I wrote this song this morning for Kate, called “Love Is a Constant Struggle”
I assure you this is not a bizarro, public way of acknowledging relationship friction, quite the contrary. It relates to a recent lecture I attended at Wesleyan called “Freedom Is A Constant Struggle.”
What if the notion of failure lost its context? What if the seemingly paradoxical pursuit of the unattainable became, in and of itself, the ultimate goal? Welcome to my life.
As a musician, it is a treat whenever the opportunity arises to play with someone who brings out your best. It is, however, a rare and special confluence when you can play with someone who brings out a “best” that you otherwise wouldn’t have even known was in there. So it has gone for ten years now with the members of my Trio, Henry Lugo and Vinnie Sperrazza.
One of the core ensembles on Ripples, the Jazz Samaritan Alliance, was borne out of a simple desire for community and collective action. In 2012 I set about assembling a collective of like-minded peers committed both to quality music and the responsibility to use music as a force for good.
Jazz with “crossover instruments” (especially strings) is a tricky endeavor – the music needs to be played accurately, in-tune and so on, but also needs to have the rhythm and phrasing that make it soulful and authentic. It is, however, less tricky with the right people and I was fortunate to have those people for the Ripples trio-plus-chamber session in Meg Okura, Zach Brock, Benjamin Fingland, Erica von Kleist and the chamber-MVP, Dave Eggar.
Mother’s Day is here, and it is a time of celebration and acknowledgment for some (most?) and a time of bringing difficulty into sharp relief for others. I am certainly not advocating that those who are experiencing the telephone-commercial version enjoy their day one iota less. Quite the contrary, taking a moment to empathize with those who are dealing with loss should only enhance the edict to enjoy and savor each moment of love and togetherness.
Lately it’s easy to get the feeling of swimming against the current. Messages and actions of peace and love are so important, yet the voices of the hateful are so much louder at times. And I will admit that since the Boston Marathon bombing, it has taken me some time to regroup both from the horror that so many of us feel about the event and from the demoralizing sense of being unable to keep pace with the amount of tragedy going down. Is chanting “love wins” a realistic and energy-efficient thing when there is such evidence that we’re better off saving our energy and curling up in a fetal position under the kitchen table as we await Armageddon? Ultimately, I’ve concluded that the answer is YES, and I want to offer posthumous thanks to my young friend Lester for helping me solidify that position.
Those of us pulled toward activism and positive change of any sort need to use our strengths, resources and passions to that end. If our strengths are artistic, then a whole world of questions emerges about how to create and present socially conscious art. I find that the answers tend to come fairly organically if the questions are asked thoroughly enough and the questions here should help with this process.
Today would have been my aunt Margie Pozefsky’s 72nd birthday. Today offers a particularly good opportunity to look at Margie’s legacy and, perhaps more importantly, to look at what we can learn from her.
The inspiration behind my recent composition “The Countdown Began” comes from the phenomenon of aging out of the foster care system.