TALKING PICTURES (my blog)

Category

  • Leading Questions - Kate Olson

    Someone once told me that the three most important things in music are time, tone, and intonation. That person was Scott Turpen, my college saxophone professor, and he then told me that I had none of those things together in my playing. It was something of a turning point in my musical career.

     

    Playing the saxophone is one way that I shut down the voices in my head that tell me things like, “you’re not good enough, you’re funny looking, people don’t like you.” It’s also one of the things that riles up the voices in my head. The ones that say things like, “you’re not good enough, you’re funny looking, people don’t like you.”

     

    Practice makes us better human beings. It allows us to know ourselves better and interact more intimately with each other. Too few people spend concentrated, focused time alone trying to get better at something. We can only know each other as well as we know ourselves, and a lot of us spend a lot of time running away from what and how and who we are inside. Practice is one way of knowing ourselves through a wide range of emotional and intellectual states.

     

    The piece of music that always resonates with me is Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in C Minor. It’s triumphantly beautiful and profound. It’s dedicated to his physician, who helped cure his depression and writers’ block with hypnotherapy and psychotherapy. What a wonderful tribute to health and happiness.

     

    My parents were deeply, passionately opposed to me becoming a professional musician. They were concerned that I’d become addicted to drugs, never settle down, and struggle forever to make ends meet. My relative success and sobriety is important not only to me as an individual, but as a daughter. I don’t want them to worry about me, and their opinion of me is still one of the most important things in my life.

     

    As I get older, I’ve realized that time is brief, but it expands to hold what we want to fit into it. What we truly want to fit into it. I want to see the world. I want to make people feel things with the music I play; I want to be better than I am now. I want to be THE BEST at what I do best. I want to love and feel loved. I want to eat the best food and drink the best wine and feel the sun on my skin at the top of the mountains. I have the time for that. I don’t have time for much in the way of paperwork, desk jobs, or the politics of telling people yes when I mean no. I don’t have time for low standards or excuses. I’m trying to get rid of all those things. Because the length of time is finite. But the volume of time is infinite.

     

    In the big scheme of things, what really matters is honesty. Everything else can be forgiven, repaired, and renewed. But if you lie to someone, whether it’s a lover or an audience member, you can’t go back from that. In many situations, musicians make the assumption that they’re smarter than their audiences. It’s the biggest mistake you can make. I think audiences can sense authenticity. They can sense joy. They shake their butts to joy and authenticity. They walk out on lack of emotion.

     

    I cried when I said goodbye to my dad, the last time I spent a lot of time at home in Wyoming. We both cried. We talked about how the older we get, there’s always the fear that it’s the last time we’ll get to see each other. Maybe a little morose, but life is fragile. We are fragile. And we’re all we’ve got.

     

    Music has taught me that there will always be things we don’t understand. And usually, those things are really beautiful in their complexity. Like fractals. And gravitational waves. And the aurora borealis. And Wayne Shorter’s compositions.

     

    Right now I’m interested in working out. It’s the best. I have a personal trainer. I started running. I’m also interested in electronics. I have some ideas in the works for a new facet to my solo project, KO SOLO. I have a new portable synth that I’m hoping to make use of. Hopefully there will be a gorgeous-sounding KO SOLO record out soon with a photo of me looking super fit and healthy on the inside.

     

    Discipline is making good habits your only habits. It’s hard to change your brain, but not impossible. We are what we do. So, I can choose to be a lackadasical day-drinking, iPhone ogling slouch, or I can choose to be an awakened, compassionate, weightlifting, saxophone-practicing, badass artist. And I have to make that decision every day of my life.

     

    I’m not interested in any of my students’ disclaimers and excuses. If I could get all that time back, I would have found the cure for cancer by now.

     

    Change is how we grow. Period.

     

    I chose the saxophone because I wanted to be one of the cool kids. All the cool kids played saxophone. I’m still not one of the cool kids, but I get to play saxophone, so I’m pretty sure it was the right decision.

     

    Less is more because it’s expensive to live in the city. If you’re going to commit, at my level of income, you better get used to small spaces.

     

    The thing that makes me nervous on stage is feeling like I need to live up to other peoples’ expectations. What I’ve been lucky to discover, especially recently, is that most people hire me to do what I do (some form of lyrical, pseudo-technical electroacoustic improvised soprano saxophoning….), and any idea that I get about having to do something else is totally made up and in my head. I think the cure for nerves the world over is just to BE YOURSELF LOUDLY AND MESSILY.

     

    When I’m playing well, it feels like I’m not even an entity. I transcend. Not to get all woo woo, but it’s an out of body experience. Everything flows. Everything is me. I am everything.

     

    The future of jazz is in our hands. I hope enough educators and institutions realize that we should not just be training sustainers of the tradition, but inventors and innovators also. I hope that the ecology of the jazz community, just like the ecology of our planet, stays diverse enough to maintain it’s health for many years to come. It’s our job to nurture that diversity, and see it through to the next generation of creative musicians.

     

    A sense of humor is important because if we take ourselves too seriously, we’ll stop having fun.

  • 2015 - A Look Back

    As I look back on 2015, I see a lot of positive development.  I thought I would post a couple of my favorite pieces, talk a little about why they are important to me and how I hope they will shape my movement forward.

    When people ask me what kind of photographer I am, I typically say that I like to shoot people.  Portraiture is a pretty broad area and when asked for more specific info, I usually mention that I shoot editorial and commercial work.  Again, fairly broad categories.  So, I've been thinking about what defines and differentiates these areas, for me.  With this in mind, I will divide my post into each category.

    In the area of commercial work, I have been stepping into the fashion world, making some great new friends and connections, working with people who want to be photographed and want to try creative ideas.  I feel that not only is this a great resource for expanding one's network, but for improving one's post-production skills.

    When I think about what I like about this type of photography, it comes to my fundamental areas of interest.  Form, line, tonality, contrast and expression.   It is not about the individual as much as the marriage of these artistic elements.  It goes hand in hand with my interest in dance as a photographic subject.  The subject is akin to an actor, evoking a feeling, expressing a form.  

    2015 saw new associations with several creative individuals, all working together to create something unique.  In addition to the model or subject, there might be a stylist who helps to create a vision for the piece.  Frilancy Makungu is a stylist I worked with several times this year, culminating in a photo shoot, placing her in front of the camera at the Sorrento Hotel:

    Frilancy has a wonderful energy and enthusiasm.  

    Perhpas the most profilic association for me in 2015 was meeting and working with model, Anita Mwiruki.  We did several shoots together and have had geat success and a lot of fun, including being featured in Afroelle Magazine's Fall Wedding Issue:

    Some favorites from other sessions with Anita in 2015:

    As you can see, Anita has a bit of range.

    Another model I worked with on several occasions is Karishma Sharma:

    Karishma and Anita:

    My associations with Anita and Karishma have created work for me with designers, Rebekah Adams, Chen Burkett New York, Kahini Kreative, Phuong Minh Nguyen- Dream Dresses by P.M.N., and the social media network FINAO.

    Vital to making these shoots look their best is a team which includes makeup and hair artists.  Two of my favorites this year include Sable Desiree, an extraordinary make up artist and hair specialist Mackenzie Valerio.   

    Other models I look forward to working with again in 2016 include:

    Kyra Karmichael:

     

    Natalie Siffereman:

    Stephanie Lazaro:

    Genevieve Ramolete:

    and Carolyne Igama:

    In the area of dance, I did several pieces for the University of Washington:

    Editorial photography meets a different need for me.  I love meeting new people and learning about what they do, seeing their passion and sometimes struggles as they work to see their dreams realized.  I can relate!  For me the elements mentioned above are still important, I want to make interesting images that play on the elements of line, form, tonality and contrast.  However, what is most important here is the expression of the individual.  I don't mean facial expression but rather the communication on some level of the person.  Of course it's incomplete, fragmentary.  Often I have only just met my subject and am approaching a complex individual with a myopic view of who they are based on one significant element of their persona.  But, herein lies the art of the portrait photographer.  I feel that so much of what is expressed in an image is a matter of my ability to engage my subject, to put them at ease, to gain their trust and to lower their defenses allowing me to find the right moment to capture something genuine.  Not a complete expression of the person, but at least a moment of truth.  That's my goal.

    Some of my favorite editorial pieces of 2015 include:

    D'Vonne Lewis and Reginald Jackson for City Arts:

     

    A personal piece of my son Ben, an avid runner and archer, at the Bonneville Salt Flats

    Flutist, Mona Sangesland for her promotional materials:

    Guitarist, Bill Frisell, posing here with his childhood instrument, the clarinet, just for fun.

    Composition faculty of the University of Washington School of Music:

    Trombonist, Doug Beavers for his new CD:

    Andrew Russell, Producing Artistic Director of the Intiman Theater, shot for City Arts:

    Director, Malika Oyetimein, for City Arts:

    Photo Illustration artist, Joe Rudko, for City Arts:

    Thanks for indulging me, I have lots of additional images I could include and friends to acknowledge, but at this point I've probably hit the limits of your attention span!.  Thanks to all of my clients of the past year.  Looking forward to 2016, new friends, new ideas and lots of great new images.

    Happy New Year!

    Steve

  • Leading Questions - Beth Fleenor

    Someone once told me I would never “make it” as an artist…this makes me laugh because all artists do is MAKE it…

    When I was 14 I heard Frank Zappa for the first time and knew I wanted to play clarinet in a rock band and be a professional musician – and that I wished to know what it was like to write music.

    The clarinet is my most tangible connection to possibility, fluidity & presence. It’s my friend, my partner, my mirror, and my darkest shadows – it whispers things from far in my depths, takes me out to explore new universes, and spanks my ass when I need to be brought back into the present moment.

    If I could do it all over again, I’d display my lack of knowledge in music and general ignorance in the world like giant peacock feathers, saying come teach me! (instead of years of beating myself up for things I didn’t know or do "right")

    Practice makes the process reveal itself.

    When I look at where I’m at right now, I cry in gratitude to be alive, surrounded by such greatness – such genius pouring out of every human – and then I get angry & frustrated, that we’re still stuck in some absurd hierarchy and haven’t recognized how valuable each person truly is.

    Some of my best ideas come to me walking, driving or in the shower – always in motion.

    My parents were babies who accidentally had a baby. They became an astronomer and a nurse. I became the sum greater than their parts, forged in the fire of great distances between the 3 of us.

    Fear is the flaming mirror of desire

    Motivation is to be cultivated

    As I get older, I’ve realized that there’s no destination, and yet you’ll keep looking for one, or think you’ve found it…

    In the big scheme of things, what really matters is shared experience, connection, recognition of resonance 

    I cried when…..when didn’t I cry….I’m a glorious waterfall… 

    Music has taught me that everyone has an individual voice, everyone needs to be heard, and that listening is an act of inclusion

    People ask me what language Crystal Beth is singing in, the answer is always Bethnic…that’s the only language I’m actually fluent in.

    Right now I’m interested in, celebrating & elevating connection in every form

    Discipline is foundation for total freedom

    I’m not interested in competitive or courtesy composing 

    Change is the dance 

    I chose the clarinet because it chose me 

    When I’m stuck my first inclination is to be still and quiet – this is always the opposite of what I need – to really move and make noise 

    Improvisation is what we’re all doing, simultaneously, all the time

    The thing that makes me nervous on stage is forgetting to thank/introduce someone by name- because my brain is all smooshy when I re-enter from the musical plane. 

    When I’m playing well, it feels like my lungs are 3000 feet wide and a flood of electricity is pouring through lighting up my whole body 

    If I could have made a career on another instrument, it would have been the DRUMS!!! 

    Your audience is out there, if you are willing to show yourself to be received

    I’m happy whenever I’m listening to my band. It’s true. Every time. The Boom Boom Band lights up my life, sooths my heart. Dream come true.

    Being a musician has meant really being willing to embrace myself, and the world, and acknowledge that all we have here is the experience of being alive.

    A view my greatest achievement to be survival

    The future of jazz is here to stay

    A sense of humor is important because, we are infinitely expanding consciousness, made of star goop, hooked into perception through an electrical meat suit whirling around in space on a little rock….and it’s confusing as hell to all of us, and yet we get so excited….

    The difference between playing and composing is perception of time

    The history of jazz is imminent

  • Leading Questions - Bill Frisell

    Someone once told me "Music is good."

    When I was 14 I got my first electric guitar!

    The guitar is a wonderful instrument. 

    Practice makes me feel good. 

    When I look at where I’m at right now, I think I'd better get started. 

    Some of my best ideas come to me as a gift when least expected. 

    My parents were the first on a long list of people I've been blessed to know, supporting and helping me along the way, giving me the confidence to keep at it. 

    Fear is part of the deal. 

    Motivation is not something to take for granted. 

    As I get older, I’ve realized that my hair has lost much of the rich color and body it once had. 

    Music has taught me a lot. 

    People ask me questions. 

    Discipline is something I could use more of. 

    Change is gonna come. 

    I chose the guitar because they look cool and are super fun to play. 

    I’ve never understood politics. 

    The thing that makes me nervous on stage is lightning, thunder, and large dive bombing insects. 

    The future of jazz is happening. 

    A sense of humor is important because, laughter is good for you. 

    The history of jazz is overwhelmingly rich with beauty, mystery, and reveals infinite possibilities for the future. 

    The clarinet was my first instrument.

  • Leading Questions - Tom Varner

    Someone once told me to get out there and fly.

    When I was 14 I was tiny, felt beat-up, but knew there was a lot more out there waiting for me. 

    The french horn is sometimes a very harsh, yet beautiful, mistress. 

    If I could do it all over again, I’d just work at it and not stress about it. 

    Practice makes you feel better. 

    When I look at where I’m at right now,  I am kind of amazed, and yet I still have lots of plans.

    The piece of music that always resonates with me is a beautiful and freely played melody. 

    Some of my best ideas come to me when I finally, finally, can have a moment of total quiet.

    My parents were good people that really loved me. 

    Fear is something that can cripple you, but can be overcome too.

    Motivation is just wanting it to be good. 

    As I get older, I’ve realized that you must savor the little, good, stuff--ouch! Sounds like a bad tv ad!

    In the big scheme of things, what really matters is love. 

    I cried when I found out that jazz French horn great Julius Watkins died, and that I did not thank him for the lessons I had with him one year earlier. 

    Music has taught me to be patient. To work hard.   To value joy. 

    People ask me why do you stick your hand in that thing like that?

    Right now I’m interested in, music that has a simple complexity, with a quietness at its core, even if it gets loud.

    Discipline is taking oneself seriously, and so, taking care of yourself, and so, staying on top of your instrument.

    I’m not interested in  smarminess, anything that plods for a long time, or bad retro looks at music that I happened to hate in the first place!

    Change is necessary for life.

    I chose the french horn because the little picture looked cool at the end of third grade, when we got to choose what we'd play in September. And I passed the "ear test."

    I’ve never understood the gratuitous putting down of others. Even Charlie Parker said, "never put a fellow musician down," according to Steve Lacy. 

    When I’m stuck I try to go to a very quiet place, or, clean up my desk and my office---both VERY hard to do at times. 

    Improvisation is conversation. 

    Less is more because sometimes you just want less!

    More is more because sometimes you just want more!

    The thing that makes me nervous on stage is not being prepared, and so, being "plodding." 

    When I’m playing well, it feels like flying. 

    If I could have made a career on another instrument, it would have been the trumpet?  But not so sure!

    Some musicians don’t understand well, they just don't understand, period.

    Your audience is usually happy to go on a ride that they have not been on before. 

    I’m happy whenever I’m listening to Beethoven, Bach, Stravinsky, Sonny Rollins, Ornette, Kenny Dorham, and my kids laughing. 

    Being a musician has meant that I have traveled to and played in Ukraine, Japan, Singapore, Chile, Bolivia, Russia, Latvia, Colombia, Norway, even Idaho--but never, yet, to Arizona or New Mexico!

    I view my greatest achievement to be that I am alive and happy with my wife and my two kids. 

    The future of jazz is unknown. 

    A sense of humor is important because,  without humor, we would all fall down and die from depression. 

    The difference between playing and composing is thinking in the moment, and thinking ahead.

    The history of jazz is filled with many unknown heroes, not just the 'famous' ones.

  • The Trade Off

    Why do we keep choosing convenience over quality?

    Maybe the pace of business and even more likely our attention spans demand that we have results RIGHT NOW!

    I know I appreciate the immediacy and ultimately convenience of the digital age.  I can carry a phone in my pocket with 10,000 songs at the touch of my finger tips.  Never mind that the trade off means a gradual decline in sound quality to compress those songs into a micro-mobile format.  And, in time the new format becomes the new standard and now our standards have been...lowered.

    Instead of making music sound more amazing in the recording process and translating that to the consumer, allowing them to hear what the musicians heard in the studio, we give up, because we know that there is no point in improving fidelity, it will all be lost in the $9 ear buds and bookshelf speakers.

    It's not only music, cameras and digital imaging have seen the same regression.  Digital imaging has seen a gradual degree of improvement since first hitting the market.  Sensors have become more dynamic with better color representation and increased resolution.  But, it seems the technology has pretty much peaked and now the focus is on creating smaller cameras with smaller, less expensive sensors and electronic viewfinders to help remove any of the imagination of what your image might look like before pressing the shutter release.  The visual parallel to music’s MP3 is the JPEG, the standard, compressed image type that dominates how we see most images on the Internet, which sadly, is the only place we see most images.

    Didn't we used to strive for quality?  Wasn't the goal to make something better than before? Better than our competitors?  At some point we exchanged the concept of better for more convenient.  The buzz words today are: smaller, faster, more memory...but what they don't say is, this will be good enough until the next round of marketing when we convince you it isn't.  This would be ok, it's an old marketing plan, tried and true, but what's not evolving in the products is real quality, only quicker speeds and smaller packages.  

    What we're really losing is imagination.  To envision something better in some seemingly intangible way requires more creativity than simply asking that things fit the new buzz words.  And, I think the digital revolution is somewhat to blame, well maybe not the medium, but rather our laziness in its use and development.

    Now, don't get me wrong.  I think digital technology is absolutely amazing, literally world changing, has made so many things better and has created easy access for many people to find their creative voices.  I love using my digital cameras, love manipulating images in my computer, using my iPad to trigger my camera, suspended 30 feet in the air.  Amazing.  I think I have far more control in real time, have greater room to experiment, not being tied to film costs and knowing that I can combine and create images in my computer, allowing me to see the potential in an image far beyond what was available in the film days.

    What I miss is that my imagination is not engaged in the same way.  Director Robert Altman once described what he felt is so magical about fishing.  Essentially, once the hook drops over the side of the boat, one’s imagination is underwater.  The fisherman can't see what lies below, he can only imagine the depth, the fish, the plants.  It's really wonderful.  And that's what it is to shoot film.  Your imagination resides on the piece of acetate, represented by an imperfect chemical reaction, subject to the variations in unique film color palette and contrast, the development...you are simply left to hold an idea in your mind as to what you have captured until it is returned from the lab.  This is something we are losing in the digital era.  There is a real value in not always knowing if you "got it".  There is a real value in allowing some elements of chance into one's process because that's where discovery happens.

     To bring this around to my original assertion, maybe the development in technology needs to move from complete control and instead allow for a more human-like degree of variance, a digital expression of “hand made”, that knowledge that the human hand and the unique qualities that come from it having played a part in the creation of an image or a song.  As long as we all have the same tools, the same sensors, the same editing plug-ins and digital effect processors, we are doomed to homogenized art. 

     Maybe the much maligned hipsters are onto something.  Go see a well printed image, feel the quality of the paper in your hands and observe the transition of the ink as it moves across the surface. Dig out your old record player and listen not only to the songs on your LP’s but that unique, imperfect, warm feeling that resides within those vinyl discs.  Appreciate a hand crafted piece of furniture in comparison to the latest offering from Ikea.  Visit that beautifully ornate old building with the wooden window frames and creaky floors before it is razed to make room for another block of perfectly characterless condos.

  • Leading Questions - Chuck Deardorf

    Someone once told me play every gig like it was the last one you'll ever do, and someday you'll be right.

    When I was 14 I played the trombone.

    The bass is my voice, better sounding and lower.

    Practice makes it possible to play what I hear without thinking.

    The piece of music that always resonates with me is 'Allegretto from Beethovan’s 7th; " "Third Stone from the Sun" by Jimi Hendrix, "A Remark You Made" by Wayne Shorter and "The Moon's a Harsh Mistress" by Jim Webb (sung by Kelly Harland). And about 2 dozen more.

    Some of my best ideas come to me when I'm walking or riding my bike.

    My parents were nurturing, loving and honest.

    As I get older, I’ve realized what does it matter what people say about you anyway?

    In the big scheme of things, what really matters is family. music. art. how you treat other people. being yourself.

    Music has taught me everything I know about life, love and death.

    I’m not interested in wasting time.

    I chose the bass because it totally controls where the music goes, and the best part is that no one knows but us bassists.

    Improvisation is composing in real time, with other like minds.

    Your audience is what allows us to keep doing what we do - some artists tend to forget that.

    The future of jazz is bright and murky at the same time. So many great musicians coming up, honoring the tradition but not afraid to dispense with it. When I came up, there were many venues and opportunities to play live music and make a living doing it - not always jazz, but playing 5 to 6 nights a week, getting my chops together and allowing time to shed and improve.  I'm unsure how the next generations will be able to do music full time, as the money for clubs and shows is the same as it was in the 1980s. Local and regional players and groups tend to be an afterthought as attention and funding are steered towards 'the next hip thing'.  But.... good music always prevails, and tends to thrive and grow in tough times.

    A sense of humor is important because, see previous answer.

    The history of jazz is still unfolding.

  • Connections

    © mkhmarketing.wordpress.com

    The world is a much different place today than it was just 10 years ago.  The way we connect with and remain connected to our business associates has changed.  It used to be that one relied entirely upon face to face meetings, mailings and the telephone to keep in touch.  If a photographer created new work, getting it seen meant much more than simply posting it to Flickr, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and any number of other electronic resources.  The photographer relied on physically, not virtually, reaching out to others: sending a postcard, meeting for lunch, scheduling a portfolio review, producing a show, advertising one's work and services in an industry annual, etc.  No one can argue that connecting to others, broadening one's network has ever been easier than today.  But what dangers lie in putting too much faith in these virtual methods?  What is being lost for the convenience of hitting the "send button"?  

    With the ease of digital file sharing, artists of all mediums are now engaged in a battle for the attention of those for whom they would like to work.  Art and photo directors are inundated with digital offerings on a daily basis, commonly receiving multitudes of e-promos (digital "postcards" sent to a targeted audience).  Previously, artists sought the attention of industry professionals via physical postcards, still practiced today but with less frequency.  With the ease with which an artist can create and send his/her own promos, the natural forces of moderation are left unchecked.  Previously, the cost of having a physical postcard printed, the cost of postage and the time to prepare a mailing might have limited the reasonable scope of a promotional campaign.  Today, it's easy to create an e-promo on one's computer and send it to as many recipients as the sender can collect contact info, with no additional cost.  The vital question with regard to the e-promo is: where is the tipping point at which art and photo directors can not keep up with the number of solicitations they receive?  Considering the level of saturation, do they still have the stomach left to visit social media sites?

    I'm not advocating a move away from social media, I think it's hugely useful, in fact without it you wouldn't be reading this.  I'm simply wondering what we might be letting go of that could make a difference.  My suggestion is to seek opportunities to connect with other professionals, in real-time, face to face.  Why?  I think it's important to realize that these people are not hiring you for your work alone.  Obviously, the work must resonate, but they're also interested in the person you are.  Are you easy to work with?  Can you work with a team?  Are you responsible?  These questions can't be answered perusing one's on-line portfolio.  I'd venture to say that the value of one's character might have as much to do with sustaining a creative relationship as the work that is produced.  Dependable, flexible people are a valued commodity in a business that lives and dies by press dates.   

    One might think, "This is all well and good.  Personally meet with all 2,000 on my contact list."  

    Of course there are practical limits.  And, at today's pace, many of one's potential clients might no longer have time to meet personally.  However, take advantage of the opportunities that do exist.  Dust off the print portfolio, or as my friend Kirk Tuck likes to do, show up with a loose box of prints.  There is nothing better than seeing and holding/feeling an image printed on good paper.  The iPad can't come even remotely close.  Take the time - on both ends of the job relationship - it's an investment that will pay off, not only in potential work, but in real relationships and a tangible, creative environment.

  • Leading Questions - David Marriott

    Someone once told me, "If you aren't making any mistakes, then you probably aren't truly improvising".  That someone was Dave Liebman.

     When I was 14 my dad took me to my first jazz festival in Port Townsend and I spent all night listening to Jiggs Whigham at The Elk's Club -- I remember he played "Wave" and "All The Things You Are", and I've been subconsciously trying to emulate those performances ever since.

     When I’m playing well it feels like the music is flowing through me and I'm just listening to it with everyone else, like a medium possessed by a spirit at a seance.

     Practicing makes me relax -- it is the "yin" to playing's "yang".

     My parents were both brought up in houses filled with music -- I don't think I'd be a musician today without them having created a household like that for me growing up. 

     Fear is just another negative, crippling feeling that I don't have time for anymore.

     The piece of music that always resonates with me is Bach's Goldberg Variations.  My dad played me his album of Glenn Gould performing them when I was about ten -- it might have been the first time I heard true joy and life in the sound of music.

     Some of my best ideas come to me after watching a movie or reading some good fiction.  I love borrowing practical techniques from other forms of art, but I also love finding inspiration in great stories and storytelling.

    People ask me, "How do you compose?" The most honest answer I can give always starts with, "It depends on the day."

    When I look at where I’m at right now I know I'm right where I'm supposed to be, and I couldn't be happier.

    Improvisation is what drew me to jazz music -- the idea that you could compose while playing was too irresistible for my brain.

    I’m happy whenever I’m listening to Art Tatum, Oscar Peterson, J.J. Johnson, Ornette Coleman, Charlie Parker, Branford Marsalis,  Dizzy Gillespie, Kenny Kirkland, Jeff 'Tain' Watts, sports radio (710 ESPN), classic Rock... we'll be here all day at this rate.

    A sense of humor is important because while there are many great times in the life a musician, there are some hard times, too. 

    I chose the trombone because there was only one other kid playing it in my Beginning Band class -- "We need more trombones!" -- I'd already spent a semester learning trumpet, and my uncle had one I could use, so I switched.

    Change is inevitable you just have decide how you are going to let it affect you. 

    In the big scheme of things, what really matters is family. I don't know where I'd be without mine -- probably crazy or dead.

  • Leading Questions - John Bishop

    Someone once told me that it'd be good to get a day job sometime, so I worked a temp job once in 1981 where I made $36 for 10 hours of lifting slabs of bacon with a large hook. It ended up being a great motivator.

    When I was 14 I was working through some very nice beats on my silver-sparkle Decca drums. The neighbors were not amused, but somehow I ignored the pain I was causing and persevered as I got to know my new friend.

    My parents were always surrounding us with music, art, books, political talk and travel without making a big deal out of any of it. A nice result is that I'm afforded an ongoing wealth of inspiration from my sister and brothers, who each possess a bundle of imagination, curiosity, and follow-through. It's what I aspire to.

    The piece of music that I'll always have somewhere in my brain is "So What." My dad used to play Kind of Blue on many weekend mornings starting back when I was a toddler and that same record has been following me around ever since.

    If I could do it all over again, I’d pay way more attention, practice more, brush more, act better, not waste as much time, learn a foreign language, be braver...or possibly not.

    Discipline is a given to do anything competently, it's a very unfriendly word though.

    Some of my best ideas come to me at the last possible moment before I need them. And yes, I could venture that procrastination enters into it.

    More is more because it's not "less is more," which has always kind of bugged me. While it is a great concept, usually it's delivered (with a knowing look and a raised eyebrow) to a young musician as a key to 'good art.'  I'd probably go with "enough is enough, and you'll know it when you get there." 

    Music has taught me that working together is a really good idea.

    When I’m playing well, it feels like Vanilla Caramel Fudge ice cream. The only problem is I have a hard time being objective while playing, so my hopes are always that the whole of the music is working well no matter how completely together or lacking my playing is. If the paradiddle-diddles are flowing properly though, I do feel like ice cream.

    When I look at where I’m at right now I'm glad I didn't try to make plans for my future back in my 20s. Though I could possibly have "had it all" at this point, I'm pretty sure I wasn't that smart. Better to improvise...

    The future of jazz is as a music, fine and strong, but the business end of it is going to need some retooling. Fortunately, there are a lot of very creative people around who can't help themselves but to keep making music. Hopefully the world can eventually catch up to them again.

    Running a record label is like working!

    I started a label because it seemed at the time, like it was something that could be faked semi-easily and would give a home for a few projects we were working on. Having had no expectations, it's been quite an experience to witness the process of the many people and many small events tumbling together over the years to create this 'machine.'

    In the big scheme of things, what really matters is community.

    I’m happy when I've got things to do. I'm also happy when I've got nothing to do.

    Some musicians just don’t understand how much they know. Often derided from an early age, they spend their lives being told they don't know how to construct a productive life, they don't know business, and they don't know what being responsible means. Pooey! I ask for advice from a musician (or my wife, of course) about most anything before I seek out a civilian.

    Teaching has been a great education. I deserve some college credit for it in fact. Never knowing what one bone-headed thing you might say will stick in a student's head for the rest of their lives, makes for an ongoing, & humbling, learning experience. I'm relieved I haven't heard about too many of those moments yet and honored that some of the relationships have grown into very important, life-long friendships.

    The thing that makes me nervous on stage is having a mic put in front of my face in order for me 'to say a few things.'

    Right now, I should get back to work....