Zog Blog - Leeds College of Music & Sheffield Jazz / by Elaine Crouch

Day 8 of the Zog Tour

Masterclass - Leeds College of Music

We all arrived on time after the long journey from London, an hour before our masterclass. Our event was conspicuous for its lack of visible advertising. There were laminated promotions for about ten educational masterclasses by other bands on other dates with not a peep about us. Also none of the posters or flyers I had sent were anywhere to be seen, and there was no announcement on the big daily bulletin screen other than that the resources room had been relocated for the day...

Still, Sebastiaan de Krom is a drum tutor at the college, so he had put the word about, and some of his students had turned up! There were probably about 25 students present, so there was a reasonable quorum considering how 'under the radar' it seemed.

We played three original songs up front, two swinging tunes with functional harmony and one even eights piece in a more contemporary vein. We began by asking the students to identify how many keys my rhythm changes, 'One For Big G' went through, and then to examine the George Coleman devices I’d utilised. This led onto using tritone substitutions for the iim7 chord rather than the V7 and examples from James Moody and Michael Brecker. There were some good questions about rhythm, time and articulation - seems to be a recurring and important theme. 

Rob Barron on piano gave some good insight into piano comping, citing Jez Patton's excellent books as a good resource and recommending Wynton Kelly as a good role model. He also explored the different sounds and approaches of piano players from Bud Powell and Sonny Clark and Bill Evans through to Chick Corea, Keith Jarrett and Bud Powell. 

Sebastiaan talked about managing with different drum kits and the importance of immediately identifying how to play in a new acoustic. He also drew attention to jam session etiquette, repertoire, and the importance of going to proper gigs (not jam sessions) to check people out. There is a difference!

Geoff Gascoyne examined the trials and tribulations of being a touring bass player, especially with regard to playing alien instruments when abroad.

We finished up by playing 'I Hear a Rhapsody' when the students requested we play a standard rather than an original (news headline: students prefer standards!!)

We also had a lot of questions about the merits of being based in London, though surprisingly few about the whole process of managing as a professional musician or the process of organising and funding a tour like our 34-date one we're on.

Sheffield Crookes Social Club

Straight from Leeds College of Music workshop, down the M1, Crookes Social Club is a huge, shabby but characterful venue with a high stage. This event was very well organised and promoted by the Sheffield Jazz consortium. We soundchecked with a helpful and sympathetic engineer, Simon, then went to a pre-booked Italian restaurant called Casanovas, where we were treated to gracious hospitality and very well fed within the allotted time frame. This is always a tricky juggling act to time right, and you’ve got to eat.

They’d laid the enormous room out cabaret style with tables, so the 120 audience made the place look full. We had a really terrific gig, with lots of nice feedback from punters of all ages including some friendly faces and some musician friends.

Drove to a Premier Inn on the motorway near Nottingham after, in preparation for an early getaway to Matt Bianco gig at the new Guildford Jazz Festival the following afternoon. On a roll here.....!