Ok, no, I am not on tour, but I did play out tonight. To be specific, I drove down the road a little bit to Heidi’s Jazz Club for their Sunday jam night. This was my first time there in well over 10 years, so it was like a new thing.
The piano player was the guy who ran the jam, so he is the one I talked to about doing a bit of wholly-improvised music. He just stared for a moment and said, “You don’t know any songs?” I explained that isn’t really what I do. He was clearly not happy. The bass player was keen on trying a bit free improvisation, but piano player wasn’t having it. He said, “You can play a solo.”
When he called me up he said, “This guy’s going to do a solo piano piece.”
I went up and briefly explained what it is I do. I spoke a bit about people who have done Free Jazz in the past like Ornette Coleman and Keith Jarrett. When I thought they were ready, I took a deep breath and dove in.
The reason I was there tonight was to see if I could do what I’ve been doing in the studio in a live setting. Sure, I’ve been playing for my friends and family and in music stores. I was trying to see if I could improvise in front of an “audience.”
I should mention that I don’t normally suffer from stage fright. I have been in bands for years. I made speeches, presentations and training sessions when I was working. I have been in a couple of community theater productions. Actually, I love being on stage. This time though, I was going live with only my skill at improvisation and absolutely nothing prepared.
How did I do? I did exactly what I wanted to do. Once I started, I hit a groove immediately. The piano was great. I had a nice touch, nice sound. The piece I played rolled off my fingers just like other pieces have in the studio. I was completely focused on what I was doing to the extent that I don’t even remember how the audience reacted.
Usually in jam sessions each person gets two songs. Sometimes more. Mr Piano Player did not look happy. He said, “That’s it. We have a lot of people waiting.” There weren’t a lot of people waiting. So I walked back to the bar and ordered a beer. The bartender said, “When you mentioned Ornette Coleman, you had me scared. But you played very well. I enjoyed it.” Several members of the audience also complemented me.
Jazz in my little beach town is relatively popular, and it is very traditional. I made a little ripple tonight. If I keep going to jam nights, I might make a bigger ripple. In a small town, you don’t need a very big ripple to get noticed. Maybe if I can get some of my friends to join me, I will have a better chance.
If you aren’t into the technical part of this project, I will say goodnight now. The rest is about hardware.
If you look back at my posts, you will see a brief discussion about the hardware and software I am using on this project. It is a very short list for the reason that the fewer things to go wrong, the more likely I am to succeed.
That was brought home to me last night when I went down to practice. I normally practice on hardware so I don’t have to hook up my computer. Last night when I turned on my Kurzweil Micro Piano, it was dead. No heartbeat. No display. No sound. Nothing.
In my mind, I went through all the things that could be wrong. Since the thing is screwed tightly into my studio system, the only possibility I could think of was that the power supply was dead. While I was out today, I picked up a new power supply.
When I got home from Heidi’s tonight, I set it up and plugged it in. I turned it on and the thing booted up just like magic. I breathed a sigh of relief. I started playing and …nothing. No sound. The little light that flashes when it receives a MIDI signal from the keyboard was happily flashing away. Just no sound. I eliminated the possibility that some other part was at fault, but no. This means I need to pull my Micro Piano out of its comfortable cubby, and take it apart. There are a very few things I can do from the inside, but I have to try before I take it somewhere and see if I can get fixed.
To be fair, this little box has been playing faithfully for over 20 years now. I am not dissatisfied with its performance, I just need it back and working. Hopefully it is something simple that I can fix.
Now I see it is after 5 am and I need to get some sleep before I grill meat to honor the men and women who have given their lives for our freedom. I know it is a strange custom, but who am I to argue.