How I became Nicest Bassist. Part 2.
Getting ready for my first gig with Emm seemed easy enough. Four tunes to learn. A rehearsal or two to run through the tunes. How hard could it be? I remember back in my days playing in bands in high school where you’d think nothing of learning 30+ tunes for a show. I never wrote anything down back then. No charts, no road maps for where the tune goes. I just did it and went to a show and probably never even thought about whether I’d remember the tunes or not. Perhaps a 15+ year break from music has something to do with it but as I mentioned in Part 1, I had become comfortable with using charts and Fakebooks with a music stand on many gigs.
There are people out there who know every jazz standard in every key . . . backwards. There are people with perfect pitch who know that when the car tire screeches it’s a C#. For the most part those musicians don’t need a book. I remember doing a gig in the last couple of years with Chris Norley and Charlie Rallo, two of London’s great jazz players. Charlie teased me, sort of, by asking Chris, “Why does he have a book for?” I’m sure Charlie was further horrified by the fact that I brought an electric ‘popsicle stick’ double bass to the gig. I digress but I am not one of those that has either a great memory or great ears.
I played Emm’s tunes over and over to get them in my head and ears. My first rehearsal with Emm I suspect was for her to see who this bass player was and if he could measure up. I really didn’t want to use a music stand or notes on her show so after getting together a couple of time with Emm as well as Ashley and Jenna it was show time.
The London Music Club show in May was sold out. I’ve played a few times at the LMC when there have been a lot of people there. I’ve also played with the Karen Scheussler Singers to a packed house but this was different. Emm was essentially playing solo with Ashley, Jenna and myself being called during the course of the evening. Nowhere to hide on this gig. The pressure really felt like it was on! I had to sit an wait at my table as I prepared to fly without a net. Suddenly I was more nervous for a gig than I had been in months if not years. Would I remember the tunes? What key is Lose My Head in? C? Wait. Bb? No that’s Get Brave. Speaking of keys, Stray Bullet is in F#. During rehearsals I asked Emm what possessed a keyboard player to write a tune F#? Lots of black keys on the piano. Because it sounds right in that key. Certainly does.
I got brave and got up there. No turning back. In the end the night went well. I got through my 4 tunes with out any major dramas and as soon as the night was over I wanted to play all over again. It was at this gig that Emm said I was once of the nicest musicians she had met. At this point I could only hope that there would be more shows down the road but either way it was a great moment for me. My return to music started at the LMC and here I was playing bass for Emm Gryner at the LMC. What a great journey.