On February 4th, Claflin University students decided that instead of waiting on “legislation” to certify events, they would just start scheduling them when they wanted. Fortunately my friend Jacqueline Pleasant invited me to be apart of this momentous occasion (Which my introverted side thought of passing up, but my inner Saxophonist made me consent to). This was an event hosted by the ever poetic Shaketa, whose words always resonate deep within my heart. The crowd wasn’t large, but people just kept showing up, presenting their talents with other students. In between sets the musicians got a chance to shine with musical selections (and at the end of my short stay I presented a saxophone solo that was very decent). It was so inspiring to be apart of a gathering that was semi impromtu, with people putting themselves on display. Not some fictional character to impress people, but the emotions they feel, and the thoughts that accompany them throughout their life. Several of my friends sung songs (Jackie even did a few freestyles including “Is anyone else cold” Featuring Krista Bradley lol!) And people I’ve never met blew me away with their talent and soul. This whole gathering was incredibly soulful which was helpful as a musician. Freedom engulfed everyone present, allowing me to stray away from chord changes, licks and theory, and really get back to the basics. The unadulterated emotions that get lost in the many practice sessions and the repetiore. Sometimes you just need to step back and ask yourself, what am I saying? When the audience listens to my music, do they care that I substituted the V with a b2 or used a different scale? NO!! All they want is to be moved in some way, and playing Giant Steps in all 12 keys doesn’t mean anything unless you are saying something.
Before I went to the poetry event, I listened to John Coltrane’s live version of Resolution from the Suite, A love Supreme. Growing up, this album played several times through my youth. When I picked up Saxophone, I listened to the Album, and said “I can make those noises”. So I made a couple of noises and realized that me and Coltrane sounded vvvveeeeerrrrrryyyyyy different. I didn’t know why for a long time. However, at this point in my life I understand that it is more than just notes, more than licks, it is about emotion. Note that John Coltrane was not alone on that stage, he shared/portrayed his emotions with 3 other musicians. They had a musical conversation in a language that not everyone can speak, but can understand PERFCTLY if you listen right. Needless to say, when I got on my saxophone in front of those people, I became a canvas. I left all my tools (Licks and rep) and I aimed for feeling. After I was done with my last improvisation, I felt like I had finally expressed myself, and it was a extremely fulfilling experience. To know that people left, feeling what I conveyed…that is powerful. I would like to extend thanks to my friends Jackie, Krista, and Shaketa for allowing me to create music and be apart of a potential culture growth at Claflin University.