When you play something on an instrument you want to achieve something. It’s a natural thing because the instrument itself will never give you what you want. It will only be capable of compromise. Wait! By that I mean YOU have to do the compromise, both with your body and it’s limit, with your ear and what it actually hear and with your mind, of course, as you are almost always under what you expect. The profession of musician is a very unsatisfying one. Lots of frustrated people in those ranks. Drug addiction, alcoholism, divorce run rampant. You get my drift.
But, actually, what is it we are trying to do, trying to play, trying to project to the crowd when we make music? That one is simple if you put it in vague terms: Beauty! There! The word is out there, go run with it, be careful, don’t trip, it’s as dangerous as a sharp knife, you fall on it, you might yourself.
Beauty! Ok, great! But, what is beauty? Is it the rasp of a blues singer? The purity of an opera singer? The charm of a crooner? The twang of a country singer? Ah! See?!! It’s slippery already. Can’t put your finger on it. It has to do with a million other factors that pertain to style, speed, origins, instrumentation, crowd involved, mood, what you ate for breakfast, etc. And those other factors are always subjective. Always. No exception. So, to do a perfect performance is something magical that happens very rarely. Yes, true! Does it mean that’s what you have to strive for? Yes, again. Does it mean you’ll reach it every time? No, of course not, the concept of absolute is not infinite, especially in art. Does it mean that when you don’t reach those impossible stars you will become depressed and start developing bad symptoms in your life or your personality? No, my friend. You can’t take that road. You shouldn’t.
That’s where it hurts the most, doesn’t it? How many musician are unable to separate themselves from the performance and think they are crap when all it was just one bad show? They are not crap as a person, I can venture that they are excellent people, but they confuse what they do with who they are, and that’s always a big train wreck.
Beyond all, you get the one of the kind performance. You get Frank Sinatra at the Sands. You get Aretha Franklin at the Filmore. You get Benny Goodman in Carnegie Hall. You get Count Basie at the Savoy. Those are flawless performance, where both the artist and the crowd recognize that they just experienced something exceptional. Beyond the mistakes (or maybe because of them), beyond the technical difficulties (or maybe because of them), beyond the limitations (or maybe because of them), beyond that band member having a headache that evening or that microphone deciding not to work, or that guitar string out of tune. Beyond all that (Or maybe because of all that!), the show was fantastic, tonight we played like no other time, tonight with took it to the moon and stayed there and planted the flag and for ever. Not, actually, not forever. Music is just one moment. One. Beyond all maybe. But only one. That’s also the beauty of it: That uniqueness.