"For the perfect idler, for the passionate observer, it becomes an immense source of enjoyment to establish his dwelling in the throng, in the ebb and flow, the bustle, the fleeting and the infinite. To be away from home and yet to feel at home anywhere; to see the world, to be at the very center of the world, and yet to be unseen of the world, such are some of the minor pleasures of those independent, intense and impartial spirits, who do not lend themselves easily to linguistic definitions. The observer is a prince enjoying his incognito wherever he goes."
Art Farmer was my mentor and was one of the wisest and kindest men I've ever met. My years under his tutelage were an invaluable part of my education. Art was my finishing school, and I'm profoundly grateful to him for how generous he was with his time, sharing his wisdom about music and life.
Art taught me what to value in this craft of jazz: the importance of taking risks and challenging yourself, yet never losing the fundamental primacy of playing in tune with a mature tone above all.
He would say, "Fill that horn with air! It doesn't matter how hip you can play if you don't maintain a good sound." And he really walked the talk, developing a tone so rich, round and warm, it has become the gold standard for anyone who is serious about the big horn.
"You've got to know your limitations.
I don't know what your limitations are. I found out what mine were when I was twelve.
I found out that there weren't too many limitations,
if I did it my way."
"The goal of learning is to become capable of doing new things, not simply repeating what other generations have done. Three phases of development must be mastered. The first is the COGNITIVE or 'post hoc' phase. You understand you want to do something, and you see the path ahead of you. This is the trial and error phase. The second phase is called ASSOCIATIVE or 'ad hoc.' You achieve awareness in the moment. The simple aspects of the new skill appear fluent and polished, but the more complicated aspects demand concentration. The third phase is the AUTONAMOUS or 'pre hoc' phase. You've learned the skill so well that you can perform it consistently, fluidly and in an aesthetically pleasing manner. The motor programs involved are stored in the long-term memory so the mind is free to invent something new. The secret? You must pass through phases one and two to get to three." ~Jean Piaget
"Mastery is attainable through SHU-HA-RI. SHU means to learn, to obey the teacher and to protect the fundamental forms. HA is to detach, to forget the self, and to become one with your practice. RI means to leave home, to separate from the master, and to forge a new way. RI is the way of transcendence, the way of nature. Forms are left behind and only spirit remains. You are probably not yet ready for RI." ~Morihei Ueshiba
"There are three stages to learning jazz: first, you have to study how the masters did it. Second, you practice until you're so comfortable with the tradition that you make it your own. Only then are you ready for the final stage: forgetting what you've learned and finding your own voice. IMITATION, ASSIMILATION, INNOVATION. Always in that order. And be patient, because you'll spend most of your life working on step two." ~Art Farmer