One thing I have begun to realize as I try to decide who is next each time I finish one of these life builders articles is that I will probably be doing this for a very long time. It is very difficult to pick just one person to be next. When I sit and contemplate all of the people who contributed to my successes in life, so many people pass through my thoughts.
David Caceres is a man who has contributed to my life in many different ways. Not only is he the best band leader I work with, he is also a huge influence to me musically and a very close friend as well.
David as a Band Leader
I have long believed that the job of the band leader is to lead. The leader of any group must be confident and very clear about what he wants the members to do. Nothing social or personal should ever get in the way of that role simply because too many people are relying on you and you cannot afford to let them down.
I have worked more with David than any other band leader since I joined his band in the late 1990’s. He is precisely the kind of leader I enjoy working with most because he has absolutely no problem telling me what he wants. He doesn’t beg me to do what needs to be done and then apologize for bothering me afterwards. There is no silly voting about what songs to play or when to take a break. I believe a good leader is unapologetic (in the context of getting the job done) and assertive.
Ad that to the fact that the band is easily the highest quality of musicianship I have ever had the opportunity to work with. I will write more about David as a musician later, but it’s worth mentioning that this band is awesome! David Caceres on alto sax and vocals, Ed Lowe on trombone, Asle Roe on guitar, Ted Wenglinski on keyboard, Anthony Sapp on bass and Joel Fulgham on drums.
At the turn of the century I experienced a growth spurt in my jazz playing which I feel served as the completion of all of the jazz goals I set for myself twenty years earlier. Working with David over a ten year period (first with the Tom Borling Bebop Band in the early 1990’s and then with his band afterward) most definitely made a significant impact in reaching those goals.
David has an approach to improvisation that is unique here in Houston. It is more motif based and less line oriented. I’m not saying he can’t or doesn’t play lines. We all do that. But the majority of the content of his solos is not just strings of eighth notes, of scales, arpeggios and technical licks. He builds his solos from motifs and the way he crafts those motifs is with great finessse and skill. When we refer to a musician as an artist, I can hardly think of anyone I know personally who fits that description so well. He crafts his motifs with the same artistic depth as the finest painters ans sculptors.
In that sense, David is easily the one jazz musician I know who deserves world wide recognition for what he does. I think his playing is at a level equal to any of the greats in jazz history. And he does it sincerely. He is not a copycat. He hasn’t just copied the sounds and styles of another player. I know this from not only working with him but also from hearing his performances. You see, I only work with David in his commercial band. But I buy his recordings and occasionally get to hear him play with other more artistic bands. I have even done several transcriptions of his solos. So this is not just me trying to kiss his butt. He he he…. David knows I’m not like that. What I’m trying to establish here is that I know great jazz players when I hear them and David is as good as it gets.
So yeah, I have been greatly influenced by David’s playing. Who wouldn’t be? I can tell you that I never used to think motivically until I began to understand David’s playing. This was partly facilitated by a conversation I had with him on the way to a gig in San Antonio when he referred me to Hal Crook’s book titled How To Improvise. I purchased the book, read it and practiced from it. Now when I hear David’s playing, I understand what he is doing better than I did before. I understand what he is doing with the motifs and I recognize that he’s not just playing lines.
Two things David and I have in common outside of music are a joy for birdwatching and a hunger for reading and studying the Bible. It’s nice to have a friend I can share those interests with. I don’t enjoy watching sports – especially not on TV. I don’t drink. So there are very few social things I have in common with other men like that. So I really don’t have much of a social life. He he he… But David and I have these two things in common and it more than makes up for the fact that I’m an introvert.