Tips for playing jazz in a small town

Jazz = music of the city.

You typically find jazz thriving in large metropolitan areas because that’s where the music was born.

But what if you have a passion for jazz and don’t live in a major city? How do you keep growing as an artist/musician?

Some tips:

  1. Go find the music. It’s there; you have to find it! Almost every night of the week, you can find an open mic or jam night in Pensacola. If you are by yourself, bring the jazz element to the open jam. If you have a band, sit in.
  2. Create the scene; get people excited about the music. Find venues that will host an open mic, and create the jazz session. Build a musician list, and also build an audience.
  3. Get to know other players. Make friends. Be nice to fellow musicians, even if they are not nice to you! Treat them with respect. Be sociable.
  4. Be a teacher. What to do when you attend sessions only to discover the pool of “jazz” players is shallow: Help create them. There is so much to gain through teaching. Giving back is awesome!
  5. Play for free? Never. Even open mic hosts get paid.
  6. Most importantly, remember: We can actually change the feel and culture of a town by keeping the music alive.

“Give Peace A Chance”

Fred Domulot

Drum Roll, Please!

Embracing young jazz musicians

Why don’t we have a pool of young high school and college students at the monthly Jazz Jams?

Reasons: Too busy? Can’t drive? Didn’t know about it? Location? Didn’t get a warm welcome feeling from other musicians? Crushed by a bad vibe?

Bad vibe: When a young player – feeling uncomfortable sitting in with veteran, experienced musicians – tries his or her hand at a solo and can feel the drummer rolling his or her eyes, notices the guitarist isn’t talking to the vocalist sitting in and the pianist stops comping or starts playing the melody over the solo, and the bassist and drummer start a conversation during the solo.

I’ve seen it, and I’ve been guilty! Let’s fix it!

I remember a young drummer who thought he had “it” at the ripe age of 19 attend a jam session. The bandleader asked him, “What would you like to play, young man?”

Of course, the young drummer said, “Anything. I don’t care.”

The bandleader called “Cherokee,” at a blinding speed! The young drummer struggled as everybody played what seemed to be 100 choruses.

When all was said and done, the dejected young drummer collected his sticks and put his tail between his legs to leave. The bandleader then turned to him and said, “Young man, when you get up on a bandstand, know what song you would like to play!”

With a kind smile on his face, the bandleader said, “Now, let’s do another tune so you can walk away feeling better about yourself.”

He could have said, “OK, who’s next?” But he didn’t. It turned into a good “vibe.”

We should embrace our young students of jazz, help them along the way, guide them, and make suggestions of what they can listen to. I am guilty of thinking: “I never had YouTube to watch to see how a drummer played a tune, so there is no excuse!”

Instead, remember the kind sax player who gave a second chance at a tune so that the young drummer could walk away feeling better.


Drum Roll, Please! Greetings from the new president

Fred Domulot, new Jazz Pensacola board president

Greetings! Or should I say, “Hello.”

I am about to embark on a journey that I did not see coming … taking the reins as president of the Jazz Society of Pensacola. I mean Jazz Pensacola!

Jazz Pensacola … that was a change. It took time, but it happened. And, yes, there will be changes. I also know that with changes, you cannot please everybody. But, as we move forward, I am hoping with the support of the board members to bring changes and fresh ideas to go with exciting musical performances in the future.

The monthly Jazz Gumbos have taken on a concert-atmosphere theme. So far, all feedback has been in the favor column! Be looking for updates on upcoming “concerts.”

We will continue to bring new and exciting acts to our jazz festival, too. The success of the Wayne Bergeron clinic and concert was a great kickstart to continue with that format. I would like to continue with this formula, bringing young players in the mix and getting them to be part of a band and perform with a world-class clinician and artist.

I want to bring talent to Jazz Pensacola that will be fresh and exciting. Some talent you may have heard of, some you may have not, but the musicians will have you buying their music.

So, please stay tuned.

At your service,

Fred Domulot
Jazz Pensacola President