group work

As we’ve been trying out brand new music and dusting off old stuff for 3-hour sets coming up, I’ve realized something: It’s way more fun to play with the band than to play by myself. And it sounds way better with everyone else, too. Sure, you should all clamor for my stylings of solo piano; but, frankly, something kind of magical happens when we get together. This is kind of funny to me now, because there was so much “group work” that many of us have done in school that was definitely not so magical. It’s remarkable when a collaboration actually turns out so well, and so far in my life I’d be hard pressed to find as good an example as playing in this band.

I wish I knew how to describe this. Bill Evans, who could play piano, solo or ensemble, like nobody else, suggested in his work with Miles Davis that playing with a group adds an additional dynamic:

Aside from the weighty technical problem of collective coherent thinking, there is the very human, even social need for sympathy from all members to bend for the common result.

Bill Evans on Kind of Blue

That “sympathy” isn’t just the caring about what comes out or even each other — though this is definitely part of it — but the listening to each other and seeing how all of those gears mesh together. I play better because three other people give me better ideas about how the song should go than what I have, even in the midst of playing something for the first or fortieth time. And, I’m responsible to hold up my end. We each support each other but also pull each other along, and we something more than the sum of the parts.

This is all to say that we get to do this more, in public, with a couple of long sets on back-to-back weekend nights. We’ve all been back-to-school and also fitting in rehearsals in the tangle of these last couple of weeks. Frankly, playing all weekend long sounds perfect.

This Friday, there’s a gig at the Lighthouse ($5, 21+) from 9-Midnight. We like the sound and the stage and the vibe there, and we’re happy to go back. (We’ll be back there in December, too.) And then, Saturday, we are playing the easy-going outdoor porch of UTOG Brewing from 7:30 – 10:30p. Hope to see you at either, or both.

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