Two weeks ago an opprortunity came up for me to join a pretty good local band. The band is known as a Christian jazz/rack/blues/fusion band, and until the loss of over half the band members (due to job transfers and promotions) they were doing 2-3 gigs per week. After talking with the band leader on the phone, I went over to see him in person. He didn't mention anything about an audition, but I suspected he just might try to surprise me so I warmed up and took my horn anyway. Sure enough, he wanted to hear me play. (I guess this really does not qualify as a formal audition, but to me it was an audition anyway.) After playing a couple of licks for him, he picked up the bass guitar, started playing a rythm, looked at me and said..."I am playing in E. Improvise something" (I think I probably need to work on hiding my thoughts. After thinking..ok...his E...my F#...let's see ...that....HOLY #@$%.....6 SHARPS ) I thought I embarrased myself pretty badly. Lessons learned that day: 1. I really don't know very much when I don't have a printed part in front of me, 2. I need to work in more varied key signatures than I have been, 3. I need to have more material prepared (i.e. memorized) for these little experiences, 4. If I ever want to do anything beyond community orchestra work, I better get to work on all of the above! All in all, it was a very humbling (and very needed) experience. He must have seen something he liked though, because our first rehearsal was Sunday afternoon. We met the other night and went over some of the keyboard work (now I have to start remembering chord structure again...which I have not even THOUGHT about for 20-years!) He also asked me to come up with a jazz trumpet solo part for a song. Given the fact that he had previously said that I wouldn't be playing trumpet much, or at all, for several months, that kind of made my day. It has to be ready by Saturday afternoon. Of course, I have never thought of the hym "A Closer Walk With Thee" as a jazz piece before! I am finding all of this very challenging to say the least! Another lesson learned. After all the trouble over the last two years just trying to find a group of ANY type to play in, I had forgotten just how exciting a real challenge can be! Even if this does not work out, it is going to be a much needed learning experience because it is going to force me to think outside of the box...or ...more appropriately....outside the printed trumpet part!