The Patrick Bradley Band will be returning to the Newport Beach Jazz Festival for 2018. Join fusion/smooth jazz keyboardist Patrick Bradley, saxophonist Paul Navidad, trumpeter Andrew Carney, guitarist John Parr, bassist Brad Cummings, and drummer Tony Moore for one of the biggest annual smooth jazz events in Southern California. Patrick is fresh off the release of his 4th album, Intangible, produced by Jeff Lorber. The band’s performance schedule is TBA. You can purchase tickets by visiting www.festivals.hyattconcerts.com.
Join Patrick Bradley and his band as they celebrate the release of his fourth album, Intangible, at Spaghettini on Friday, January 12th. Tickets are available now. Visit the Spaghettini website to make your reservation today!
Patrick Bradley, keyboards
Paul Navidad, saxophones
Andrew Carney, trumpet
John Parr, guitar
Brad Cummings, electric bass
Tony Moore, drums
Part of what will help getting started with playing jazz is gaining an understanding of the role of the clarinet in jazz, from a chronological standpoint. In traditional jazz, the role of the clarinet was ornamental: it outlined the harmony by arpeggiating the chords around the cornet melody, typically in the upper register.
Start with some earlier recordings of players like Johnny Dodds and Sidney Bechet. Play along with the recordings and see if you can pick up some of their licks by ear and execute them. Record yourself while you are doing this and listen critically to your performance. Then progress to the next generation of players like Benny Goodman, Pee Wee Russell, Artie Shaw, and Stan Hasselgard. You will see that some of their improvisational devices are a clear evolution of the idiomatic devices of the previous generation of clarinetists. When you have absorbed enough of their playing, you should be ready for more modern players like Buddy DeFranco, Eddie Daniels, and Ken Peplowski, and you’ll understand both what is idiomatic to the clarinet in jazz as well as how the modern vocabulary developed.
Remember, jazz is traditionally an aural art, and prior to the advent of formal jazz education, players learned by emulating their favorite musicians. As a novice improvisor, you will learn far more at this stage of the game by playing along with recordings and analyzing what your favorite players are doing rather than using publications. Books are valuable and have their place, but ultimately, your ear will be the best arbiter, so as a fledgling jazz musician, it is imperative that you develop that part of your arsenal before incorporating theory into the equation.
Can someone explain to me the tendency of many younger clarinetists to dance around so much when they play? If you look at videos of some of the greats, Benny Goodman, Stanley Drucker, David Shifrin, Anthony McGill, they move a little bit, but for the most part they stand still and play. Where did all this moving come from?
I come from a tradition of internalizing feel and avoiding emoting with the body, as a good deal of bodily movement is unnecessary, and some movement can even inhibit proper technique. However, I also work in show biz. Here is my response:
With a lot of younger, developing musicians, the tendency to emote with the body is very prevalent. 24 years ago when I was in graduate school, I was a regular offender. Fortunately for me, I had a teacher who worked to break me of that habit. In my situation, my elbows were the biggest culprit. At times, it looked as if I were about to take flight. To cure myself of this affliction, I went to the extremes of strapping my elbows down with a belt whenever I practiced in order to fight the urge. But the key part of that was having a teacher who wouldn’t let me get away with it. I believe that part of the problem lies with teachers who let their students get away with emoting with the body rather than internalizing.
But I think a bigger part of the problem is the way the general public perceives the Arts. I think Herb Alpert put it best when he said that when MTV came around, people started listening with their eyes. Take for example the annual Super Bowl halftime show: Madonna, Lady Gaga, Janet Jackson, etc. all put on shows which are visually stunning, to the accolades of the masses. But have Paul McCartney or Bruce Springsteen come up and just play music, and the public labels them as boring.
Think about how singing the Star-Spangled Banner has evolved over the past 30 years at sporting events: it is no longer about leading those in attendance in a sing-along of the US National Anthem, but rather showboating for the personal glory of the performer.
Look at the state of the film industry: how many films today are all about mind-blowing action and special effects yet are severely devoid of quality storylines?
As Arts programs have been cut at the elementary level, our youth receive less and less exposure to complex art forms. As a result, when they reach maturity, many choose to consume forms of entertainment which simply stimulate them rather than causing them to think.
30 years ago in high school, I learned that I could get a crowd to go nuts if I danced around while playing a simple blues solo. Sadly, the content of my solo was irrelevant; what mattered more to the audience was the visual of me gyrating my hips to the music.
The fact of the matter is that movement while playing an instrument is visually stimulating to the general public. If an audience hasn’t learned how to listen to music, they are going to be entertained by what they see. Personally, I would prefer to stay still and just make music, but I also know that there are times when I need to go out and work the crowd. The masses view music not as art, but rather as entertainment. And if an artist entertains their audience, they are more likely to do repeat business.
Let’s face it: our society has unfortunately become one of immediate gratification. The general public has a very short attention span, and if a performer is unable to stimulate an audience in under 10 seconds, a lot of that audience will choose to move on to something else that will stimulate them. If that audience member is a millennial, they will likely pull out their phone and be stimulated by that instead.
I know that’s probably a lot more than you bargained for! There’s a lot of pent-up frustration on my part, apparently! My best recommendation is that if you have the opportunity to work with a younger student, encourage them to minimize their movements in the manner of the masters of days gone by.
Doug Legacy, the zydeco man with the zydeco plan, will be releasing his new album on June 18th, 2017. The Gumbo Brotherhood is the latest offering from Doug and the Zydeco Party Band, featuring a number of Legacy’s originals as well as the guitar playing of Grant Geissman of Chuck Mangione fame. Paul plays tenor and baritone saxophones and also sings backgrounds. Get your copy today at CDBaby!
When making music doesn’t even cheer you up, what do you do?
As musicians, we turn to music in difficult times, typically expecting it to get us through them. What we need to understand is that the music we make is an expression of our emotions at the moment, and as such, will serve as some kind of release. Expecting it to always cheer us up is unreasonable because the release that music affords us may be of an entirely different nature. And as much as we would like to believe it, music does not hold all the answers.
At times like these, turning inward to things like prayer or outward to some form of focused physical activity can supply what does not come from music. For me, when all else fails, I go to the batting cages and hit balls to the point of exhaustion.
The following is something I wrote in a Facebook group in response to a young player who was seeking methods to develop his transposition skills:
The ability to transpose is an essential weapon in the aresenal of any working musician. There are a number of different methods to develop this skill. Personally, I’m a big believer in transposing functionally, meaning using the Solfege system of Moveable DO (where the tonic is DO) to understand the line from a functional standpoint (as opposed to Fixed DO, where C is always DO). I also use a LA-based minor. Allow me to explain:
When I practice scales on any instrument, I sing solfege in my head along with the scale so that my muscle memory relates to the function of the notes in the scale (i.e. if I’m in A major, in my head I’m thinking “DO, RE, MI, FA, etc.” rather than thinking “A, B, C#, D, etc.”). Whenever I read a line or play a melody, I’m either sightsinging or singing it in my head by function. Since I have practiced my scales functionally, and hear them as such, I can tell my fingers: “Play in the key of Eb major,” or “Play in the key of B major,” and because I have done the prep work, not only do I play the right notes in the key required, but I also understand their function and am able to optimize their function for a better performance of the line (i.e. leading tone resolution to tonic, subdominant resolution to mediant, adjusting pitch on certain chord tones to tune the ensemble, etc.).
I understand that intervallic transposition is a tried-and-true method, and many of my colleagues teach that way. However, my issue with intervallic transposition is that not only does it require that you do math on every single note, but it also negates the understanding of function.
Is it a lot of prep work to get to this point? Sure. But the benefits to your musicianship are immeasurable, because not only will you be playing the correct notes, you will also have a greater ability to interact with your fellow musicians on the fly. And besides, who wants to play everything in the same key all the time? Not only is that boring, but it doesn’t challenge you as a musician. Why rest on your laurels if you can constantly push yourself to get better?
About a month ago, my colleague, saxophonist and educator Jeff Antoniuk had posted an educational video regarding parent rhythms and sounding legitimate when playing in multiple styles. During our post-video discussion, I related the following story to him:
20 years ago, when I was in my last semester of graduate school, I got called for a gig with a German band. The trombone player in the band had recently relocated from Romania and was a brilliant player. At the time, I didn’t know him well (since then, we’ve become great friends), but if you’ve ever worked with European players from the old country, you know that they are “efficient,” if not brutally honest, when communicating. The second tune of the first set was a happy German march, and I thought I was reading it down great until he turned to me and yelled in this angry, Romanian accent, “STYLE! PLAY STYLE!” I about crapped my pants! From that moment forward, I opened my ears up really big in order to fit in better. When it was an opportunity to solo, I made sure to respect the music by playing things which were idiomatic to each piece.
So about 10 years ago, I was playing a jazz club date, and the kitchen forgot to make my dinner in time for the first break. In the interim, a fellow saxophonist had shown up and we had invited him to sit in during the second set. Just as we called him up, my dinner arrived, so the bandleader said that I could sit out a couple of tunes to eat. The band kicked off Back at the Chicken Shack, and my friend who was sitting in played an adventurous, extended, Bergonzi-esque solo. While he was still playing, a battle-wearied, local veteran, jazz guitarist came up to me and said, “Paul, do you know why you work all the time?” At the moment, all I was interested in was my bowl of jambalaya, so without looking up, I said, “No. Why?” He responded with, “Because when they call a shuffle blues, you PLAY a shuffle blues!”