now that I have your attention....
you may be wondering, “why does he play the trombone like that?” The short answer is that I have to do it this way. The long answer:
Some people say playing the trombone is hard. I didn’t experience that. It has something to do with my upbringing, I suppose. As a little boy, I used to have to shovel snow until my hands were pretty much frozen. Everything had a purple tint when I came back into the house. We shoveled until dark. When my dad and I would work on a project, it would take all day. Raking leaves: don’t stop until it’s done. B plus: not really good enough. I got used to it, for better or for worse.
When I got to college, that was my work ethic. In high school, even, I would knock out a four minute transcription, recorded to long term memory, in three or four hours. That’s just me. It’s not better or worse; it just is.
Four to eight hour practice days were common at the Hartt School. I knew I wasn’t good enough yet, so I practiced until I was.
Eventually, I started practicing more than just the music of JJ Johnson or Curtis Fuller. McCoy Tyner. Woody Shaw. Freddie, of course. Dexter. Clifford Brown. John Coltrane. Why not? It was there, and I was getting closer and closer to being able to do it. I figured I might as well go for it.
I didn’t decide to go this route. I just did. I didn’t choose my voice. It didn’t even choose me; it was me. I just put my essence into learning the music I wanted to learn. It figured itself out in my subconscious.
My writing is similarly constructed. Growing up, my brother and I bonded over Led Zeppelin, Victor Wooten, Keller Williams, the Grateful Dead, and Whitney Houston. That all seeped in. At some point, James Brown became a focal point of my concept. He practically invented the hip-hop form all by himself. Funk is hip-hop, as far as I’m concerned. Rhythm precedes harmony, energy precedes rhythm, improvisation is key. That’s what I’m trying to do with instrumental music, in a nutshell.
You may ask why I’m going in this direction. That’s the wrong question. The question you should be asking is, “how do I realize my life through music?” If you really have no idea how to do that, you might need to put the horn down and live a little.
This is fun. Onward and upward.