Posted by: Reginald Cyntje | August 9, 2012

The creative unknown

I remember the early days of playing jazz. I was amazed at how musicians could plug licks effortlessly into solos.

“Did you hear that? That was from…” Someone would say mentioning the date and name of the recording. Screams of “yeah,”  “woah” and “damn” permeated the air on any given night. Many in the community would celebrate the musician’s ability to remind them of their musical heroes.

As I matured and went on to play with my heroes, something began to trouble me. I was not content with sounding like my elders. I respected them tremendously and their body of work. I spent many countless hours learning their solos over various tunes. I loved their strong sense of blues, swing and jazz vocabulary but it was not enough.

I knew at that moment that being different might cost me but I felt the price was worth it. The first step was stepping out of my comfort zone. I quickly began listening to artists that were “different.” The process? Liberating! Their story encouraged me to look at music and life differently.

With the mantra “Be you not somebody else” in mind, my practice sessions involved explorations into unknown places and revisiting the comforts of the standard. I’m on a journey and I’m not sure where I will end up but I’m enjoying the trip.


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