It's all about the music Author: TriSecDate:01/25/2008 19:47:50
Most of you know that I'm a trumpeter. I'm just a hack; I've been playing for about 6 years now, and at long last some of the things I've been doing are finally starting to gain some traction. Charlie Parker may have been right; he studied the chord changes to "I Got Rhythm" in all keys for a number of years. Many of his originals are based on that chord progression. There is something natural to it, while I was practicing last night, I noticed that I didn't get lost in the chart, it's very easy to follow along. Then there's the II-V motion through the A section...it's all related so multiple scales work over it for soloing.
Last year, I also quit studying and practicing my scales according to the cycle of fifths; I started moving through a modal series instead, and was surprised to learn that they flowed much easier and I picked up tunes a little quicker when I worked this way. Soloing is easier too...so there must be something to that. But then again, I started playing because of one musician, one album, one song. "Freddie Freeloader, from Miles' "Kind of Blue". I can listen to that over and over and I always hear something new...and that high Eb that Miles hits in the 6th chorus sends chills down my spine every time. KofB is one of those albums that on my mythical "5 albums you'd take to a desert island", but that's a blog for another day.
Of course, I also have family history, too. My father was on the faculty at Berklee College of Music here in Boston for 40 years...the number of people and musicians that I knew as a kid as a matter of course is astonishing....and we recently mourned the passing of Herb Pomeroy, one of the founding faculty members of Berklee and someone I have known since I was 8 years old....he played with Bird, you know. My Grandpa was a trumpeter too...(whose horn I inherited and now play...) but he goes back even further to the big band era. Gramps worked with Vaughn Monroe, The Four Lads, Hildegarde, Ella....and Satchmo himself. I have not one, but two personally autographed pictures that Gramps got the summer I was born...they're among my most prized possesions.
"Yeah, great TriSec. Why are you telling us this?" I can hear you asking...
Well, let me tell you. Back in 1984, I was a senior in High School, and this little movie came out about some crazy musician from Minnesota. We saw that move at least a dozen times that summer, and one hot summer's night we all hatched a crazy idea that we should form a band and make something out of it. We called it "the dream" realizing that it probably was never going to happen. Things change, my friends drifted away, and the dream went out of my life too. But the music stayed. Like a curious child, I would listen to anything, anytime, anywhere...something I still do to this day. Music became that center of my life, such that one of my personal saying is "Jazz and Aviation are two things that will never betray me". I couldn't go a day without listening to some kind of music, and I had certain rituals that I maintained for years, not the least of which was listening to Kind of Blue every Sunday night.
Then came 9-11.
I can't put a finger on it, but in the wake of that incredible day....I stopped listening to music. Cold turkey. No jazz, no funk, no Prince, no Mozart...nothing. For years, I went through an endless cycle of BBC, CNN, AIr America Radio...anything and everything that was news, commentary, current events, you name it. In my discussions with others on the internets, I discovered that quite a few people had done the same thing. It almost felt like music was a frivolity and who were we to enjoy it when there were weightier matters going on in the world?
For new year's this year, I made a point to get back to my beloved music. I've got new pressures at work, and home, and with the economy heading south, my vast library of music is looking like cheap entertainment to me. I own an iPod, but last week, I pulled out my old CD player and even went digging for a 90s vintage cassette walkman so I could listen to my old tapes again. (Yet another casualty of technology...I refuse to give up my turntable, but I haven't had a tape deck hooked up in years.) It's been astonishing. I've re-discovered the likes of Chick Corea, Gamalon, Mahavishnu Orchestra, and a whole host of other bands that I haven't listened to in nearly two decades. It's like re-discovering an old friend.
So that's it...I can't really say what prompted this outpouring from my humble pen. But I'd urge everyone that even in these times, in this place, with the world seemingly crashing down around us...don't neglect the things you love. We come here and fight and complain and pontificate every day, but even the hardest among us must need time to recharge? It's almost Super Tuesday, and in 10 months, we'll be fighting the fight of our lives, perhaps even that cataclysmic battle that will determine once and for all if this grand experiment called "America" can long endure...remember that even in the darkest hours, we must find that anchor, that happy place, that one thing that evil and fascism and hate can never take away from us.
Aviation is dead to me....but I will always have my music.