I am a Los Angeles-based twentysomething. I have a profession, and I have a secret life in music, and this blog isn't about any of that. I like Blogger because I can't read what you're thinking.
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Wednesday, June 16
A couple years ago, I was insanely lucky to have scored a job with a few of my jazz musician friends to be the houseband for a new talk show on Telemundo. I even picture-blogged it. I don't know what Telemundo brass were smoking when they hired us, nor did we care, so we were ecstatic beyond belief when we all got the news that we'd be paid (PAID!) musicians.
So much, in fact, that the job came just a few weeks before college finals. I didn't study for sheee-it. Double-in-fact, I showed up to a final, looked at the blue book for 10 seconds, threw it away and walked out like a total bad-ass who didn't need that shit.
That was the most bad-ass I've ever been (and probably ever will be.)
Anyway, the gig is one only a few musicians in the world ever get only because its demands are so drastically specific.
This is why I don't just look up to Paul Shaffer and Kevin Eubanks and whoever else leads talk show housebands; I straight-up APPLAUD them.
You'd probably assume, "Oh, these jazz heads just show up and sight-read pop songs in and out of commercials. Big deal."
BIG DEAL, MY ASS.
It doesn't matter how well you play or what song you play in and out of commercial (INDUSTRY TERM: "LIVE BUMPERS") but HOW PERFECT YOUR TEMPO AND FINAL 4 BARS ARE IN ACCORDANCE TO THE PRODUCER'S "3, 2, 1" CUE.
And, oh my god, it took about 75 tries to get it right.
And that's not including the time it took to write parts, arrange 3.5 minute vamps, or craft up those really bitchin'/clever endings you hear coming back from commercial break (BA-DIGGIDA-DI-DAHH-DI-BAHH-DI-PAH-POWWW!) It was a lot of work, and to do it without the luxury of editing was hard.
After all, the producer for this show was old school and liked to do everything live ("WE'LL DO IT LIVE!") so it was either:
2. A fucking train wreck
And until we could bring a live audience in, it was number 2. A lot.
Much to the band's delight, we got one clearance to play Earth, Wind & Fire's "September" for these "live bumpers," and it would have been great if it weren't always fucked up.
The dumbass producer (INDUSTRY RIMSHOT) always cued us in the middle of the lyric "...Ba-dee-ya / someday you'll reme--"
Eventually we got it. And we did some 10 episodes. And we got canceled pretty abruptly. The host was, in fact, not all that funny. And, in fact, he was a grade-A prick, so I guess it wasn't too bad after all. After that, late night TV was never really the same for me. It was a great experience and I feel super lucky to have had it.