If you were playing word association games, I highly doubt the words, brass trio, would invoke the response, coffee shop, but that is exactly what people were treated to with Caleb, Anna, and Kenken's performance this past Sunday at the High Ground Cafe in Iowa City. The success of their performance helped me pull together some ideas floating around in my head regarding how, why and where we perform as brass musicians.
First, some background, back in February I came across this article in the New York Times about the world of open mic comedy in New York City. One idea that I took away from this is the amount of performing a comedian, amateur or professional, does to hone their craft in front of people. Really when you think about music, art music or pop music, has broader audience than comedy, and can be performed in a wider variety of spaces. Another group of performers who log more time in front of live audiences are jazz performers who will relentlessly pursue opportunities to play at open mics and jam sessions where they can work on new material or play old material for a new audience. The new audience perspective adds another dimension to this idea, jazz musicians and comedians when traveling will often seek out the local mics and jams where they can meet new people and get performance reps in a new city. I've done quite a bit of traveling over the past three years, and in most of the cities my playing has been restricted to hotel rooms or my sister-in-laws back patio.
My goal moving forward is to find more untraditional venues to play in as a soloist, and with any ensembles I play in. To this this back to my topic on this blog, this is something that is very much a part of the New Orleans brass band tradition. Brass Bands play in bars, at funerals, in parades, in concert halls, and festivals. The portable and acoustic nature of our instruments allow brass ensembles to play really anywhere. So go out and play!