I think this was my fourth or fifth year playing the Purim Ball at Seven Acres Jewish Senior Care. Jay Burman hires me each year to play with Ed Copeland, Ken Cluck and Dave. I’ve known Jay since we worked together in the Toomey Starks band in the early 90’s.
I look forward to this gig every year. Not only is it an opportunity to get caught up with Jay and some of the other guys, but it’s also one of those gigs where I feel like I’m making a difference. I like playing at the nursing homes. I like being part of something that brings the residents joy.
This time Pearl came with me and took some snaps:
Compliments That Mean Something
I played a big band gig on Saturday night (with Ronnie Renfrow) and one of the trombone players, Joe Miller, payed me the kind of compliment that I like. He actually commented on something that I put a lot of thought and effort into. He said that he likes it when I play lead because I make it easy for the band to follow. It was one of those rare moments in my career when I felt validated in my efforts.
One of the complaints many musicians have about being a musician is that people (especially in the audience) do not appreciate their music for the reasons that they would like. It reminds me of something Stravinsky said in Poetics of Music:
It should be noted that there is never any dispute when the listener takes pleasure in the work he hears. The least informed of music-lovers readily clings to the periphery of a work; it pleases him for reasons that are most often entirely foreign to the essence of music. This pleasure is enough for him and calls for no justification. But if it happens that the music displeases him, our music-lover will ask you for an explanation of his discomfiture. He will demand that we explain something that is in its essence ineffable.
Personally, I am at a place in my career where I don’t require validation from other people. I don’t complain when people fail to understand the “essence” of my music or my performance. When I receive compliments from people who don’t understand what I am doing, I don’t take offense. I don’t look down on them. I accept what they have to tell me as a gesture of kindness. Then I smile and thank them for that kindness. My ego does not require stroking. Ha!
But when someone does truly understand what I am doing and takes the time to say so, that really means a lot to me. So thank you Joe Miller for acknowledging my efforts to be a genuine lead player and not just a “screamer.” I appreciate that.
Still Meeting New Trumpet Players
I think it’s amazing that I have lived in Houston for almost twenty-five years and I still haven’t met all the professional trumpet players yet. We had Jeff Laird in the section on Saturday night and that was the first time I had met him. We have both been pros on this scene for about the same length of time, playing with the same bands, but never working together. Wow.
There are still trumpet players I hear about from my friends who I haven’t met yet. Believe it or not, I haven’t met Randy Adams yet. Or Micky Vasquez. Those are the first two that come to mind, but there are so many more. My wife told me that she read somewhere that there are something like 40,000 musicians in Houston who consider themselves professional players. That’s just amazing! No wonder it’s such a hard scene to break into. Houston is tough! Really, most players don’t seem to have enough patience to stick it out long enough to get established.