today marks a landmark checkpoint in my life. i turned the big 4-0. when i hit thirty, i stayed up all night with our cat through a thunderstorm, watching the yankees beat the mets (and then the entire replay on espn). i struggled then with turning over a new decade, but today am a bit more subdued about it all. the back end of my thirties has revealed a noncooperative metabolism, a thinning scalp, a mind that is tempted to dvr my daily life as it slips through my memory banks, and ear hair that is running buckwild.
musically speaking, i feel a lot better about some things. i expanded my palette with collaborations, read some thought-provoking bios and methods, and tightened up my teaching approach. i am learning way more about what i don't know but, at the same time, am becoming better equipped with the tools to diagnose and remedy most of those issues.
i can't tell if my musical tastes are changing, but i can definitely sense that i'm way more stubborn to embrace stuff that is new to my ears. do i have an issue with this old dog learning new tricks? i guess that, philosophically speaking, i'm always cool with digging into "the latest" stuff. keeping an ear to the street has always been appealing. checking out reissues of older recordings, or just plum getting interested in music that is still stewing from 50+ years ago is far less appealing. i am filled with guilt about this, while trying to understand why i just don't give a rip about it.
i was at a jazz festival this past season, and two fellow adjudicators where having a lovefest about how great some art blakey record is. i seriously had zero interest in listening to it in any way whatsoever. maybe i equate it with being part of my job as a jazz teacher? maybe i feel pressure to like it and appreciate it? maybe i'm getting too stodgy in my advancing years? i tote around old recordings on my iPhone with the intent of blasting them through my headphones, but have never ever been inspired to fire them up.
on the road trip out to wyoming last sunday, i cranked out all of the halloween alaska albums. i bumped some sugar hill gang, old kenny wheeler albums, some paolo fresu (who autocorrects to paolo fresh), the new christian scott, and flying lotus. these are both old & new: wheeler '84, sugar hill '79, paolo '08, lotus '10, christian '12, halloween '05.
these records are all great, and have meaning for me. wheeler from real records back in undergrad, sugar hill from a breakdancing lp i bought as a kid, paolo from my friend russ, lotus from my friend bart, christian from his appearance on jimmy fallon, and ha because of king. i wonder if my head needs to be at a certain spot when i hear music, and if some things from the past have simply missed their chronological window with me. maybe i'm programed to like sonny rollins back in '99 when i first learned about him, but not now. i try, man, and sometimes it works. i appreciate bird now more than ever, but don't find the allure of satchmo and the buddy rich band. i dig older operas and the bee gees, but still can't get into steely dan or mahavishnu.
i have a new mantra for the next forty years of my life, one that will help me grow and mature artistically by being aware and staying out of my own way. bo & luke duke used to tell uncle jesse to "keep your ears open and your eyes peeled". them duke boys were wise beyond their years...