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Greatness and contagious energy

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [DB]' started by Chris Fitzgerald, Feb 25, 2006.

  1. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Just got back from watching Dave Liebman play at a concert at the U., and I was struck by the degree to which he infected everyone onstage with him and in the audience with his energy and vibe. For the players, he raised them up to a higher level, and they all played above their heads with an energy I don't usually see from them (even though they're all great players). The room was more alive than I've seen it in years, and the intensity was thick enough to cut with a knife.

    From the audience perspective, you could feel the energy coming off the stage in waves, and it was like being transported to a different place for a little while. I started thinking about other players I've seen who seem to have the ability to color an entire room and its occupants with their own vibe and transport them to that place (each in their own way, of course): Chick Corea, Frank Morgan, Fred Hersch, and Kenny Barron come to mind as players I've seen recently who have done this. All seem to be conduits for something much purer and greater than simply soundwaves, and I am astounded each time I see and feel this happen.

    Another thing about the phenomenon is that the energy they put out seems to stay with you for awhile after the music has stopped, so that if you go play immediately afterwards, you still feel the heat of it. After a while, it seems to dissipate, and you are back to being just plain old you again. Just thought I'd throw the subject out there and see if anyone wanted to relate any similar experiences, or thoughts on what this "contagious energy" really is.
  2. My Definition is a "Musical High" and I've experienced it a few times, both as a performer and as a spectator. Sometimes, I don't even remember what was played, just that the groove was happenin'. A few concerts come to mind, though- Ravi Shankar,
    Rufus Reid and friends, Abbie Lincoln,Max Roach, The first time I saw Weather Report, and others that don't come to mind right now..but it definitely is a vibe you can feel, sort of telepathically,and you just know that everybody else is as into it as you are.
  3. jazzbassnerd


    Aug 26, 2002
    I have definitely felt this before. The concerts that I can think of are

    Dave Liebman Quartet at the Jazz Bakery. I caught the second set which, sadly, opened with him announcing that he just found out that Elvin had died. They played a set of all Elvin tunes, and the vibe was so intense and melancholy it was increadible.

    Scott Colley Trio at the Jazz Bakery. Chris Potter and Antonio Sanchez. Mind Blowing.

    Recent contemporary classical music performance at school from the Musica Nova Group. Unbelievable.

    I think it just goes to show how much music is inseparable from human-ness or just the fact that we have emotions. Playing in and watching concerts like those are the things that make practicing (and I do enjoy that) worth it.
  4. mchildree

    mchildree Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2000
    In my plain 'ol backwoods Alabama mind, this is what separates the Men from the Boys. Chops and all the other technical niceties aren't what do this...it's how the tools are used to create a total package conveyed to the listener/observer. If the person creating the music ain't feeling it, it's immediately apparent and it appears to be a strictly pedestrian exercise...like acrobatics or something. I can recall lots of times that simple music has produced this "high" for me (and the other people in attendance), simply by virtue of the fact that it felt "real".
  5. jazzbassnerd


    Aug 26, 2002
    I absolutely agree.
  6. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    That's one of my Jazz teacher's favourite quotes to us (the class, usually after some tired playing) - "without intensity this music is nothing!! "
  7. Sam Sherry

    Sam Sherry Inadvertent Microtonalist Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2001
    Portland, ME
    Euphonic Audio "Player"
    I've been extremely fortunate to play occasionally with major-league jazz musicians in each decade of my musical life. It has never been a steady diet, in the way that it is for Marco P or Paul W. FitzDurrll does it a lot more often than me. A few observations:

    a) Chris' post made me think immediately of a concert with Jerry Bergonzi. Because it was also the first time that particular funder had worked in Portland it needed to be a home run and it was. Musically and personally, Jerry was gracious, generous and generally scorching. As we loaded out I turned to my son and said, "THAT's why I keep doing this."

    b) I've only played with two bona-fide Hall of Famers. Each was highly-skilled; neither was a technical virtuoso; both were incredibly easy to play with. They swung like crazy, sounded great (of course) and their vibe made the bandstand extremely comfortable. I assume that the many jazz stars and icons who hired these men over the years valued that last quality because if they had wanted steroidal virtuosity they would have gone out and gotten it instead.

    c) As you might have picked up I draw a parallel between the life of jazz and professional baseball. Of the thousands of high-school stars and college ballplayers a relatively small number of the best go on to short-season single-A professional ball. The vast majority of those who do never rise higher. The guys who move on may progress through long-A, double-A, triple-A and a very select few reach the Major Leagues. Within the big leagues there are players, starters, All-Stars and future Hall of Famers. In my town we have a double-A team. The guys are tremendous; they're facing 80+ mph pitches and the better players make tough plays in the field every day. All of them are clearly superior to short-A players and long past the high-school and college guys. Most of them cannot cut it in The Show, where the pitches are 15 miles faster and even the rankest bench-warmer is expected to pull a rabbit out of his hat in the field on a moment's notice.

    A double-A player will probably find himself sharing the locker-room with major-leaguers down for a rehab stint. He will certainly team with a few fine young players on their way up. Jazz is like that for me. I am a bush-league player. I see a major-leaguer leaguer once in a while and I try to be a teammate while they're around, but there's no question that I will never even warm a bench Up Top. That's is what it is. I love the bass, I love the music and I do what I can. That die was cast long ago and it's highly questionable I would have ever reached a different league than the one I play in now.

    d) With all that in mind, the essence of Chris' question boils down to, "What makes a really great player?" It's a fair question, if one that is easy to avoid. There are qualities that make someone like Dave Liebman an electrifying player and band-leader, and it's worth a minute to show the highlight reel. They include, in what for me is ascending order:

    1) Enormous facility. Often, electrifying facility. Good players are good all by themselves.

    2) Enormous ears always wide open; they're great team-mates. Major leaguers hear what you're doing and tell where you're going. They make your mistakes sound musical.

    3) A fast musical mind (which is a little different). All-Stars avoid the obvious choices and bring/coach the band to unexpected places on purpose.

    4) The courage to reach farther. It is that Hall-of-Fame quality which makes me prefer Miles Davis to Ted Curson, or Branford Marsalis to Rick Margitza, or, for that matter, that makes me prefer Robin Williams' stand-up to Colin Mochrie, too.

    I better shut up.
  8. mje


    Aug 1, 2002
    Southeast Michigan
    What he said. Something I've noticed- the ones who became stars always had something extra that people noticed early on, whether it was an exceptional committment to music (or dance, or theater), an exceptional ability to communicate, or an exceptional ease and facility. In my high school (which was a pretty big school) we had one woman who was obviously bound for a Broadway career, two violinists who were destined for exceptional careers, one drummer who could lead any big band, and a lot of talented, hard working performers who would make accountants, lawyers, teachers and doctors.
  9. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    I would like to think that it's the greatness at the heart of the person, that they're just wonderful people to be around, that's what we see. To me, it doesn't matter what discipline they're in. They know what the right way to study things because they've figured it out for themselves and can maybe transfer it to someone else. And their natural behaviour just make it easy to be around them to the point that we all feel inspired by them.

    IMO, a great teacher is one who is: patient; understands the pains of learning the hard way; seeks perfection as humanly possible; can empathize with the student; likes to challenge and inspire others in a healthy way; most importantly - extremely caring, respectful, and generous. IMO, these kinds of people are everywhere, but finding them is another story.

    Who wouldn't thrive or being energized by someone like this? I like think this type of personality also shows up in early age as well - but I'm sure there are lots who open up later in life.