CREATIVE PROCESS – OBSERVING
Just before I left to go to the south of France last Thursday I had a chance to catch one more group at the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe. I was put in the perfect mood to start a new adventure by a group that Anthony Stanko put together. if you don’t know who Anthony is you likely soon will. That Wednesday evening Anthony and friends gave me a preview of the life I hope to be living in Provence. I will be in surroundings that are quiet / tranquil but can be also intense. Gentle warm breezes move the tops of the linden trees pointing you to the shadows where the most brilliantly colored flowers are hidden. Anthony played all of this on Wednesday in one ballad.
THE CREATIVE PROCESS
Last week I described what my version of the creative process looks like. It started with the idea of getting away from your comfort zone and entering the first stage of EXPLORING.
I wasn’t sure I was ready to explore after finding out how comfortable it is sitting in warm weather surrounded by vines, under blue skies, in the company of good friends, good food and good wine. At moments like this it seemed like the right kind of exploring to me. I still wanted to see the wind in the fields and the trees . . so off we went.
Sometimes obstacles are put in your way. There is a lot of lamb and goat cheese dished out in this lush agricultural area. It seemed every time we got in the car we ran into the source. All traffic stops and gives way as the dogs and their masters use the narrow roads to bring the beasts to higher ground each spring. No one minds as the world slows down at times like this. No one creates a new law to prevent this from ever happening again. Smiling people ran out of their shops to observe this springtime tradition. This is the way that life is here.
STAGE TWO – OBSERVING
LOOKING AROUND ONCE YOU ARE THERE
Everyone has an artist’s ability to see the beautiful and meaningful things around them. We don’t always see the same things when we look closely. Some things are better off being seen at a distance. It is important to see what is in front of you and not what you hoped to see. An artist gets a chance to create what he wants to say later in the process. The creative process requires a keen sense of observation. At times an artist sees things that are overlooked in a busy life. That is the reason that being in a place like Provence where it is part of the culture to take the time to look. Artists get in the habit of seeing, listening and discovering. It will all be used.
A few years ago on a Sunday morning in the village of Cassis, France there was almost no one out and about. The reason probably is that Cassis is a small fishing village on the Mediterranean. It has great seafood with restaurants that encourage boisterous conversations at all hours. Saturday night is a night to sample some of the fresh catch cooked by great chefs. A meal like this leads to having long conversations with plenty to drink, which can lead to rocky Sunday mornings. I was flying out of Marseille that day and got up early. I had time to go down onto the the beach and take one last look at the sea and the magical hazy light. One lone walker came slowly down the beach. I didn’t greet him or disturb him I just observed him. I don’t know whether he was reliving some happy moments or was still in the fog of a rough Saturday night. All I know for sure is that he was deep in his thoughts.
When I painted that moment I included the color of the region rather than the gray and rather drab colorless morning just before I would have to leave this radiant place.
This act of watching and observing was very much like any jazz musician listening to the life and sounds around him when he composes his music.
THIS WEEK AT THE DIRTY DOG
May 24 – May 25
The Dirty Dog is proud to bring Jeff Canady back one more time. This week he will be leading his own band. Jeff has become a regular sight at his drum kit as he has supplied a steady Detroit groove behind many of our favorite artists.
May 26 – May 27
Recently added to Mack Avenue Records jazz label, pianist Christian Sands will be bringing us the music from his latest Mack Avenue release ” SEARCH” This young but seasoned musician has a mission to interpret his roots in his uniquely fresh way. He played professionally at age 10 and hasn’t stopped learning. The great pianist Billy Taylor took him under his wing and introduced him to all his influences. We will hear these roots when he plays the Dirty Dog’s intimate room. Christian is constantly reaching for new ways to let us hear his story.