It’s Jazz Sunday. The spirit of my father lingers as I continue my decades-long exploration of his favorite music. I get nothing but joy from it.
This week, I’ll be focused on the sounds of trumpeter Freddie Hubbard, Saxophonist Jackie McLean, and the Keith Jarrett trio, featuring drummer Jack DeJohnette and bassist Gary Peacock, who passed away very recently.
I mentioned to a friend that I had only very recently discovered the sound of Hubbard, which is nothing short of extraordinary. My friend seemed dumbfounded. “How can you be so deep into music and know so little about Freddie Hubbard? I thought you were all about jazz,” he said.
I must admit feeling more than a little shame. How could I not know more about Freddie Hubbard? His playing is indeed quite brilliant. But when I thought about it, I stopped feeling so bad.
I love jazz. I love jazz trumpet. I’m familiar with the work of Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Wynton Marsalis, Roy Hargrove, Louis Armstrong, Fats Navarro, Clark Terry, Wallace Roney, Chris Botti, Nat Adderly, and Chet Baker, among many others. But I missed Freddie Hubbard. I didn’t mean to. It just happened.
This is the thing about deep music exploration: sometimes you miss something.
It’s hard enough to hear everything in a single music genre. And you can multiply that difficulty by at least ten when you’re determined (as I am) to explore music in as many places as possible. Music moves quickly, and it never stops. It is painfully easy for something to go right past you.
And so, I confess: more than a few of my musical “discoveries” could be considered retroactive.
I offer no apologies, and I’m usually offered forgiveness all the same when I rattle off a list of artists I have heard, like the trumpet roster above. A lot of the people eager to jab at me for not knowing about their favorites are forced to slow their proverbial roll when I counter with a few artists they’re unfamiliar with.
Bandcamp has done wonders to increase my musical vocabulary. There are untold thousands of artists and bands to experience there. Some I know will remain shadowed in obscurity. But others burst through, clearly headed for bigger and better pastures. Catching them as they come above ground feels like being a member in a small but exclusive club. That’s pretty cool!
But it sometimes comes at the expense of missing a band others feel I should already know about. It can be a tough trade-off. Few things burn me up more than missing out on something I feel I should’ve caught. Luckily, my friend Tory was able to give me a little perspective. When I muttered about not knowing about certain acts and the resulting embarrassment, he scoffed, “Come on, man. You can’t hear everything!”
He’s right, of course. I can’t possibly hear everything out there. But that didn’t stop my brain from muttering why the hell NOT? That’s something I’ll wrestle with for quite some time. And I’ll have to get over it.
When all is said and done, we come back to the same truth. There is absolutely no way I’ll be able to hear everything being released in the world of music.
But that won’t stop me from trying.
You can follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (cirdecsongs) My book, I Can’t Be the Only One Hearing This: A Lifetime of Music Through Eclectic Ears, is available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other fine book dealers. I’m currently at work on my next book, The Wizard of WOO: The Life and Music of Bernie Worrell.