In my world my observations come from real life experiences.Real Friendship is not a one way street. If You think that business and friendship aren't intertwined you better understand that it doesPeace, Jason
The Real World
Keepin It Fresh
I have never been happy being at the same musical place. I've always searched out new styles,music,players. I believe it was because I grew up at a time in NYC when there was so many different kinds of amazing music happening. It's just been a natural progression for me. Sometimes however you pay the price for that. The first thing as a producer,artist,musician you don't want to be is pidgeonholed. Even though you may get the recognition over the years it will get tiresome and inhibit ones ability to grow. I have really noticed that about a number of artists when I hear their current and past work. So many have been stuck in the same place making the same album for years. Yeah the songs may be a bit different but their style and forward movement has them running in place. For every innovator we have 1 million who don't grow either as an artist, producer etc. Go on Itunes, Spotify-It's there in front of us. So what is this and why? The reasons are too many and every artist thinks they are the s..t and people should be following them. very few however can really back that up.They also reach a comfort zone and don't think it's necessary to try new vibes
I have been following Chcik Corea for over 40 years. I didn't understand some of his earlier more free and avant guard music-But it had something. He went and played with Miles,RTF and you know the rest. I can't say I love all the music he has done but he is always probing and finding that next space. I recently saw he formed a new band called The Vigil. I've heard nothing but great things about them. Here is Chcik at 71 (?) and still innovating and looking for new things,when many of his peers are still playing the same music,same shows and making the same albums they've been making for years with no or little variations. That is inspiring to me. It goes beyond even liking the music. It goes into the fact he still believes there is more to learn and more musicians to play with. He was recently at several clubs with this band. Not big concert halls but clubs,trying it out nightly on the bandstand. That is the way you grow. I'd love for one day to not give a s..t and call out the many who stay in the same place and don't encourage the audience to grow their taste even though they have the power to do it.
Over the years I've heard that calling and one day when I'm no longer here maybe someone will say-Jason Miles-He always was doing interesting and excellent music and wasn't scared to try something new. If that is a legacy to leave then I will feel good knowing I made the most of what talent I had and knowing that I wanted to take the audience on that special ride when you discover new music that has an effect on your life and spirit
I always pay attention to the future. You have to live today,no one is promised tomorrow. As I get older I'm seeing many great friends both musical and personal leave us. It sobers you up. In one sense you'd like to take some cash jump on the plane and go to Hawaii for a couple of weeks. In another sense you look towards the future and wonder what it's going to bring to you,so you are cautious. I remember making a great living in the studios of the world and saying to myself" This will change one day.Am I prepared?" I saw the coming of digital,the end of the studio scene and knew my next move was taking control and being a producer. It took awhile to take shape because nobody gives you a shot. You have to figure out the shot.I feel that as long as I'm aware and not doing anything stupid,I have a chance to make this balancing act happen.
Now we get to the music business. Forget about the record business. it hasn't found it's way yet. That may still be a ways off,but what about the real future-The Artists. I started to look up the age of some of the biggest names and legacy artists. The good news is many are still here. The bad news-time is marching on and many artists are really getting older. everything is cool for the moment but in 10 years artists that were the cornerstones of the music scene may not be performing or unfortunately alive. Paul McCartney, The Stones, The Eagles, Herbie Hancock, The members of the Grateful Dead, Allman Brothers, Paul Simon,you get the picture. Many jazz festrivals and clubs have lost money as they were making money with artists like Michael Brecker, Joe Zawinul, Oscar Peterson etc. Promoters aren't working to help build new acts and artists for the future. I noticed it in Japan where the wonderful music fan in Japan loves american legacy artists.But many are leaving-what happens to the essence of the music business.. Who can really sustain a tour,sell out halls,arenas, stadiums. Have we built the scene for the future-I don't think so. Time is a mutha f..ker. It stands still for no-one. I would never think I'd be talking about this 30 years ago but now here we are. Live for today-enjoy your life and the people you have around it-But keep your eye on the future-We can't totally be ready for it but discussion of what is going to happen in this business in 10 years is worth preparation and discussion.
When it's late at night and I really need to wind down I watch mindless TV. You have to give your head a break sometimes and filling it with non essential information is a good way to chill and let your brain drift toward sleep. The last couple of nights though really got me thinking because the mindless TV was making me think too hard. Years ago to be a celebrity you really had to have something going on..Like being a real movie star or music icon or just someone a bit above everybody else in your visibility to the public. I remember standing in line with John Lennon at the Sutton Theater on east 57th street -Feb 1974 to see Blazing Saddles. That was a moment!. Now you have the new culture of celebrity. I will call it "Niche Celebrity". You have all of these cable channels and all of these shows. If your face is on one of them you're a celebrity. How I got to this was watching TMZ the other night. One of the segments was
"We saw xxxxx coming out of Boa steak house in LA". Someone says-Who is he? The response was "he is on a show about repossessing cars on True TV" I was blown away!!. i shouldn't be. You're getting attention because you reposes cars and it's shown on TV (after going to On Demand and looking at the show I could see it was totally staged!!) There are shows on towing,parking cars, digging for gold,lumber jacks, modeling,cooking,pawn shops and even real TV shows about crime etc on dozens of TV channels. Now we are creating thousands of "niche celebrities" and they actually believe they are important.
The bar is very low out there and for this to happen it has to be because people are bored and watch way to much TV and gravitate to in some cases a lower denominator. There are some people I do Admire-The Deadliest Catch blows me away. These are real men and they work an incredibly dangerous job-but then flip over and you get The Bad Girls Club-crazy ass chicks who want to kill each other all living in the same house. The ratings are really big.
So it's all about reality or the phony reality celebrities that are created by this environment. Years ago we had B movie stars and television stars who we felt were a part of our lives. Now we're in the instant society and instant celebrity.You can be instant if you video goes viral. Ok,where does my rant end? it ends with the fact that it may get worse before it gets better. Alot of the public likes crap on a daily level. They will want to see it more extreme as the years go by. who knows the next thing could be using real bullets on shows-we're headed in that direction. Now excuse me while I go "like " the repossessing guys Face Book page.
Quincy Says it All
My Blog this week is short and too the point. It is the point of view of Quincy Jones-One of the Greatest producers in music history and a hero and great influence to me. Read the Quotes and absorb!!
"I see this generation loving to be rich and famous with no work. you ave to work!"
A Question...What key Lessons are you teaching these new acts?
Everything I can think of about the things I was happy to learn 1-humility with your creativity and grace with your success. I'm tired of attitude. I can't handle it anymore. I've seen it all my life. El Divos and La Divas. I remember a major artist telling me "Man I got everything I needed. I got me a Rolls Royce and da,da, da," You can't think like that. You have to make it bigger so you can hold onto your sense of humility. That's Important. We didn't think about money or fame when we started.Not Ever. It was to just be a good musician.
Words of wisdom from Quincy Jones-what do you think?
The Real Producer
The Grammys always get me thinking. I remember years ago when there were so many great albums produced and the majority of the artists who made the albums all had one thing in common. No matter what kind of music it was there was usually an excellent producer behind it. You had to really have the experience to understand the dynamic of the studio, the artist and the whole scenario. it took experience and at the end of the day really showed by having excellent song, production value and overall confidence that the artist was in good hands with the producer. It does seem like now anybody can be a producer with all of tools available to them. There are instant excellent presets on Instruments, processing and mastering tools and of course plugins to make the project sound professional-even though one may not know what they are doing. The problem is over time all of the minuses will start to show themselves. I believe it takes years to develop that ear and instinct that separates the great producers from the OK ones. So many of the pop productions I hear all have the same dynamic. They are smashed to wall with sound,no room for space or to breath.This is the formula. So wat is the answer.? if you truly want to dedicate yourself to being a great producer you have to do lots of reading,Know the history of music and the genres you work in and perfect them. Then knowing about music and understanding the craft of songwriting as well. incase you are missing it-It takes alot of time and effort to truly get to that place. I paid dues for many years learning under the best before I was ready to go out on my own. Oh yeah-you can produce and get by for awhile but it will catch up to you.
I just finished 2 wonderful albums-my Group Global Noize-Sly Reimagined-The Music of Sly and the Family Stone and Singer Amy Hanaialii-Ever Changing. Both have character attitude and are totally different for each other. It took years to understand and be confident and fearless in my production decisions. it shows. Now this isn't an ego statement,it's a statement that making music to a producer should be like breathing. it always is with you. So to all the artists who want to make albums and think it's so easy-I'm telling you it's not-It requires patience.confidence in your talent and a great producer to get you there. it is true when you hear the cliched question-how do you get to Carnegie Hall-The answer is obvious and real
You will always get complete honesty from me. First let me wish you and yours a very happy and healthy 2013. I remember being at a very exotic location making an amazing album with an incredible artist and the best musicians. The artist brought us all together to this amazing place so there would be no distractions. Our wives and girlfriends were there and this was a dream come true after so many years of working so hard to get to this place. I was playing ping pong with the producer one night and I said"thanks so much for bringing me here". He then said,"when we get back keep this real low key. Never put this in anybodies face and be humble. Many will never experience this and sometimes good things like this come your way. I took this lesson to heart. I've done a lot over the last 39 years and try to be humble and live with humility.This brings us to 2013 where I have never seen so much narcissism in my whole life. When I post great pictures on Face Book or bring to the forefront something great happening I try to do it so people can enjoy it and share my experience. You will never see me post shit like "my life is great" I love what I do" having a blast, here I am in Italy and I was just in Paris or wherever, etc,etc etc. There are many who are out there who are not as fortunate and may never experience the things the world has to offer.Musicians are truly blessed this way. Be humble with your experiences and engage people in them.don't brag -especially musicians because envy is everywhere. I never compare my life to anybody else's.If you want to brag and put stuff out there I have no problem with the wonderful things I read about families.wives,girlfriends,boyfriends and peoples children and love information....be proud. I also share sadness with people who have lost loved ones or tragic situations.Learn that it is how you present yourself that gets you respect.
Narcissism is abound in 2013-it's a big world and life can flip on a dime-humility grounds us and makes us realize that there is a big picture out there and it's about every bodies inclusion in it-This of course is just my humble opinion
It's Dec 29 and I just feel that I need to put out to the few people that made a difference in my life this year a big thank you. Usually in this life people will pay attention and help you when there is something in it for them ($)
I have never looked to get anything back from the people I have helped,but reciprocity is a good thing and most of us will never see that because it's a me world. I believe in karma and I believe you have to live it everyday. it is hard to stay on that road but it is the basis of what is good in this life. I have a couple of people who want nothing more of me than to be a friend and show they care. A rarity indeed. Who is loyal when you need them? who is just a taker that masquerades as a friend. They are all around us. Fate,Luck it's all apart of life-Trust and loyalty are things you can't buy (to some you can until it's time to bail) If you can count on one hand those friends and people with that trait who are apart of your life, tell them and hold onto them. To some it takes a lifetime to realize that. It took me awhile,but I'm glad I found out what it takes to truly appreciate great relationships in life
Happy new Years and thank you to the few who have believed in me,my music and my vision-unconditionally
Talking a Big Game
It is an incredibly insecure time we live in. The only thing I'm secure with are my accomplishments over the years that are fact, reality and a result of really hard work that was put into this life and career. I get contacted by a lot of people for various reasons. I've met a lot of different kinds of people as well. What really irks me is when I hear people who talk a big game and then find out as usual much of it is BS. But they are very good at it. I recently was contacteed out of the blue by a guy on the west coast who said he was into real estate etc. I spent a minute chatting with him. he asked me what I was up to and I told him I was trying to raise money for my new project.
I told him about it. He was like"this really interests me,can you get me a summary of the project and what you're looking for,I fund projects and love music and like your idea a lot. I know this musician,that artist,this guy that guy,throwing names around.
I take the time to write out a proposal and got advice from my business advisor. I sent him the proposal. The response was"hey I'm really busy but I will check this out and get back to you soon" 2 weeks go by, 4 weeks go by, no response to emails or texts. My proposal was very together,but now I realize I can add him to the list of people who talk a big game but have nothing to back it up with. It;s easy to talk your stuff up but at the end of the day do you have anything to back up your words with. It's like the honest man in the music business will tell you the struggles he goes through to stay in the business,The other side is the standard answer-"I'm a Producer !!"
Be careful what you put out there and be careful when people tell you things,bring you in, then you find out they're full of s..t. In the music world it's an everyday occurrence but as I've mentioned in the past,I try to see the good in people. I don't know why people want to project themselves to be what they aren't. Are they so unhappy or insecure they're trying to be someone else because they can flash a few dollars around. I don't know but I know I have to be more cautious and they have to prove themselves before I have to prove myself. Been there done that and the facts are available
I sold my 90 Issues of Downbeat last week. They were from 1972-1981. That was my musical library and my jazz history books. I learned a lot from them. I got a real musical footing from the great writers and reviewers who turned me onto so many great albums and artists. It was time to move them on as I am hoping that the next person will get out of them what I did. I am distressed that so many younger musicians and artists have no idea about the great music from years ago. How can you be a rock guitarist and not know every note of Layla or Purple Haze.? Same with RnB. How can a singer not know about Sam Cook or Motown or even before that ? I can't believe it when a young musician tells me they play saxophone but Coltrane is too out for them. It stuns me. These are the folks who invented music that will be played for generations.
What is the new generation going to turn out ? Many can really play but have no real direction.That is why generations need to mix. It needs to be youth meets experience
I spent hours and hours listening to my companions (my albums) play music over and over again until I totally understood what was going on. There are great musicians out there with amazing chops but still have nothing to say because they don't know the history of the music they are involved with. Wanna hear Smooth jazz Saxophone? Coltrane Ballads is totally smooth. smoother than that-Just hear Lester Young and Ben Webster. All I'm saying is those Downbeats increased my passion for the music. I just hope that in this totally screwed up music business the passion will still be there for the next generation to turn this around. It can't happen though until they know where this whole thing started