Tuesday, July 16, 2013


   Although this is a scrapbook of various gig failures, I hope you'll allow me to address a sensitive issue in the jazz world. It has nothing to do with gigs, and yet, it has everything to do with gigs. Should you, God forbid, find yourself at a late night session at Smoke, Fat Cat, Smalls, you name it, you will hear a perfectly timed, climactic cymbal crash or tom hit followed by a blistering altissimo lick far outside the typical range of the instrument from which it is executed. It will be killing. So killing, that several folks in the audience are inspired to express their approval with a whhhoooooo...

   But it's not just any old whhhhooooo, like when the homecoming queen is announced, or when a home run is hit. No, this one is unique to the jazz world, most commonly uttered by those who have spent some time studying jazz in a school. Notice the ellipsis at the end. This whhhooooo is different because it starts with a high pitch and then sort of trails off, almost the opposite of a question, in which the pitch rises at the end; for example, "are you going to the park?"

   While I'm fairly certain that the whhhoooo... started sometime in the 90s at either the Manhattan School of Music, or perhaps the New School, it's true origin remains a mystery, at least to me. Its reach, however, is undeniable. It has since spread to many crossover venues such as Bowery Electric, Rockwood Music Hall Stage One, and Rockwood Music Hall Stage Two. It has become all but inescapable at the 55 Bar. I'm fairly certain it has never happened while I was on stage. 

   My initial plan was to go on some sort of rant, perhaps even a mission to try and stop the whhhhhooo... but it is more wise to embrace it, and spread word of its prominence. As I probably have made history by being the first person ever to type out this utterance in a fairly public manner (and should you find evidence to the contrary, please don't burst my bubble), all of us in the jazz world can make history by elevating the whhhhoooo... from merely an expression of amazement from a drummer changing the pitch of a floor tom with his elbow, to an expression of amazement that is made fun of. Relentlessly. 

    May your next gig be killing, and filled with whhhoooooo...s.

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