2008 was a momentous year for me, musically. Here are the highlights:
- I released a CD, One Week in December, early in the year and later recorded and Web-released another album, One Day in August, as well. Since my entire musical output from 2000 through November, 2007 didn't consist of even an album's worth of material, I'd say that's a dramatic improvement. I mostly attribute the reason for my newfound productivity to the next point:
- I largely let go of heavy metal, guitar gunslinging and other youthful notions. In the previous three to five years, I underwent an early and gradual midlife crisis by re-embracing metal as my primary musical genre, growing my hair out again, and unsuccessfully trying out for a metal band (albeit a really good one). 2008 was the year I got past all that and found a musical identity that works for me as I enter middle age (see more below). I also mostly got past the need to continually try to demonstrate virtuosity on the guitar. I still like to play complicated stuff, but my new music allows me to create a better sense of melodic line and to play improvised parts that work as music, and not mere demonstration.
- I let my inner jazzhead out. Embracing jazz as my primary musical inspiration has liberated me. To be honest, this process started a couple of years ago, but 2008 was the year I was able to stop trying to fuse my jazz influence with my earlier musical inclinations, such as metal and prog, and just let it be what it is. That said, I discovered this year that I am NOT a jazz musician, per se. I probably wished to be described that way in 2006-07. However, through research and discussion with jazz-oriented folks, I discovered that I don't think like a proper jazz musician or have that background. Instead, I have appropriated modal-, free- and fusion-jazz concepts in the service of a new and unnamed improvisational musical identity. Maybe in 2009 the name reveals itself.
- I discovered many new artists to inspire me. Topping the list would have to be Flora Purim (whom I've already written about) and free-jazz saxophonist Sam Rivers. I bought so many damned CDs by my new inspirations in 2008 that I no longer have room to store them all! My collection now has multiple albums by artists like George Duke, Weather Report, Ornette Coleman, Herbie Hancock, and so many others who I didn't know much about before or only barely listened to. The jazz-rock of the 1970s is a much bigger genre than I had previously figured. That's where my heart and soul is, now.
- My taste in guitars changed dramatically in 2008. One Week in December was recorded mostly with a Jackson Soloist Pro, with minor parts played on two guitars that I no longer own--an Agile Interceptor Pro and a Hamer Echo-Tone. Since about mid-year, my metal-oriented Jacksons and ESPs have mostly been relegated to their cases and been replaced at the center of my universe with more traditional electrics, including my Heritage Black Beauty and semi-hollow, and a homemade parts Stratocaster. These are the guitars (as well as my trusty old ESP Mirage) that I used to record One Day in August. A complete turnaround. I'm even getting into Gibson SGs, a guitar I had disliked for the better part of 20 years.
- I rethought my way of presenting music to the public. My goal for many years had been to produce a high-quality album for release as a proper CD. I accomplished that at the end of 2007 and early 2008, but found the experience to be dissatisfying. Not only did I sell only two (2) copies, but I discovered that publicizing such personal and genre non-specific music is fruitless. People in the 'industry' want their music in nice, neat little boxes. I need to write more about this in the future. Creating this web site and devoting myself to a continual stream of musical and visual exploration (it's coming, really!) has turned out to be more satisfying. For the first time, I feel like I've broken the emotional chains of trying to play a little walk-on part in the musical 'industry.' I don't need 'em or want 'em.
I hope everyone has a wonderful and very musically uplifting 2009. Happy New Year!!!