Speaking as a full time musician, the word “challenge” for me is more than just a multi-defined noun; it’s a way of life. Adding to my plate the responsibility for the content and overall tone for this new magazine has also to my surprise more than encompassed the essence of that word in my everyday life. That being said, I want to thank you all. First, for the overwhelming response we received for our first issue, and secondly, for the almost flawless positive reaction that came along with it. I’m more than moved that the direction we’ve taken has pleased so many of our readers, and I feel safe in saying it’s just the beginning.
Speaking directly to that, I’m glad to announce the addition of three new staff members to the BMM family. Bassist Mike Pope will introduce his column “Thoughts from Mike Pope”. Our “Keep An Eye On” featured bassist, Doug Johns, joins us in this issue with “Beginning The Slap Vocabulary” and bassist Mark VonBergen will handle our new “Recommended Videos” section. I’m also glad to inform you that Gerald Veasley, featured in this issue, will be coming on board in our December issue.
I’d also like to direct your attention to one of our featured articles in this issue, “Getting Your Music Out There.” With each of the interviews that I’ve conducted so far, I noticed a common thread that I took into consideration, and did some investigating on. As much as it might seem to be an obvious point, I found that each artist, more or less, shared their thoughts and concerns on giving attention to a particular “survival tactic,” that being the elusive and I will call it “art” of getting your music heard. Gary Willis kind of summed it up best with his quote “It’s a do it yourself world out there”, and that thought echoed through my other interviews. I believe you’ll find the article on TuneCore an enlightening response to this enigma, and most definitely a musician friendly one.
In regards to that article, and at the risk of repeating myself, I’ll mention once again that being a musician at this point in time entails a lot of homework in a variety of areas. (I’m back to that word challenge.) Listen closely to what these artists we’re interviewing have to say, as well as our staff member’s presentations. What you can take home from them is the irremissible value of their experience, which in my opinion is one of the most valuable tools you can have to help formulate a direction for yourself. Like the old phrase you’ve heard from parents after having their first child, “No one gave me a handbook on how to be a parent,” you won’t find one on how to be a musician as well, but I feel I can sincerely say we’re here to help.
I am saddened to say that along with our article this issue on Jaco, acknowledging 20 years since his passing, an unfortunate and ironic incident has occurred, that being the death of Joe Zawinul within the same month 20 years after Jaco. Few players have impacted the course of music as much as Joe and Jaco have, much less the fact that they together worked within the context of one of the most influential bands of the last century, Weather Report. The spirit of these individuals, as well as their music, will be with us for quite some time to come, and just like Jaco, Joe will be sorely missed.
Beyond mentioning these two legendary musicians and their accomplishments, out of pure respect I’d like to present this additional thought that surfaces for me when I reminiscence. I think that you’ll find that acknowledging and having an awareness of music in a historical sense can bring great insight to your own personal pursuits as a player, and can help shape the “path” you’re creating as well as the “music” you are creating. To exemplify my point, when I was speaking to Alain Caron, he mentioned how he was greatly impacted by an old interview he had seen on pianist Bill Evans. Mike Pope spoke of the enormity of what the great classical pianists of the past had accomplished, and references his progress from that point of view. Billy Dickens is in the process of writing a new text, archiving his musical approach over the course of many years, and one of the first things he mentions when discussing his book is the influence that Freddy Hubbard had on him. I guess the greater point I see in all this is no matter what genre you’re involved in, it might be worth considering that a critical look at the “past” could be a healthy stimulation to your “now”, not to mention hearing some damn good music.
Jake Kot, Editor