Tomorrow I celebrate my 23rd birthday or my Jordan year as the cool kids say. I was fortunate enough to have this week off, so a trip home to Fort Wayne seemed fitting. It’s safe to say that the New York hustle has latched on to my heart and mind, as I will be heading back on the 29th to play in the Upper East Side for New Year’s Eve. While the gig schedule is beginning to slowly fill up, this next one, in particular, is one of many small accomplishments I had envisioned for my musical career. A year ago I had just finished an NYE set after only days since returning from France, and I recall seeing the Times Square festivities on TV while I was out. With grad school auditions approaching at that time, I knew, at that moment, that I wanted to be playing in the Big Apple for the following New Year’s. And though I wisely decided against studying for a master’s, the Lord still provided a way into the city and eventually the right people to put me precisely where I wanted to land. By His will alone I am able to sustain this unorthodox career life, let alone have any musical skill to boot in the first place. Merry Christmas and cheers to a busy 2019!
After three and a half weeks since my arrival into Brooklyn, I have truly begun to sharpen my focus on music and expel as much energy as can be mustered. It’s certainly plain to see how the “hustle” permeates every aspect of the NYC lifestyle to the point of wholesale exhaustion, but this is still the experience I need to propel my skills beyond what I had grown accustomed to in the Midwest, as talented as many Midwestern players really are. The Studio program with the Project Trio has placed me in a very distinct headspace, especially with regard to composition. Their music invokes numerous musical styles ranging from classical to hip-hop and back, something that I’m not very familiar with doing for just one song alone. Fortunately, the three directors have provided high levels of encouragement and insight in such a short period of time.
In the meantime, I have been making my way to four or five jam sessions a week. For the jazz and funk worlds in particular, there is no better way to make acquaintances with high-caliber musicians. Playing and listening until 3-4 in the morning is a challenge in itself, but every outing matters. Take the following video as evidence for this truth – here I am at Richie Cannata’s Monday night jam at the Bitter End. The tune we’re playing is Tower of Power’s “What is Hip?”, including former Tower of Power vocalist Tom Bowes (off-screen), also featuring Frosty Lawson with some crazy trumpet chops. These are the people with whom I have already found a community, and there’s no telling where God intends to lead me with these new relationships. I can only pray that they make me a better man and a better musician.
Since my last update, I’ve been giving my utmost effort to bring my classical chops up to speed with Capuzzi’s bass concerto, all the while working on solo transcriptions for electric bass and what feels like a multitude of other things. I can think of certain friends in music who moved from Fort Wayne to New York recently–only now do I truly understand how stressful the interim period of preparation can be. Try as I may, there always seems to be one more crucial piece of musical or practical knowledge that I’m missing–or at least this is the impression I get if my anxiety becomes unhinged. With 4-5 weeks left until New York, it’d be within my interest to not overexert myself. I’m doing what I can, and that’s all can be asked of me. Until next time, peace and God bless!
I’m happy to say that, at long last, I’ve made myself a website! Granted, the site is only one of many incremental steps to building my brand, yet launching it does instill a strong sense of direction. So much time has been spent hesitating to take the plunge and follow God’s calling to do music. Frankly, hesitation was one of many motifs for my college experience – I suppose it wasn’t ill-founded. After all, one doesn’t need to look very far to find the tragic narrative of musical talent succumbing to total chaos, whether it be financial failure, relationship troubles, substance abuse, etc. The horror stories of so many musicians haunted me for the past few years, and it didn’t necessarily help that the campus culture promoted a lifestyle that is at least correlated with those pitfalls. Nevertheless, I finally committed to the dream almost a year ago while I was studying in France. It’s been good to have some freedom from those constant pressures I mentioned, but it’s obviously temporary, in light of the impending move to NYC. I’ve devoted this last summer at home to ensuring that I am as healthy as possible. Perhaps there’s some fellow musicians reading this who can sympathize with that feeling.
Anyway, I hope my first post doesn’t seem overly confessional. I really have no idea what I’m doing just yet – just a dog chasing cars for the time being. Grateful to have gigs lined up through the end of my time in Fort Wayne as well as a job working in ABA therapy for kids with autism! I’ll catch y’all on the next post!