Tonight's gig at the French Market sure was a workout. Normally this group's lineup is sax, guitar, bass, and drums, but our sax player had car problems. The sax normally carries the melody while I accompany, and I generally play an improv solo somewhere in the middle of each song. Tonight, it was the "Tom show"…all Tom, all the time! It required quite bit of energy and concentration to be "on" all night, but it was a good experience.
Essentially, I took this opportunity to spend 3.5 hours putting my guitar lessons to use. We haven't talked about specific licks in our lessons, but I've gleaned a few licks through transcribing solos. Rather than try to remember every lick that I've worked on, I picked out a couple and played them wherever I could. Eventually, I'll be able to incorporate those licks without having to think about them, but for now, I'm consciously looking for opportunities to fit them in.
We've also talked about different ways to approach solos. In particular, if I'm not feeling too inspired, I'll play around with the melody. Another good way to generate ideas is to outline the chord changes.
My teacher gave me an exercise to solidify my time. (I'll talk about this simple exercise in the near future.) This exercise paid off tonight. My time was more solid, and I played in the groove more easily.
When you're sight reading for 3.5 hours, you're bound to hit some snags. There were a couple moments I'd rather take back, but I was pleased overall with how things went tonight.
I didn't incorporate a ton of new licks and tricks into tonight's gig. Instead, I concentrated on a few things and drove them into the ground! For me, this seems to be the best way to add new concepts into my playing. If I try to incorporate everything I'm working on, I'll get flustered. If I just focus on a few ideas, they seem to stick more easily. If I can incorporate just one or two licks each gig, they'll accumulate over time and become a natural part of my playing.
- 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.