Accepting and Appreciating What We Do – The Sideman

Accepting and Appreciating What We Do – The Sideman

As performers, we are always being judged by our peers, people in the audience and ourselves. Within this scope there are many variables that exist. One that people rarely think of is when musicians are hired as sidemen in someone’s gig.  We are asked to perform a certain way, which might not be the best or really show our talent.

I recently read an article with Dave Weckl, in which he spoke about the Chick Corea gig. He said his playing with Chick and Patitucci was criticized for not having a groove. – too much interplay. As he was discussing this in the article, he brought up the point that as drummers we are hired as sidemen and sometimes the people hiring us insist we play it a certain way, even though we want or feel it in another way. Chick Corea wanted them to have more interplay. From these experiences people judge our playing and there is nothing we can do about it. 

There are so many gigs that I do where I feel the tempos are too bright or I wouldn’t orchestrate it in that way, but that is what I am asked to do. Having said that, musicians should never judge someone on one specific performance or a specific gig. It really depends on the playing situation. I was listening to a podcast of Jonathan Mover talking about an R&B gig in which he played and the musicians were terrible. At the time, another big group who was doing a national tour came to see the gig and decided that Jonathan couldn’t play and they didn’t want to give him an audition. After several phone calls,  Anton Fig, the initial person who recommended him, insisted that he could play and he must get an audition.  Finally, he auditioned and guess what? He got the tour! It was one of his top three musical experiences.

So, never judge a musician on the gigs/or the performances you might see them on, you never know what is being asked of them and they might have real potential in the right arena. And, as sideman know that we are hired as professionals to accommodate the people who are hiring us for out talent and services.

Adam Fischel

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