"Peace, Love & Understanding" - Big Sam's Funky Nation

"Peace, Love & Understanding'" (PDF) from the Big Sam's Funky Nation album, Peace, Love & Understanding.
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This appears to be the last trombone solo on the album, and fittingly enough it is the shortest solo in length.  I have been holding on to my criticism of Big Sam's playing until I finished studying this album, and my conclusion is that he does not play enough.  Big Sam brings an awesome potential to the trombone and could spend even more time in the spotlight.

This is not to suggest that the quality of his playing needs improvement, but rather that it is his band and his show, therefore, his trombone playing deserves to upstage the rest of his band.  For instance, Trombone Shorty has an impressive band of musicians behind him, but whenever he plays his horn(s), all eyes are on him.  And yet, this Big Sam solo is a nice display of melodic phrasing, descending over the chord changes using an explosive tone, all this within the span of eight bars.  Indeed there is something to be said about only playing "just enough" and to "leave 'em begging for more," but playing too little makes the audience question exactly what is so special about the performance.

And thus, Big Sam's answer to these questions is in his dancing.  If he is not playing or singing, Big Sam is dancing, a direct link to New Orleans culture and its willingness to embrace music as a natural and essential part of life.  But in broader terms, Big Sam knows that his role is to put on a visually entertaining show by the simple fact the he is on a stage.  If you ever watch footage of James Brown's large band, you will notice that even with a dozen other people on stage, the horn section is always moving its feet.  At the very least, the audience deserves something worth watching, so make an extra effort to give the audience a pleasant distraction from the "real world," and hopefully something that they will remember.

Here's a YouTube video of Big Sam performing his tune, "See Me Dance."  How appropriate, not much trombone, plenty of dancing.

Recommended Reading:  That Is All by John Hodgman.  Published by Penguin Group, Inc.