Tuesday, July 19, 2011
Practicing Like TRANE...Getting it right
I read a biography about John Coltrane a few years back, written by Ashley Kahn (A Love Supreme/The Story of John Coltrane's Signature Album). In it, the author chronicled John's period of true initiation, or another way to put it, his period of self-discovery. He says John would practice for hours in his apartment - probably aggravating the heck out of neighbors, though he was one of the world's best saxophonist! He probably drove his wife crazy as well.
But here's a point for all of us: something so right, so incredible that it redefines a genre, or causes upward movement in culture, that's a worthwhile goal to store in the back of your conscious. To place it as a point of reference in front of you is to keep 'ego' too wrapped up in the work and the work falls short of the goal. To completely ignore that higher goal is also the death of the Supreme. But to allow it to be an irritant, a itching that can't be scratched, or a gentle tap on the shoulder, that's how we make a contribution of Love.
Practice exceeds sitting at the instrument with a stack of liner notes replete with 'new ideas.' It exceeds mulling over fresh tubes of paint, imagining the blend of a Permanent Alizarin Crimson with a French Ultramarine. But it includes doing dishes, laundry, running errands for the family. It includes sleepless nights, early mornings and distress over the lawlessness of the land. Practice is about inscribing one's creative mark on the world where we're found. Practice is calling out of the unknown, the dark conscious a message that points to the light of the divine. Yeah, I think I'll practice it like Trane.