Thursday, March 5, 2009

In a Tim Bray blog there's a quote from photographer Will Connell: "...too many budding neophytes learn to speak the language too long before they have anything to say.”

Of course I was pulled up short by how, in so pontificating, he establishes himself as an arbiter about what anyone else has to say, or how good their photographs are.

What it evoked in me is the memory of a Sunday afternoon about 50 years ago when I got a chance to play a tune with the Miles Davis Quintet during a Sunday matinee at the Blackhawk in San Francisco. All five of the legendary jazz players in that group are dead, so I'm the last remaining person who had that particular experience, which is a major signpost of my life in music.

I wasn't all that bad a player and the fact that my instrument was so unique (boobams) made it acceptable and in fact some of the things I recorded with Chet Baker aren't at all embarrassing.

It's not impossible that Miles thought I was a "wannabe" but there was no indication of that at the time and he always treated me with respect, but the fact remains that those five had put in many years of intense practice to get to the level they'd reached and I taught myself to play in a few months and wasn't exceptionally proficient.

We mustn't be unaware that when we judge somebody's efforts as inept, we keep in mind that it's all relative. Not too many Mozarts around, but a lot of people get a lot out of writing/playing music even if it goes unheard/unappreciated - at the very least they dig it.


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