Monday, September 27, 2021

Curating Your Work

"Sure Warren's use of perspective is good, but where are all the double kick chops and blast beats, Maaannn?

Step 1- Learn to play something
Step 2- Go to the gig and don't play it.

 Sometimes it's good to be reminded of what practice is, and why it's different from performance. This happened when I checked out a recent Four On the Floor post. The great John Riley was featured, and as I watched and listened to him play through some very challenging material, I was struck by a few things. Firstly, I realized how well he knew the material as he went from one challenging coordination pattern to another without changing the ride beat & groove at all, and playing each example flawlessly. Secondly, actions speak louder than words so let's check out a relatively recent performance of Mr. Riley playing with a quartet.

What do I notice? Well, great time, ideas, and dynamic control for one thing. What do I NOT notice? He doesn't appear to be playing a bunch of planned out licks, especially related to the material in the Four On the Floor post. Nope, despite all the work that went into getting MANY things together on the drums, when he's playing, Mr. Riley is simply letting all the things he's practiced come through him in an organic way while he's listening and reacting to the music around him. In short, he's a great example of working hard in the woodshed and then being willing to let it go on the bandstand. We represent the music best when we have a context for what we're playing rather than justifying something we worked on to merely satisfy our ego. :) 

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