Right up front, sorry to disappoint those expecting a steamy and seamy accounting of a tawdry one-night stand, virtual or real…this is about a GREAT one-night stand of a different variety, the show we just played at Yoshi’s. I could write a lot on it, and will write about the wonderful students who came to play and to listen another time, but for this one, suffice to say I was profoundly moved and grateful that so many friends made the effort to come out. That is the first and foremost thing that struck me. An amazingly high % of friends I reached out to personally (I.E. one on one, not through mass mails or facebooks) came, and I am moved and humbled by that. I’d say that of the 150 or so people there, at least 100 were friends of mine, and that is wonderful. As moving was the fact that many many more wanted to come, but had conflicts, sometimes as serious as emergency surgery, and still took the time to let me know they were thinking of us. Amazing…
This notion of self-promotion and getting crowd has always been one that I have had a skeptical and highly ambivalent relationship with, as I confess to finding it painful to be asking people to come to my gigs, buy my CDs, etc, perhaps thanks to my very smart, very creative, very modest and parsimoniously praising parents, those products of the depression era. I have to confess to having a combination of admiration and horror at the easy and casual way some can do this, especially since there are WAY more folks under the misapprehension they ARE geniuses in my line of work than laboring under the misapprehension they are NOT geniuses. (It’s like surveys consistently showing that 90% of people believe they are excellent drivers and above average in looks and intelligence, concepts that kind of defeat the meaning of the words excellent and above average.) It’s an odd cultural world we live in, the world of youtube phenoms, and short attention span theater where the topic of the day can be the tumescence in a pathetic congressman’s boxer shorts as we blindly head off the cliff of fiscal disaster. In that light, I continue to be pleasantly surprised at and file away the happy accidents, the small to large miracles where someone of great talent also has great acclaim. (Just experienced another one of those happy accidents on Monday night, when I heard Maria Schneider’s wonderful music and band at Zellerbach. How nice that was.) Of course, I am under no illusion that even those with great talent do not spend endless hours and even years trying to make that happy accident happen. I know they do. It just pleases me that happy accidents can still happen.
Well, never say I do not digress at times…but there is a connection here. All three of the fellows I play with in this group, John Stowell, John Shifflett and Jason Lewis, are modest, unassuming and underrated. They are all world class players, and while they certainly get some props and recognition, I do think this is one case where they get, due to their unassuming and modest natures, less kudos than perhaps some of their musical counterparts who trumpet their own virtues more robustly and perhaps with far less reason. For this gig, I really tried to put aside my self-critic and let folks know this is something I really wanted them to hear. It was a simple message and I did it without gilding the lily, so to speak. People heard what they were promised, and so we held up our end of the bargain. I think it worked and it was a beautiful night. Did we sell the place out? No. Are there jazzers of far greater promotional skills in this very town more capable of getting an audience? Sure. But I am proud of what we did: Let friends and appreciators know, have many of them come and then play the very best we could for them and watch them leave the joint happy and musically sated. Could be worse.
Anyway, here is to happy accidents, a few of whom include the Beatles, Love and Labradors