I just briefly wanted to talk about something that occurred to me on a gig last night. I had a great time playing with Jules Estrin's band. I was subbing for an ailing Joel Haynes so I hadn't played the music or played with this particular combination of people before. I had a great time and really enjoyed the arrangements and all the individual musician's contributions to it. This really didn't surprise me but I started thinking about what the possible thread that ran through all the music we played and that runs through all of the music I feel passionate about. I realized it was that spirit of going for it, of giving it everything you have. If there's anything I would be egotistical enough to think I will be remembered for after I'm no longer around, I hope it would be that I always gave it my all, and never "phoned it in". There are always some reasons to make excuses, hold back, and not be fully engaged with the music. Some of them might be:
1) I'm playing some corporate event and no one (including the band sometimes) is listening.
2) My gear is crumby. If I had the latest (insert brand name here) I'd really be playing something. Or maybe....
3) The money on this gig is crap.
Let's look at these briefly...
1) You're probably make some coin. You're not digging a ditch, you're playing you're instrument! You're performing a function so don't sweat it if the "audience' isn't hanging on your every note. In fact, there's a lot of freedom in that. Also, if the band isn't listening, listen to them even harder! You'd be amazed at how this can affect the people you're playing with in a positive way.
2) Don't give me that! Make whatever you're playing sound beautiful. Remember, as Art Blakey once said, "You are the instrument!".
3) If you play like a bored lame-o who doesn't care about music, will that make the money improve?
In short, we're lucky to be doing something we love. We have a limited amount of time on the planet, so don't waste it thinking about what isn't happening. let's make the most of whatever is happening!
And now, a man who never phones it in , the great Billy hart!