Another piece of “The Band I Left”. They can’t improvise.
I keep going back and forth about this band.
Don’t get me wrong, they are both decent and pleasant fellows to work with but the caliber of musicianship leaves much to be desired.
The good thing is they both play extremely simple and generally have a good sense of timing. The keyboard player’s voice is somewhat pleasing and generally on pitch. The bass player sticks to predictable bass lines while the keyboard plays simple chords.
That’s OK but it is uninteresting and monotonous. In a short amount of time it can become boring and it keeps the groove from running deep.
The keyboard player’s leads are generally note for note copies or the closest he can come to a note for note copy of the lead on the record.
I am afraid that neither of the gentlemen can improvise.
Improvisation within the structure of the song is what makes the song, it keeps its interesting in a live situation. You grow through improvising by discovering new licks.
I don’t sit down and learn songs note for note unless I have to.
I listen to the songs to get the feel and arrangement. I pick out the must copy parts, I pick out the riffs and fills that I like and then learn them or a variation of them. Then as I play through the song I improvise fills and beats and see what works and what doesn’t work.
This process continues throughout the life of playing the song.
There will be parts that never change, parts that evolve and parts that change a bit every time I play the song. To play all the exact same notes with the same feel would take the life out of music for me and frankly I wouldn’t be doing that gig very long.
I told my wife that I will make this band.
It would be because I improvise. I feel at this point with this band I am the one who will have to make the songs interesting. Make it more than a three or four chord progression over a programmed drumbeat.
If they had a better grasp on these songs that they have been working on for months I’d probably have a better opinion of the situation and be taking more of a wait and see attitude.
I recently read a quote by Michael Dell and I’m really wondering if it is not applicable to my situation.
“Try never to be the smartest person in the room. And if you are I suggest you invite smarter people or find a different room.”
For now at least I am practicing and learning new material with an end in mind. I do play “out” even if it is just rehearsals at least it’s playing with people.
I’ll give it to the beginning of 2015. (It was November 17, 2014 when I wrote this piece.)
In the meantime I’ll keep my eyes and ears open.
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