Tuesday, March 18, 2014
A picture is worth a thousand words
Here's a snapshot of JC Hopkins, set adrift somewhere in that no man's land that exists in between songs as he leads the Biggish Band -- along with myself and singer-songwriter Ben Fields -- at Iridium.
I think that putting your time in with a big band is a required apprenticeship for the serious jazz singer because all of that soloing from all those horns changes your ear drastically -- and eventually, you're soloing, too. The best jazz singers have done this -- or they found a way to climb inside of a horn, or become one -- and eventually, they have a musicianship that's untouchable.
Then again, it was easier to sing with a big band back in the 1930s - 1940s because they were everywhere and there were so many of them. They would do breakfast sets. Breakfast sets! That meant that when I got out of work at 8am as a domestic or whatever, I could meet up with my girlfriends, have eggs and toast and lindy to Cab Calloway. Unbelievable -- but since there was no Muzak and the culture demanded live music and couples dancing, it made perfect sense. When you're practically playing around the clock -- morning set, lunch gig, cocktail hour, a revue, after hours jam -- you're bound to get great.
I definitely miss singing with a horn section...