Usually I play guitar and banjo in a trio led by a clarinet/sax virtuoso specializing in 20's and 30's music. To me, the big challenge of this group is playing solos without any other instrument than the bass to back me up... somehow without that rhythm guitar or piano to keep the beat and play the chords, it's like somebody just ripped off the old security blanket; even though I've gotten better at it over the past few years.
But every now and then I luck into a solo gig, and for these I mostly play jazz standards using backing tracks.
(Yeah, I know a lot of you guys hate backing tracks. But if a gig only pays a hundred bucks, what are you gonna do?)
For these solo gigs, like the one I had the other night, I try to practice my ass off.
One reason is to make sure I can play the heads as error-free as possible, because this is actually the only time I ever play heads. But of course I also practise soloing as well.
The other day as I was practising my soloing I felt really down in the dumps... totally locked into certain patterns which have ossified to the point where, alas, they are who I have become as a soloist.
I was feeling as if it was futile to practice--- WTF, why reinforce these cliched patterns even more?
Have you ever felt that way?
But then somehow, magically, when I actually played the gig in front of an audience, I forgot all about that old cliched stuff and just played whatever I felt at the moment!
Now I wouldn't go quite so far as to brag that anyone would ever confuse my all-too-predictable phrasing with any member of my holy trinity (Eddie the Father, Django the Son, and Oscar the Holy Ghost).
But I played the gig! And people liked it! And I liked it! And I had fun! And I made a hundred bucks! And I got another gig out of it!
So life is wonderful again!
Although the financial rewards are minuscule, gypsy jazz is an extremely demanding art form. I've been following Scoredog's postings about his progress with interest.
Django and many of the modern day European virtuosos have set the bar so high that old fellers like me will probably never even get close to it.
But why should that discourage us from just getting out there and doing the best we can?
Does every painter who picks up a paintbrush feel discouraged if they can't paint at least as well as Picasso? If so, there'd be very little painting done!
PS Now to get back to working on my Soundslice lessons with Duved D. and see if I can manage to drill some new patterns into this old noggin.
Paul Cezanne: "I could paint for a thousand years without stopping and I would still feel as though I knew nothing."
Edgar Degas: "Only when he no longer knows what he is doing does the painter do good things.... To draw, you must close your eyes and sing."