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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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Monday, March 7   >>

SCHOOLED

Re: Masterclass with the musician I look up to most.

NYC's jazz community is much younger than Los Angeles'. They're also far more competitive. I question the intentions of some people I met this weekend. Many play for love of the arts. Some do it for the accolades. Most don't know why they're doing it.

I learned a ton of things; some in the talking-shop realm (surprisingly, even some "secrets," which sounds gimmicky, which also actually exist), but mostly in perspective, which is exactly what I had hoped for. I just needed someone whose art I admire to give me some insight on why we do this, and why we think it's so important to get better at it.

I knew I'd be up against some real kick-ass players, and, holy fuck, there are some brilliant, much younger musicians. Some literally left our host, The Man Himself, speechless. If you can leave a certified musical genius speechless, that's saying something. It's safe to say everyone was terrified and felt a little threatened. It was a gigantic kick in the ass. So yeah, really fucking awesome.

----

Later that night I went on a tour of drinking that, in hindsight, was not that smart, through a series of local and legendary comedy joints and jazz clubs. I mostly jumped into any place that had live music, then mingled, traded numbers, and blah blah blah. It was pretty rad. At, like, 2 a.m., I was talking to this vocalist who was going to some open jam session. So I run over to this place and, yeah, there's a pretty kicking jam session. But the piano player just got up and left in the middle of an F blues jam when I arrived. "A SIGN," thought my drunk self.

So, by this time, I'm already, like, 60% fucked up. I'm like, "FUCK IT, GONNA PLAY, WHATEVZ," and I just go up there.

The guys were like, "Who the fuck is THIS guy?" They weren't too nice-looking.

So I just play like 3 choruses. Just basic stuff, nothing showy, just playing shit that WORKS, because, frankly, you don't want to freak the other guys out by deviating from a basic blues, y'know? But these guys had an arranged ending, which is, like, what you DON'T do in open jam sessions. So it just kinda dissolved into a mess.

"Uh, what the hell?" said the bassist.

I'm, like, "So you actually have ARRANGEMENTS for an ending to a BLUES form at an OPEN SESSION?"

They're all, "UH, YES."

I'm like, "LAME."

And I really did say it that loud. "LAME." And I left.

One guy on my way out stopped me and said, "Cool man. They do it safe. You didn't. That's cool." It was really weird.

----

I woke up and found in my pocket Mardi Gras beads, a shamrock sticker, and a piece of paper that had "ROAST BEEF 24 HRS NO REGRETS" written on it, so I guess that sums up the gigantic fucking blur that was 9 p.m. to 6 a.m.

Having been to the city already, it wasn't a shell shock like the past few times in recent years. It is not my kind of town.