Profane (definition): treating (something sacred) with irreverence or disrespect.
Make no mistake. Many times I feel as though I am being totally “profane” in regards to the music business and standard music practices. This is not something I have recently come up with, but have been so throughout my so-called music career for many years. For me, there is no other way for me to move through the world of music I find myself in the midst of. In my last blog, I wrote about the importance of a band working consistently from a home base. For me, I’d rather have that then some dream gig at some popular jazz festival making long dough. Because when the gig’s over, and when the money runs out, you are back to square one. That doesn’t happen when you have a home base. You’re looking forward to writing and hearing the next new composition. My focus is the development of my music rather than my “brand”. In the music business, that is just . . . well profane! This level of ‘Performance Consistency’ is more than just about developing one’s music; also equally important is the creation of a ‘scene’. A place where folks can go to hear uncompromising, non-marketed/formated jazz. Also important is creating a place for younger artists to experience and learn about the music in it’s most authentic way: live on the bandstand, not on the college campus.
So, we have had our second monthly performance at our new home base, Hotel Normandie and even though attendance dropped off ever so slightly (remember this is LA, after all, folks are fickle and very difficult to get out), it still turned out to be a very good evening. We kept the house about three-quarters full throughout the evening. More important is how tightly the music is coming together. If you notice from the gig videos on my YouTube Channel, we play an entirely different repertoire both evenings! Not one tune is ever repeated! For that matter, the same goes for the last several gigs since mid-2016. That’s what we do! We play compositions from the great jazz writers that are rarely heard anymore as well a slew of originals. I always joke that if I never wrote another new tune, we could still play new compositions for the next several years before we’d start to repeat. For me personally, was the unveiling of a new composition and thus, exhibit “A”, my brand new composition, Profane.
Going my own way in music and forging our own path does kind of apply to being profane towards the music business and expected norms. I wish such a lofty definition and realization of the word profane was the actual inspiration for writing that tune. Unfortunately, it isn’t. But it still represents the realization of this post’s theme and the point I am making in regards to the music business. The tune is actually a musical meditation on Donald Trump and the energies we all are currently experiencing as a result of the current political situation first in America, but also in the world at large. In watching this “false” and “manufactured” war between so-called liberals and conservatives played out on the various 24-hour news cycles, I was struck by the prevailing energy of it all that in a word is truly, profane. First of all, NOBODY is more profane than Donald Trump, but it seems like everybody is out to show they are more profane than the next. Supposedly this shows righteous indignation at what’s ‘wrong’ in our world. Now 30% of the population in America who hold this energy has become powerful enough to hold 70% of the population hostage and in check. They feel vindicated and righteous enough to be pissed-off and angry all the time, to own a gun WITH bullets at the ready, and it’s a badge of honor to actually shoot ‘the enemy’ dead if need be. After all, Donald says he’d pay the legal fees! Such focus on what’s wrong in the world instead of what’s right in the world! And there is way much more that is right in life. Remember, where you place your attention is where you find yourself! But I am digressing . . .
As Coltrane said, music is life in miniature. For me, writing music is simply taking a life experience and putting it to music, expressing the moment musically. I always try to figure out where the motivation and inspiration of what I’ve written came from. This is how the tune Profane came to be. I was, of course in response to one of his daily ‘episodes’, feeling our new president and had to turn the TV off and move on to something that made sense like the piano. The tune came start to finish pretty quickly and I was amazed at the dark beauty of the crude melody. There’s Donald! I reflected, how could such a darkly beautiful tune come from a feeling of the most profane of individuals in the world? And it changed my whole thinking and feeling about Donald Trump. I may not agree with his politics and think he is sorely unprepared for the office, but after writing this tune, I feel it’s ridiculous to hate him or feel anger from the stupid things he says. After all, he is a child of God so to speak, and worthy of that basic respect for the spiritual essence that resides in him and binds him in oneness to each and every one of us. After all, it is remarkable with all his faults, this guy actually did become President of the United States! That is very remarkable, and amazing, in and of itself. This is what composing and writing does for me. It gives me the facility and arena to express my life and all the things going on in it. It is supreme therapy!
Above is the link to the entire playlist of tunes played that evening. There are other rare jazz compositions from the pens of Sahib Shihab, Duke Pearson and Jimmy Heath. Even more meaningful to me, is witnessing how these new tunes go over with the listeners. We are playing them (the audience) in actuality and what’s going on today with relevance to what’s happening in our world currently. I’m gratified that they enjoy our music even without being familiar with it. In fact, part of our attraction is that you are hearing music that is entirely new and different than anything you’ve heard before. Yet it somehow sounds familiar. We never go so far out that we lose the people we play for. I can’t wait to hear what we’ll sound like after six months of this! I really am anticipating some of the things I am writing for Rita Edmond to sing. Putting lyrics to these melodies takes things to a whole new level. So much soon to come. So much to look forward to! Please stay tuned and come out and check us on August 19th for our next performance!