- Entertainment and Media
Daddy was a jazz musician
He played tenor sax. When I was very young, we lived in Detroit in a tiny apartment, my mom, my dad, my sister and me. Daddy practiced all day long and played in clubs all night, except when he went fishing or hunting, his two favorite past times.
He never went to music school or took lessons of any kind. He was self taught and started playing when he was just a kid. He went on the road when he was a teenager. That started a life-long career as a musician. I guess it helped that he had perfect pitch (see definition below), cause he taught himself to play all the single reed instruments and the piano too. All you had to do was hum a tune for him and he could sit down and play it. Not just the melody, but also the chords, rhythmic accompaniment, and all kinds of runs up and down the keyboard. I was fascinated. He had a wonderful "ear" (see definition below).
I remember watching him practice in front of a mirror. Why in front of the mirror? I had no idea. I always thought he was trying to make his cheeks stay flat. They puffed out like a puffer fish whenever he played the saxophone.
When my sister and I were young, we took tap dancing lessons, and so when friends (usually other musicians) came to visit, daddy sat down at the piano and we did our little "singing/tap-dancing" sister act. We didn't always want to do it, but we were expected to, since we'd been born into a family of entertainers. My other was a singer and a writer.
Daddy would often play from a "fake book". We had lots of them around the house. They contained just about every song ever written. Eventually I learned how to read the chord symbols and would sit for hours and try to play the pages of "standards". It never sounded like daddy, but I kept at it anyway.
By the time my sister and I got to high school, we were allowed to occasionally go to the night clubs where daddy worked with mom. The place I remember so well, in Detroit, was the Penobscot Club. It was beautiful and the food was awesome. Daddy was the leader of the band and he had a girl singer. I don't think my mom liked her too much. Sometimes well-known musicians, who were in town, would come into the club and "sit in". I got to meet Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey and other "big band" musicians. They would come and sit at our table. We have lots of pictures of both Dorsey brothers with my mom and daddy.
This was the 1940s and it was very common for musicians to go around town and "sit in" for nothing with each other, especially late at night after their paying "gigs" (see definition below) were over. This was a way of socializing, communicating with each other and working off the stresses of their "money making" jobs. It was indeed a great era for jazz and for me, as well, as I got to be a part of the continued growth of a fascinating music genre.
additional definitions and pitch test
Pitch: the property of sound that varies with variation in the frequency of vibrations.
Perfect pitch: the ability to hear and identify a note without any musical support
Absolute pitch: same as perfect pitch
Relative pitch: the ability to recogize one pitch with reference to another given pitch
Musical ear: Being able to detect pitch changes and to hear different musical intervals and chords, and even develop the skill to write down music that you are listening to. These abilities may be trained.
gig: live performance