Making our music survive is about a lot more than just writing it down. It has to do with teaching our harmonic language and melodic style to those who learn from us. It has to do with nuance, experience, storytelling, and subtlety.
I am not surprised when protest organizers contact me asking for musicians to play at their protests; I am less surprised still when I hear that it was the music that elicited the loudest response and the most action.
Where is the line between motivating someone and abusing them? Will the movie Whiplash make young jazz musicians think that all you need to do to become the next Bird is work really hard, get yelled at, and practice till you bleed? Is this portrayal of the teacher-student dynamic helpful or harmful?
We as musicians have a responsibility to respond to the world around us, to give the people a song to raise their spirits and fuel the fight in their hearts.
This is how I remember Fred Ho: brazen honesty, sharp-tongued wit, vibrant virtuosity in every area of life. I was one of the lucky ones: I got to look into Fred’s eyes and tell him I love him one last time.