TALKING PICTURES (my blog)

Leading Questions

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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....

  • Leading Questions - Chad McCullough

    Someone once told me I couldn’t do it, and it was a waist of time to try because it wouldn’t work out.

    When I was 14 I heard Thomas Marriott play for the first time, and I figured out what I wanted to do.

    The trumpet is the worst best friend I’ll ever have

    If I could do it all over again, I’d jump to less conclusions, buy fewer mouthpieces, and listen to my teachers more.

    When I look at where I’m at right now, I’m very thankful to everyone who has taken the time to help me, and grateful for everyone who’s given me a chance to do well- and even more grateful for the second chances.

    Fear is what wakes me up every morning. Usually much earlier than I’d like.

    Motivation is what gets me out of bed, after the panic attack wakes me up.

    Discipline is second only to respect. Or maybe it’s a byproduct of respect. I’m not sure yet.

    I’m not even close. But... I’m trying.

    If I had a double-C, I’d bottle that up, and sell it to all of my trumpet player friends for cheap!

    When I’m stuck It’s because I’m not listening hard enough.

    If I could have made a career on another instrument, it would have been the piano. I still pretend sometimes.

    Some musicians just don’t understand that we’re all in this together.

    I’m happy whenever I’m listening to Miles.

  • Leading Questions - Jon Hamar

    Someone once told me “don’t worry about why you are or are not hired. Worry about the gigs you have.” He was a very wise man!

    When I was 14 I found out that my middle school teacher had played in the Stan Kenton Band. I had always respected him, but his professional experience gave me a little more appreciation for his expertise.   This teacher was extremely supportive and encouraging and had a part in my decision to pursue music.

    The bass is both simplistic and complicated.  The function of the bass is simple, but making it work is difficult.   I’m trying to play in time, in tune and make good note choices when improvising……this is not simple!

    Practice makes me enjoy music making even more.  The more time I am able to spend in practice the better I feel and am able to communicate on gigs.  I can concentrate less on the technical aspect of playing and get inside the music.     

    When I look at where I’m at right now, I am thankful for all of the amazing opportunities and the people in my life.  The unfortunate part of experience is the realization of how much more there is to learn.

    The piece(s) of music that always resonates with me is J.S. Bach’s cello suites. There is so much great music to hear and enjoy, so this is a very hard question for me to answer. I appreciate Bach because he was a true genius and improviser.

    Some of my best ideas come to me when I’m most relaxed.  It’s difficult for me to loosen up and forget about work, bills, etc.  I find that when I can really rest, I come up with some nice ideas.

    My parents were not professional musicians but I grew up listening to my father play Boogie Woogie and stride piano.  I remember being glued to my Dad’s left hand when he was playing, and I was intrigued by the movement in the music. 

    Fear is often thought of as a motivating factor……I recently decided that I don’t want to make any decisions based on fear.

    As I get older, I’ve realized that life does not revolve around music. I love music.  It’s my passion, but there are more important things.   

    Music has taught me to be patient, focused, expectant and hopeful. 

    Change is inevitable.  I expect to see change in every aspect of life, including music. 

    The thing that makes me nervous on stage is indecision.

    I’m happy whenever I’m listening to my Son laugh! 

    A sense of humor is important on so many levels.  Musicians know all the crazy things that happen on gigs.  A healthy sense of humor is a survival tool. I’ve found it is important that I am able to laugh at myself….there are many opportunities. 

    Playing jazz in Seattle is great!  There are so many talented, hardworking and creative people in the Northwest. I count it a privilege to work with them. 

     

  • Leading Questions - Bill Anschell

    When I was 14 I was a miscast classical clarinetist with no real interest in classical music or clarinet. Or jazz, for that matter. My guilty pleasure was playing pop tunes by ear on my family’s upright piano.

    Practice makes me feel and play better. Unfortunately, the buzz usually wears off by the time I get to the gig.

    Some of my best ideas come to meon planes and in hotel rooms. That’s where I do a lot of my writing -– both words and music.

    Fear is what stops a lot of musicians from growing. Once they start getting recognition and attention they’re afraid to sound bad, so they stop taking chances. I’ve seen it happen to so many good players who could have kept getting better; when my ego goes south on me I give it a good spanking.

    As I get older, I’ve realized that touch and phrasing are more important forms of “chops” than being able to play fast. Why did it take me so long to figure it out?

    In the big scheme of things, what really matters is the big scheme of things. Individual notes, not so much. Arc of a solo and telling a story, much more so.

    People ask me questions while I’m playing the piano sometimes. When I try to answer, I speak rhythmically and drool.

    Discipline is something easily transferable from jazz to other walks of life. Jazz artists learn to identify their own areas of weakness and devise a plan to remedy them. The skill set of self-assessment and -improvement is a key part of personal growth, and explains why jazz artists who move into other fields or have secondary areas of interest tend to do so well at them.

    I’m not interested in playing Summertime. No hard feelings, okay? I’ve only played it, maybe, 2,000 times over 30 years, and it’s starting to smell bad.

    I chose the piano because I knew I had years of concentrated practicing ahead of me, and I didn’t think I’d be able to enjoy doing that on my other instruments I played through college — clarinet and sax.

    I’ve never understood why musicians will play the same songs, with the same bandmates, over and over. There are so many great tunes out there, and no shortage of players who can trigger new ideas in your playing.

    Improvisation is fleeting. It’s too easy let yourself play things you’ve played before; harder but much more rewarding to force yourself to create in the moment. Sometimes that means steering yourself into rough terrain where you may sound like you don’t know what you’re doing — because you really don’t.

    Less is more because putting some space in your solos lets the rhythm section and groove shine through, gives audiences compact phrases they can digest, and gives you a chance to be more thoughtful about your next idea.

    When I’m playing well, it feels like time stands still, and every second matters more than most hours off the bandstand do.

    The future of jazz is going to be very different. In twenty years or so, the older folks who were drawn to jazz because the “standard” repertoire comes from the pop music of their generation will no longer be around. The jazz audience at that point will be even smaller than it is today, but the music itself will be more original, in terms of both repertoire and approach.

    A sense of humor is crucial in living the jazz life, where so many events both on and off the bandstand can be seen as either tragic or comic. I think the ability to laugh at ourselves, find the humor in the various indignities thrown at us, and avoid inflating jazz with hyper-importance is critical to maintaining our sanity.

    Someone once told me Blue Bossa is a blues because the second chord is a IV chord. They were kidding, right?

    If I could do it all over again, I’d have taken more World Music classes (South Indian, West African, and Javanese) in college, and fewer jazz classes. Most of my real jazz learning has been on the bandstand and in the shed.

    The piece of music that always resonates with me is almost anything by the Beatles. I think I listened to music more innocently, less critically, before I took on music as a career. So I absorbed it in the best way. The Jazz Police may issue me a citation, but hearing those songs now resonates in a more emotional way than a lot of jazz I hear.

    I chose the piano because I wanted to be able to enjoy practicing, and I didn’t think that would be the case on clarinet or sax.

    I view my greatest achievement to be having my own sound. And being a good dad.

  • Leading Questions - Jim Wilke

    The best advice I’ve ever received is“you’re not talking to an audience of thousands, you’re talking to thousands of audiences of one or two.”

    When I was 14 I was playing alto sax in concert band and listening to Western Swing on the radio during the day and jazz late at night .

    Broadcasting jazz has meantintroducing others to some of the most creative musicians who ever lived.

    If I could do it all over again
    , I probably wouldn’t change much.

    My voice is who I am.

    When I look at where I’m at right now, I feel very lucky to make a living around the music I love.

    The piece of music that always resonates with me is – well, can I mention two songs? “You Must Believe in Spring” and “With Every Breath I Take”….or anything by Johnny Mandel who I regard as the Schubert of American songwriters.

    I see my role in Jazz as a bridge between artist and audience.

    My parents were Iowa Farmers who made me feel grounded in more than one sense of the word.

    Fear is to be challenged, dared.

    Motivation is a deadline – (I know that’s not original but it’s true for me!)

    As I get older, I’ve realized that there’s less time than I thought.

    In the big scheme of things
    , what really matters is doing what you believe in.

    I cried when Father’s Day came a week after my Dad died.

    Music has taught me another language, like Spanish or French.

    People always ask me what I like among recent jazz CDs.

    Discovering a new artist or recording is like meeting an intriguing person you know is going to become a friend.

    Right now I’m interested in wearing t-shirts and shorts and sandals again.

    Discipline is very difficult for me.

    I’m not interested in pop culture or celebrities.

    Change is welcome as long as it improves on the past.

    When I learned music, I chose the alto saxophone because my family had one. My sister and brother had each played it before me.

    I’ve never understood the appeal of songs with three chords or fewer.

    Improvisation is like conversation. No one writes down or memorizes what they’re going to say in a conversation.

    Less is more because it’s easier to grasp.

    More is more because
     sometimes it’s good to be overwhelmed.

    The thing that makes me nervous when recording a show is
     unexplained extraneous noise, and not seeing anything moving – like a turntable or tape reels.

    If I could have made a career on an instrument, it would have been the guitar.

    Some musicians don’t seem to understand, some music works better in concert than on the radio, and vice versa.

    Your audience is
     like a group of friends who have similar tastes and interests.

    I’m happy whenever I’m listening to Dizzy or Duke, or Sarah.

    I view my greatest achievement to be
     live broadcasts with Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, Woody Herman, the MJQ, Coltrane, Oscar Peterson, Stan Getz and many others. Also the opportunity to turn people on to some of the great talent living here and playing now.

    The future of jazz is to evolve and build on the past, not relive it.

    A sense of humor is important because without it, one might take oneself too seriously.

  • Leading Questions - Dan Balmer

    The guitar is and was my redemption.

    If I could do it all over again I’d do the exact same thing. The failures and successes, the growth, the playing, the teaching, the relationships, the experiences…we can never see the parallel paths our lives would take and, although I certainly haven’t been everything I’d want to be, I think I’d take the outcome of this path over 95% of all other potential outcomes.

    My parents were always supportive and helpful even though a life in music is an unsure thing. Even in their 80’s they still come out to my gigs. My mother was a piano teacher so naturally understood about the music, and my father who didn’t have a lot of music in his background was always unconditionally supportive of me in this. In fact, my father went to Gresham High School with Seattle legend Floyd Standifer. When I first got into jazz he took me to Seattle to meet him. I’ll never forget that afternoon at Floyd’s house. I remember everything he told me.

    When I’m playing well it feels better than anything. I believe my most transcendent moments come when I’m playing my best. I liken jazz improvising to deep meditation or prayer where one is in tune with a higher power that is flowing through them.

    As I get older I realize that almost everything I’ve said at some point, I’ve contradicted at some other point. This leads me to my “big umbrella” theory of jazz, and music in general. I think there is room for many styles and interpretations of jazz music, all valid, all requiring great skill and effort, all resonating with a different but legitimate audience. Any strong opinion you express, if you don’t allow the possible validity of some other opinion, is probably wrong.

    Teaching has been an incredibly surprising joy. I’ve learned and continue to learn so much by teaching, and have developed so many relationships that continue for years and years. I’ve received countless messages from students (or their mothers) over the years, thanking me for whatever it was they took from my teaching. It’s a privilege. I’m blessed because everyone who comes to me for lessons is just there to hear what I have to say, so I try and say things of value.

    Economics was important to me to study because I have always believed that people’s realities are formed in many ways by economics. To communicate, you need to understand people, economics helps this understanding, and music is about communication. Also, the only classes I got “C’s” in were music classes.

    The future of jazz like economics, is becoming more globally and technologically oriented. New jazz will reflect more non Western influences, and new technologies will be integrated as well. I also think there will always be support for each of the classic jazz styles because like all art, jazz has had moments in time where a majority agree it was clearly at a sort of peak. A moment when it resonated with a large audience, was “cutting edge” yet accessible, and the artists were clearly giants. For example I think people will always enjoy the “Kind of Blue” era, just as people love the Impressionist painters more than anything since, or people still agree on Bach and Beethoven etc. more than Webern or Stockhausen.

  • Leading Questions - Michael Barnett

    When I was 14, I fell in love with the sound of the bass, specifically, Milt Hinton.

    If I could do it all over again, I’d probably do most of it again, perhaps more efficiently.

    Practice makes perfect, allegedly, but it never quite does which is why we keep doing it.

    The bass is “a thing of beauty and a pain-in-the-ass forever.”

    When I look at where I’m at right now, I know I’m still on the way to where I’m going.

    My parents were talented, interested and interesting people, supportive and, in my case, very tolerant.

    Fear is a poor motivator.

    Motivation is whatever works for you.

    As I get older, I’ve realized that advancing age is not necessarily a catastrophe, at least so far.

    The thing about music is it’s the greatest blessing and thus requires nothing less than our best effort to do it right.

    In the big scheme of things, what really matters is [ See above]

    I cried when Elvis got out of the Army.

    Music has taught me, is still teaching me, humility and gratitude for the grace it makes possible.

    When I’m performing well, it feels like I’m home and I’d like to keep doing this for a long time.

    If I could have made a career on another instrument, it would have been the piano or the larynx.

    Some musicians just don’t understand that they don’t understand. This ain’t some kind of deregulated democracy.

    Your audience is an essential part of the whole process and, whenever possible, to be valued as such.

    I’m happy whenever I’m listening to Lester Young. There are many others but Prez never fails to cheer me with his wit, imagination, and the sheer joy of his playing.

    I view my greatest achievement to be maintaining a high degree of enthusiasm for and optimism about the music I love and still wanting and needing it as much as I ever did.

  • Leading Questions - Greta Matassa

    Someone once told me, Success is getting what you want, but happiness is wanting what you get. I’ve based my career decisions on this advice

    When I was 14 I knew I wanted to make music my life and become a professional singer. now, with 2 teenage daughters going through the trials and tribulations of high school, I realize how lucky I was to have discovered who I was at such an early age.

    My voice is my vehicle of expression. My voice is me.

    Some of my best ideas come to me while walking at Alki and talking to my friend Susan Pascal.

    When I look at where I’m at right now, I couldn’t be happier or luckier. I have a career in the Pacific Northwest (a place I’m coming to realize is one of the most beautiful in the world). The opportunity to travel on small outings. A nice recording contract. A great teaching practice, a very wonderful man who loves me and great kids. I wouldn’t ask for more.

    I’m happy whenever I’m listening to Blossom Dearie.

    Teaching has been an education. As a self taught singer I’ve re-examined how I know what I know and am always finding that my students can often teach me to teach them if I listen closely and with empathy.

    If I could play another instrument it would most likely be drums. I’m a very rhythm oriented singer and find watching and listening to drummers fascinating.

    Improvisation is like my father described abstract expressionism. A uniquely in-the-moment experience based on years of experience and knowing when to “take the brush away from the canvas”

    My parents were very supportive. My mother was a scientist and my father an artist. They are still a big part of my life.

    People ask me, why aren’t you famous, living in New York or touring or on Letterman or something. I refer them to question #1 for the answer.

    Music has taught me the best things in life are free!

    Less is more because of Shirley Horn.

    More is more because of Ella Fitzgerald.

    Being a woman in jazz has meant nothing in particular. I am treated and in turn treat my fellow musicians as human beings and this seems to be a nice arrangement.

    In my view my greatest achievement has been Gina and Franny Matassa

    Trust is easy when you’ve been practicing, both in music and life.

  • Leading Questions - Gregg Keplinger

    Someone once told me don’t play what you hear …play what you feel

    The drums are the heart

    If I could do it all over again, I’d be a Flamenco dancer

    Practice makes one stay off the streets

    When I look at where I’m at right now I’m ok with that

    Some of my best ideas come to me when my mind is disengaged

    Fear is unnecessary

    Motivation is necessary

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

    I cried when my drum teacher died

    Music has taught me to expect nothing

    People ask me stuff that doesn’t matter

    Discipline is what it takes

    Change is a drag

    I chose the drums because I liked the sound in between

    When I’m stuck I hang

    Less is more because the bass player can’t “hang”

    More is more because the bass player didn’t show up…

    If I had to choose between losing my sight or my hearing, I’d….one eye and one ear

    The thing that makes me nervous on stage is not being able to play really play

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

    Some musicians just don’t understand playing

    Your audience is your employer

    I’m happy whenever I’m listening to Queen Adreena

    The future of jazz is over

  • Leading Questions - Cuong Vu

    Someone once told me that “there’s no money in music!” That’s it. No follow-up to this “heaviness.” What a dumb-ass.

    If I could do it all over again, I’d be more fearless in pursuing whatever I wanted. The first reason is that I’ve finally learned that the things I fear about myself…my insecurities…the things that I’ve spent time on in the past, worrying about what people think of what I musically put out, or how I play and sound…none of it matters because people aren’t concerned about me. They are primarily and pretty much always concerned about themselves.

    The second is because I’d know that it’s all going to be alright in the end.

    Practice is one of the most important ingredients that makes the difference – between a great musician and a mediocre one, a winner and a loser, a person who knows himself/herself or not, a successful person and a failure. It’s not just mindless practice by rote though. I feel like I have to put a lot into the why of what is being practiced and really believe that it’s all about putting in the thousands of hours of focused thought and action on developing my skills and ideas to get to my musical ideals. That alone has been a huge factor in learning about myself. A nice “side effect” of it is becoming a better musician with a constantly growing awareness everyday.

    When I look at where I’m at right now, I am surprised that I’m here and could have never guessed that I’d get here. But when I trace the steps, it all makes perfect sense. And it’s fucking crazy. I bet it’s like that for most people.

    Some of my best ideas come to me when I’m happy, at ease, and inspired by something that has recently had a deep impact on me. On the flip side, I rarely do my best stuff when I’m stressed. I may be more productive when I’m stressed. I just don’t think that the product is as good.

    Fear is something that needs to be constantly managed and kept out of the way. Sometimes they are little thoughts that seem insignificant but can all come together and be debilitating if they aren’t addressed. They need to be smacked away like pesky little mosquitoes.

    Motivation is what it’s all about…isn’t it?

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

    People ask me “what’s it like playing with Pat Metheny?” or “What’s Pat Metheny like?” I really wish they’d stop.

    Right now, I’m focusing on being patient. I’m incredibly impatient with inefficiency, especially in people who get in the way. I always feel like I have to get as much in as I can in my life time cause it can be taken away unexpectedly so I’m usually in a pseudo-hurry.

    Musically, I’m working on optimum efficiency in practicing the trumpet so that I can have more time to focus on writing.

    The thing that makes me nervous on stage is playing with musicians who aren’t listening or aren’t 100% committed to each other. Or me being unprepared. Or my trumpet chops feeling weird. Or when I feel like I have to impress somebody which I try not to ever think about or do.

    When I’m performing well, it feels like the music is playing me.

    If I could have made a career on another instrument
     it would have been voice and the guitar, or drums.

    Some musicians just don’t understand that they NEED to understand and do whatever it takes to figure it out.

    Discipline is what it’s all about…isn’t it?

    Change is crucial and is part of how the whole universe works…isn’t it?

    Your audience is one of the most important reasons for all of this. I think though…for me…that I have to approach it as that whatever I put out there – playing, writing, recordings, performing – when I try to please the audience, the audience is really just me. That there are a bunch of me sitting out there enjoying the music. That’s my way of staying musically honest, cause when I start trying to figure out what people like and how I can address that instead of how I personally interface with music, I think that I lose. Music isn’t fun anymore, and probably…it will suck pretty good.

    Teaching has been one of the most rewarding vehicles of interaction that I’ve experienced. Along with seeing/hearing the students absorb and process the info while getting better and better at an accelerated rate, the thing that I wasn’t expecting to experience to such a high degree was my own learning and improvement from that process of information exchange. Another rewarding surprise is how open minded young people are to the possibilities of what music can be. I’ve always thought that young people are much more open then we “adults” are, but not to this extent.

    Moving to Seattle from New York has been a great decision…so far. I moved back to find a balance that would suit me better than the intensity and stress of daily life in NY that had me by the neck for the 14 years that I was there. I was a little worried about whether or not I was pissing my career down the toilet by leaving but I haven’t lost any standing there or anywhere else. What’s really weird is that I mentioned my anxiety about this to a few people out there and they collectively said that if I don’t lose any drive and become stagnant, I would be surprised by how my “career thing” would elevate once I split and was less consumed by it. So far, it seems to be true.

    The future of jazz is uncertain. If “key” people don’t start to re-evaluate what “JAZZ” is really all about, the music will certainly prove to be dead and will have been dead for the last 10 – 15 years. These “key” people that I’m thinking of are the ones in the position of deep influence, whether they are the ones responsible for educating our young or putting the music out there to the audience. There is a persistent idea that the neo-classic jazz movement has been good for the music, being the salvation of jazz…I don’t know about that. While it’s proven to be good for jazz in terms of having brought back some of the audience and recognition, I really believe that it’ll prove to be only a symptomatic effect.

    On the flip side, the venom with which the primary components of this movement have fervently used to discredit a huge amount of music that sits outside of its stylistic sphere, even if the music is innovative and ironically, even if the music is rooted in jazz (or at least deeply informed by it). They do this in order to validate they’re own belief system and agenda and it’s gonna prove to be the disease that wipes out jazz altogether. The only cure for this that I can think of is if more people with much more open and progressive views of what jazz was and is, inherit these “key” positions.

    It’s mind boggling to me how it’s possible that jazz started out and had been all about progress and innovation up until the mid 80’s when these conservative minded people were handed the power to brainwash the general jazz audience into thinking that jazz HAS to be a specific sound and style. If you look at the history of jazz, with just about every new movement, came with it a tension between the creators of the new and the musicians of the older styles where the latter would criticize the previous for “destroying” the music. It’s a natural human reaction because generally, the older people become, the more they are detached from the trends of the present times and become more detached as they get older. I mean…for instance, it’s incredible to me that there are a large number of people in their mid 50s and up that either have no idea how to use a computer nor the Internet.

    Anyway, this lack of understanding and empathy promotes frustration and resentment of the new. I even find myself thinking the same complaint that we usually identify with the elders which is, “Young people today! Back when I was your age, we didn’t…” This pretty much sums up this phenomenon. This I can understand and deal with. What’s un-F**KING believable about this neo-classical movement in jazz of the mid 80s was that it was led by a few young musicians who had the media and record labels behind them. *NONE of them have succeeded in ANY contribution to the progress/growth/innovation of this music, whatsoever, by the way.*

    It’s been a little over 20 years now and I’m starting to see us coming out of this coma. Not that there has been a lack of innovative musicians…just that they aren’t supported nor recognized on a larger scale that’s more appropriate in terms of celebrating advancements in the music which would continue to feed and support jazz itself.

    If the planets align, we’ll come out of it okay and we’ll hear some pretty amazing and new jazz, and jazz will live on. If not, we’ll still hear great music because these young creative musicians will keep on doing what they do for the love of it. It’ll still be amazing, innovative, new and informed/influenced by jazz, its discipline and its history. It just won’t be recognized as jazz and the musicians who are making it won’t want to call it jazz anyway if this general and simplistic idea of what jazz is or isn’t persists.

  • Leading Questions - Saul Cline

    Fear is an opportunity to be proud of yourself later.

    If I could do it all over again I would have practiced more.

    Your audience is smarter than you think.

    I’m happy whenever I’m listening toOtis Redding.

    Less is more because that’s where beauty, interaction, playfulness and nuance live.

    Music has taught me that endless pursuits are the best kind.

    My parents were completely supportive of my every creative whim.

    Practice makes me feel calm and prepared for the unexpected.

    Some of my best ideas come to me while I am playing music with friends.

    The thing that makes me nervous on stage is a drunk and aggressive person in the audience who really wants my attention.

    When I look at where I’m at right now, I think I am ok. I probably should have practiced more, but I like the musical experiences I’ve had.

    The future of jazz is in great shape. I love the people I’m playing with, the groups I hear in clubs, and the new music that is coming out.

    When I’m performing well, it feels like my brain has been replaced with bees, my chest has been replaced with a bass drum, and my ears are being used by the other people on the bandstand.

    Improvisation is the only time in my life when I can keep my brain clear and stop it from stewing about unimportant things.

    Right now, I’m focusing on
     finding some nice tunes to play on clarinet.

    If I could have made a career on another instrument, it would have been piano. After that, maybe guitar so I could get in on some country gigs.

    Motivation is something I can’t control. Sometimes I don’t experience it for weeks and then suddenly, it’s there.

    I cried when I got to sit next to Ray Charles and he started sing the first few lines to the verse of “They Can’t Take That Away From Me”.….it was a little more soul than I was expecting.

  • Leading Questions - Clarence Acox

    Someone once told me that band directors are born, not made.

    When I was 14 I heard a recording of Count Basie & his Orchestra playing “Easin’ It” and it changed my life.

    The drums are the life-blood of all America music.

    If I could do it all over again, I’d have gone in with Woody Woodhouse and bought an island in the San Juan’s 28 years ago.

    Practice makes
     you confident to convey a musical idea and as a result allows you to connect with someone in the audience.

    When I look at where I’m at right now, I thank my high school & college band directors, in addition to having the best parents ever. They never missed one of my school concerts.

    The piece of music that starts with simple phrase and is developed, knocks my sox off. People underestimate the importance of development.

    Some of my best ideas come to me at 3:00AM.

    My parents were (see #6)

    Fear is the root of prejudice.

    Motivation is the thing keeps me from starving.

    As I get older, I’ve realized that I don’t know s**t.

    The thing about swing is that it is a totally democratic endeavor.

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

    I cried when I first heard the St. Olaf Chapel Choir (or The Mormon Tabernacle Choir) sing “What Sweeter Music” by John Rutter.

    Music has taught me how to survive in a mad world.

    People ask me what growing up in New Orleans was like.

    Music is the food of life, so play on.

    Right now, I’m thinking about what the Garfield Jazz Ensemble will play at the next festival.

    Discipline is what requires you to focus.

    I’m not a fan of Donald Trump.

    Change is good, sometimes.

    If I had my way, jazz history would be required to be taught as a part of US History.

    I chose the drums because, they galvanize bands; no drums, no fire.

    I’ve never understood people who hunt.

    When I’m stuck I call on the masters that inhabited the earth before me.

    Improvisation is the essence of all jazz music.

    Less is more because Basie taught us it is.

    More is more because you’re misguided.

    If I had to choose between losing my sight or my hearing, I’d check out of here.

    The thing that makes me nervous on stage is
     when my band is not prepared.

    When I’m playing well, it feels like everything is right with the world.

    If I could have made a career on another instrument, it would have been the piano. I should have stuck with it.

    Some musicians just don’t understand
     that music should be a tool to connect with someone, not just for self-indulgence.

    Your audience is the thing that keeps you energized.

    I’m happy whenever I’m listening to Earth, Wind, & Fire sing: “That’s The Way of the World” on the CD Greatest Hits Live CD.

    Teaching has been
     THE most rewarding experience of my life.

    I view my greatest achievement to be making an impact on young peoples’ lives, in a positive way.

    The future of jazz is in good shape, provided it is nourished.

  • Leading Questions - Mark Taylor

    Someone once told me, “Nobody cares about your creativity or your original music”. Wrong.

    When I was 14, I discovered Bird, Cannonball, and Phil Woods.

    The saxophone is my voice.

    If I could do it all over again, I’d be better at trusting my initial instincts more and just getting on with it!

    Practice makes 
    no difference at all if you have no plan or goal.

    When I look at where I’m at right now, I’m proud of the projects I’ve been a part of and grateful to the musicians who include me.

    The piece of music that first mesmerized me was Charlie Parker with Strings “Just Friends”

    Some of my best ideas come to me
     when I’m not trying to come up with an idea.

    My parents were and are, always completely supportive. I’m very lucky.

    Fear is indecision.

    Motivation is best when it’s internally based.

    As I get older, I’ve realized that if you try to please everyone, you’re not being sincere. That, and I’m not nearly as old as some of you other guys.

    In the big scheme of things, what really matters is are you happy? Do you love what you do? Do you care about the people around you?

    Music has taught me
     friendship, trust, confidence, humility, compromise … pretty much everything.

    People ask me “why does your neck expand so much when you play” (I have no idea).

    Discipline is following through.

    Change is essential to creativity.

    I chose the saxophone because
     frankly, it looked way cooler than the clarinet.

    When I’m stuck I become a chronic procrastinator. Not a good trait.

    Improvisation is
     reacting to your surroundings instead of your script.

    When I’m playing well, it feels like I’m focused more on my band mates than myself. No thinking, no tension, no forcing…just acting and reacting to the music.

    If I could have made a career on another instrument, it would have been the bass or piano. I’d love to have a role in the rhythm section…you’re constantly involved in the development of the piece.

    Some musicians just don’t understand. I totally agree!

    Your audience is capable of elevating the level of your performance…the opposite can happen too!

    Becoming a parent has been my greatest decision.

  • Leading Questions - Jay Thomas

    Someone once told me…hold your horn up when you play. Hmmmm I’m not sure if it matters unless you’re in a big band.

    When I was 14 I decided I wanted to be a musician.

    The trumpet is beautiful but unforgiving…if I pick it up to play it demands my full attention…if I don’t want to commit then it would be best to leave it alone.

    If I could do it all over again, I would have to go back in time.

    Practice makes me feel positive about life.

    When I look at where I’m at right now
    , I’m not sure where I’m at or if I’m headed anywhere…

    The piece of music that taught me a lot when I was young was Lover Man…Thorlackson used to play it for me on piano and we had fun playing…it’s an easy tune and fun to play.

    Some of my best ideas come to me
     when I’m driving or falling asleep.

    My parents were the best for ME!

    Fear is OK also… sometimes…nobody goes around being afraid ALL the time.

    Motivation is a result of a strong cup of coffee in the morning.

    As I get older, I’ve realized that much of my life is about taking the path of least resistance….isn’t that Dharma?

    The thing about
     jazz I like other than the music itself is the history as told in stories…there is everything for me…Freddie, Rams, Thorlackson…all great story tellers.

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

    I cried when I heard Trane play a high F on a ballad using his palm key.

    Music has taught me that it is best to avoid the expected …unless you need to be liked or are looking for radio play.

    People ask me how do you play trumpet and saxophone…it’s a little weird…I’m not sure after all this time if it’s a real question.

    Music is further evidence that we live in an intelligent universe…

    Right now, I’m hopeful.

    Discipline is another word that if I think about it too long it has no clear meaning.

    I’m not sure about a lot of things…a result of the shocking revelation that sometimes I’m wrong.

    Change is inevitable.

    I chose the trumpet because 
    my dad played one and it was around being practiced before I ever picked it up.

    I’ve never understood
     the joys of Calypso music!

    When I’m stuck I go into a problem-solving mode usually after letting it lay for a while.

    Improvisation is following your instincts.

    Less is more because there is always the potential for more.

    The thing that makes me nervous on stage is
     situational lack of confidence.

    When I’m playing well, it feels like I have figured out that it doesn’t matter what I play.

    Your audience is a witness.

  • Leading Questions - Clipper Anderson

    When I was 14 I was playing first chair French Horn in band and was starting to gather an interest in the sound of the bass in recordings. But I had no clue that I was going to choose music as a career let alone play bass.

    The bass is not a cello and I get more gigs than if I played the flute.

    If I could do it all over again, I’d shave first.

    Practice makes the odds better that the bass doesn’t kick my butt.

    When I look at where I’m at right now, I feel grateful and fortunate with the career that I have had and the people I have met along the way.

    The piece of music that always seems to follow me along is the ‘Enigma’ Variations.

    Some of my best ideas come to me when I am jogging or listening to music while I’m driving in the car.

    My parents, both musical themselves, were very supportive and influential in my musical career. They both confided in me later on that out of the four brothers and one sister, they had quietly thought from early on that I would be the career musician in the family.

    Fear is being inconsistent.

    Motivation is one of my biggest nemesis.

    As I get older
    , I’ve realized that there are really no insignificant gigs.

    The thing about Greta is she is the best thing that ever happened to me.

    In the big scheme of things, what really matters is my family, friends and playing music.

    I cried when I lost my good friend and mentor, Jack Brownlow.

    Music has taught me the value of staying in present time.

    Music is an easier and more universal language for me. Playing music is my one true connection to the spiritual and its infinite possibilities.

    I chose the bass because my brother Rocky told me the bass was a cool instrument and to check it out. I did and he was right. I sometimes feel that the bass actually chose me.

    When I’m stuck during a solo I have to remember to breathe.

    Improvisation is the best expression of me at that moment.

    The thing that makes me nervous on stage is internal dialog.

    When I’m playing well, it feels like nothing else.

    If I could have made a career on another instrument, it would have been the piano. When I dream about playing another instrument, it is always a piano with the singular exception of a dream in which I played a smokin’ solo with a fork and a Tupperware bowl filled with tuna salad.

  • Leading Questions - Jim Knapp

    Someone once told me “jazz is just as good as any other kind of music” – John Garvey – violist, member of the Walden String Quartet which premiered and recorded the Eliot Carter string quartets, and leader of the University of Illinois Jazz Band.

    When I was 14, I was listening to “Ellington ’55″, the MJQ, Chet Baker & Gerry Mulligan and Miles Davis.

    The trumpet was the instrument of many of the musicians that first inspired me to play – Louis Armstrong, Bunk Johnson, Bix Biederbeck, Harry James, Miles Davis, Chet Baker, and later Clifford Brown, Dizzy Gillespie and Don Cherry, etc.

    The difference between composing and playing
     is a matter of speed and sociability.

    When I look at where I’m at right now, I feel I am a lucky man.

    The recordings that changed my life were both led by Miles Davis – Birth of the Cooland Miles Ahead.

    Some of my best ideas come to me through contemplation and improvisation.

    My parents were on my side.

    Fear is not fun.

    As I get older, I’ve realized that there is no point in trying to calculate the effect of your actions on other people whether it is music performance, composition or teaching. All you can do is your best work and let things fall where they may.

    I cried when I heard Peggy Lee sing “The Folks On The Hill”

    Music has taught me the importance of respect and community.

    People ask me “what do I have to do to get an A?”

    Music is
     beyond gender, race and culture, but is experienced through those filters.

    Change is time.

    Nothing lasts forever.

    When I’m stuck, I do something else and send the problem to the subconscious.

    Improvisation is autobiography.