I wanted to be a drummer for as long as I can remember. I began my instruction with the great drummer Dom Moio, blasting through Jim Chapin’s be-bop bible of “Coordinated Independence”. Once I had a dream I was on a cruise ship and the Stones were playing. Their drummer, Charlie Watts, was sick, I was asked to sit in.
That’s how bad I had it.
Early on I played in a kind of reggae band of sorts, we were actually good if feet on the dance floor was any indication. We seemed to get the one drop. One day in rehearsal I made a comment to my good friend and lead guitar Randy, about how I had screwed up a couple times on that last song. He laughed, “don’t worry, no one noticed…everyone else is too busy listening to themselves, worried about screwing up too.”
In jazz, this sentiment will kill you. It’s all about listening, finding the space between, and knowing how you fit into the music. It also means mastering your craft so intent is intuitive and has a direct, subconscious connection to skill. In the thick of it, tight craft combined with relentless listening produces nirvana; in the pocket if you will.
Lift the efforts of others, elevate the music.
This all of course has application outside the realm of music. I employ this all the time in my cinematography work. Listen (observe), know your role, where you fit and how you can contribute without stifling the contributions of others. Have your craft down pat, learn the rhythm of the set, harmonize your experience with your intuition.