Coming to terms with jazz guilt…

…for the first time in years, I’m going to the Monterey Jazz Fest this weekend. The event is fabulous, the lineup is great, and the food is pretty special too. And, if you’re tired, or you’re not liking whoever’s playing at any particular moment…well, you’re in Monterey! Go out and do something there, yeah? Fun…

But, this post is about me coming to terms with jazz, and my own jazz guilt (self-inflicted).

Where I was at back then: at some point soon after I left college, I gave up on the idea of being a drummer for a living. There were certainly pragmatic issues (it’s rare to make a living doing it, I got a late start on drum set, and on and on). But, the main problem with me was this:

I quit because I wasn’t going to be the next Tony Williams (a great, great jazz drummer), and I let that fact kill my spirit for becoming a musician.

This is entirely my own fault. I had got it into my head that, to be great on my instrument (drum set), I had to be great at jazz. And I now know that I’m not a jazz guy, and that’s…OK. My spirit just doesn’t work like that.

Now, this might seem like a simple thing for you to read, but it took me years to come to terms with it. Decades, in fact.

Where I’m at now: So, I now know that I’m a song drummer, and I’m best at styles like Rock, Pop, Country and R&B. And there’s no shame in that–not anymore. And, it’s not only a worthy pursuit as an artist, but I will be working on getter better at it every time I play until the day I drop. It’s who I am as a musician.

This is incredibly important. Why? This realization helped clear the way for me to leave the corporate world and get back to what I was put here to do: teach and play music. It was like the sun was shining again in Miguel-musician-land 😉

So, I go to the Jazz Fest to hear great music, see some great friends, and just bask in a great, well-run event. But, I no longer beat myself up for not being a jazz guy. Yeah, I can play some jazz grooves, and cover things when the odd tune comes up in a casual gig. But that doesn’t make me a jazz guy, and that’s…that’s OK. Actually, it’s more than OK–it’s who I am.

And that has made all the difference…

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