Earlier this evening, I played a gig with a group called the Jazz Swing Quartet. It's not the most imaginative name. On the other hand, you don't have to spend a lot of time explaining what kind of music they play or how many people are in the group.
This was a combination gig and audition. Their previous guitarist left the group. I was contacted last week about trying out with them, and so I found myself at The French Bakery in Locust Grove, GA, playing jazz standards with a sax player, bassist, and drummer.
The gig went swimmingly. The guys were all complimentary. The drummer told me that I added a new dimension to the group, and the bass player (and leader) told me he couldn't be happier. I was auditioning them as much as they were auditioning me, and I was impressed with how the group sounded. The bassist was solid, the drummer was tasteful and sensitive, and the substitute sax player sounded great. They were also really nice, laid back guys…easy to play with and easy to get along with.
I liked them. They liked me. We all had fun, and now I'm part of another jazz group. The group has a regular gig at The French Bakery Friday and Saturday every other week, and they don't rehearse. This is perfect. I still have empty days on the calendar to schedule my own gigs, and I don't need to spend another night rehearsing. It was also refreshing to have someone else be in charge. All I needed to do was show up and play.
Aside from having a regular gig and earning some extra cash every other week, this is going to be a tremendous learning opportunity. I love learning jazz standards, but it's easy to get lazy and put off learning new songs unless you're going to perform them. With this gig, I suddenly have a very, very good reason for learning a lot of new songs. Thanks to my background, I did a good job sight-reading the unfamiliar tunes. The next step is to learn the band's repertoire more in depth so that I can bring something more to the table each time I play with them.
- Tom Godfrey
- Atlanta, GA, United States
- When I suffered a lip injury that ended my career as a classical trombonist, I thought my life as a musician was finished, but I fell in love with music all over again when Santa gave me a guitar for Christmas in 2003. Even as I was struggling with my first chords, I was planning a new performance career. As a trombonist, I performed with the Heritage of America Band at Langley Air Force Base, the Ohio Light Opera, and in pick-up bands for touring acts that included Rosemary Clooney, George Burns, and the Manhattan Transfer. Reborn as a jazz guitarist, I sing and play my own solo arrangements of jazz classics, am half of the Godfrey and Guy duo, and hold the guitar chair in the Sentimental Journey Orchestra. I have been a freelance music copyist since 1995, served as Director of Music at Northwest Unitarian Universalist Congregation from 2011 to 2017, and currently serve as Contemporary Band Director at the same congregation.