The Gig Trifecta

Several years ago I was part of a masterclass with pianist Kenny Barron. The playing part was over and throughout the class he spoke very little to any of the pianists. Words of encouragement and a few observations, mostly.  Later on, I noticed that the more influential players tend to say less as teachers, because they know their word will be observed perhaps too completely and suggestions may be seen as commandments. When our time was almost finished he asked me if I had any questions for him. I struggled a little and eventually said: "When... do you say 'no'.. to a gig?" At the time I guess I had been feeling that I was working too much and not playing my own music enough- or music I deemed 'worthy' of my time. Kenny's answer came after a brief pause: "When you're in New York-- you don't say no."

Around the same time, in my quest for the right balance in work and play, I got talking to Ottawa bassist Tom Denison about "The Gig Trifecta", finding a happy balance between the music, the people, and the pay. Of course, getting all three seems about as likely as it's namesake.  Of course, all these categories are deeper than yes or no. Taking a more optimistic approach, Kenny Barron said: "You can always find something to work on in all music.", and regarding people, how you approach working with them is more on you than them, no matter how difficult working with them may seem. And pay?  I'm just grateful I can make a living playing music.

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