip Gough, guitar
Brad Cummings, electric bass
Suzanne Morissette, drums