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I am a Los Angeles-based twentysomething. I have a profession, and I have a secret life in music, and this blog isn't about any of that. I like Blogger because I can't read what you're thinking.

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Friday, March 11   >>

I'M NOT AFRAID OF JAZZ ANYMORE, GODDAMNIT

I was listening to Mike Birbiglia on the WTF Podcast and he said he doesn't like playing the Comedy Cellar because it's a place that intimidates him. The Cellar regulars include street-tough comics like Attell and Norton and DiPaolo and anyone else who could kick your ass with words. Birbiglia said that, while he can recognize his own talents, he feels strange going there because, frankly, he just doesn't fit in.

I'm sort of in the same boat. I know I can play keys to some capacity (by no means do I suggest anywhere near a professional level) but I know I can't show up at most places and just ..."play with the guys." I'm just not part of that gang or community, and probably never will be.

I'm just now starting to embrace this. I used to be so fucking scared of playing for people, especially other jazz musicians. I know they'll continue to size up my phrasing and chord choices, but I'm at the point now where I don't give a fuck anymore. I mean, for fuck's sake, I dived head-first into a jam session in one of the most crassly jazz-centric regions in the world. You have to throw away all discretion to do something that stupid.

As someone who loves to make music exclusively for the sake of making music and documenting it for records, there is really no risk any more, and I'm content with this. I know I'm not going to make any money with music because that's never been my aim. Music is where I can be my most selfish, and I love it because it's something no one can take away from me, and I create the rules from the very beginning to the very end.

So I'm going to start taking jazz a little more seriously, throw away anyone's opinions (whether self-manifested or not), disregard any "rules," and aim to be at my most authentic artistry. That means no American songbook standards, no typical voicings, no ripping off lines. I want to put my favorite indie and post-rock music in the context of a trio to the point that people question whether it's jazz or not.

I remember after a university recital I played years ago, one music director asked me, "Is that even jazz?" I took that as a real offense, and it hurt me deeply. Now that's all I ever want anyone to say anymore.