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TIMING IS EVERYTHING 

A few weeks ago, when I blogged about how our Pacific Northwest tour would coincide with the Marionberry harvest, a kind soul in Eugene, Oregon brought a freshly picked bushel of them backstage for us. Yum! We don't want to push our luck, but it so happens that the Dmitri Matheny Group will be performing at Moody's in Truckee tomorrow night, and I understand the California Heirloom Tomatoes are exceptional this year. Ahem. ~DM


REAL LOVE 

“That's what real love amounts to - letting a person be what he really is. Most people love you for who you pretend to be. To keep their love, you keep pretending - performing. You get to love your pretence. It's true, we're locked in an image, an act - and the sad thing is, people get so used to their image, they grow attached to their masks. They love their chains. They forget all about who they really are. And if you try to remind them, they hate you for it, they feel like you're trying to steal their most precious possession.”
—Jim Morrison

COURSE CORRECTION 



This week, Sassy and I have enjoyed the hospitality of some friends who've generously provided lodging for us in their home while I play a few gigs in the area. 

 

Their son (let's call him Freddie) is a very talented young aspiring jazz trumpeter. 

 

Although I regularly give master classes on the road, and have done my share of classroom teaching, spending time with Freddie and his family over the past week has been a powerful reminder to me of what it means to be a serious musician and what an industry jazz education has become.

 

At the age of 16, Freddie has already taken advantage of more specialized training and travel opportunities than I had in my college years, and he's already twice the player I was in high school. 

 

Freddie's days are so full that I'm actually hesitant to call him an "aspiring" musician. Not yet a high school senior, he's already playing professional gigs, studying advanced concepts and techniques, taking and teaching private lessons, listening broadly and living a decidedly music-centered life.

 

Freddie studies privately with two teachers: one for trumpet, another for jazz.

He's a veteran of jazz camp, Jazzschool, the Grammy band, SFJAZZ All-Stars, J@LC Essentially Ellington and Monterey NextGen. 

 

He participates in a summer music mentoring program and leads sectional brass rehearsals for his school jazz ensemble. He's won awards in all the regional and national honors programs you've heard of and several that you haven't. And he's already performed on the most prestigious jazz stages worldwide: New York, Monterey, Montreux, North Sea, Umbria. 

 

I never practiced like this kid, not even at Interlochen. He hits it hard for hours every day. Each morning I awaken to the sound of Freddie's horn, methodically working its way through James Stamp warm-ups, Clarke etudes, Clifford Brown turnarounds, articulation and lip flexibility exercises and chord scale after chord scale. Every afternoon he has a rehearsal or two with this or that band. Every evening he practices again. 

 

When I was Freddie's age, my bedroom was a shrine to Lindsay Wagner and Spencer's Gifts. I had only just begun to take private lessons and didn't take them very seriously. I loved to play but hated to practice.

 

Freddie's room is a hardcore crucible of brass: his chair, music stand and horn are at the center, surrounded by stacks of lead sheets and method books. His walls are festooned with festival posters and images of great jazzmen. On his desk a laptop computer is open to an overstuffed iTunes library. Two speakers face the practice chair.

 

I spent a couple of hours trading riffs with Freddie, and am astonished by his proficiency on the horn and his familiarity with the nuances of the jazz language. He's already familiar with every classic recording I mention, and he seems to own nearly all the available Aebersold and music-minus-one collections of standards. He has a remarkably sophisticated ear for modern harmony and can toss off bebop clichés over complex changes at bright tempos. He listens to all the same jazz heroes I do, plus the latest recordings by Alex Sipiagin, Ambrose Akinmusire and Billy Buss. He already knows the tunes, licks and lore that I learned in my five years at Berklee.

 

The other night I invited Freddie to sit-in with me and the band on "Invitation." The audience was knocked out. He played a mature solo, including some very creative motivic development. After the set, Freddie was appropriately gracious and grateful, pausing to individually thank each member of the rhythm section. He even possesses enough charm to balance all that swagger.

 

After 30 years in music, I'm now at an age when I think it's important to pay it forward. It's been my belief that I have a responsibility to share what I've learned over the course of my life and career, and to mentor and encourage the next generation of musicians.

 

But if they're at all like Freddie, I don't have the time. 

 

I need to practice. 

— D.M.

REMEMBERING WOODY SHAW (12/24/44 - 5/10/89) 



24 years ago, today, Woody Shaw passed away at the age of 44 (May 10, 1989).

We celebrate his legacy and all that he sacrificed to bring beauty, intelligence, and artistic integrity to planet earth.

“Woody Shaw was a true visionary. The world suffers from a lack of true visionaries. I was blessed and privileged that Woody saw something in this meager talent of mine to allow me to be in his band for a few years. That experience helped mold me into what I am today. I’ve had very vivid dreams of him. Indeed it was my good fortune to be in his presence. I’m so grateful!”
—Mulgrew Miller

"He was truly one of the greatest."
—Max Roach
 
"Woody Shaw is one of the voices of the future... Not of the future, of the present."
—Dizzy Gillespie

"In the back of my mind, I am always thinking of Woody Shaw."
—Kenny Garrett

"Now there's a great trumpet player...He can play different from all of them." 
—Miles Davis

"Woods covers the whole spectrum."
—Dexter Gordon
 
Woody Shaw Official Site

Image © Carol Friedman
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