it seems that all of the cool designer jeans are slim fit, boot cut, skinny, or straight leg. i can't wear them, and believe me - i've tried. bigger waist, different brand, different shoes, belt/no belt, stuff in the pockets, nothing in the pockets. regardless of how badly i want them to fit or how cool i predict i'll feel by rocking them with a t-shirt and this beard, i can't get them wriggled up my legs. i strike out every time, but that momentary feeling of defeat goes away as i slip back into my nike thermafits and bust out of the dressing room.
i remember attending a kenny werner masterclass, where somebody in the crowd asked him about his influences on the piano. he mentioned an assortment of guys - bill evans, chick, tatum, monk. after hearing that answer, the same guy quipped "hey - you didn't say bud powell." kenny snapped back "you asked me for my influences, and i told you who they were." nearly everyone was astonished at that exchange, but i was relieved.
my life's path can be carved out however i want! i can like who i want to like! i can put it on a chain and wear it around my neck. i can listen to whomever i wish. for me, i've got dolly parton > the beatles, mary halvorson > ellington, tribe > bach, bjork > bird, zorn > wynton.
i see, hear, and read about other people doing important things that will garner them academic notoriety or street cred. facebook is a fertile ground for those seeds of self-doubt. i often struggle to remember that i am doing good things, and measure my work against my own standards and desires. i trust that others do the same, and never the two shall meet. but i'll hand it to you - that grass sure does look a little greener than mine.
early in my time here at isu, i was asked to re-submit my bio. it was pretty bare bones initially, so this guy asked me to fluff it up a bit. color in the gaps with names of famous people with whom i've performed. i didn't want to include that crap, because really - who cares? he told me about how he once played with rosemary clooney as a last minute sub for the music director. they pulled off a great gig in front of a packed house, and he always puts that in his bio. i was happy for him, but began to feel insecure and sheepish about my own history. i gave my bio the once-over, and handed a new copy into him. the only adjustment i made was to include a sentence about his experience with ms. clooney. he left me alone after that.
i talk with my students about being their music guide; riding shotgun with them as they grow personally and artistically, exposing them to new and different ideas while helping them codify their own, encouraging their development and risk-taking, role modeling for them as best i can. i remind them of the famous quote from oscar wilde "be yourself. everyone else is already taken."
i want to play outside of the changes and stick in some old school ballad froof froof lines. i don't want to play "i'll remember april" ever again. i practice improvising with line design and intervalic bounces as my focus, but don't want to shackle myself with patterns and licks (plus, i can never remember them when it's time to blaze).
i taught one of my combos how they could mashup "fly me to the moon" with "come fly with me" and "i believe i can fly", flittering between the different chord changes on cue between solos. i taught another combo how to do my favorite things with the mccoy intro in 7/4 while sticking this andre 3000 groove beneath it. i told one of my students to phrase the glazounov concerto with beauty and precision throughout, just like this allen stone tune. we found check points throughout the solo where we could reference this idea. i have recently arranged tunes by snarky puppy and adam sandler for my jazz band, and have no interest in doing any of that gordon goodwin schlock.
do these things make me great? pathetic? nope ... they make me ME - the guy who is still playing on the horn he got in high school, is bringing back the diamond stud earring, puts pictures of casey kasem on his jazz combo posters, and sprays down his office with an aveda body mist. i'm not living for the instant gratification found in immediate acceptance or a pumped up curriculum vitae. i'm simply a soul in this universe, a soul who still has a terrible time finding jeans that fit.