Subject: Ellis-Band Members April 23, 1968
Dear Band member:
Please forgive the form letter, but there are some thoughts that I would like to share with you and this is the only practical way to do it.
First of all, thank you for sticking with the spirit of the Band through these rather difficult times I don't know exactly why, but it is now obvious that the Monday nights at The Session are not going to make it. So we will do one more and then either our agent will have found a straight scale Monday night or we will start rehearsing again.
Because I realize that you need the income from the possibility of working Monday, I would like to suggest a 6-9 rehearsal time which would enable you to both rehearse and work. The guys that are working days will have to arrange their schedule to either bring a lunch or eat after 9 p.m.
If we start on May 6 this leaves us only 7 Mondays until the tour and we will need every second of rehearsal time we can get. For example, at Newport this year we are in direct competition with Duke, Basie, Woody, and Dizzy's big bands ! We have to really be polished !
In addition, I would like to have section rehearsals each week-(brass, saxes, basses and piano, and percussion). So would you please check off on the enclosed sheet which nights you would NOT be able to make a 6-9 section rehearsal and bring the sheet with you this Sunday.
I would like to mention another area which is on everybody's mind, and that is the current level of our performance; I feel that the rhythm section has really been cooking, but that the level of the concentration in the horns has left something to be desired. To play a book as difficult as we have requires everyone's absolute attention all the time. We cannot afford to let up for an instant.
To get specific: the Tihai is not a hard chart (except for the coda)--the Youth Band has no trouble reading it down -- I rehearsed it for a few days in Germany and gave a flawless performance in concert -- we have rehearsed it perhaps more than any other chart--it has been in the book for almost a year --we just recorded it-- and we've been playing it every Monday night for months-- and yet we will get to certain sections and fall apart almost every time. I have yet to hear a sparkling performance of this chart. Everyone knows how it goes, and I trust that if anyone has any trouble technically with any passage he long ago wrote out the passage and practices it regularly at home. So the only reason it does not usually come off is just one of simple concentration.
For example, on those long notes behind the trumpet solo, if anyone lets his mind wander for a minute he is dead. It is important to count and concentrate. This is only one extended example. You all know several others. I only hope that I can inspire each and everyone of you to do your absolute best ALL the time! Because when we are right there is not a band in the world that can touch us!
This Sunday will give us a chance (barring a blizzard) to really get into things and play under optimum conditions. So please work on the charts we will be doing and for all our sakes give me everything you've got in musicianship, attention, and spirit.
Remember -- the rehearsal begins Sunday at 12:30 p.m., and since no one is coming from another gig (with the possible exception of Magruder) there is no reason for us not to start then. With that extra effort from everyone it will be twice as enjoyable musically and socially for all of us.
This letter will self-destruct in five seconds.