Ultimate Embarrassment!!!


Platinum Member
Well I just came off an interesting gig. Lately I have been hanging and playing with Dave Brubeck's oldest son the piano player Darius Brubeck while he has been a Fulbright professor here in Romania. Tonight was his last gig here because his residency is over and he's going back home in the morning. We were playing at one of the main Bucharest clubs where the owner has been experimenting with this big screen that he uses most times to play old videos of the famous jazz people who have played at his club. Unfortunanetly I had no idea the set up could be used for other things. I just learned about all this the hard way.

The gig started off solid. We always end by playing several of Darius's dad's most famous songs, and I was mostly happy with how the first tune In Your Own Sweet Way went down. Then the most shocking thing happened. Suddenly there was this announcement about some big surprise and how everybody should watch the screen.

Suddenly I look over and there is the 90 year old Dave Brubeck live via teleconference looking over like Big Brother. Darius then announces that we were going to play his dad's 2 most famous hits Blue Rondo Ala Turk and Take 5. Apparently Dave could not see us but he could hear everything. I can never remember a time in my life when I was ever nervous, but when all that happened I froze cold.

Darius took Blue Rondo a little slower than usual and that was good. Thankfully there were no problems at all. Then we when we played Take 5, you guessed it///

I tanked the drum solo.

For a while now I've had this decent solo all worked up that has a lot of nice twists and turns and although it's not always the same every night, for obvious reasons I usually play it close to the script. Well tonight I couldn't think of anything and played a lot of rickety garbage that embarrassed the living crap out of me. When it was over I got a nice applause that was totally undeserved, while Mr. Dave made these polite comments about the solo, how I was the youngster etc. It wasn't even close to what had been going down recently with that tune and I was pretty mortified.

Later everybody made these polite comments, asked how I felt about playing that for Dave Brubeck/// and of course I said the political stuff. But that was probably the most embarrassing thing ever. Later I laughed with the bass player who joked that now I get to screw up on a much higher level.

Oh well, I obviously have a long way yet to go. And yeah this will end up being a good thing later I'm sure. But right now it certainly qualifies for ultimate embarrassment status.

Sometimes I'll read threads here where a guy will talk about blowing his Guitar Center drumoff solo and how bad they feel about that. Well all I've got to say is top this for embarrassment.

A learning experience for sure.

Funky Crêpe

Silver Member
shackin up about it now, in five years when you're playing with the greats you will look back and laugh Matt! Whatever about the screw up, what an experience to play for Dave Brubeck. I am sure it would have been nice to play an awesome solo for the man, but it's not like it was an audition for an major group you know. That was probably the most surprising thing that could have happened, recognise that, and when something big happens at a really big moment, then you will be ready!Big moment, yes, but it seemed like a pretty relaxed informal thing. Was it the first time you played at the venue? After all, you have been playing around the city for a while yes? So the main players in the city should already know what you're about


Platinum Member
Matt, from what I've heard I find it hard to imagine you stuffing up on kit. Still I take your word for it that what you did was sub-optimal.

I know how lame it feels to be damned with faint (and, worse, encouraging) praise. I'm sure you could imagine Dave thinking, "Talented kid, but it just goes to show that Joe's The Man".

Suddenly finding yourself playing for Dave Brubeck sounds daunting. On the bright side, at least you nailed Blue Rondo, which is far from an easy number, so that was some proof to you that you can produce under sudden pressure.

BTW, weird that Bucharest has such a flourishing jazz scene while the west is so focused on pop.

Michael G

Silver Member
I tanked a Take 5 solo before.

I chose to go no piano backing, big mistake. I've seen Joe do it and thought I'd give it a try. Unfortunately I had no where near the ability to keep inner ability 5/4 time by myself, and after a minute into it, it got messy.

Worst part: It was at a drum jam the night before a drum show, meaning, the ENTIRE audience was filled with drummers. Worst feeling ever.


Staff member
Matt, you're human, it happens, & DB knows that. Stuffing up at just the moment in your life when you can least afford to do so, is something that's likely to happen at some stage. Fallibility is a superb counter to self hype. A grounding experience indeed, but at least one with a sprinkling of humor in the story. No lasting damage, & I'm sure it wasn't the train crash you portray.


Senior Member
Sounds like everything else in the songs went well Matt. I'm sure he realized you were nervous when you hit the solo.

Hopefully you dinged his son with a, "You could have given me some notice.!"

Most of all, do not let this slip away without being some kind of POSITIVE learning experience.!


"Uncle Larry"
Matt, the incident you described, as deflating as it must have felt, will probably turn out to be one of the best things that could have happened, because I know you will do everything in your power to ensure that will NEVER happen again. Nothing drives you to higher levels of performance better than the sheer embarrassment of falling on your face. Fortunately, as you know, you learn far more from your failures than your successes. It's interesting to me to hear what goes on at the higher levels. One thing that struck me though, and forgive me if I'm off on this, but my impression is that...you're such a serious and driven guy when it comes to drums, I have probably <1% of your drive, but don't forget to include fun and enjoyment in your bag of tricks. I could be way off, but that's the impression I get.


Platinum Member
Agree with Larry in that when you think you've bombed big time is when you learn the most.
Having said that I find it hard to imagine you sounding awful. Even for Mr. Brubeck.
Was the solo a Morello inspired one or was it an original?


Founder Drummerworld
Staff member
Take Five:

The only Jazz Masterpiece which was No.1 in the Pop-charts ever in the 60'ties.

So i remember a little story:

My band then decided to play it - i learned and worked on the 5/4 rhythm as can be heard clearly by Joe in the entry. I was horrified by the upcoming solo and started to learn it note by note.

Then a seasoned drummer told me: don't worry, just play random things - as long as the piano player and the bassist hold the pace (they continue playing during the solo...) nothing can happen.

So i did - built up nice random patterns and after a while had enough and came back to the initial rhythm.

Everybody complimented me to my professional sense of rhythm and the great solo. So from then on a was trademarked as a odd-rhythm specialist till today.Please don't tell to anybody...



Platinum Member
... it got me thinking about what I was told a few years ago about consisentcy, and it was another lesson I learned during the competition days. As some who are into to all that can tell you, I lost my first run at the speed world comps back then due to inconsistency. For 2 days I totally owned the trials, then bagged the finals, losing the whole thing by 5 clicks. Then I went back and tighened everything up so I would win later. That last time I never lost a trial and won the final with plenty to spare. So yeah I think being a successful drummer is about being a consistent drummer.

I can have really good days, but not consistently. And it's not about chops. I don't have problems with the chops part, but I'm still a ways from eliminating the mental inconsistency. And let's face it. if you're going to be a pro, you have to be ready for surprises.
Agree Matt. Consistency is the Holy Grail - to be able to get into the zone ... hence the existence of sports psychologists.

The appearance of DB pulled you just enough out of the zone to get in the way at the time of greatest challenge. You'd know well that people fluff it in front of those they least want to fluff it in front of all the time because it sometimes makes us self-conscious, especially when it happens all of a sudden, e.g. you see a top player walk into a club while you're playing.

I guess, as you say, experience is the antidote.

Bernhard, I like your style. I read a Bill Ward quote where he said he wasn't worried what he hit, as long as it was in time :)
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Platinum Member
I have a feeling that if we all saw the performance we would all agree that it isn't the train wreak that you perceived it to be.

I don't know how many times I wanted to bury my head in the sand after a less than perfect performance only to realize after hearing the playback that it wasn't as bad as I thought.