So, about a month ago, the leader of the big band I play in approached me about playing a small gig with an impromptu quintet at the Bakersfield Jazz Workshop. For those who haven’t heard (I hadn’t at the time I was asked), The Bakersfield Jazz Workshop is a wonderfully supportive community of local musicians with a passion for Jazz music. At a small venue in a newly reopened restaurant, you’ll find experienced players guiding and coaching younger players through standard tunes, open jam sessions, and local big names stopping by to say hello. It’s pretty amazing, and I’m glad that I was hipped to it!
Honestly, as the gig date began to approach I felt nervous. I haven’t played in a small combo in many years. As the only chordal instrument, I was feeling the pressure. Luckily for me, our quintet was packed with talented musicians. Rehearsal went pretty swimmingly, with a lot of notes taken for repeats and solo breaks.
The night of the performance, I arrived early as I always do, to make sure I had time to setup my rig, do a soundcheck, warm up my hands, and so on. Alas, this plan was doomed to fail from the very beginning. Keeping in mind that at this point I had never attended (or heard of) a workshop night, I watched as the gear for the introductory session was assembled and set. I had the pleasure of watching students learn the fundamentals of soloing strategies and playing through standards, backed by a really awesome rhythm section. Quarters were cramped, so I decided to keep my gear stashed and wait until the intro course was over to set everything up.
Soon enough, the beginning jam had ended, and it became clear that we would be playing our set in a matter of minutes. I rushed my amp on stage and squeezed myself into a small space among the gear already present. Somehow I was able to keep from holding everyone up. Luckily, we played through our whole set without any technical difficulties – a small miracle as any amplified guitar player can tell you!
I had a great time at the Jazz Workshop. The community is so supportive and filled with talent! I am honored to have been invited, and I hope I did them proud. For any locals reading this who are interested in attending, you can find their website here.
Lastly, here is the quintet playing Blue Skies and The Way You Look Tonight.