"At his best, he doesn’t really direct a film so much as host it—keeping all his characters involved, rescuing the wallflowers, making sure that everyone is plied with lines and bits of stage business, as if he were topping up drinks."
— Anthony Lane, The New Yorker, regarding Richard Linklater
The other day I struck up a conversation with a fellow bike commuter waiting out rain under the Comanche Street bridge. He was *impressed* to hear that I’m a pianist and *impressed* to hear that I’m a composer. Whenever I impress someone, I begin to feel uncomfortable, and some part of me starts looking for a way out of the conversation. His curiosity was earnest, though his interest in music was apparently fairly shallow. I should have been able to speak to him with equal unbridled honesty about the thing I do all day, but I found my patience exhausted by his reliance on old platitudes about classically trained musicians and what it’s like to watch them play. “Especially when you see a pianist do some blues, or ragtime,” he said, gesturing with his hands.
I should have said: for me, music is a social activity and even a professional aspiration, but it’s also a spiritual and imaginative experience that puts me in touch with alternate ways of living and looking at reality; so I tend to seek out the new and unfamiliar, because that’s where I find novel approaches that make me believe in the future and the holy contour of life. People have a box of what they think music is, based on old European notions of virtuosic performance and emotional self-expression. I hope that next time someone tries to fit me into the box, I’m able to say something like that.
• Gone Walkabout
• Music as Drama
• Crossroads II
• 10 Best of 2014
• January: Wyoming and the Open
• February: New Mexico and the Holes
• Coming Up
• Notes on The Accounts
• Crossroad Blues