Author : Jeremy Herman
Gilbert smeared a napkin across his glistening face as he watched the stage anxiously. The crowd around him was enthralled with the performance they were watching. Big Band music had been popular with the people for years now. On stage the drums, trumpets and piano were all playing in harmony. Men on the dance floor spun their ladies in tight circles pausing every so often to clap their hands or snap their fingers to the beat of the music.
Gilbert, the club manager, eyed one of the musicians in the back with a nervous eye. The drummer that was hitting the hi-hat in time was barely visible. Gilbert had made sure the spotlight was as far away from him as possible. God only knows what the patrons of the club would do if they found out the drummer for the house band was not human. The usual drummer for the band was at home right now in a cast due to an auto accident. Gilbert had made the choice. Pay a pro a wad of cash to learn all the numbers in a couple days or program a replacement.
Androids had come a long way since they were first introduced but people still wanted a flesh and blood person hitting the skins up there and not a drum machine. That is why Gilbert started to groan as the machine malfunctioned in front of the large crowd. At first the mistakes were hardly noticeable. A snare hit when it should have been the bass drum. However, as the song progressed it got worse and worse. The android would speed up and then slow down. The tempo was disjointed at best. The time signature jumped from a normal 4/4 to a strange 5/8 beat.
The other human players in the band didn’t know how to respond. How could you play in time with someone that had no rhyme or reason to their playing? The crowd on the dance floor had slowed as well. Then there was glint in the eye of the piano player. He began to improvise along with the ever changing beat of the drums. The horn section quickly gathered what was going on and followed along.
Some in the crowd started to razz the group on stage to try and get them to return to the music they were playing before. Others concluded it was just nonsense and said they had enough of the jive. Decades later people would speculate the word jazz came from a combination of the words jive and razz. Gilbert would never know if that was true but he did know some of the greatest discoveries are through accidents.