Local No. 1, A.F. of M., gig notes #1
Is it true that in classical performance the priority is on how you play while in jazz it is on what you play? (Where did I read that?) The other night I played a gig that seemed to contradict that perception. I played in the orchestra behind Steve and Eydie
. They knew their act as well as Gil Shaham knows the Tchaikovsky Concerto.
The band leader and pianist was a man named Vincent Falcone who is from some town in Nevada. Except for one trumpet player who came with the act, the brass and winds were all cats you might see at the Blue Wisp
. All ten string players might be found in the pit at the Ballet
. In between were a guitarist, a bass player, and a drummer that also came with the act and a local percussionist covering timpani, xylophone and assorted instruments. The players that came with the act have been playing this book for over twenty years. They left nothing to chance, took no risks, and delivered exactly the performance Steve, Eydie, and the packed audience wanted.
Watching the drummer, I thought of Mwanji Ezana's question
, "Do orchestras really need so many percussionists who don't really do that much?" If we consider the percussion at the early stage of the orchestra, as in Haydn's orchestration, the percussion often consists of only the timpani. The timpani serves mainly as a pitch reinforcement of the brass. As the orchestra develops the percussion section is there to add color and eventually becomes a section capable of caring the tune on its own. In contrast to Steve and Eydie's drummer who was there to control the tempos all the time, the classical percussionist has fewer notes and a lot more instruments.