I don't usually do this on my music website, but, dang it, it's my website... I get to.  The subject begins with last night's election.

When I cast my vote, I resolved to cast away and release all the vitriol, anger, devisivness, and vulgarity that I let enter into my thinking during this election campaign.

I don't enjoy having to come to these judgements, especially given the warped information that is spewed through both the conservative and liberal media, and many suspect opinions offered on social media, but I vote anyway. It's my privilege and duty to vote.

I'm dissapointed in last night's outcome, and view it as a reflection of sickness, racism, and inequality evident in our society. I'll pray, though, for our leaders, and hope/believe for a good outcome. All that said, though I can only vote for president once every four years, I have the opportunity throughout every day to make good choices. My plan, going forward, includes gettng back to and living into the rhythm of my life's story. It's my goal to keep that rhythm offset and syncopated, not lock-step or march-like. I want to get better at doing things like: giving food to the hungry, providing clothing to the naked, and looking after orphans and widows, all in the Spirit of love, joy, peace, forebearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Of course, I can't hope to acheive those goals without some serious help. I look to and invite God's Holy Spirit and His Son Jesus's help, made fresh, warm, and comforting each day.

I read this today, and it resonated:

"Everything relates to life.  Some musicians feel so personal about their contributions that they cut off the rest of the world to concentrate exclusively on their thing.  I don't indulge in music to the extent that it destroy's my interest in other things.  With me, music is still my hobby."

That was Wes Montgomery.  As accomplished and successful as he was, he still sought a humble balance.

When Josefina asked me if I was thinking about making a CD, I responded that once in a while I do, but mostly I'm satisfied being able to play some music after dinner each night.  That's what music has been for me since I was a child:

dad tim piano

Certainly, I'm plagued, at times with how much better a musician I might have been had I "gone all in," and dedicated more of my life that direction.  Mostly, I'm thankful to my Lord Jesus that I get to indulge in such an enjoyable pastime with high level musicians and friends like Josefina Méndez, Mark Johnson, Mike Facey, Chris Bank, Bob Levey, Artt Frank, Tim Emmons, Sean Flanningan, Darin Kamstra, Tim Bell, Jim Yorgan, Mick Heberling, Walter Gorra, Chris Goplerud, Walt Smith, Mark Gray, Rob Labig, Dave Poulsen, Tom Merideth, (and everyone in the UW Parkside Reunion band) and too many more for disk space to allow!

From Horace Silver's book "The Art of Small Combo Jazz Playing, Composing, and Arranging", some fine wisdom:


I read this quote from "A Love Supreme/The Story of John Coltrane's Signature Album", by Ashley Kahn, and was really moved by it:

"Cecilia Foster, cousin to Elvin, tells of the saxophonist's reaction to his listeners' praise:
    'Whenever I'd say to John - me trying to be hip - "Boy! John, you really burned on that last set!" he'd look at me for a long time and say, "What do you mean by that? What did you hear that was different? What was so impressive?" When I couldn't explain, he would say, "Don't be like so many people we know. If you can't explain what the difference was that you heard, what impressed you, just don't say anything." He was really quite a teacher as far as I was concerned. He taught me how to listen to jazz, what to listen for, how to be humble and not frontin' on the music.'

I've done the same thing as Cecilia, and never felt very comfortable doing so.  Lately, after I hear a great performance, when I get a chance to talk with one of the performers (e.g. Ronnie Mathews at the Glenwood Summer of Jazz), I say something like, "Thank-you.  You're performance really affected me."

From now on, when I play with other musicians, rather than say "You burned tonight!",  I'm resolved to find something specific to share about what I heard from them.  If I don't have anything specific to say, I won't say anything!

I also want to avoid seeking praise and approval, after my own performance.

Thanks, Mr. Coltrane.

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Great discussion on the creative process!



A curious and challenging thing "feedback" can be. We ask for feedback, but often cringe when it's given. I say "we" because I've done the same. I often wonder why that is. Certainly, in the case where no feedback was asked for, it likely wouldn't be well received. Perhaps when we ask for it, we're really hoping to hear "Doing great!", "Wow, you're incredible!", "I'm really impressed!", or "Keep up the great work!". But when we hear feedback like, "Um... you know... you should really work on your touch. You're banging on the keys" (Hal Galper, to me, at Aebersold clinic), "Man, that note is really sharp!", or "Don't give up your day gig!", it's a little harder to swallow. While that last one is just a joke, constructive and appropriate criticism is often as difficult to give as it is to take.

For the most part, unless we're in a "teaching/learning" scenario (like an Aebersold clinic), the most benefit will be gained by carefully and actively listening to each other. In particular, listen to the stronger members of the group. This type of communication gets better as we get better at listening and at articulating our musical intentions through our instruments. In fact, if I can't demonstrate something on my instrument, I avoid trying to talk too much about it. Even when I can demonstrate a concept on my instrument, I often come up short when tying to use words to describe the concept. One of the beautiful characteristics of music is that words often fail to capture it's essence.

All that said, it seems important that we carefully choose our words, and that we're very specific when offering feedback. In addition, feedback sought after should be received graciously, and "seasoned with a grain of salt".