Archive for the ‘Jazz Music’ Category

Playing Trombone again

Posted: November 27, 2012 in General Music, Jazz Music, Music

I had bought a King 2B Trombone earlier this year from Sam Ash in Tampa and it was a great find as it a 1976 horn made in Cleveland.

In September I noticed on Facebook David Manson asking about a Trombone player was needed for the St.Petersburg College Big Band.

I called him and went down on a Monday at 1 pm and got the gig.

I’ve been going every Monday and Friday now for some time and what a joy it is to be playing again.

I even get to play the 1st Trombone chair and my lip and range is improving.

We have 2 Christmas concerts in December on the 7th at a retiree home  and 13th at the AD Section of the St Petersburg College at 1:30pm.

Its so great to play music as thats what is really all about and what got me into this business in the first place.

Thanks Dave for the oppurtunity.

Ron

King 2B Trombone 1963

About a year ago I went on E Bay, took a chance and bid on a Student Model trombone for $45 and won.

It arrived and of course it was not too good an instrument but playable.

It had been 15 years since I had played any sort of gig and the two incredible Trombones and a 4 Valve Euphonium I had in those days had long gone to pay the rent in more difficult times.

They were a King 3B that I had purchased new in the UK in the late 60’s , a Bach Stradivarius that was picked out by Bill Watrous from Peppys in New York when Bill was recording the “Leprecaun” with Chick Corea in the 70’s and I later got a deal on a Yamaha 4 Valve Euphonium for use with the 13 piece band tour in 78/79 on an arrangement of “Duel of the Jester and the Tyrant “ from The Return to Forever play-book.

What an arrangement that was by Chick and we played it all over the world when I had the honor of being 2nd Trombone to Jim Pugh,a REAL trombone player!

That was an amazing band that only really recorded on one  album called Secret Agent that also featured Al Jarreau (I’m not sure if it is out on CD as I have never been able to find it).

I even got a 12 bar solo on that album and it was atrocious solo but you have to live with those things…..

So I started practicing with my King Student model and a slide that would stick most of the time but that helps develop the lip I guess?

Then in November 2010 I got an offer of a gig with a small dance band here in Clearwater that I accepted and played my first gig in 15 years and had a great time.

There is something about going back to the basics of what started you in the business in the first place and that was for me the love of playing music itself.

So many top Music Industry people I know are actually musicians and for me I had forgotten how hard it is to be a musician and play well and the hours that go into practice and developing ones craft.

Then a couple more gigs came along and the limitations of my instrument began to show so I decided to treat myself at Christmas and buy a new instrument.

I went back to E bay and there were 100’s of trombones for sale including my favorite King 3B but they were expensive plus one never knows their condition really and how good the slides actually are until it arrives at your doorstep.

So I decided to go to Sam Ash on US 19 and try some new horns which I did and the young brass salesman who seemed very disinterested in selling me one mentioned that Sam Ash in Tampa near the Bucs ground had more horns so I gave them a call and one Saturday drove across the Causeway up Dale Mowbry Way to the Sam Ash store.

They had more horns for sure but still mostly the student models or overpriced F Change and Classical type horns that are no real use to a Jazz type player.

Then at the end high on the wall there was this Silver Trombone with a price tag that said “Silversonic” the magic word as it had to be a King!

With great anticipation the very helpful salesman, Michael, got down the horn and sure enough it was a King 2B in perfect condition with a Silver bell and a slide that actually worked  .

Perfect instrument with a smaller bore than the King 3 B which was ideal for someone who doesn’t play so much anymore and who needs to redevelop his embrasure like yours truly plus there was 10% off.

How could I refuse so I didn’t and walked out the store  with my King 2b in an original King case in perfect condition (See picture above).

I tracked down the serial number on line and it was made sometime in 1963 in the best years 1960 to 1965 for these instruments and made in the original H.N.White factory in Cleveland.

Now if you listen carefully while driving through Florida you will hear Clearwater’s Andy Martin struggling to play along with the Gorden Goodwin Big Band Trombone play along CD.

Not pretty for sure but I’m having a great time playing again and as a Personal Manger friend of mine said to me “Oh no! is that what happens to managers when they get old ,they end up as trombone players?”

There’s a joke there somewhere which reminds me.”Whats the difference between a dead Squirrel and a dead trombone player lying in the road?

Ans: “The Squirrel was on the way to a gig”

This is nothing to do with music but something I wanted to share as it was very successful for myself .

I recently went on a diet called the HGC diet as quite honestly I was obese by definition and about 60 to 70 lbs overweight.

Years of sitting on Airplanes and eating too good and after concerts and a sedatory life style at a desk when I wasn’t travelling and there you go.

Gone was the running,walking,bike riding and roller blading.

I even broke my hand in Osaka roller Blading one night on the streets of Osaka when we were playing the Blue Notes.

Ask Danny Byrnes,Chicks Tour manager he got me to the hospital after a very painful night on Advil.

So after acknowledging my condition I embarked on the diet some 45 days ago.

I end off for 6 weeks tomorrow as one can become immune to the HCG Hormone.

At 242 lbs “it was time” to do something as I had failed miserably at all diets I had tried!

Today I am 198.60lbs which is a weight loss of 44 lbs in 45 days.

I feel great and its a life changing action to do.

So I want to pass it for anyone who may need to loose a little weight.

By the way while on the diet I was never hungry and I was only eating 500 calories a day.

There were no side effects and I handled several physical conditions I had going on including Cholesterol and  an impending Diabeties Type 2 condition.

Good luck if you try it.

I did mine under an MD’s supervision which I recommend and I did the injection method not the drops but both links are below.

http://www.trimnutrition.com/

http://www.hcgdiet.com/

Good site called CRAZED HITS that has video interviews with top Music Execs.

One has to registar to go on but its worth it.

Like this one with Bruce Lundvall of Blue Note Records.

http://www.crazedhits.com/forums/showthread.php?t=676

Basic site:

http://www.crazedhits.com/

Here’s an article from the New York Times about Glen Barros and Concord Records acquisition of Rounder Records.

It struck me just how positive a viewpoint this is in light of all the negativity coming out of record labels these days

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/10/business/media/10concord.html?src=busln

Sometime ago I read a very informative book called Positioning:The Battle for your Mind” by Al Ries and Jack Trout

http://www.amazon.com/Positioning-Battle-Your-Al-Ries/dp/0446347949

It recently came to mind again when an artist who approached me for help and said he had been told he was the next Coltrane and then actually wrote that himself in his own bio!

Two things struck me.

1) The pretentiousness of the remark of the idea there could ever be another Coltrane?

2) What lousy uncreative positioning!

The book  based around various ad Campaigns from the 70’s & early 80’s one of which was by Avis, the rental car company and this amongst others is given as classic example of successful positioning and hence marketing of ones company,product or service.

At the time Hertz were the big guys,the NUMBER ONE,the most successful Rental Car Company with the largest share of  the marketplace and they still maybe incidentally I don’t know.

Their ads had O.J. Simpson ,then GOOD positioning,running through airports to get his car ,the older amongst us may remember them.

Avis were NUMBER TWO in the pecking order with a much lower market share when they came up with a one liner brilliant ad campaign.

AVIS….. WE ARE NUMBER TWO BUT WE TRY HARDER!!

Consumers responded to the ad as they were able to relate Avis to Hertz which was Number One in their minds and customers rented Avis’s cars.

The result was they boomed and took some huge portion of Hertz’s business and it is a brilliant example of the correct use of the technology of “positioning”.

Another was 7 UP who by relating themselves to Coke and Pepsi Cola as “THE UNCOLA” and 7 UP was able t0 establish itself in the consumers mind as a desirable alternative to the established Colas.

The authors actually state its nearly impossible to displace the leader in the market place. Number ones are Number ones for instance look at Xerox and Hoover as the activity itself is named after them even though they are companies who are only leaders or first into the market with their product.

Incidentally we use this technology of positioning all the time whether we realize it or not.

Examples:

He’s like another OJ Simpson!

I’m Smooth Jazz not Straight ahead.

We are a better soap powder than TIDE!

I’m the next John Coltrane!

All of the above examples are to me very weak attempts at positioning and there are many examples in the book of successful positioning techniques.

Plus for me when I see something like this in a bio, especially said by the artist himself ,like “the next Michael Brecker” “better than Chick Corea” “sounds like Miles Davis“….I am immediatly turned off and become suspicious.

Firstly if you are that good there is no need for you to say it as others will and others who are in themselves opinion leaders that people listen to with respect.

Notice that AVIS did not claim to be NUMBER ONE, far from it ,they stated the truth that they were NUMBER TWO BECAUSE THEY WERE!    But they tried HARDER!! ( So they said?)

They did not go against HERTZ (THE NUMBER ONE) as they weren’t that pretentious or more correctly that foolish enough to do that. They were SMARTER than that  BECAUSE  THEY TRY HARDER….QUITE BRILLIANT and it caused an enormous increase in their share of the rental car market and hence profitability.

If some Opinion Leader in your activity like say, George WeinHerbie Hancock or a major respected critic (if they exist) says you are the next Miles Davis then “maybe” it has creditability but ,please,  saying that in your own BIO ?..no way and please don’t do that because to anyone who knows his stuff they are going to laugh….loudly.

Sure it tells whoever reads it some things such as “you own a tin mute” and “you play jazz” but not much else and you just went against the NUMBER ONE which can be fatal to your career believe me.

Its obvious if one just looks at what Coltrane and Miles did and how much they did and for how long they did it … but please give yourselves a chance and don’t go against the NUMBER ONE ‘s go another route get smart like AVIS or the AD MAN who came up with the slogan.

Don’t let your record company do it either as I see it all time.

THE NEXT NORAH JONES.

BETTER SONGWRITERS THAN THE BEATLES

Give me a break!

And one can’t say “NEARLY as good as Coltrane” either that doesn’t work.

How about “Reminds one of early Coltrane or a ‘Sound reminiscent of Miles” both more humble and more truthful!!

GOOD WORKS THAT SPEAK FOR THEMSELVES is both humble,truthful and actually works.

And read the book as there’s a lot more to this subject of positioning than I know and the above are just the obvious gaffs.

Yours

The Next Irving Azoff!

P.S.  Its interesting to me as I realized whilst writing this that artists when successful become Number Ones or Leaders in their market place that cannot be displaced. How could there be another Mozart,Beatles,Beyonce,Black Eyed Peas,Phil Collins,Willie Nelson etc they are number ones in a unique and very creative way. It almost defines the successful artist or performer and who they are.

It also makes award shows silly to me and categories like best “New Artist of the year” or “Best Album of the year”become something of a joke and I think it should be the “Top 5 Artists” or “Best 10 CD’s”  much fairer and saner I feel.

So the Jazz Record Business appears to be in the toilet so what does the developing new artist do now?

Well an artist friend of mine called me the other day seeking advice as he was planning to make a new CD at his own expense.

A brave guy indeed you may say and he is!

This friend is a fine player and composer who tours with several big acts and this would be his second release.

His first CD sold around 1000 units and some 400 units in Japan.

It was a very frustrating conversation as I realized as it moved along there was not much good advice I could actually pass on to him other than to just encourage him anyway I could.

He asked about getting a Record Deal with a label?

I had to say it was unlikely these days as I know of very few labels signing new acts at the moment.

He asked “Are there companies that just promote and distribute CD’s”?

I told him that one could hire independent Radio Promotion people and a Publicist to promote the CD and get interviews when the CD is released but he would have to pay these cost himself and the costs can be high to find effective help.

There are a few labels that will do this on the basis of recouping these upfront costs from  the artists Royalty income but the problem is that the Artist only receives a royalty payment and if the CD ever recoups these promotion costs only then will the artist start making money towards his initial investment as there is no advance given by these companies and I do not recomend going in this direction.They make money and you don’t ,the same old story with no upfront money.

Overall it was a pretty negative conversation and not too enjoyable and this seems to be happening to me far too often these days.

Its not much fun to have to tell a talented artists they should not give up there day job believe me.

But there were some positives that came out of the conversation I thought looking at.

There is a business model I have seen work and not bankrupt the artist in attempting to get his music out and developing his audience.

The following maybe very obvious and known to many of you but I think its worth writing it down for clarity of what is needed and wanted these days.

1.Firstly one has to Record and Produce their CD for as few dollars as possible based on a realistic estimation of the sales one can expect.

One has to watch for the “not so hidden” costs as it is not just studio and musician fees one has to come up with up front.

Once the CD is recorded one has to press actual product and covers plus there is the cost of the Radio Promotion and Publicist one must factor into the cost of producing the CD and getting it out there.

I do know of one artist that never produced any actual physical CD’s and went totally Internet as downloadable MP3 files and that is an option that can be considered .

But basically either way the idea is to keep the front end costs to a minimum taking into account that one has to invest adequate funds to actually produce a quality recording that artistically reflects ones artistic vision.

I have seen this work now with several artists who have not only recouped their initial costs but made enough money to do another recording as the artist gets the bulk of the income on each  CD sold this way.

This can be as much as $10 or more on a every CD sold so the math is easy.

1000 CD’s sold at $10 profit equals $10,000 in income so one would have to record the CD, press CD’s and covers,pay for promotion all for under $10,000 to break even and thats very possible to do these days with the advent of Pro Tools etc.

Hopefully the Artists one is touring with will let you sell your CD on “their” concert dates and of course one should get ones own gigs whenever possible and sell CD’s at every opportunity.

2.Then one should utilize every internet way possible to promote the CD.

Set up a website if one doesn’t have one already.

Get it on Itunes, Amazon etc and promote it through Facebook, Reverb Nation, an iPhone app, Youtube,  iLikeit.com, My Space and Twitter etc etc.

Video a live show in the best quality possible and get it on the Internet every way one can and cross link all the sites wherever possible.

One interesting promotion idea I saw the other day is to get ones friends to review your CD on iTunes by using the social networks to promote the idea and request people to review the CD thus elevating its profile on iTunes or any web site as high as possible.

3.Of course there is always the possibility of your CD gaining its own momentum and becoming a “hit” and selling way above what one expected!!

Wouldn’t that be nice!

Good “Word of Mouth” seems to be ones best friend in this whole scenario and I know for a fact that is how Norah Jones had her massive selling CD a few years ago got started. Her CD totally took off on word of mouth and of course once things get rolling it gains a momentum of its own.

I know the above is probably very obvious and known by many of you already but I just thought it worthwhile to write it down as I get the same question asked of me week after week.

The key is to keep the front end costs as low as possible unless one can afford otherwsie but even then it makes sense to keep any project viable and profitable even if one has an investor or is personally stinking rich.Not a common scenario amongst musicians and artists you may have noticed.

“How does one make a Million Dollars with a Jazz Record Label?”

Start with $2  Million!

Horribly true these days I’m afraid but on the other hand there is a business model out there that can work and one can use to get ones music out to the public.

It seems to me that we have gone back to the days of things having to be very real and not hyped when one heard a band at club and bought their CD because one liked it not because some large record label hyped you to buy it.

It actually offers a tremendous opportunity to any artist as there is a real way to get ones art out there through the internet and word of mouth and I believe we are going to see and hear some real interesting and exciting  new music as this business model progresses. Wouldn’t it be great to find another Coltrane with a different twist or a new Miles or develop a new format like Jazz Rap like the Jazz Rock of the 70’s.

New creativity is  needed for sure but thats the subject of another blog one of these days.

We need some new music and composers that will revive the instrumental format and this is  part of the overall problem of the decline in CD sales in my opinion.

Hopefully this blog is a positive approach to a very negative  situation we find ourselves in, in regards to CD sales and will help rather than just talk about how bad things are which seems to be all to common these days.

Good luck and BTW don’t give up your day job 🙂