They will remain nameless, because I love them madly.
1. Showed up regularly with booze on their breathe. It was a small room man. Did you think I couldn't smell it?
2. Distracted, with better things on their minds than attending to my needs. Yikes!
Now on to the great and influential who must be named:
Ali Jackson. He gave off a quiet confidence from his enviable track record of recorded performances with the world's finest musicians across genres. His message? Serve the music and make it feel good, real good.
The bassists and drummers met with Ali. We were paired off together and one group after another played time for Ali and the rest of the class listened. My partner was a young musician from Austria. To say we were pumped was an understatement. Ali counted off the time, it wasn't slow, and off we went. It was one of the most intense musical experiences of my life.
Then he asked the class, "what do you think?" They are responded with this comment and that. We stood there and took it on the chins.
Ali came to our defense. "No, they locked up the time, it felt good, they stayed in their lanes, I liked it"
The bassist and I walked proud for the rest of the week.
All the drummers are in the room together. One after another we played this simple pattern, I played the piano for some of the drummers. When it was my turn, Ali played the piano for me! What fun we had!
What a simple pattern. Did we all make it sound good, inviting, and fun? Nope. Only one quiet German in the corner and Ali made it sound cool. The rest of us were stiff, rushing, dragging, floundering around in subtle ways. Lesson learned. Keep it simple, make comfortable and inviting for the other musicians to play on. When I played with Ali on the piano, it was like floating on a cloud.
David Story: Professional pianist, drummer, composer, and educator. Well into his 5th enthusiastic musical decade, David works with adults pursuing musical dreams in the autumn of life, while he maintains an active presence in the Toronto arts scene.