If you Hear Something, Say Something

I’m sure many of you that read this blog are familiar with the Miles album My Funny Valentine Plus Four and More, the live one at Lincoln Center. On the track Stella by Starlight, during the top of one of Miles’ solo choruses he plays and F# on the E half-diminished chord and there’s a person in the crowd that screams yeah. Now I don’t about you, but to me that was a feel-good moment. That record was one of the first Miles records that I owned (thanks BMG, R.I.P.) when I was in high school. At the time I didn’t think that it was okay to voice sounds of approval at intimate concerts like this one. This one person made it okay to feel like it was okay. I remember rewinding that one particular moment and wondering what it was that Miles played which cause this person to call out. I just think that that note really resonated with him, causing him to speak uncontrollably. So my question is how many of us have experienced this? How many of us have experienced this but have held back in fear of disturbing the experience for others? Let me be the first to say that it’s not cool to ruin another audience members listening experience, but I think that it’s okay to aver a sound of joy to a performer if you hear something that touches you right at that moment.

If you know me as a concertgoer, you know that I can become quite vocal when I hear something that touches me. Throughout my years of doing this I don’t ever remember receiving any snide looks from anyone, so I think that it’s okay. I consider it to be a transfer of energy from the audience to the band. Bands, especially today, really need this. For me as a performer it’s a good feeling to hear these sounds every once in a while and I gain more inspiration to play my best at all times when I experience this. I don’t think that it’s an ego-stroke per se, but more of a subtle approval from someone that you are well on your way towards “speaking” in this music, as opposed to only playing the changes, etc.

So my plea to all of you is to speak up if you hear something that you like from a performer in real time. You don’t have to wait until their solo is over to do so. They’re probably going to take 30 more choruses after that special moment anyway, lol!!

Swing it out!

J.P.

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13 Responses to “If you Hear Something, Say Something”

  1. Amen, JP! I’m always amazed that people can keep still and keep it in! I’m like you, I hoot, holler and shout my approval all the way.

    In my circle here in Seattle, the term most often used in those moments is ‘Whoa!” When I hear that from the band or the audience I know I’m touching people in some way, and as you say, it makes me strive to do more!

    • Yes J, we’ve got a lot of whoas out here on the east coast too. I think it’s a universal exclamation for some reason. I hope you are well and are enjoying the newly married life!!

      All the best,

      J.P.

  2. I loved that “yeaaaaaaaah” on Stella too! (There was an urban legend going around when I was at school that it was Elvin Jones.) I still holler some times if the spirit moves me but I try to be sympathetic to the people sitting around me (especially the one I live with).

  3. I can happily attest that people who catch Brian Blade and the Fellowship Band in a small room can’t help but holler and whoop…

    http://communities.canada.com/ottawacitizen/blogs/jazzblog/archive/2008/06/18/road-trip-brian-blade-and-the-fellowship-band.aspx

    • Yes, Peter, the Fellowship has heard me scream a many time. They’re probably my favorite group to see live, especially when the complete core group in intact (Brian, Jon, Myron, Melvin, Chris, and Kurt)! Hope that you are well!

      J.P.

  4. Dan Frankowski Says:

    Yeah, I can always feel the difference between someone who is making noise because they’re into it, and someone who’s making noise because they are not (say, talking on a cellphone or to their friend). Former is fun, latter is annoying.

  5. Sequoia Campbell Says:

    I had one of those Stella moments last month at the Wayne Shorter show @ NEC in Jordan Hall. Wayne was playing soprano and hit this note that I swear pulled the word “yeaaaaaah” right out of my mouth! Needless to say the people around me were a bit shocked. C’mon yall, just because there was an orchestra backing Wayne doesn’t mean ya gotta treat it like you’re @ Symphony Hall watching the BSO. Let it ring!!!

    • I hear that Sequoia!! I wish I could have attended the Wayne concert. I’ve heard nothing but great things about that concert. I would come to expect a reaction like that in Jordan Hall. The atmosphere of that community fosters that kind of reaction and it’s sad to see.

      Keep on doing the do!!

      J.P.

  6. Thaddeus Ford Says:

    This was very interesting Jason, albeit sort of odd to me. Well, I shouldn’t say odd but it intrigued me, nonetheless. Being from New Orleans, I really thought that this was the norm. I’ve been all over the world and realize that different cultures “appreciate” art in different ways. I guess because the vocal approval that you speak of is so innate in me and I do it everywhere I go, I kind of lost sight of the fact that it isn’t the norm for every one. I do agree that when done spontaneously and with tact, it does create a different energy in the room. I say with tact because I’ve experienced people doing it for other reasons than genuine approval of performance.

  7. J,
    There is a Cosby show episode where Bill Cosby says it was him who did the yell. I don’t know from what year, but he says it for sure.

    That being said…… YEAH!!!!!!!

  8. King Salim Says:

    I agree!!!!! I can’t sit and be cool when I hear something good. I have to let the performer know that I feel what he/she is saying. I hate when people look back at me like you shouldn’t do that!

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