Firstly, I'll be back.
Secondly, it definitely feels like the end of a chapter and it's caused some amount of reflexive pondering. There were a lot of warm send off parties and parting gigs, and I can't express what it I felt like to receive that sort of attention from friends and colleagues. Thank you for all those who sent me off so well and made me feel some sense of accomplishment. It's nice to leave thinking that some musical efforts really have been understood.
...Now I find myself here in California, on the precipice of the Pacific, thinking so hard and gratefully about the last 22 years in New Orleans. I would always rather be there but I suppose musical exploration is driving me right now, more than location. New Orleans offers both in a way I love, but there are some directions that, artistically and, yes, even in music, that the city doesn't really foster at this juncture. There are, of course, still other well known features where the city shows itself to have no ceiling. I feel lucky to have benefitted a great deal from those limitless directions.
The music community that accepted me so easily when I first got to town is really composed of individuals. I can't really say enough about these figures. On the outside we spend a lot of time talking about the groups. And that is important from the outside, as music goes a long way in describing co-effort and harmony within groups. Yet, from the inside, particularly while playing, one is really feeling the gestures and emotional timings of individuals. These individuals and their playing are really the environment that shaped me and I am thoroughly grateful for the experience. I believe that what I learned from a couple of decades in New Orleans is un-teachable and that I have been musically molded by interactions with the musicians of the city.
One of those musicians (unfortunately passed away) was always bringing up the "jazz by osmosis" idea. It was an idea that always hinted toward these 'unteachables', that are so tied to moment. If you have been around long enough to be able to read this then you know well that the world changes moment by moment. Nothing theoretical is available once this is really felt. But it often seems that we can get clear glimpses when we are playing and listening to music.
Many of the people that I played with still seem like untouchable giants, at least where personal sound, vitality, and beauty rule the aesthetic. Yet still they were willing to give advice or let their musical vibrations slip out of their instruments while I was at close enough quarters to steal a little sonic wisdom. Truly I was lucky to have been able to interact with the players there, many with high profile but also many without such reputations, but who despite lack of fame, pack an equivalent musical punch. I tried to make a list of all the folks I got to play with and couldn't do it. I was a poor diarist and there are so many names I can't put to the sounds. Their sonic impact will have to remain inscribed in my psyche.
Anyway, I tried to give as much as I could within my abilities. I have left to grow more, become perhaps more effective with the sincere wish that I can give back as much as I have gotten if I get the chance.