Fly Like a Bird. THE Bird.

My younger amazing music teacher friends from work are sharing their warts online. They are admitting that they never made music as well as they wished, so after college, they hid their lights under a bushel. But now it’s starting to feel very cramped under that bushel, and they’re coming out. (Well, two of them have already come out, but I’m talking about music here.) They’re saying EFF IT, people, I love music, I am what I am, and I’m going to do this. And they’re making videos and sharing them online.

God, I love those guys.

Truth: Despite all my preaching, I studied jazz in college and, a short time after I graduated, I stopped playing because I felt like I wasn’t really all that good at jazz anyway (despite Dad and Auntie Janice’s constant encouragement) and certainly I was not as good as Dave, Tom, Mark, and Michael. Real people. (I only dated two of them.) So then I eventually switched over to Irish music, because it was a far more approachable way to use all those arpeggios that I had spent hours inverting backward and forwards for four years in a mostly soundproof practice room.

So now my work buds are making me wonder... who freaking cares, right? And I’m revisiting my Charlie Parker and Lennie Niehaus, and reminding myself it’s ok to be reading it from a book. And, I’m thinking about memorizing as much of the Omnibook as I can, so I can get some new shapes under my fingers. And you know… I’ll never play like Charlie Parker, never mind Geoff from West Point, Lori from Norton, or Lenny from Marblehead, God rest his late-blooming soul.

But, I love making music and I love pretending I’m actually improvising these transcribed solos, and by memorizing notated versions of what Charlie Parker created spontaneously in his brilliant, galaxy-changing head, I’m getting inside of what he was saying and—you know what—it's effing brilliant.

Will I share a video of me playing "Blues for Alice"? With great trepidation, maybe. If I do, it will be imperfect. And that has to be ok. Isn’t that what we’re talking about here? We're all doing the best we can. Maybe I'll post it in my pajamas — or maybe the tracksuit I wore yesterday because I slept in it. And possibly the same hairdo I've had for days because maybe I don't really give a rats about my hair. And an admission that when I walked downstairs to the music room last night, I said, "Let’s see how I do playing 'Blues for Alice,' the tune I’ve been working on for a few days, after a martini."

And I got to like bar 31 when I realized I was playing "Confirmation."


PgM3 said…
Wow, a twofer! Ok, find Billy Novick. Amazing whistle player, studied w/Cathal McConnel, part of the Ken Burns doc ensemble, jazzmaster, from Biederbeck to...Parker. To Billy, Parker was or rather is divine. He taught me Parker tunes on whistle. I would love to play some jazz with you, and have been wondering when you, who have spent your life in the pursuit of melody, would discover the Bird. The American Mozart. Have you see the Burns doc series "Jazz?" T'is wonderful. Don't give up the folk stuff, you're gifted at that. But by all means, do Jazz. I wish I had a proper jazz instrument under my belt. Maybe fiddle, in fifteen years or so. Just what the world needs, an 80-year-old jazz newbie! Maybe it'll be like classical, I'll just learn enough more to listen better still. But you're different. Go for it, Sue, and stay well all you magic Lindsays.
Andy Loretz said…
Yes! Time to do it for ourselves and just enjoy this blink we call life! We’re always our own worst critics anyway! Can’t wait to play with you, virtually and in real life too!
Unknown said…
Hi Paul - I discovered the Bird a very long time ago, thanks to a high school music teacher named Holly Stevenson. But I abandoned jazz for a while, in favor of Irish stuff - a simpler way to exercise all those arpeggios (though NOT simpler in other ways). I am still doing the folk stuff but I have to say that after working on some Prine songs on uke with Steve for a couple hours, I felt like I needed to blow off some steam on that saxophone. And yes... Andy - this blink we call life. No joke.