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  • Nick Drozdoff

First Variable D Project - My 1980 Demo of Besame Mucho

Recently, I've been reading Steve Wiest's arrangement of Besame Mucho with Chicago local big bands. It is a very tough tune to sight read, and the bands I play with are what are known as "rehearsal bands" or "reading bands." Basically, these are groups of good musicians getting together to read through big band repertoire in an effort to keep their hands in the game and to keep the music alive, or at least in life support.

There is a tendency to get into a rut - covering the same material over and over again. It's fun and the band can sound good without an outside rehearsal. The notion that the band is "rehearsing" publicly is actually not an accurate assessment of the situation. These are actually casual performances. As a result, there can be some inertia, at best, or an out and out resistance to trying to play new stuff. That makes sense, since nobody wants to look bad in front of an audience.

It has been nice of the guys in the three bands recently to indulge me in reading this chart, particularly because it does feature a trumpet solo. At this point in my musical life, I am totally unafraid of trying new stuff in front of a friendly audience (most of our fans come out no matter what happens) and falling flat on my face. Jazz music brings an element of risk with it that adds to the excitement. However, I have to be mindful of my PEERS feelings. THEY my not share the same light hearted attitude about going out on a limb and it isn't fair for me to drag them out there if that isn't what they are there for. So, I have concluded that I have to be very careful about pushing things like this. Yeah, I can be overly eager, but I have always been that way. As a more seasoned me, I need to temper that eagerness, a bit.

This is a big piece of what the Variable D Postulate ensemble is all about. We're going to do video performances that, while are actual performances, are carefully prepped, rehearsed and slickly recorded. I want EVERYONE on the band to feel good about the final product.

So, what about the title of this blog? Well, last night in the usual post gig hang, one of my fellow trumpeters (Paul Basa - a Chicago area pro) mentioned going online to listen to other versions of Besame Mucho. In his search process, he ran across my old demo tape. He was quite complimentary. OK, Paul is a long time friend, and I feel he is just being nice, considering the dated stylistic aspect of the chart. Also, the tape from which this clip was made, was seriously degraded. Again, Paul is a nice guy.

The history of this demo is as follows. I was engaged to be married in early 1980. My fiance wanted to help me make a demo, so we hired the great arranger/trombone-player of the time, Chris Lay (Chris is now a lawyer) to write a short - less than two minute - demo chart to allow me to show off my skill sets of the time (that did not include improvisation, so no open blowing). He came up with a mix of Mendez and Maynard for brass and rhythm section. We hired a couple of trombone players, a french horn player and a rhythm section and went out to Bobbie Thomas' recording studio in Lombard and laid this down. I overdubbed all the trumpet parts. Here is the clip I have on Youtube for promotional purposes.

That should cover the history.

After my conversation with Paul I had, I had a bit of a bug in my ear all night. When I woke up this morning, I had the idea to re-record this demo and make a video project of it. I will just over dub the trumpet parts, to keep my expenses down. I will hire a trombone player from my crew and a rhythm section. The idea will be to put my current spin on it and bring the rhythm section up to date - get away from that old 80's disco groove! I already have some ideas about where to go with that.

My projects tend to move at a glacial pace. Writing blogs, doing podcasts and now running a studio band are a lot of plates to keep in the air, when you also factor in 4 hours of practice per day. I'm doing this all by myself - no MD or engineers. However, once I get going, it slowly comes into focus.

So, this is to announce the launch of the first mini project for the Variable D Postulate large ensemble: a reboot of my 1980 demo recording of Besame Mucho.

Believe me, I will let everyone know when it is done!

Respectfully submitted,

Nick DRozdoff

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