After the song is over

“Music is your own experience, your own thoughts, your wisdom. If you don’t live it, it won’t come out of your horn. They teach you there’s a boundary line to music. But, man, there’s no boundary line to art.” – Charlie Parker (bandleader, saxophonist and composer; 1920-1955)

It seems to me that music is about the process. Musicians make up stuff and play it. As soon as we play it, the work evaporates (unless it is recorded). Only the process remains. There is a stone on the Kennedy Center that proclaims — Civilization is measured by culture not by politics.  In many ways, I think this is true. There will always be music and musicians. Music usually has a front row seat in cultures. The form and tone will change, but music will always be around.

I believe that Art is about truth and integrity. When I play in public, occasionally I see someone intently listening and watching my hands while deep in thought. Music, as a form of art, provides a bridge for people to understand each other and to share deep feelings. Music, played for the moment, listened to by several people, will exhume a definable bandwidth of emotions from each person (the response will vary a little for each person). However, it also brings constants. For my particular style, the word ‘peaceful’ is often mentioned when people articulate what they feel when I play. This is a constant in my art.

Three generations before I was born, my great-grandfather played the mandolin. There are no recordings, no tapes — no hint of what he sounded like remains. He played in a string band. I am told he did not keep very good time (an issue that I also have) and he really enjoyed creating music (as I do). I have often wanted to hear him. However, all I have is silence and the memory of his smile.

I wonder if anyone will listen to my music 50 years after my life is over. I hope so. That need to communicate to my great grandchildren is one of the driving forces to record.  Most artists I know build Art to last the millennium, they build Art to feed the soul, tease the heart, and stimulate the mind.  Like an imperfect mirror, artists reflect the life they see; they interpret our surroundings.

For me — this is the goal.

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