I don't consider myself a musician who has achieved perfection and can't develop any further. But I compose my pieces with a formula that I created myself. Take a musician like John Coltrane. He is a perfect musician, who can give expression to all the possibilities of his instrument. But he seems to have difficulty expressing original ideas on it. That is why he keeps looking for ideas in exotic places. At least I don't have that problem, because, like I say, I find my inspiration in myself.
People with talent are not interested in showing off behind another person. They're more interested in the music. [Charlie Parker] was playing with me. That's the difference between the kind of musician I like to work with and singing with a musician who thinks he has to accompany me. That is so annoying I cannot tell you.
All musicians practice ear training constantly, whether or not they are cognizant of it. If, when listening to a piece of music, a musician is envisioning how to play it or is trying to play along, that musician is using his or her 'ear' - the understanding and recognition of musical elements - for guidance.
Most people you'd tell "I'm gonna be a musician," they'd say, "you're crazy, you're gonna starve, you're gonna be poor, a drug addict, go to jail, you'll never make it, there's too much competition, it's a terrible business," etc. But my chorus teacher in high school said, "you've got what it takes to be a really good professional musician, you should consider it." That was an epiphany for me. So I thought, well, maybe I can help somebody, too.
I don't really have a career as a jazz musician. I don't really have a career as a classical musician. I don't really have a career as a college professor, and yet I did all those things and I did them well. I put out some records in the 1980's and 1990's that changed the way some trumpet players played.
To me, art is the capacity to experience one's innocence: craft is how you get to that point. Maturity in a musician would be the point at which one is innocent at will. At that point the relationship between music and the musician is direct and reliable. The relationship with music is always mysterious: when it works, you can never tell. You can never guarantee when it's going to work. You can only to put yourself in a place where it's more likely to happen.
Collaborations work when both or however many parties are the right people to be working together for whatever reason - whether it's two musicians or a musician and a filmmaker or a musician and a choreographer, if the combination is right, the possibility exists to make something greater than the individuals could make. But if the combination is wrong than you generally end up with a compromised piece is probably less than the individuals could make.
Many jazz musicians affect a misunderstood-genius air when they play, which alienates the audience and breaks down the communications of the music. A musician's responsibility is to get as much of his art across as possible. Musicians used to be kept when only the rich could afford art, but now practically everyone can afford radios, stereo equipment, concert tickets, etc. A musician must learn to communicate to survive.
My advice to women who habitually gravitate toward musicians is that they learn how to play an instrument and start making music themselves. Not only will they see that it's not that hard, but sometimes I think women just want to be the very thing they think they want to sleep with. Because if you're bright enough--no offense, Tawny Kitaen--sleeping with a musician probably won't be enough for you to feel good about yourself. Even if he writes you a song for your birthday. Don't you know that a musician who writes a song for you is like a baker you're dating making you a cake? Aim higher.
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