By Jan Souther
“Joe Smith on trombone! Joe Smith!”
You’re partway through an evening of fine jazz and the bandleader says, “The waiters don’t want no trombone playing in here; nope, the waiters don’t want no trombone playing in here. But we don’t care and let them stare; we’ll play our trombones now. Here’s Joe Smith.”
Joe takes a solo and, just as he finishes, the leader shouts, “Joe Smith on trombone! Joe Smith!”
And so it goes, one after another until the entire band has been introduced to the audience with different members of the staff “don’t want” each instrument playing. It’s an excellent presentation piece, a good powerhouse number that doesn’t need to beg for applause and shouting after each solo.
Another such is “When the Saints Go Marching In,” a natural showpiece for extended works by each musician with an introduction and shouted exit at the end.
In smaller venues, of course, you don’t need to be so excited; smaller jazz groups, in their intimacy, need only a spoken word to acknowledge the performer. But the name recognition emphasizes the importance of each performer’s contribution to the overall success of the group. The best leaders know this.
When you’re at a show, remember to thank the individuals; without them, you’d have only the leader and whatever instrument he plays. They like to be recognized off the bandstand and perhaps chat a bit with the audience members.
[Jan Souther is a music columnist for the Wilkes-Barre PA “Citizens’ Voice” newspaper, whose articles appear Sundays.]