After receiving the blessing of touring and recording with artists of various genres early on, I quickly realized and appreciated the fact that playing out my role or position to the fullest is essentially what the people hiring me wanted whether they realize it or not. Some may expect more and some less, but ultimately and generally you are appreciated and respected for bringing your brand or style to the position you play.
For instance, I just returned from India, hired by a producer I’ve done many gigs and recordings with in the past. It was very open within the song forms and we got to really open up and play. I had in mind that I’d be in store for a pretty laid back and free improvisational hit while there as well. Well, the gig was free flowing but he pretty much only wanted me to lay the foundation and nothing more though it seemed all the other musicians got to solo into oblivion. I, patiently, waited for my turn to say something extra on my instrument, like a benched hopeful that can’t wait to get into the game to do his part to prove he is worthy to be on the team, which on most nights never came.
I knew the chain of command and would not overstep my boundaries though we are good friends and I, probably, could have gotten away with it. I had to quickly check myself because I had the preconceived notion that this hit was going to be a solo fest for me as it had been before with this artist and it wasn’t.
It reminded me of college days when I first learned how to swing and though most of my gigs were top 40 or contemporary jazz gigs, I relished the chance to work out my newly acquired bebop chops on the straight ahead gigs that popped up every so often. Once I got back on track and got my priorities straight and recognized it wasn’t like the past gigs done with this group I was cool. Besides, My favorite thing to do on the gig is groove, anyway. It’s just that I, initially, came on the gig with a certain mindset but, generally, I’m always just proud to support. And that is what I did. Another lesson learned.