My mind keeps returning to the 22 year old chess Grandmaster Magnus Carlsen. I wrote about him in my book For The Curious. If you don't know who he is just Google him; he's the number one ranked chess player in the world. When he was asked how he comes up with his seemingly-precognitive moves, he replies, "I don't know; sometimes a move just feels right." For a long time, it hasn't been enough to be good. Now, it's not even enough to be great. Now you have to have that extra, undefinable thing. If you want to be a truly amazing artist, you must go very deep into yourself, into the world, into the universe, into the meaning of things. You must go to the very source of everything. Luckily, we can do that, because we ourselves come from that source. It's not something outside ourselves; we are part of it, so it is in us. Mine that source, and you will connect [...]
Last year I started a "series" at the Deer Head called Meeting of Musical Minds. The first event featured myself with the great trumpeter Ingrid Jensen, with Bobby Avey (Thelonious Monk composition competition winner) on piano, Evan Gregor on bass, and Mike Stephans on drums.
I call it a series but it doesn't have a regular schedule, it's just when I decide to put an event together. The criteria for a MoMM event is that all the players have to be deep--as in profound. They also have to be free from the ego-driven stance that some players have. Because it's all about listening to each other and sharing the spotlight, musically speaking.
The idea is that when these musicians play as a group, incredible music can be made. There is a focus on improvisation, especially collective improv where everyone is creating the arrangement right on the spot. This is fun for the audience as well, because they get to see the creative process at work.
For the second MMoM, I chose pianist Jesse [...]
Last year I started a saxophone website, which I intended to be a repository for all the knowledge and insights about saxophones and saxophone playing I have gleaned over the years.
I signed up for a website service that checks all your pages for the correct number and placement of keywords, so that your site can be found by search engines and spiders (automated web patrols.)
I wrote a lot of material for the site and posted it, carefully chopping up and simplifying my prose until it was dumbed down enough to satisfy not only the web spiders, but also the lowest common denominator of human visitors.
I am taking the site down. After the realization sunk in that I was working my ass off to please automated Internet programs, instead of my readers (and myself!), I was horrified. Yes, I know it will be harder for people to find my stuff now.
Good. Multi sunt vocati, pauci vero electi.
I guess this is why I'm an artist and not a businessperson.
Someone recently sent me trumpeter Philip Tauber's "The Language of Modern Jazz Improvisation for Trumpet", a nice compendium of practice material. In the beginning of the book he lists 120 trumpet masters, serving as a listening guide as well as an homage to colleagues and past masters.
Out of 120 players, there are 2 women: Ingrid Jensen and Louise Baranger, both of whom I know and have played with.
I realize that one can't possibly mention all the great players in a list of that sort--but here's the thing--you've got to make an effort towards making the world a better place. If you have to go out of your way a little bit to research the women players, then do it! On that list were white guys, black guys, American guys, guys of other nationalities, but only 2 chicks.
Any list of this nature should include Pam Fleming, Ellen Seeling, Barbara Donald, Jami Dauber, Tanya Darby, Rebecca Coupe Franks, historic players like Valaida Snow and Clora Bryant, amazing [...]
Music students are certainly aware of the scarcity of professional music jobs available when they graduate from music school ready to embark upon a career. I always tell people, don't try for a career as a professional player unless you are totally committed to it, because it's hard. Most of us pros resent the fact that we are compelled to not only keep ourselves in top condition (practicing, rehearsing, composing, recording, listening, performing, traveling to jobs, studying further---this is more than a full-time job already) but also to market ourselves.
Marketing is also a full time job. That's why you can major in it at school, just like you can major in music.
My advice to would-be pros is that you team up with fellow students in marketing, in art, in film/video, in radio, in business, etc. Make your team now. You are an adult already, might as well start doing what you want to do. If I were studying marketing or business at a college, [...]