[Dixielandjazz] Hardest Instrument? The Mind

Stephen Barbone barbonestreet@earthlink.net
Wed, 19 Jun 2002 11:23:51 -0400

List mates:

My two cents.

Instruments are all easy. All it takes is practice. The more you play,
the better you will get. Usually, that is. The hardest instrument is as
I see it?  The musician's mind. That's why I am such a Monk-O-Phile.
(Thelonious, that is) Here is some of his advice, very relevant to OKOM
players in spite of his modern orientation; (Given to Sop Sax player
Steve Lacy and others at Monk's home round tables in the 50s,)

1) "Don't play all that bull----, play the melody!  Pat your foot and
sing the melody in your head, or play off the rhythm of the melody,
don't just run the chord changes."

2) "Don't pick up from me, I'm accompanying you"  (He was a pianist)

3) "Make the drummer sound good!"

4) "The inside of the tune (bridge) is what makes the outside sound
good," (That's why he wrote real bridges, not the usual 'I got Rhythm'
bridge that is prevalent on so many songs)

5) "A genius is the one who is most like himself."

6) "Whatever you think can't be done, someone will come along and do

7) "Monk = know = Always know where you are."   (He fired bassist Oscar
Pettiford for getting lost a few times and then arguing about it)

8) "When you're swinging, swing some more!"

9) "You've got to know the importance of discrimination, also the value
of what you don't play, the use of space, and letting the music go by,
only by picking out certain parts."

10) "A note can be as big as a mountain, or as small as a pin. It only
depends on a musician's imagination" (That's why I like the clarinet of
Kenny Davern. He fully understands and communicates that)

11) "It's always night, otherwise you wouldn't need the light."

Steve Barbone

PS. Played with Bill Gunther last night at Tex Wyndham's rehearsal. We
had a great time.