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As I began my piano solo on the first tune – a medium tempo blues – everything got weird. The whole idea of playing jazz seemed impossibly silly, particularly this notion of improvisation: I was supposed to make something up on this tune, right? Some sort of stream of consciousness chain of ideas that would magically take shape and organically have a logic all its own, some shit like that...Then there was something in there about freedom from the constraints of written music, yeah, that’s right. Escape those dreaded texts. Rock on dude.
It was ‘creation on the fly’; it was a ‘truly American art from’; I wasn’t having any of it.
A crippling self-consciousness came over me, enveloping me like some noxious cloud. It seemed ridiculously self indulgent, the whole business. Yet the people were there listening to me, and there was that characteristic gravity to the audience – the studious, over-serious aspect; the expectation of transcendence nullified by their own hyper-critical stance…Oh hell, I realized – these are my people; this is my crowd! I’m just like them.
Of course, my own critical faculty was a liability in this case, and my unspoken complicity with the smart-assed downtown New York crowd proved to be fatal. I second-guessed their judgments after every stillborn phrase that I meagerly offered in my solo, like so many mouse droppings. And with each pointed failure, with each dumb fumbling for catharsis, I chopped a rung off the invisible ladder that separated me from the public, causing irrevocable damage to my status as a jazzman. I felt even lower than the audience! I deserved to be thrown into the lowest of all rings in Dantesque jazz hell, with the most contemptuous of the damned: The Critics!
It was all doom and gloom that night – a particularly lousy gig. I had forgotten one of the Cardinal Laws of jazz: Don’t invest yourself with too much importance; it will prove fatal on the gig. I was a jazz slut is all, and the jazz slut is the 5 dollar blow job of the music world. Don’t forget it fucker.
Date Written: June 15, 2004
Author: Phony Millions
Average Vote: 3.75