and here's the commissioner...

i got a good two hour warmup in while watching the 2011 nba draft last thursday.  i'm a timberwolves fan, and don't completely understand what in the hell they've been doing the past couple of years.  i guess the singular joy of having a terrible season is that you get a high draft pick, which got me thinking...  what if there was a jazz draft?

david stern and jimmer

drafting for need, on potential, or best player available - would it make sense to get two tenor players?  two drummers? sometimes having a heavy player on the gig, regardless of instrumentation, changes the whole vibe.  maybe you would take the best musician available.  however, if you have one good bassist on your roster, you probably don't need another (unless he is double booked, a distinct possibility with bassists i know).  should you draft an inexperienced player because they aren't jaded by the scene, influenced by other players, or victims of their own habits?  maybe you would prefer a veteran, somebody who has seen these tunes before? and the choice of literature that a band plays is similar to a style of play a team prefers.  how would a bebop cat fit into a free jazz ensemble, or could a 7 footer with a post up game survive in a run-and-gun offense?

international players vs. the american game - often times, the new face on the music scene is like the girl with the curl - more attractive than the usual suspects.  these are usually guys that nobody has ever heard of, but who can totally play. international jazz players come at this music from a different angle, with different influences.  is that better or worse? how is an american jazz musician different?

considering a player's pedigree - how important is the consideration that a player comes from a strong musical upbringing?  is it vital that they attended a strong music school?  a good friend once told me that you can't just show up at a venue, wave your music degree around, and expect to get a gig.  i did not attend a big time jazz program, and neither of my parents are musically inclined.  i know good musicians from a similar background and plenty with a decorated resume.  how important is that?

what would the analysts say?  usually these guys crunch numbers, an impossible thing to assign to jazz musicians.  how many turnaround licks do you know?  how many bridges did you catch?  how many rhythmic motivic ideas did you play that were picked up within the ensemble?  could you imagine charles barkley grading a draft - speculating on team chemistry and potential while talking over a highlight reel of solos?  and what if there was a trade?

the grandiose spectacle!  the suits.  the hats.  the posse (comprised of parents, siblings, agents, your boys from back in the day).  the ping pong ball hopper.  the press.  the awkward interviews.  the draft board.  the tweets.

***  you would make a truck load of guaranteed money.
***  your career is probably over by the time you're 40.


work work work reward

the best things about summer:
*  no school
*  being outside
*  did i mention no school?
*  water balloon fights

making these suckers is so time consuming.  the balloons won't always fill consistently.  they slip off the water spigot. they are tricky to tie.  sometimes they burst when you put them in the container.  other times they won't burst at all, even with direct contact.  other other times they blow up in your hand while you are trying to throw it.  making just a few of these h2o bombs requires all the patience i can muster.

is it really worth it?  writing music, especially when really trying to flush something out, is difficult.  i don't like anything i'm committing to paper.  am i using unique forms for complexity's sake?  will anyone remember this melody?  is my writing getting any better?  does this chord sequence sound just like that other tune?  who's gonna want to play this with me?  why can't i pen stuff that sounds like alasnoaxis or tyondai braxton?

however - and this is what i regularly forget to remember - playing my music with friends is one of the best feelings in the entire world (right up there with laughing with my kids, getting rid of all these emails, finishing the dishes, kissing the wife).  all of the sweat and heartache i pour into each song is paid back a thousandfold when people i trust care enough to try relentlessly to give me what i want musically. hearing other guys interpreting my tunes and creating alongside them is absoLUTELY worth it.  the joy generated from that pursuit is all the motivation i need.

*  having fun with your friends


turning the corner ever so slowly

there's this great quote by mark twain, appropriate for today. "when i was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant i could hardly stand to have the old man around.  but when i got to be twenty-one, i was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years."

this came with some cupcakes jenn brought over yesterday

i have self-consciously followed my own comprehension and execution and appreciation for music as i have matured.  i remember how i felt when i was in vocational school & undergraduate years.  i thought the act of performing was an incredible feeling and knew that i needed to put work into my craft (but not at the expense of my social life and taco john's work schedule).  i had definitely bitten off more than i could chew and was constantly being asked to revise my approach to personal discipline.  i was into slick rick, jodeci, bobby mcferrin, take 6, the yellowjackets, paul desmond, and early joshua redman.

my graduate school days and early years out in the world were about being impressive.  i wanted to know more tunes than anyone, have better chops than all the other players, be familiar with all of the latest records.  i'm not an aggressive person (rather insecure, actually) but was always sizing up people inside my head.  i still half-assed the practice sessions, but had a better idea of what i wanted to work on.  i was into john zorn, chris potter, electric miles, sting, and acted like i was digging some blue note stuff.

since i've been at isu, i have wrestled and finally come to grips with the idea that it's okay for me to like the music i like.  melody, clever reharms, interesting rhythmic hooks, nice beats, creative interpretations and reconfigurations of sound.  i don't care about technique, but put all of my money on tone (just ask my students).  i'm into playing the ideas that are actually in my head, not regurgitating licks i've been living with for years.  i want to be honest and sincere in my playing, careful to not interrupt that music that surrounds us.  i try to compositionally.  i'm currently into dolly parton, jim black, bjork, the bad plus, brad mehldau, django bates, brian blade, charles lloyd, and kenny wheeler.

i look forward to getting older (but could live without the extra grey hairs i'm accumulating), anxious to see how i'll develop and mature.  that's the beauty of this life.

in high school, one of my favorite teachers was mr. hughes. he was energetic, quick-witted and extremely intelligent.  he told me about these t-shirts that were selling like hot cakes in san diego during the mid '80s, referencing a famous first baseman who was having some publicized promiscuity issues. they read "steve garvey's not my padre"