Friday, March 16, 2007

i have no idea what I’m doing

A little while ago, away doing a performance, I was in the neighborhood, so I arranged to meet an old mentor of mine who I hadn’t seen in several years.
Let me tell you a little about CL. Although not affiliated with any institution, CL was my first (semi-formal) teacher who was seriously navigating this murky but exciting territory in the intersections of jazz and experimentalism, improvisation and composition. During our lessons, I took my first baby-steps in thinking and listening analytically about these musics and these practices (no more letting the sound of, say, Cecil Taylor wash-over me in a soft-headed fashion). In retrospect, I see that those lessons were the beginning-of-the-end of my lackadaisical fooling around with, and casual engagement with, in particular, the act of improvisation.

And there we are, I’ve lost my pony-tail since our last encounter, and CL is distinctly grayer. Older, hopefully wiser, but I still feel like the student in this relationship: twenty minutes into our meeting and CL will be listing things I should be listening to, musicians I should be checking out, and avenues still open for exploration.
But I’m jumping ahead in this story.
So there we are, standing in line to order our coffees and I tell him about the fact that I’ve started to teach. What a joke: “I have no idea what I’m doing,” I confess.
CL laughs, “I would have been worried if you said you did.”

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