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(a new feature perhaps?)

So, here’s the question: Is musical/artistic expression important in and of itself, or is it only necessary and important and fantastic in so far as it allows us to more fully or deeply express emotions that already exist?

Lulu’s Playground consistently and profoundly expresses the friendship that the four of us (AND LISA!) have with each other, and I’d say that, in my mind, it’s really the essence of what this group is (I’ll add, possibly the essence, depending on where I eventually come down on my question above). Evan always evokes a profound mournfulness when he plays “Allegiance”, but I would argue that you can still feel/hear the support of the rest of us behind him, while he spearheads that emotion, and thus a tune that is on one level about Evan expressing a particular feeling is still, essentially, about our friendship. On everything we do, it’s not that our collaboration is designed to realize the emotions of a particular piece, but maybe exactly the opposite (inside band joke), that each piece we bring in is a new medium for us to explore the spirit of collaboration that is the raison d’être for the group in the first place.

While all of that sounds really great and important and deep and meaningful, and would clearly be an expression of the second answer to my original question, I think it’s possible that thinking about the group that way could actually diminish the specialness of what is going on. Stick with me here for a moment.

If the group is special because it allows us to more deeply explore the collaborative friendship that we share, well, there could be a lot of things that are more important than that. And I really, really, don’t mean that flippantly. Think about it in context of the REALLY BIGGLY IMPORTANT things. For me, my wife and the imminent expansion of my family are more important. I think maybe there’s a lot about our relationship with ourselves that is more important, a spiritual prerogative to know ourselves.  In fact, if we think of the music in absolute terms, than music itself is probably more important (which might be dangerously close to circular logic). I guess what I’m saying is, if Lulu’s Playground is only as important as the friendships it is based upon, than it must necessarily take a backseat to those other things that are more important.

I almost want to be convinced that there’s something about the group that is MORE special than that. Something about the music we play that is at least on par with the importance of those other things. If you thought that music was a channel to worship God, well, it would be super important right? But not as important as God. And not as important as if you thought music WAS God.

Perhaps this just indicates that I’m an un-serious musician. So be it. Would Miles be asking this question? I think if he did, he would answer my question the first way, that music stands on its on. I think maybe Coltrane isn’t absolutist about it, but the essence of his music is based on that spiritual search for self, and if nothing is more important than that, than for him, nothing was more important that the path to that goal: his music.

And of course friendship is an important enough goal, a proper hook to hang one’s musical hat on… in normal times. Had this group begun two years before or after… alas. Life.

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2 Comments

  1. basically what Greg’s saying here is that his top priority is raising his baby to have super-human intelligence and musicality, rather than to continue playing with Lulu’s Playground. The two don’t sound mutually exclusive but it does in fact work out that way. Trust me.

    Personally, I play music “because this shit feels good” to quote Gift of Gab. Ever since I first started playing jazz and thinking about composition I’ve felt like there’s something special that I can only express through music, and that I have something worthwhile to offer to the musical community. So far it’s still just a feeling, but playing with this group is by far the fulfilled I’ve ever felt musically. This isn’t totally pertinent to Greg’s post; I find Greg’s topic to be one of the most frustrating dichotomies that face artists. Another topic that rubs me the wrong way is ‘absolute’ music vs. programmatic music. I’m still not convinced that the dichotomy is at all necessary. I think that some film scores stand alone, and some ‘absolute’ music works great in film scores. Am I right?

  2. You’re Right.


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