To do your thing
I recently turned down a gig because I didn't have the instruments needed to play the gig. That's because a few years ago, I sold off several instruments so I could just focus on tenor saxophone. When Greg Banaszak interviewed me in 2001 for the Saxophone Journal, I proudly discussed my goal of being "the everything guy." I wanted to do every style, on every instrument. It's a crazy goal. Don't get me wrong; some people do it VERY well. I admire those people. Here's the thing: I didn't want to be an Everything Guy. I just wanted to play music. Read that again: "I just wanted to play music." That's a big goal...or rather, an undefined goal. Playing music is easy. It's answering the question: What kind of music? Or the better question: What makes you happy? I didn't take the time to truly answer that question when I was younger. I just wanted to play music. So, I practiced a number of instruments in a number of styles every day, drove myself and the folks around me crazy, and I took every gig I could. But I wasn't happy. I was in a way...I mean, I would be with an orchestra one day and a salsa band the next and then a funk band and all of this playing made me happy but something was missing because I was spread so thin that I wasn't really focused on something. That something was tenor saxophone. That's the instrument that spoke to me. That's the instrument that people complimented me on the most. It wouldn't be until 2011 that I realized that I loved distractions. Distractions include flute, alto saxophone, clarinet, keyboards, recording software, programming, drums, pedal boards, and any number of styles of music that I'm not really into. The person that helped clarify this was Bob Reynolds. When I studied with Bob, he said once that he decided at an early point in his career to not play with a wedding band and that working at a cell phone store was better for his career. That's what I needed to hear. An honest statement about someone deciding what is most important to them. Here's the thing: it's never too late to be the person you always wanted to be. When I started selling off gear, a lot of folks looked at me questioning my actions but my action was simple: I wanted to focus on tenor. So, I sold everything and bought a TM Custom from Randy Jones. It's a wonderful horn that I'll need to discuss in detail in another blog but the decision was "get a really nice horn." That decision got me to now and because of it, I'm playing better than ever because I'm doing my thing. My thing is playing tenor saxophone in rock, jazz, and avant-garde settings. I don't have to be anyone that I'm not and I hope this story inspires you to do your thing.