Student musician tells of experience with Moores Opera House
Noon in the Moores Opera House:
The Moores School Jazz Orchestra sound checks with Afshin, the engineer for most events that occur at the Opera
House. This is our band’s first rehearsal time in “the house.”
After the rhythm section (piano, double bass, guitar and drums) gets their levels for the monitors right, I get a microphone and negotiate where the solo horn mic will go for Cameron, the trumpeter on “Mean To Me,” the chart that I get to sing on. We are going to “trade 8’s” which means that at one point in the solo section, we trade eight measures improvising. He goes, I go, he goes, I go. By the end of the solo section, we both are improvising. Small as it may seem, having the right mics in the right place or the right stand makes all the difference. Tonight, we will have extra reeds, so the stage will be more crowded than usual. The band is playing an Aaron Lington (UH alumni) tune that calls for clarinet and trumpet. The band does some stops and starts and “gets used to the room.”
Because it’s Wednesday, I don’t pick my daughter up from school, so I am able to try and get in some last minute preparations. I head home and get comfort food in the form of chicken spring rolls and a stout iced coffee. I tweet, spend a little time on jazzhouston.com and tell myself “I am not going on spacebook, I’m not going on spacebook!” Half an hour later, I finally log off Facebook and take a short nap.
After quick trip to the cleaners, I get shined up and put on all black.
7 p.m. call time:
I wait outside for my former wife to drop off my daughter, Hailey. She plays trumpet, and I like her to get to see as many of these Opera House concerts as possible. It’s 7:08 p.m., and they still aren’t here. My wife-to-be is arriving at any minute, and I’m ready to go back stage and hopefully play a few notes on my trombone before the show. My daughter finally arrives and shortly thereafter, Melissa makes it, and I’m on my own.
The Moores School Jazz Ensemble is the department’s second biggest band, and in the past few years has gotten so good that it plays a full set to open up for the jazz concerts. I have consumed lots of Topo Chico by this point and added to the iced coffee, I had to make this tough decision: last-minute (literally) bathroom run. I make this decision contingent on the fact that the solo section of the MSMJE’s last tune is long enough to allow me to run down the hall before our downbeat. On tonight’s concert, I don’t have a break tune. Sometimes, I am able to sit out on a tune and take a breather, but our lead trombonist, Tim Dueppen, is off on an orchestra gig audition, so we all take turns filling that roll of playing lead.
The solo section was long enough.
Getting the music in order is key since I am playing three roles in the concert: trombonist, pianist and vocalist. Fortunately, tonight’s program has me staying on the same instrument a few times. I am not the only one in the band switching chairs. Our trombone section alternates part assignments, and the tenor saxophone section also makes some changes. All told, the rhythm section has three pianists, four guitarists, two drummers and two bassists.
It was a great performance, one of the best I’ve been in at MSM. And I’ve been here a good while.