Date: Thu, 23 Dec 2010 12:46:41 -0800 (PST)
From: Rich Willey
Subject: [TPIN] The Answer!!!

Those of you who play small group jazz gigs might understand the dilemma of developing and maintaining the necessary endurance to make it through demanding small group jazz gigs after a string of days with no gigs.

I've wrestled with this for a long time, trust me, and after much experimentation, trial and error (mostly error, I'm afraid), I may have finally come up with *the answer* to this recurring endurance challenge.

(The irony is that I've done this in the past and had forgotten about it.)

What I've been doing lately is starting my day on bass trumpet (I remember reading that Nick Drozdoff does this) and "just blowing" many times, stopping each time before my chops start to feel tired (which can be a long time . . . on bass trumpet my arms will get tired of holding the instrument to my face long before my chops start feeling any fatigue).

Later in the day, I'll pick up my trumpet and do one of my Reinhardt (or Reinhardt related) warm-up drills and spend maybe a half-hour to 45 minutes playing. Then later, I'll do a long session of technical studies, repeating each one 4 to 8 (or more) times on trumpet, putting it down and doing the same one 4 to 8 (or more) times on bass trumpet, and then working through all the keys that way. I'm using my Variations on Clarke's Second Study complete with the 12 standard articulations which helps greatly in disciplining myself to stay on task.

After 45-60 minutes or so of this, I take another good rest. Then later I'll pick up my trumpet and "just blow" over some changes that I've been working on or that I need to be working on. I usually end my day playing some ballads in a sustained, cantabile fashion to serenade my wife who's usually asleep by then, anyway.

Five or six days of this when I have no gigs or rehearsals has gotten me through two jazz quartet gigs in the past two weeks (me and a rhythm section) and those gigs usually leave me ready to be hauled out of the place on a stretcher. The past two times, though, at the end of the gig I was feeling pretty much fresh as a daisy, ready to play another gig. My mantra in the past has been, "If I played a gig like this every night, I could play a gig like this every night."

I doubt that many orchestral players ever have to deal with the extreme endurance challenges of the improvising jazz player who must keep the mouthpiece on the face playing chorus after chorus, tune after tune, set after set . . . complicated by several days before that without a gig or rehearsal.

Anyway, this has been working for me . . . I'll let you know how it goes next week.

Anybody else found "the answer" to this kind of extreme endurance challenge?