I am thinking about artistry, what it means, what it does. Because when we are confronted with it we are never sure of how to approach it. It seduces and repels.
All right, enough with the mystery talk. Artistry is a figment of someone’s imagination. And that goes for the listener as well as the artist.
Sometimes you go on stage and you are touched by the grace and elegance of the moment, an understanding that borderlines on instinct, not only do you know what to play, you can also predict what you are going to play. You are in total control. You are in the zone. Those moments, unfortunately, are few and far between.
Now let’s take a vey serious artist, it doesn’t matter who. Here, you pick! Ok, excellent name. She/he’ the absolute best in that field. You nailed it! Now let’s take the opposite of that artist. Someone who says they are an artist, but are scorned by the serious people in the business. I won’t name names, but I’m sure you know a few. Ok, I’ll name a couple: Kenny G, Andre Rieu. The first one is a Saxophonist, the second plays the fiddle. The musician community considers them to be a joke. No depth, no talent, just empty flashes of technique. Oh, and a crowd that goes on for miles. Because these two guys gets butts in seats, as is said vulgarly in show business. Remember Liberace? Same concept. The cape weighted two stones and the glitz was blinding, but he filled up theaters with no problem. Could he play? Who cares! He knew how to grab an audience and make it excited or sad, or triumphant, or whatever.
Are these people true artists? You knew I would ask that question. And I am going to give you the correct answer: it’s all in the eye of the beholder. It’s the old cliché: you can’t say it’s good or bad, only that you like it or you don’t. That’s it!
So, to the question: What is a reference? I can substitute another: What is an artist? And for that one, well, the answer is as vast and diverse as humanity itself.