I love reading creative quotes from interesting people and since I’m somewhat brain dead with flu, I thought this was a fun way to splatter some thoughts your way. Feel free to share some of your own thoughts or stories after reading, and don’t forget to tip the waiters.
"One of the perks of being an unemployed musician is that you get to play much less bad music." -Jack Daney
So true! I wrote a piece about this in Modern Drummer Magazine suggesting that non-professionals might be enjoying their music more than professionals. Sometimes I wonder how a musician touring with <fill in name of despised artist here> feels. Worse than playing the show could be sitting on the bus with them and not primal screaming. I was never a true professional and I’m certain that hurt me financially. My problem is even if I try to act that I like something, my obviously lame-ass poker face shows exactly what I’m feeling most of the time. I’ve just realized more than ever now, I am a musical snob. Is this a price I pay to have my own aesthetic in music, in knowing what I like and don’t like? Or am I a dick?
Q. How do you get a musician to complain? A. Get him a gig.
The drummer drives. Everybody else rides!" -Panama Francis
We ALL know that, but it is my belief that many othersin the band play the drums. Sometimes the only thing the drummer has to do is watch the store.
"Jazz is the only music in which the same note can be played night after night but differently each time." - Ornette Coleman
If you think all notes are the same then I do not wish to play with you. For example, a note leading into a downbeat is very different than the note following that same downbeat. The great drummer, Shelly Manne, spoke of jazz musicians, “We never play anything the same way once.” Obviously he had a sense of humor. I think nuance is underrated.
"I'm too old to pimp, and too young to die, so I'm just gon' keep playin'." - Clark Terry
And Clark Terry did just that. I remember playing a couple a wedding gigs (called club dates in NYC) with him. We were all shocked and thrilled someone of his stature, a genius player and composer, would work on our lowly gig. He played great of course and his attitude was perfect – no complaining. It was a true lesson in professionalism and humility.
"A great teacher is one who realizes that he himself is also a student and whose goal is not to dictate the answers, but to stimulate his students creativity enough so that they go out and find the answers themselves." - Herbie Hancock
This is always what I hope to achieve when trying to help someone. The good news is the teacher benefits as well.
"After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music." -Aldous Huxley
Didn’t Thelonius Monk say something like “Talking about music is like singing about math?” Expressing the inexpressible. Even those three words bring upon a feeling of space. Beautiful space. God. Musicians that come to mind quickly? Russian pianists Emil Gilels and Vlad Horowitz. Keith Jarrett. Wayne Shorter. John McLaughlin. Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings is a sure fire tearjerker. Why do I attach “inexpressible” to mostly instrumental music, not songs with words? Then again, Tom Waits’ album “Bone Machine” and much of the early-ish Radiohead stuff gives me a feeling of …what is it?...pure feelings without judgement? But instrumentals say more by literally not saying anything.
"If I could play like Wynton (Marsalis), I wouldn't play like Wynton." - Chet Baker
We rarely see this level of honesty from artists today. I feel this way about Wynton also, as well as some drummers. I hear the notes but it doesn’t butter my muffin. All artists have an aesthetic, a filter through which art is compared and kept as influence or discarded. What are yours? Who do you keep? Who do you discard? As you develop as a musician, your musical vocabulary becomes an integral part of you. Eventually it can’t be turned off. It is who you ARE. Think about that and develop yourself towards beauty.
Your fully integrated beauty.