STPBBP (Slightly Tipsy Post-Birthday Blog Post) & Eric Dolphy
The topic of "Birthdays" is something that seems so normal, but if you think about what a "Birthday" is, its really kind of strange. Sure there's a ceremonial aspect to it (ie. celebrating life, and memory) but what makes it strange is that there doesn't seem to be continuity in what a birthday is to an individual vs the way it's celebrated by their admirers/friends/loved ones. For example, my birthday was yesterday and I decided to spend it mixing my album which just so happened to be something very meaningful to myself, but perhaps not to others. On the other hand, I totally understand the desire to party and "go out" on your birthday, but what exactly are you celebrating? Surviving another year? Getting closer to dying? Your birth in itself? I think all of those things are valid reasons to celebrate, but beyond the topic of celebrating oneself, why then, do we still celebrate the birthdays of those who've died years ago... The only answer that's apparent is to honor their legacy and accomplishments.
Perhaps I'm overthinking this whole ordeal (I'm definitely overthinking it) but recently I can't help but consider weighing the concepts of Legacy vs Intention. The reason for this is that I have a gig under my name (for the first time in a few years) coming up at Cornelia Street Cafe on the 20th and I'm toying with the idea of doing a tribute to the legendary Eric Dolphy.
A fantastic musician and friend of mine recently hipped me to a recording of "It's Magic" off the "Far Cry" album and it inspired me to get back into his music. Eric had a certain approach to every setting he found himself in that was simply unmistakable but at the same time, he's not necessarily remembered just as a composer, flautist, clarinetist or any other specific title. While it's true that he's remembered as all of those things, it's almost Ironic that his lack of specificity (in title) is perfectly complemented by his total individuality as a "musical entity" of sorts. In other words, there was a certain unlimitedness to his musical presence that truly left an impact (both positive and negative) on any listener.
Back to the "tribute concert" idea, It seems exceedingly difficult to truly do a tribute concert that does such a unique artist any justice whatsoever. Moreover, the last thing I want is to make it seem like I'm using his greatness for my own personal gain. Another dear friend of mine suggested doing a tribute way more "in the spirit of" someone else (as opposed to playing their music verbatim) would be a better approach. I definitely agree with that, but also, if someone is truly an inspiration on you creatively, are their artistic approaches not always an inherent part of your music? In which case even SAYING that you're doing a tribute concert to someone is almost like trying to take the spotlight off their legacy and putting it on yours....
Coming full circle, back to the concept of a Birthday. It almost seems that a birthday is a sort of inherent celebration to one's legacy (among other things). To my relief, the date of this gig just so happens to be exactly 1 month before Eric Dolphy's 88th Birthday and thus, seems to put my fears of not doing him justice slightly at ease..
My last post was about the value of friends and companionship vs career (particularly as an artist) and I got very positive feedback on it so I've decided to post more regularly!