On Mar. 2nd 2010, after 20 something years of not playing, I decided to start playing again. Of course, I played some long tones to get in shape. The first night out was awkward. I felt like a little kid with a lunch box going to kindergarten for the first time. I seriously was scared to death. But, I even more seriously want to do this. I sat in with a trio at the Pourhouse Jazz Jam in Loveland CO. made up of grad students from UNC. I had 3 songs memorized. I had to read Freddie the Freeloader. My solo chops were probably about as good as they were back in college. I pretty much sucked but had moments of not sucking. The difference was, I had a new ambition to be good that I didn’t really have back in college.
My lips were somewhat in shape(partially due to long tones), so I could actually last through a couple songs.
So, with renewed confidence, the next night, I showed up at Jay’s Bistro in Fort Collins CO.. Mark Sloniker, piano, has been headlining Jazz there for years and always asked me if I had brought my horn in. (I think just to tease me. I don’t think he ever seriously thought I would.). That night, at the time, it seemed as if I didn’t suck. They let me play the 3 songs I had memorized. Mark Raynes was on drums, Roger Barnhart on bass. It was frightening but I did it.
Now, it’s been almost a year of playing every day and I’ve played out live close to 150 times. I’ve had some horrible nights where I’ve felt I really sucked and times where I felt that maybe I can’t do this, but, I’ve also had nights where I surprise myself. I’ll play beyond what I thought I could. I feel like I’m getting it. I can improvise. I can play jazz.
I took a few lessons this past year. Hugh Ragin is teaching me Autophysiopsychic music method(google it). Because of Hugh, I play from the Omnibook daily. Peter Sommer taught me to play space, practice space, hear space. He taught me new ways to practice chords and learn songs. Sitting in at Jam Sessions has been an amazing learning experience, especially the Brad Goode Jazz Jam in Boulder. I go in there for a butt kicking every Monday night. That’s my school of Jazz. It’s been really helpful for me listening to and playing with great players.
My biggest challenge is listening. Oh, and coming up with good ideas and getting them out my horn. I find that good ideas are directly proportional to how much I’m listening.