Youth Is Waisted On The Young

For the past couple of years, I have listened more to many of the great saxophone players of jazz history; John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, Dexter Gordon, Art Pepper. Not only sax players but piano players, trumpet players, even a few trombone players. It has been older music in general.

The first musician I ever gravitated toward was David Sanborn. I heard him on a record my Aunt had from the Montreux Jazz Festival. I don’t remember what year. I believe it was 1977-1980. Dave was playing with Randy Crawford. His sound and the soulful way he play grabbed my attention.

I was in high school and Sanborn was the first sax player I’d ever heard who played in a way I understood. I knew Blues at the time because of the kind of music typically played in my home. My dad loved B.B. King, Bobby Bland, and My mom liked Sam & Dave, Wilson Pickett, Johnny Taylor, Al Green, and many others. We listened to music all the time. We even listened to the Beatles, Supertramp, and many others.

I first learned about more traditional jazz in high school, but I still gravitated to more sweet-sounding, easy listening smooth jazz. I skipped over the more conventional jazz artists of old. From there, I graduated to more modern music performed by artists like Michael Brecker and Bob Berg. Now that I am nearly 60 years old, finally, I am appreciating and learning the basics. That was mostly because of their work in fusion jazz. It was kind of like rock music with a little funk mixed in.

I was young and very stubborn. In college, my professors told me to listen to the greats. I did not. I wonder how much farther along I would be had I heard what they were telling me. What you listen to has a direct effect on how you play.

When we are young, we always think we know best. When I think back in it, I’m always reminded how true this saying is; “Youth is waisted on the young.”

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