Monday, October 19, 2009

Stage Etiquette

Blog #29: Stage Etiquette

I was playing a show last month in Brooklyn with my band and had a very interesting conversation afterward with my friend that was in the audience. He told me that he knew exactly when I was unhappy with what the band was playing just from watching my face and body language. This really got me thinking about how musicians handle themselves on stage.

I'll have to admit, I have never put a lot of thought into this subject. When I am on stage I am fully focused on the music and not really thinking about how the audience is viewing me. When I think my band members are fucking up the music, it bothers me. I don't get mad at the musicians or anything like that, its more that I wish we could have gone over things better in rehearsal. I guess, its the perfectionist in me, and when we're playing my original music, I am VERY picky, because I know what it is supposed to sound like.

If I think someone in my band isn't giving their all, this pisses me off too. I want everyone on stage to be emotionally invested in what we're doing. If they make mistakes that's cool(and should be encouraged) as long as they are really going for something, but I don't tolerate people just 'phoning it in' or just 'going through the motions'.

All this is fine and good, but I have to start masking some of these feelings better on stage. These things should be discussed after the show. If the audience sees that I'm not happy with the performance, this might affect their opinion of the music.


Years ago a friend told me I have the tendency of 'slinking' off after I solo, which apparently gives the appearance of 'lack of confidence'. I always viewed it as, 'getting out of the way' so the next soloist/the band could take center stage. Hopefully I've put that bad habit to rest.

I remember back to the days of playing in Funk bands in college, the horn section used to talk and mess around while the members of the rhythm section were soloing. This is something I would never do now because it is pretty disrespectful. Back then, I was playing music I did not care about, and it showed in my stage behavior. Now, I like to think I'm a lot more professional.


I've had people tell me over the years that I need to talk more to the audience between songs. I'm kind of conflicted on this one. I know a lot of very successful musicians that are great at telling stories about the songs, talking to the audience and making small talk. I could explain the deep meaning behind the tunes, but a lot of this stuff is pretty personal, and I'm a very introverted person. Big speeches have never been my strong suit. I guess I wish it could just be about the music and not about smooth talking, looking good, and winning a beauty contest.

I'm an artist, not a politician; to me the music speaks for itself.

After the conversation with my friend, I think its important to think about how we as musicians carry ourselves on stage. We should remain respectful to the audience and fellow musicians, while remaining true to ourselves. Sometimes its good to take a step back and self-analyse how we're conducting ourselves and not just the music we make. In the end though, how we handle ourselves on stage and represent ourselves is for each of us to decide.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Advertising and the College Market

Blog #28: Advertising and The College Market

So now that the album is finished I've been trying to get the word out.

Here is where I've advertised so far:

email to friends/fans

myspace message

myspace 'bulletin' forum announcement forum announcement

Different 'groups' on facebook

Facebook messages to friends/fans


I've also sent CDs to be reviewed at

Jazz Times

I've sold some CD's through these different approaches but so far nothing compares to playing a show and selling copies afterwards. It seems like that's the time I sell the most CDs.

At the moment I am also doing some research into possibly playing at Colleges in the future. I had a flyer/postcard made that I'm going to send to Colleges and see if I can get some gigs. Playing for colleges intrigues me, because Jazz Clubs outside of New York are generally pretty musically conservative(Jazz Clubs in New York are very clicky). My music is modern but not avant garde. This kind of middle ground makes it kind of difficult to find venues that cater to this. There are a lot of jazz clubs that feature nothing but straight-ahead jazz and a lot of performance spaces that feature Avant garde music, but not a lot that are really open to creative instrumental music that doesn't fit into a specific box.

Colleges, and young people in general, are pretty open to different things, so I'm curious to see how gigs at Colleges go over. So far I've called a bunch of schools and gotten mailing address for 'Student Activities' and have sent some flyers. We'll see what happens.

I'm looking forward to the hustle and trying to figure out this whole 'business' thing. It is a new challenge.


Buy the CD at:

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Questions and Thank-you's

John Beaty-Alto Sax, photo by Monica Muller

Blog # 27: Questions and Thank-you's

I've had a couple people ask me this questions so I thought I'd field it on this blog.

"I was really surprised listening to your album, you didn't solo on the first track;'Connections or on the song "Right Now'"?

I actually spent a lot of time before going into the studio thinking about if I was going to solo on every track(I'm sure most people would have assumed I would, but I tend to question everything). I decided that I really wanted to make a record that showcased "The Jon Crowley Quintet", and not just "Jon Crowley". I'm really proud of this group of young New York City musicians that I've been playing with for the past few years and wanted this record to be about "us" as a whole.

The composer and conceptualizer in me wanted to give the record as much variety as possible, both in song/feels/tempos and in soloists. Each track generally has two soloists, for two reasons, firstly because I didn't want the songs to 'drag on' at all, and secondly because I wanted to feature a lot of my compositions on this record.

Putting the song 'Connections' first, a song that I do not solo on, I think sends my message that this record will be about the band and not just about me soloing, (though I do get a lot of solo space throughout the record)

"In another blog, You mentioned there is another harmony line for trombone for Decision, why isn't it on the record?"

I originally thought about having Joe Beaty play trombone on Decision. Joe is my sax player John's twin Brother. Unfortunately, Joe was having open heart surgery during the second day of the recording. (The surgery went great and Joe no longer has any heart problems). Obviously we were all concerned about Joe, but I was also worried about John and even thought about getting someone else to replace him, he assured me he'd be fine. John even played a gig out of town the night before the first day of recording and got back to New York at 5 am that morning. I was pretty worried that he wouldn't be able to play. (I even had back-up material planned in case John was too physically and emotionally out-of-it to play).

John really proved me wrong, not only did he show up and play his ass off, he was probably the most consistent guy on the session. SO, big props and thanks to John Beaty: dude is a warrior and a beast of a musician.

"What equipment are you playing on the record?"

I am playing a Bach 43 Strad. Trumpet with a Bach 5C mouthpiece and a Kanstul 1525 Flugelhorn with a Bach 5A mouthpiece. I have played this same equipment for the past 8 years, recently however I have switched to a Monette B6 mouthpiece for trumpet.

The Mic I used for the recording was previously owned by John Coltrane, given to Systems two by Ravi Coltrane.