I'm Tony Miceli, and I'm a vibe player in Philadelphia, Pa. I play, teach and I run

Wednesday, September 28, 2005


I'm getting ready for a Monk gig this Friday. I have a band called Monkadelphia and we played steady every Sunday for about 2.5 years. Since then we've done a few gigs the last one being about a year ago i think. I figured I'd just jump back into the tunes just like other standards. No frickin' way. I feel like an imposter today!! Have you heard some of his harder tunes? Skippy, Trinkle, Off Minor.

Playing Monk is not like playing anyone elses music! At least for me. It seems like you have to always be into Monk and working on Monk. I regret now letting him slip like I did.

Anybody have similar experiences? It's a whole different world.

I heard they found a set of lost tapes from the band with Coltrane. The album is going to be released this week I think.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Cornell Rochester

Spent the last several days working on a project with some amazing musicians. The one who really blew me away was Cornell Rochester. What an amazing drummer. I found a few things on the internet about him. He's a Philly guy but I don't see him around too much. However if you're a drummer check him out he's one Bad Ass drummer.

The leader was Adam's Unsworth French horn player from the Philly Orchestra. He's in the movie 'From the Inside Out'. He wrote some amazing music and played Beautiful.

Les Thigger (sp?) played flute, alto flute and bass clarinet. He's the head of the musica and jazz department at Univesity of Wisconson. He played great!

Ranaan Meyer grad from Curtis another classical guys that crosses over into jazz.

The one and only Dianne Monroe, violinist extraorinaire.

Though I think for most of us the highlight was Cornell. Check him out. I hope to do a podcast of him. He has some cool stuff to say about music and drumming.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Check out what this photographer did!

I was on a session today, 6 musicians. French horn, violin, bass clarinet, flute, bass, vibes and drums. About 15 mics all set up. The photographer comes in to take pictures. The engineer is in the booth setting stuff up. The photographer is moving the mics out of the way to get the 'perfect' shot!

The engineer is getting levels and wondering why everybody sounds like shit. He comes out into the room and she's moved stuff all over the place. The bass mic is touching the ceiling!

He really gave it to her, and then I did something dumb. But that's on another blog, my vibe blog.

1 club 3 groups and tonight 1 club 2 goups

So last week at the gig i was playing, 3 bands showed up for the same gig. This week 2 bands showed up for the same gig! Believe it or not. Same club, triple booked and tonight double booked.

We're getting paid. Pretty Unbelievable huh? One time I was double booked and both bands were in front of the manager trying to figure out who would get the gig for the night. One of the musicians in the other band was really uptight. I assumed he was coked out. So I knew if the band I was with stayed calm, this other guy would blow up and we'd get the gig.

We talked for a while, this guy is getting more and more uptight. I could see sweat! I knew I was a few minutes away from setting my stuff up. Our guy was talking very calmly. I said to my buddy, we got this gig. A couple minutes later the musician in the other band goes, "This is fucked up" and then to the club owner "You fucked this up".

Bam, club owner said 'you guys get out of here', 'you guys (us) set up'. It was totally the club owners fault. At this point though, it was not the time to Bitch. Actually we were fair, we were requesting that the owner pay our money plus half and then we'd all split the bread. He's lose some and we'd lose some. The best comprimise we could think of. That other guy was pissed. No way. So we played and got paid. The other guy had to go find coke money from somewhere else.

So no gig tonight!

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Whether you're a guitar player or not!!!!! check this out!

get to the jam part. it's really cool

Sunday, September 18, 2005

1 club, 3 groups, and Leroy Brown

How do you do those stupid gigs. Man the people, noisy, yelling, drunk. You know the type, a bunch of guys screaming in the corner. Screaming everything they're saying. Laughing at everything.

People asking for the dumbest tunes ever, and you have to look back and smile and explain to them that you're a 'jazz' band. They don't get it, they just look back wondering why you're NOT talented enough to play 'Leroy Brown'. You could tell them you're much more talented then that, in fact to show them how talented you are you'll play 'Giant Steps' for them. Then they won't get it. They'll just look back and want they're stupid tune. On a gig once a guy asked for 'Feelings' I said we couldn't do it. He looked back with a F*&^ck you tone and said 'Oh yeah, my brother can play it'.

If it's my gig I usually try and say that a tune has a price. Like ok, Leroy Brown is a 75 dollar tune. Give me 75 bucks and I'll play your stupid tune, you stupid idiot. That way you can make some money. One night I pulled in another 180 bucks for the band doing that. It was a trio so the bread was cool. the music sucked.

One of my friends just got a permit for a gun. If I would have that gun, I'd probably use the gun on a gig like that. It makes sense to me. The judge would totally understand, wouldn't he?

I'd say, 'You're honor, we were playing jazz, really pretty stuff, having a good time. Then this drunk asshole came up to us and asked for Leroy Brown. So I shot him, in the head'. The judge would shake his head and say 'Yeah, what an asshole', and then just tell me to be careful where I play. I'd go home and the world would be a better place.

Shit if we can go to Iraq and kill people why can't musicians kill stupid people who ask for stupid songs!

In fact to make things worse, the clubowner triple booked the gig!!! I see my buddy in the parking lot and he tells me they were booked, but since the piano player (my group) came from far away the club owner was giving them the gig.

However there was yet a third group there. A single piano player. She told him to go home cause the piano player I was playing for came the farthest (nice way to decide who gets the gig). That piano player started to cry!!! So she let him stay and play on the deck outside. So cry when your band is double booked. Maybe get the whole band to cry.

Hey this club owner booked bands by writing the names on a sticky and putting it on the date in the calendar. So what happens when the sticky falls off and she doesn't notice it?? She books the gig AGAIN. That's what happens and that's what she told my buddies band. She said she thinks she's going to have to get another system. She's real smart.

Menawhile the place is packed, parking lot full and one band is going home without money. Some bozo who was crying about losing a gig is playing on the deck outside. I'm working with this really nice talented piano playing inside trying to explain to people that we're just playing jazz, no we can't ACDC tunes.

2005 and someone is requesting 'Leroy Brown'.

Oh yeah, we were in Jersey, my home state.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Ear Training Classes

We're going to run some beta Ear Training classes here at Larrysimprovpage. Are you interested? the courses will most likely be for beginners to start. Email me if you're interested

Thursday, September 15, 2005

What's Going to Happen to the Scene

I don't have a TV. I didn't even know about the damage that the hurricane did until I heard someone say that Fats Domino was missing. At that point I thought damn, all those musicians and all those gigs.

I'm 45 and I can not imagine starting over my pathetic career somewhere else. How many jazz scenes are there in the states anyway? New York, LA..... I live in Philly, we have a pathetic scene where the weeknight gigs are paying 'the Door' now. A bass player friend of mine Chris Berg said there's a scene in Ohio. Really? What's up with that? Maybe it's something in there water. Hard to believe though that there is a scene there.

So now all the musicians must relocate and find work. This means the scene gets a little smaller. I remember when we had several jazz clubs in Philly. It seemed like you could usually have a few dates a month playing some music and get paid something for it.

We're basically down to 2 clubs. Chris' and Ortliebs. So it's much harder to get a jazz gig than before. Chris' is adopting an exclusive policy starting in January. That means you have to have a cd out and distributed nationally or be in the Penguin Who's Who book of jazz. So that got even harder to play there.

I think we better think about the audience a little more and figure out how to reach them. Right, it's simply supply and demand. Either someone likes the music or they don't. It they don't like it why should they come out and listen to it?

I remember people saying that smoothe jazz was going to help out the jazz scene. I really don't think it did, so I'm not saying sell out, I'm just saying think about the audience.

Someway somehow we have to expand the scene again. Where's that miracle or idea that gets a few more people into jazz??

So if the hurricane took a scene away then we've got to make some more room. Do think the New Orleans scene will be the way it was when it comes back? I bet they're going to kick all the poor people out and rebuild it to make money. Get your watered down Dixieland chops together. Maybe it will be one huge Disneyland. Or maybe it will be back the way it was. That's hard for me to believe.

Regardless the scene just got a little smaller and how are we going to adapt to it.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Dont Teach Bebop! It's Dead!

What am I missing here? I was told to consider not teaching improv going back as far as Charlie Parker and even Hank Mobley and Sonny. Does that mean Coltrane?

I mean I don't go back to Louie Armstrong when I teach. I also don't listen to a ton of him. However, I have and I do listen to him just not as much as I listen to guys from Parker forward. I play vibes and I also don't listen to alot of Hampton. I probably should check him out more but it's managing time with me.

So was this guy implying that Parker and his vocabulary has gone the way of Louie Armstrong? I don't get that at all. There's swing and then there's Bebop. I think Bebop took swing to a whole new level, developing the language to it's fullest (without going 'out').

And beside bebop is Bach. There's no difference to me. It's as heavy as Bach and even Mozart. In fact I really believe that Bach would totally get Bebop Immediately. Hands down. In my mind I have this crazy notion that Charlie Parker is actually Bach reincarnated.

There are certain styles and periods of classical music that get looked over and then some that get considerable attention when teaching. In jazz I would just assume that teaching Bebop is like teaching Bach in classical music. AND Bach is over 300 years old!

If you don't understand Bebop at some level then how can you understand jazz. If I don't teach students Bebop then where do I start, and how do I teach them?

Is it an age thing with me?