Diana Krall reminds Jeff Hamilton and myself that when she was a teenager, we used to drum into her (egad–the unintended puns are starting already) the importance of keeping in sight that we "get" to do this. There are so many people who don’t have the opportunity to express themselves with this music. As jazz lovers, we all love to listen to it. As jazz artists, we have another kind of experience, another component that keeps us marching.
A vital part of the experience is realizing that the fun that we have is quite serious. It’s still Fun. We can laugh, get silly, express ourselves however we want, but it’s as much serious as it is fun. In order to perform on a high level, there’s no way around learning scales, chords, arpeggios, repertoire and transcribing. This has to be done in healthy balance with performances, jamming, playing in various ensembles, etc. It’s all about the balancing act of knowing when to have enough of all of the necessary ingredients.
I’m reminded of this Serious Fun bit because I just finished some weeks with Diana and Jeff, Anthony Wilson and, for nearly a week in Las Vegas, with the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra. As serious as I was, I couldn’t stop smiling. –John Clayton. www.johnclaytonjazz.com