Streams of Consciousness 1 | 2
Beautiful things everyone should know about:
• How cute bulldogs and terriers are when you get to know them.
• Green Tea ice cream, like they serve in some Japanese and Chinese restaurants. You can get it in organic yogurt form at our health food store, and oh is it good.
• How great the new PowerMac G5 Dual Core Processor computer is. I don't have the MacIntel for Universal Binaries yet, or Boot Camp (the ability to run Windows software on a Mac) but I will. Meanwhile, with David Lanham's or Dave Brascaglia's icons running and the Tiger Aqua Blue desktop picture plus a flat screen 21" Samsung moniter and a 9800SE Radeon Graphics Card, it is so easy just to sit here and look at it! It's so pretty. I'm no materialist, but this machine is a good machine to have.
• Like a Rolling Stone from 40 years ago, sung by it's writer, singer and poet Bob Dylan, and accompanied by "The Band"...
Now you don't talk so loud
Now you don't feel so proud
After havin' to scrounge up...your last meal...
How does it feel?
How does it feel?
To be on your own?
With no direction shown?
A complete unknown?
Just like a rollin' stone?
...and then his harmonica comes in, and the organ player plays that little line behind him, and it's in my brain forever. If I should die (G-d forbid) I might even hear that as I fade away. That would be nice.
• That CD Mingus Plays Piano on Impulse
• How great it feels to play solo piano for a beautiful, quiet audience, especially if the instrument is one of excellence.
• How wonderful it is to see the sunsets on the Central Coast of California, looking out on the Pacific. To be able to see that, every evening. Then to hear the waves, all night long.
• To look into the eyes of a person who sees the lines like I do. There are a few, but not many. Less all the time. I treasure that.
• The Fourth Symphony by Pyotr IlyichTchaikovsky
• Sheherazade by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
• Any painting by Odd Nerdrum
Do your best
When you do something, anything, do your best. Or don't do it.
Sometimes, it's important NOT to do stuff. Things that you know might be bad for your spirit. You should be careful about your spirit, but most people will think you're hiding out or avoiding "having experiences"...that seems to be it in this society...having experiences means doing anything to fill up the hours. Otherwise you're somehow missing something.
Reality shows are like that. Eating a bowl full of living, writhing, South American Viper-eels while everybody stands around yelling and cheering and going "yuuuuk". Having experiences. I call it having a psychotic episode. Then they rush you to emergency and vacuum your small intestine.
Getting back on the track, do your best. Don't try to do BETTER than you always do, Then you'll TRY, and nothing will happen.
You'll fizzle out.
I know. I've fizzled more than once.
When you play, this can easily happen. You challenge yourself and you don't often meet the challenge. I've gotten very used to seeing musicians destroy themselves on the stage.
The secret to playing? One is don't try. Just do what you do and it will do you back.
That's doing your best, no more, no less.
And don't eat anything that writhes.
When I play, I don't often think. When I think, it's a different part of my brain I'm using. Not the part that lets the Music happen.
When I try to read Music, my ocular segment occludes my auditory segment. Eyes on, ears off. Never trust music made by people reading from the page. Even in a symphony, everyone should know the piece, every nuance and note, by heart. Heart.
Hands? We don't play Music with our hands. We play Music with our heart.
If we read sheet music when performing, we lose the Magic by looking at notes on paper. Mingus (like Duke, like the Count) had big bands. Little was written, or if it was, it was learned and discarded. The band members were chosen for their "voice": Booker Ervin was a strong voice and so was Jaki Byard.
Mingus would sing the parts. The musicians would embellish the parts to make a whole.
If you think or read, you might as well take a novel on stage and read it while you play. That might even be better. At least if it's a good book it might inspire the music.
Because Music is Magic, I enter a trance. It's a place beyond common thought or feeling. It's a still place away from any madness. Even if the notes are flying, it's still and quiet in the center. The sacred ground is solid. I know where I stand. And the Music? IT IS WRITTEN. Meaning: it is there for me, every idea that is spontaneous. It's spontaneous but it is there if I listen to the silence, and it is as if it is WRITTEN (not on paper), WRITTEN in the way people speak of religious prophecies being WRITTEN. In stone. Everytime I play it is different, and yet it leaves no doubt. When you follow the lines, you know the next note instinctively, like you had learned it before, somewhere, someplace, from a very wise seer.
The broken part of Jazz Music is the player who believes that technique and ego is the center and the fulcrum of making music. It's not music. It's ego. It's technique. And, like Barry Harris said, it's like listening to someone talk who never stops, just rattles on and on and then takes a big breath and starts again, with no pause or respite.
A good speaker, a good storyteller will pause for effect, for drama, for reflection. A fool will talk incessantly. And never learn a thing.
It's only through listening that we learn. And every time we play we should LISTEN. I mean playing alone, solo, we should be listening to the silence in our souls and the stillness in our hearts. If there's no silence and stillness in us, there's no Music in us.
A few people have gotten very angry with me because I would not engage in "noise" (not necessarily in the musical sense). I mean even the "noise" that people make when they use each other to make personal gains. Many people's only purpose in playing music is to appear creative and gifted. I say "appear". They need this for their egos.
So it's noise to make music or conversation or plans or friends with them. They are there for THEM. They aren't there for YOU, or MUSIC, or LOVE, or other PEOPLE. When you walk away from noisemakers, when you shut them out of your life, they get violently angry, because they are almost always passive-aggessive. They can be very very dangerous.
They tell you at first how wonderful you are, thinking that you'll get them on stage, or get them a record deal, or get them into a circuit, or introduce them to the right people. If you do this, you never play Truth and Beauty, you never make Magic.
You make noise with other noisemakers.
They are trying to steal your Power, your Magic, your Thunder, your SOUL. They don't know they are. They have been doing this forever. It's what they do.
What you do is your business. You can NEVER let this kind of person be with you. It drains away all the Magic until the notes hurt you, and the Music becomes noise too.
If someone comes in to your life and says awful things about others, they will say awful things about you to others, too.
If they say you are so special and wonderful and unique and amazing, over and over, this is a sign to step away, to get away as you would get away from a rabid dog.
It is dark and evil magic that they carry. It is anti-life, and not only that, it can be as powerful as your beauty. It can destroy beauty. No one can do this if you are courageous and brave. They can scream and yell and talk about you...they can even hit you or try to kill you. But they will NOT be able to steal your SOUL.
When you play, you are doing an act that is the mortal equivalent of a Sacred Spirit on earth. It's an act of GRACE. It has been with you since before you were born. It is the roots of the tree that is visible to others: it is the roots of your life, invisible to others, that goes down into the soil of your soul. And up out of the top of your head and into the universe, like a beacon. It's light.
Carrying this is a TRUST. Will you defend a trust, or will you allow others to define it, defile it, use it, disrespect it, crush it, dirty it, and destroy it? Some will, and the more powerful your Magic is, the more people will gather to try. They are jealous, but they are also drawn to the LIGHT. They want it. Not being able to possess and control it makes them dangerous and violent.
This is a law, and like any TRUE law, it must be respected.
True ART and MUSIC and LIFE = BEAUTY and TRUTH and MAGIC.
They can NOT be bought or learned or developed or stolen. Only with your permission can they be taken from you and used against you.
Some say that I ramble when I talk. One man shouted during a concert "shut up and play the &^%$*&^ piano!" I believe that when I talk during a concert of mine, it is part of the Music. I may not know what I have to say. I never know what I have to PLAY! I find it out by playing, and I find out what I have to say by talking. I wander when I play. People who LISTEN wander with me. If I say too much, I have not committed a crime. I have been annoying, at the most. If I play too much, I may become tiresome. But not often. It doesn't matter.
I always do the best I can, no more or less. If I tried to top myself, I'd be trying. And when you TRY, you defeat yourself. It's like having a contest with yourself.
All of this is a part of playing for me. But I never think of it.
March 17th, my birthday
Having been born on March 17th, the date best known as the holiday of green beer, most folks will just assume I'm Irish. And it's half true. On my daddy's side, I'm Irish as a Shamrock, green as a Leprechaun, and as prone to alcoholism as anyone alive today, given the need for anesthesia just to read ones' monthly phone bill. Being sober for a decade has been great for me, as my liver was about to give up the ghost anyway. I never liked the green beer. But even with my life of sobriety, I miss the Guinness. They say that pregnant women in Ireland drink Guinness for the iron. It's like liquid bread. I certainly liked Guinness. In Ireland, it's different. It's the real thing. They keep the best for themselves.
I can't say I blame them.
On my mother's side I'm Jewish. Not that she was having any of that. As anti-Semitic as any repressed German housfrau, she figured that being Jewish was just one more thing to cause trouble for her in life. And it's true. After the big war (the big 20th century war, there being a bigger one in store for us in the 21st), I'm told there was quite a bit of anti-Semitic feelings in America. Seems to me now as if there always has been. I've never seen a more maligned and misunderstood group of people (of which I'm one) and I've never been able to get a grip on the why and the wherefore of it. I know it's partially about killing our Lord and Savior, but I didn't do it, honest.
And when that little wrinkled and leathery old woman on Alaska Air flight 375 to Seattle said to me, the very first time I wore my beautiful new gold-and-silver Star and Shim around my neck, "you killed Christ", all I could think of to say was "sorry".
And then I thought of what I should have said...we all do that.
I should have said "thank you, Mel Gibson."
Of course, Mel Gibson had just released his big blockbuster The Passion of Christ and it had all the rabid fundamentalists frothing and foaming.
I always thought Mel Gibson looked like Pat Metheny. (Or vice-versa).
Incidentally, Pat Metheny can really play the guitar. He's a genius. He's just not a diplomat.
And, equally incidentally, the scientists in the UK reconstructed, from skeletal remains found at old archeological digs, a model of what the real Christ probably looked like.
They say he looked like Mel Brooks.
(I think that that's just grand. I think it's a perfect look for the Savior of Humanity.)
I always thought that Pat Metheny was way out of line by coming down so hard in his blog and in interviews on Kenny G. I always said that Kenny G made me cry once, at Christmas-time, in an antique store with my honey. He was playing Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire. I think it's really called the Christmas Song; I said to my honey that if 'Trane would have heard that, he would've said that Kenny G had a great control of the soprano sax, and that his tone production was wonderful. And that he was right in tune.
He also has a "cool crib" in Beverley Hills, which is probably why the jazz musicians hate him so much. Pure jealousy. "Sour grapes", it's called.
So I didn't like Mel Gibson because he looked like Pat Metheny (or vice-versa). And because he (Mel Gibson) seemed to be blaming the Jews for killing Jesus Christ. I'm not sure which carried greater weight with me. I certainly didn't think his Lethal Weapon movies went very far to dispelling his guilt in the matter. Danny Glover I love, but even he couldn't save Mel from himself. And I don't think that 'Trane would've particularly liked what Pat Metheny had to say about Kenny G, or what Mel Gibson had to say about the Jews, either.
My birthday has thus been a source of discouragement for me. Being Jewish and being born on Saint Patrick's Day (I won't even investigate his credentials) seems slightly uncomfortable, somehow, as if I should be wearing Shamrocks instead of Stars of David. But it's not something one can control.
It's just my own Irish guilt at work.
And we all know about Irish guilt.
Thank you, Wikipedia, for the info below
Births on MARCH 17th
1948 - Jessica Williams Citizen of the World (d. not yet)
(Queen of the Galaxy???)
Deaths on MARCH 17th
45 BC - Gnaeus Pompeius, the Younger, Roman general (executed) (ouch)
Holidays and observances on MARCH 17th
Feast day of St Patrick: a public holiday in Ireland (National feast) and Montserrat, widely celebrated in North America (see St. Patrick's Day) (I've seen quite a few and would rather forget most of them!)
Other Stuff on MARCH 17th
1950 - University of California, Berkeley researchers announce the creation of element 98, which they name "Californium" (Soon afterward, Arnold Schwartzenegger becomes Governor, and all scientific researchers are given pink slips)
1958 - The United States launches the Vanguard 1 satellite (YES! My daddy WORKED on the Vanguard Rocket. Yes, at the Glenn L Martin Company! And yes, the Russians beat us into space with Sputnik, anyway!)
1966 - Off the coast of Spain in the Mediterranean, the Alvin submarine finds a missing American hydrogen bomb (Old "Nucular Ed" Teller was always misplacing stuff...his keys, his car, cadmium control rods...)
Streams of Consciousness _02 / Streams _01