November 1, 2014: Mick Foster

Many thanks to Mick Foster for an unusual session in which we covered:

(Won’t You Come Home) Bill Bailey” by Hughie Cannon.

Mick first taught us a chord sequence which was later identified as the “Bill Bailey,” which we were then given the lead sheet for.

The importance of being able to take head and interpret it and embellish it was discussed by use various techniques such as grace notes, delay, anticipation, changing note values, fills and enclosures  especially with reference to how a traditional jazz band might treat it.

The co-op members had a chance to try out a bit of interpretation before the roles of the instrumentation of a traditional jazz band was discussed. Particularly the role of the clarinet that would tend to take the role of obbligato tending to provide support melody/arpeggios for the main instrument.

The co-op group was split into smaller groups of three or four each of which took it in turn to give a performance of Bill Bailey in a traditional jazz style.

After the break, free group improvisation was discussed and various games were used to facilitate it. The first game was that everyone would play the shortest note possible on their instrument with the idea that you would play that note when there was space. This created an interesting interaction between everyone where a groove was trying to force its way through but couldn’t quite make it.

A second game was to play a single longest note possible, again playing it when you thought it was appropriate.

A third game was that only three people could play simultaneously using single short or long notes.

Finally, the co-op was split into trios or quartets, each of which performed a piece of free improvisation using any of the rules above. Each group had quite a different feel to them.


Many thanks to Mick for a different kind of session.