Guitarist Alf Warnock plays computer
About a dozen singers and a few curious instrumentalists turned out for an intriguing JazzWorks workshop called “Follow My Lead” on July 17. Chaired by guitarist Alf Warnock and trumpeter John Haysom, the session was aimed at helping singers (and others) prepared workable charts for jam sessions, but the lessons learned can be applied in many other musical areas.
As Warnock pointed out, a singer at a jam session has to think of him or herself as a “bandleader for 10 minutes,” and to try to get the best out of the accompanying musicians (some of whom might be complete strangers).
Too often an inexperienced singer (or instrumentalist) will show up at a jam session with one, often poorly notated chart, intended for the piano player, while others in the band are left to fend for themselves. The results are not fun to listen to.
Using a computer projection screen, Haysom and Warnock took their listeners through a short course in making life easier for their accompanists. As Warnock put it: “In order to give the best possible demonstration of your talent, you want to have the best possible accompaniment; the better they sound, the better you’ll sound. And the more fun everyone will have.”
There were hints on finding the proper key, on transposing, on readable chart layout, on simplifying chords and on generating lead sheets. There was also some discussion on music software, with an emphasis on Band in a Box.
Warnock pointed out the necessity of making clear instructions for beginnings and endings.
A chart illustrated what each concert key translates to for Bb and Eb instruments. To the gratitude of horn players in the crowd, Haysom pointed out what he called the “detestable keys,” D, E and B, that load up a trumpet player’s chart with sharps.
The Carleton Tavern provided the room for the workshop and even provided a round of soft drinks. Judging by the number of questions and favourable post-workshop comments, it appears that future workshops on this and other topics will be popular.
Suggestions are welcome.
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About this blog
Tune Up won't be a calendar of events — Ottawa Jazz Happenings takes care of that. But it will discuss events and issues of interest to the JazzWorks community. Journalist, author, trumpet player and a jazz camper since 1999, Charley Gordon is a former vice-president of JazzWorks.