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When can you call yourself a Jazz musician?

half diminished

Senior Member
Messages
1,302
I've been playing sax for almost 3 years and honking a bit of jazz since July 2008. My teacher reminded me that I only really started working the changes properly about a year ago. I can play lots of standards and maybe a dozen or so by ear without music.

My improvising is coming along albeit slowly - I'm told it's pretty musical though it mostly follows a linear direction around a key centre and the old II, V7 I progression is not my strong point but Karen tells me I play mostly the best notes though I seem to have an unnatural attraction to playing the 4th too often and on the upbeat! At least I can hear it now!

So my question is this.......... am I now a jazz musician or still some bloke who plays some jazz music on his sax?

In support of my claim, I can reveal that like most of the great jazz saxophonists (and that's the only comparison I am making :w00t:) I have developed an addiction though rather than to drugs or alcohol it's tunes. Almost every time I hear a great jazz tune I think either "I can play that" or if it's a rather difficult one "I'm going to try to play that". And my addiction is getting worse!

Just this morning I hear Boston Bernie (Dexter Gordon) for the first time and already I'm trying to play it. I have the dots in an Aebersold book I have and it's a bit fast for me but I'm getting there!

What's the considered opinion at the Cafe? Am I a jazz musician or some bloke who plays jazz on a sax?
 

thomsax

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,983
So my question is this.......... am I now a jazz musician or still some bloke who plays some jazz music on his sax?

What do you want to be?

I've been playing sax ,more or less, for over 40 years. I consider myself being a bloke trying to play sax like my heros; King Curtis, Red Prysock, Noble Watts, Lee Allen, Eddie Shaw, JT Brown, Gene Barge, Clarence Clemons ..... . The saxplaying is just a hobby for me.
 

half diminished

Senior Member
Messages
1,302
So my question is this.......... am I now a jazz musician or still some bloke who plays some jazz music on his sax?

What do you want to be?

I've been playing sax ,more or less, for over 40 years. I consider myself being a bloke trying to play sax like my heros; King Curtis, Red Prysock, Noble Watts, Lee Allen, Eddie Shaw, JT Brown, Gene Barge, Clarence Clemons ..... . The saxplaying is just a hobby for me.

Well clearly I'd like to be a jazz musician, hence the question.

Does it matter if it's a hobby and not a profession? I do consider myself a photographer - I''d say I've been one for 35 years, mostly as an amateur but I have done a fair bit of semi professional work over the years (weddings, commercial, portraiture, sold a few prints etc). I don't consider myself less as it's not a full time job. But I'm not sure how one should define being a musician let alone a jazz musician.

Is this an important question? Maybe not, I just wondered what others' considered opinions might be.

As for playing like 'my heros', I'd have to be honest and say that I'm now trying to develop my own sound. Yes I try to imitate Sonny Rollins, Dexter Gordon and others but what I really want to do is sound like me, with some influences. I'm under no illusions about my lack of 'greatness' when it comes to playing sax let alone playing jazz.
 

saxnik

Member
Messages
381
My take on this is that to be a 'musician' you have to perform to people listening (preferably willingly!).

For your photography, presumably you'll be considering yourself a 'photographer' because people other than yourself will see your photos and like them. Same deal with the jazz - whether improvised or performed from score, if you're playing jazz to an audience you're a jazz musician.

Have you done any gigs? Pub jam sessions definitely count, I've been to some great ones.
If so, you're a jazz musician, if not, I reckon that's your next goal!

Nick
 

half diminished

Senior Member
Messages
1,302
Nick

Interesting. I do share my photographs with others. I have exhibited, I use fora occasionally posting images, I have a website or two, I have entered and won competitions, I do have professional body certification, I have images in 2 books, I have been paid for work from motorsport photography through commercial work to weddings. I've had images published in magazines. However, none of this until after 2003, prior to then I never sold any work nor had nothing exhibited, published etc. It made me no less a photographer in my opinion. Why does sharing your work make you more so and not sharing less so?

As for the musical side, I have performed in jam sessions with other musicians, I have played live at jam sessions in a pub a couple of times, I've been on stage playing a couple numbers at a concert, jammed with 20+ other musicians on stage in front of a few onlookers and recently played as part of a small ensemble and guested for a solo with a big band on one number at a recent Oxjam concert in front of paying customers.

I'm still not convinced that playing 'live' alone would qualify me or indeed if I hadn't done them disqualify me from being or not being a musician. Doesn't a degree of competence come into it?

I'm a photographer for my own gratification and not others'. It wouldn't and doesn't particularly bother me if someone likes or dislikes one of my images though praise from an informed source is always nice to get.

Though I regularly cook, I wouldn't describe myself as a cook, nor as a chef and that's probably due to the level that I am cooking at though I have cooked for guests at dinner parties. Anyway, thanks for the comment, it's giving me room for thought.
 
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BigMartin

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,922
Why worry about labels? I say: when you're cooking, you're a cook, when you take photos, you're a photographer, when you play music, you're a musician. You may have differeing levels of skill and experience in these things, but you can always learn something new. I would hate to get to a point where I decide that I've "arrived" as a musician (or anything else) and don't need to learn any more.

Cheers,

Martin
 

Jules

Formerly known as "nachoman"
Messages
4,728
I’ve always been very uncomfortable about labelling when it comes to music- what exactly defines ‘jazz’, or defines ‘musician’ for that matter? A ‘jazz musician’ would be- I suppose- someone who understands music and plays ‘jazz’. - all a bit of a nebulous definition to say the least…..
Labelling- best avoided…..
 

saxnik

Member
Messages
381
Like I said, I would therefore consider you to be a jazz musician. I suppose it's all down to mindset.

I have a reasonable digital SLR, and I have taken photos, but since I don't know how to work it properly, I'm no photographer. I know that I like (and dislike) the photos I've taken, some have been half decent, none to the standard you're working at. Some (including my avatar on the left) are in the public domain, but I'd still say I'm no photographer, I've just got some kit that makes up for my lack of talent and/or ability.

The mere fact that you are willing to put your skills on display for the appreciation (or otherwise, this is equally valid either way) of others makes you a musician, though of course that's only my opinion.

I suppose I could put on an exhibition of my photography (it would be slated) somewhere, but that would require me to have the state of mind which says "I am a photographer, you make up your own mind". I don't have this. I could do a gig though, easy!
I wouldn't be comfortable singing a song for your pleasure (or otherwise), so even though I sing on stage most gigs, I'm not a singer (I conveniently label this behaviour as 'backing vocalist'!)

I don't think that my singing along to a backing CD in the privacy of my own lounge makes me a singer at all, though I do it for the practice.

Anyone else going to help my dig my hole out there?!

Cheers,

Nick
 

thehunt

Member
Messages
785
Ian, really interesting point. My partner is a very talented artist, i mean really good but has only recently stated thinking she was good enough to do commission work. I have been around so many art galleries with her and think " my god what a load of
C%%P" Difference being their work was hanging on the walls hers was not. Does that make her less of an artist? My answer would be, an emphatic no. It is so like music that, some will like what you do others will not.
To bring this into context, yes i think you should consider yourself a jazz musician. You play well, you try to emulate others before you, you certainly have a passion for music, the instrument and the many great players out there.
Personally i don't think that after playing x amount of years you can then say i am now a jazz saxophonist, it is a journey and one which we improve on along the way. when people ask me i say i am a sax player not that i am learning the sax as that already puts a doubt in your head. ( we know amongst us forum users that we are learning, but is that not true in all walks of life ).
This is just my take on it. All the best Phil:mrcool


Nick

Interesting. I do share my photographs with others. I have exhibited, I use fora occasionally posting images, I have a website or two, I have entered and won competitions, I do have professional body certification, I have images in 2 books, I have been paid for work from motorsport photography through commercial work to weddings. I've had images published in magazines. However, none of this until after 2003, prior to then I never sold any work nor had nothing exhibited, published etc. It made me no less a photographer in my opinion. Why does sharing your work make you more so and not sharing less so?

As for the musical side, I have performed in jam sessions with other musicians, I have played live at jam sessions in a pub a couple of times, I've been on stage playing a couple numbers at a concert, jammed with 20+ other musicians on stage in front of a few onlookers and recently played as part of a small ensemble and guested for a solo with a big band on one number at a recent Oxjam concert in front of paying customers.

I'm still not convinced that playing 'live' alone would qualify me or indeed if I hadn't done them disqualify me from being or not being a musician. Doesn't a degree of competence come into it?

I'm a photographer for my own gratification and not others'. It wouldn't and doesn't particularly bother me if someone likes or dislikes one of my images though praise from an informed source is always nice to get.

Though I regularly cook, I wouldn't describe myself as a cook, nor as a chef and that's probably due to the level that I am cooking at though I have cooked for guests at dinner parties. Anyway, thanks for the comment, it's giving me room for thought.
 

saxnik

Member
Messages
381
Why worry about labels? I say: when you're cooking, you're a cook, when you take photos, you're a photographer, when you play music, you're a musician.
Fair enough, but I still think that beauty is in the eye of the beholder....

You may have differeing levels of skill and experience in these things, but you can always learn something new. I would hate to get to a point where I decide that I've "arrived" as a musician (or anything else) and don't need to learn any more.
Ah, no, now I didn't say that. If you're performing (the name musician suggests a performer to me) it has to be to other people, otherwise you're rehearsing. If you're a 'professional performer' people will pay you to do it (not very often in jazz, it has to be said), and if you're a 'world-class performer' then people will come from a long way to see/hear you do it.

As a performer, or an artist of any kind (cooking, photography, sculpture, needlework, whatever it is) you should always be striving to improve. I suppose what I'm saying is similar to Jules' ethos - no point labelling a 'musician' as a goal, it's a state of mind, and a journey, not a destination in itself. 'Jazz' is a slight narrowing of the term 'Music', which is whatever you want it to be.
I reckon jazz music is music that makes you want to tap your feet, so if that's what you're performing you're a jazz musician, on whatever level.

Nick
 

saxnik

Member
Messages
381
Phil, you're being the audience! Your partner is therefore an artist.
Ian cooks for others, and therefore is a cook (not a chef, since that's a technical job description, like an orchestral conductor).

I have thought this through...? (and yes, I should be doing my tax return or something)
 

Rock Lobster

Member
Messages
124
I’ve always been very uncomfortable about labelling when it comes to music- what exactly defines ‘jazz’, or defines ‘musician’ for that matter? A ‘jazz musician’ would be- I suppose- someone who understands music and plays ‘jazz’. - all a bit of a nebulous definition to say the least…..
Labelling- best avoided…..

From an althletics perspective people would ask, "Am I an athlete because I have ran the Great North Run?" Runners in my running club would always say "yes you are an athlete" There are however degrees of athlete, e.g. a good club runner would be a 6 minute miler for 13.1 miles. The dictionary says a musician is "one who uses a melodious and harmonious combination of notes" so are we all jazz musicians if we play jazz licks but to different degrees?
 

old git

Tremendous Bore
Messages
5,545
Would be very hesitant to classify myself, except as a beginner but would be very happy if someone else called me a blues or jazz musician.


*Note to YC. Don't expect CaSLM promotion or a rise just by using flattery.* ;}
 

half diminished

Senior Member
Messages
1,302
Why worry about labels? I say: when you're cooking, you're a cook, when you take photos, you're a photographer, when you play music, you're a musician. You may have differeing levels of skill and experience in these things, but you can always learn something new. I would hate to get to a point where I decide that I've "arrived" as a musician (or anything else) and don't need to learn any more.

Cheers,

Martin

Maybe you have a point though performing a task surely doesn't make you .... I think it must be more than that.

I’ve always been very uncomfortable about labelling when it comes to music- what exactly defines ‘jazz’, or defines ‘musician’ for that matter? A ‘jazz musician’ would be- I suppose- someone who understands music and plays ‘jazz’. - all a bit of a nebulous definition to say the least…..
Labelling- best avoided…..

I'm not looking for a label as such. I don't play any rock, pretty much just jazz anyway. Nebulous, maybe......

Like I said, I would therefore consider you to be a jazz musician. I suppose it's all down to mindset.

I have a reasonable digital SLR, and I have taken photos, but since I don't know how to work it properly, I'm no photographer. I know that I like (and dislike) the photos I've taken, some have been half decent, none to the standard you're working at. Some (including my avatar on the left) are in the public domain, but I'd still say I'm no photographer, I've just got some kit that makes up for my lack of talent and/or ability.

The mere fact that you are willing to put your skills on display for the appreciation (or otherwise, this is equally valid either way) of others makes you a musician, though of course that's only my opinion.

I suppose I could put on an exhibition of my photography (it would be slated) somewhere, but that would require me to have the state of mind which says "I am a photographer, you make up your own mind". I don't have this. I could do a gig though, easy!
I wouldn't be comfortable singing a song for your pleasure (or otherwise), so even though I sing on stage most gigs, I'm not a singer (I conveniently label this behaviour as 'backing vocalist'!)

I don't think that my singing along to a backing CD in the privacy of my own lounge makes me a singer at all, though I do it for the practice.

Anyone else going to help my dig my hole out there?!

Cheers,

Nick

I'd say you are someone who takes photographs rather than a photographer........ it makes sense to me. I'm still not sure about the 'on display' or not argument though whether it relates to photography or music.

Ian, really interesting point. My partner is a very talented artist, i mean really good but has only recently stated thinking she was good enough to do commission work. I have been around so many art galleries with her and think " my god what a load of
C%%P" Difference being their work was hanging on the walls hers was not. Does that make her less of an artist? My answer would be, an emphatic no. It is so like music that, some will like what you do others will not.
To bring this into context, yes i think you should consider yourself a jazz musician. You play well, you try to emulate others before you, you certainly have a passion for music, the instrument and the many great players out there.
Personally i don't think that after playing x amount of years you can then say i am now a jazz saxophonist, it is a journey and one which we improve on along the way. when people ask me i say i am a sax player not that i am learning the sax as that already puts a doubt in your head. ( we know amongst us forum users that we are learning, but is that not true in all walks of life ).
This is just my take on it. All the best Phil:mrcool

Does the level of talent make you one or not? Tracey Emin for example >:)?

Interesting that you suggest that I am a jazz musician yet that you are not. Why so? I think you play as well or better than I do, you have a stronger sound and I recall from your rendition of Black Orphius at the workshop that you played very well. I'd say you are a musician though we are yet to fully define jazz musician perhaps.

As for the 'journey' - well as a pretty accomplished photographer I am still on a learning curve and am looking to embark on a photography degree. I have aspirations thereafter to attain my ARPS and to exhibit at international exhibitions and attain FIAP status one day. I don't think I'll even complete that journey fully let alone do so with musicianship where I am nowhere near accomplished by even the widest definition!
 

jonf

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,688
OK Ian, my take on this.

If you're playing music, you're a musician. If the music you're playing is what you yourself would define as jazz, then you're a jazz musician.

So, if you play what you regard as jazz, then you are a jazz musician.

Jon
 

TomMapfumo

Well-Known Member
Messages
5,219
So, would you call Jules a "Label Avoider"?:shocked:;}

I have no problem with labelling anything, but lots of folks can get hung up with the semi-officaldom of labelling to the point where they end up excluding certain people and
potentially demeaning them.

In my field you could be a Counsellor, Therapist, Psychotherapist, Psychoanalyst, Analytical Psychologist, Psychodynamic Psychotherapist and so on, ad nauseum. At the end of the day they all involve talking, interacting with & relating to fellow human beings in order to provide them with some sort of help with certain difficulties. Whatever your particular knowledge you still need to be able to talk to others, which is what you do.

Given this I would say that you are an "Inexperienced Jazz Musician" if what you have learnt to play is something which befits the label jazz. The silliness happens when labels become "Official" in some way, which generally involves criteria for inclusion and exclusion - all of which is man made and subjective anyway.

I am more than happy to refer to you as a fellow Jazz Musician, albeit a less experienced one!;}

Kind regards
Tom:cool:
 
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AndyG

Member
Messages
324
Personally, I would tend to agree that anyone who plays music is a musician, just as anyone playing golf is a golfer (either good or bad). There are, however, 2 main categories ....professional or amateur. Just my thoughts . ;}
 

Pete Thomas

Well-Known Member
Commercial Supporter
Messages
14,631
I thought I was a jazz musician within about 15 minutes of getting my hands on a saxophone. It took several/weeks/months/years to realise I wasn't, or at least not a very good one.

I don't believe people have to be a pro to be labelled a musician, and I believe there is an analogy with being a photographer. People tend to want the "qualifier" such as amateur, semi-pro or pro, and maybe some people think unless you are a pro you need to add the amateur or semi pro label. Adding "pro" seems a bit poncy to me.

Once you consider yourself a musician (or someone else does), adding jazz to it id more or less down to whether that is your speciality. It doesn't matter how good you are IMO.
 

thehunt

Member
Messages
785
Not yet jazz saxophonist as i still play other types of music.
Don't know what you were listening too at the workshop, seeing as i played sugar and my solo was blues in the night. Maybe your jazz ears need cleaning!! :))):)))

(Interesting that you suggest that I am a jazz musician yet that you are not. Why so? I think you play as well or better than I do, you have a stronger sound and I recall from your rendition of Black Orphius at the workshop that you played very well. I'd say you are a musician though we are yet to fully define jazz musician perhaps.)
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,949
To me being a musician is playing to a good enough standard to entertain others, who listen willingly. As per the others, if you play Jazz, then you're a jazz musician.

Pro/Amateur... only real difference for me is that one gets paid. Often in photography the amateur does a better job than the hack pro - who has limited time, and can't wait for the light. Same goes for a lot of pro musicians - some are good, others very un of the mill.... But they get paid.
 
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