Listening

I had the pleasure of playing last weekend at the wedding for the brother of a friend of mine (congratulations, Greg!). It was a relaxed affair and a fun evening. Before the band played, I had a chance to chat with the evening's bassist. We started discussing this year's festival lineup, and potential artists for future editions; he mentioned especially digging Avishai Cohen (the bassist), with one recent album in particular being on repeat.

So I asked him - "How much listening do you do?"

The answer, I suppose, was in-line with what you would expect from a busy musician: he tries to listen whenever he can, and tries to do so intently (quality over quantity). When an album turns him on, it will get frequent rotation.

I've been thinking a lot over the past number of years about the act of listening to music. As a music student, I was reminded frequently of the importance of listening - new recordings, classic recordings, it didn't matter, as long as my ears were always open. And I remember spending hours doing just that - whether in the Faculty's library or at home - to the point where I could sing all of an album's solos or, in the case of big band music in particular, all of a chart's written lines.

Somehow, though, the amount of time I've spent just listening has diminished over the years. Obviously listening to music is a huge part of my job - I have to get through an enormous amount of music each year to make the best possible selections for the festival - and music is always on at home. But I can't remember the last time I carved out an hour to just sit.

Quietly.

And listen.

It's not the ability to be moved by music that has diminished. (If I ever lose that, I'll know it will be time to get out of this business...) I still have (and am still finding) favourites to which I return. But at times I find it difficult to listen without feeling like I'm working; and at times I find it difficult to ignore the dozens of other "things to do."

I'd like to get back in touch with that part of me that spent so much time intently listening. With big changes coming soon at home (we're adding a potential jazz fan to the world at the beginning of August), I think it's time to get out the pencil, dust off the headphones, and schedule in some quality listening time - before life gets really hectic!

What works for you? How do you listen?

Josh

P.S. - Just for fun, here's an example of some stuff that I find myself returning to with some regularity. I've included everything, whether "guilty pleasure" or "artistic pursuit" (such a fine line...):

Amy Winehouse Back to Black
Ana Tijoux 1977
Anais Mitchell Hadestown
Avishai Cohen As Is...Live at the Blue Note
The Black Keys The Big Come Up
Darcy James Argue's Secret Society Infernal Machines
Dave Douglas Spirit Moves
Final Fantasy He Poos Clouds
Freddie Hubbard First Light
Glenn Gould The Goldberg Variations
Herbie Hancock Fat Albert Rotunda
Imogen Heap Speak for Yourself
Kneebody Low Electrical Worker
Ravi Shankar, Philip Glass Passages
Reggie Watts Why S#!+ So Crazy?
Renee Rosnes with the Danish Radio Big Band
Sam Barsh I Forgot What You Taught Me
Scofield, McNeely, Johnson, Nussbaum & WDR BIG BAND East Coast Blow Out
Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings 100 Days, 100 Nights
Stan Kenton A Merry Christmas! (yes, really - it's great any time of year!)
Thom Yorke The Eraser
Brad Mehldau Largo

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