It’s interesting how you can get inspiration and ideas from the strangest/oddest places. The other day I was watching a re-run of an episode of Seinfeld called The Burning. One of the plots in this particular episode is of George Costanza finding the comedic power of leaving on a high note. He would be in a social situation where he would make someone laugh and in an attempt to keep the momentum going he would spout out another joke. Unfortunately, that joke would not be as funny as his first. That inevitably caused an awkward moment. So, George decides he needs to leave on a high note. As you can probably guess (if you’re not already familiar with the episode), it works wonders for him.
As I was sitting watching that episode it reminded me of a few Jazz jam sessions (and live performances) I have attended or been a part of. I lost track of how many times I’ve seen that same correlation with musicians. You hear a great improvised solo start out and then after a little while you think, “that probably could have ended a chorus or two ago.” I will admit it. I’ve been that person a time or two as well. There’s something inside of us as human beings that we want to keep the momentum going. We want to one-up ourselves or make the next “thing” better than the first. But, it leaves the audience with a less than desirable taste in their mouths. Instead, they leave thinking it was just ok.
Let’s take a cue from George Costanza. As we improvise on the bandstand-why not aim to try to leave on a high note? Obviously, we don’t want to swing the pendulum from one end to the other. It’s probably not wise to play a solo with one idea and take your bow. But, there’s nothing wrong with playing one or two GOOD choruses and leave it at that. Especially at a jam session! There’s nothing wrong with saying it like George: “Alright! That’s it for me!”
Below is a quick clip I found to show you part of the episode.
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Jason Klobnak is a versatile trumpet player that has been performing as an active musician, author, clinician, composer and educator. His band, J's Ruckus, is Denver's blend of Post-Bop, Soul, Gospel, and Hip-Hop. They perform infectious and up-lifting originals for audiences hungry for a memorable live experience. J's Ruckus released their latest album, Suck Less, in March of 2020 and their first EP, Sermons, in July of 2019. Both were recorded live in front of an audience. Suck Less was recorded to a packed auditorium at Arapahoe Community College's Waring Theater in Littleton, CO. Sermons was recorded in front of a sold out crowd at the Soiled Dove Underground. The JKQ (the Jason Klobnak Quintet/Quartet) is Mr. Klobnak's Hammond B-3 centered groups. The JKQ released their third full-length album in March of 2018 called Friends & Family. It has been very well reviewed, on numerous Top 10 lists for Jazz radio stations across the country (including Denver's KUVO 89.3FM which named it May 2018's CD of the month), and in Jazzweek's Top 100. Each composition was written for specific family and close friends (that might as well be family). Their second album, New Chapter, was recorded in part thanks to the Pathways to Jazz Grant from the Boulder County Arts Alliance. In 2015 and 2016, New Chapter was in the Top 75 on the Jazzweek charts and on the Top 10 playlists for over a dozen radio stations worldwide. Their first album, Mountain, Move made the Best Recordings of 2013 list from AllAboutJazz.com by C. Michael Bailey. His very well reviewed Christmas single, Hark the Herald, in 2016 as part of a creative project with musicians James Roberson and Nathaniel Kearney Jr. Besides the JKQ, Mr. Klobnak is a B.A.C. (Best American Craftsman-custom trumpet), Denis Wick (mouthpiece and mutes) and Westone Audio endorsed artist (ES20 and Tru Customs). Mr. Klobnak has played and recorded for numerous groups ranging from jazz, soul/R&B, indie-rock/pop and gospel. In addition to performing, he has also written two improvisation-based books called Targeting: Improvisation With Purpose and Breaking the Monotony and is currently an adjunct professor and brass instructor at Arapahoe Community College. Mr. Klobnak holds a bachelor degree from Drake University (Des Moines, IA) and a Master’s degree from the University of Denver, Lamont School of Music (Denver, CO).
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