I’m in the process of mixing my new CD with the Jason Parker Quartet. It’s been an intense and introspective time and I’ve learned so many things about myself, both as a musician and as a human being. In a way it’s been like therapy only cheaper (at $45/hr. for the studio vs. $120/hr. most therapists charge these days!).
Listening to myself over and over and over has had many different effects on me. At first all I heard were the cracked notes and ideas I wish I had executed better. I found that I was focusing in on me and only me. It was my fiance who reminded me that there’s a whole band on the CD! And she was absolutely right. It’s not about me. It’s about the band, and how the band sounds. And when I started to listen to the tracks with that in mind everything changed. I started hearing the interplay between the bass and drums, how the Josh, the piano player, and I instinctively play in and around each other, and how damn good the band sounds, cracked notes and all. That’s one of the beautiful things about jazz music – the imperfections are part of it, and sometimes turn out to be the best part of it. I don’t remember who said it, but one of my favorite quotes goes something like “If you’re not making mistakes you’re not trying hard enough.”
I’ve also realized that if I let myself, I could do a new mix every day. There are an infinite number of ways to treat the music and every day I hear it a little differently. The lesson here is that while each new mix is different, there’s no better or worse. There’s only the way I hear it. In the end I had to accept the new mix and move on or else risk being paralyzed by the infinite options.
And such is life, right? Many of us spend way too much time focused on ourselves and not the richness that is all around us, or getting bogged down in the details and not seeing the big picture, or getting paralyzed by the choices we have instead of just making a decision and moving on to the next inevitable choice. These are all lessons in how to live a richer life, not just lessons on how to make a good record.
It’s amazing when music and life intersect like that and I’m reminded that it’s all one journey. Me, I’m taking the next step!