“What is the difference between a rocker and a jazzman? A rocker plays 3 chords in front of 3000 people, where as, a Jazzer plays 3000 chords in front of 3 people.”
I know this is just a joke, but the reason it is funny is because it is often true. This is something I think about a lot actually. Obviously it is not the number of chords the bulk of people are listening to, or are interested in. So what is it that people want to hear?
I was listening to Stanley Turrentine performing ‘Sugar’ Live. I started to really get lost in listening to his solo…it grabbed me and sucked me in. Then I realized he had been playing three single notes in various rhythms for quite some time. I was grooving to three notes being played over and over. It was the inflections in the notes. The way he grooved in the rhythm of the notes. Then later he stuck to one note and just put his soul into it. These were my favorite phrases in his solo.
Music has the ability to grab our guts and twist. It’s not just the notes. It’s not just a time signature. It’s the mood the musician is in. The musician’s soul somehow gets amplified and projected through their music. We connect to that. So when the musician is ‘in the pocket’ their audience connects to that. And everyone loves that! It brings out the depth of our aliveness inside and lets us experience parts of ourselves otherwise relatively hidden.
Listen to any of the great recordings and you can ‘feel’ this. The album Kind of Blue by Miles Davis sold more albums than any other until it was outsold by Michael Jackson’s Thriller album. Listening to Kind of Blue this magic is evident. No one can argue its greatness….and its not just the notes! There is a mood and depth to the album.
Top musician’s dig deep. In my humble opinion this is what makes a musician great. This je ne sais quoi is what we all want to hear. I often ask great musicians about the spirituality in their music. Many can then wax poetic for ages. But many answer that they are not spiritual people. But then following that statement they talk about how the music flows through them from something bigger than themselves. Or how the music seems to play itself the more they get out of the way. Or how they feel one with the other musicians, etc. I both want to cry and laugh at these times. I want to cry because the beauty of what they share so moves me. And I want to laugh because if that’s not spiritual, then I have no interest in spirituality!
Whatever this experience is, it’s addictive to both the musician and their audience. Making equipment that helps musicians freely ‘go there’ is my addiction! In my opinion this is a healthy addiction for all of us. May we all enjoy being a junky to this kind of musical drug!
Blessings, Theo Wanne