Unhealthy ways to deal with a breakup

So when I had the idea to write this article…(tangent coming). Oh sweet baby Jesus it feels so good not to be in English anymore!!! I can start my sentences and end them where I want and. It feels so good! Ja feel?  (End scene). When I first had the idea to write this article I had idea after idea, just rolling off my brain like the head and shoulders that I am buying today (yes my brain has dandruff, who are you to judge me?  I’m still standing, I’m still strong!!). So I’m going to try to go down that path, vamos!
In this world there are things that I am not good at.  Such as: flipping burgers, flipping pancakes, most things that need to be flipped (except for these bricks). However, I am great at certain things like! Not dealing with my emotions.  (Segue).  Along this vein I am going to explain to you several ways I have dealt with my recent breakup (Iphone style (only because IPhone corrected Iphone to look like iPhone. Brand, what brand? Ain’t no brand big.))
It was a beautiful day outside.  I had on my apron tending to my flock of European platypuses (platypi sounds better but autocorrect assures me that it is in fact wrong). All of sudden I see my girlfriend of the time , standing on a woolly mammoth, with her heavy metal band, playing a cover of single by Natasha Bedingfield (wrong genre, and those caveman outfits are a fashion no no).  Just when I thought that I got the message, the lead guitar player jumped of his stead (if you can call a woolly mammoth a stead) and screamed in my face, conveying the weight of the situation, and proceed to kill my precious European platypuses.  Hurt, I look at her, high upon her beast, and she speaks.  
“My son, take this platypus, in remembrance of the good times and the bad, and remember to always hang loose.”  Shaking my fist I shout out to her.
“You gnarly bastard!  How will I ever gain the platypus following that I had”
As her band starts to ascend into the heavens, she says to me
“Believe!!”
After the devastating loss of my platypuses, I tried to practice my saxophone but I only how my platypuses loved when I played Sonny Rollins solos to them.  I kept flashing back to the lead guitarist smashing my babies with his appropriately shaped axe guitar…(get it, Slash?? Killing platypuses with an axe shaped guitar, this is primo stuff guys).  I had to retaliate!  I immediately put together a creepy heavy metal group, fitting myself with the perfect wig for the occasion.  As my lead guitarist, I afforded Prince the opportunity to join my ranks, with the promise of being Knighted by my platypus.  Needless to say his agent said that Prince was not interested in the playing, but he had always wanted to be Knighted by a platypus.  He was in.  We chose a song with the most CPE (creepy potential energy) and rehearsed it day in and day out.  (The song was bohemian rhapsody).  With AFKAP (the artist formally known as Prince) leading the charge, we descended from the skies and started shooting lightening into her vineyards.  She tried to retaliate but our ban had successfully destroyed the vineyard.  AFKAP descended down to her, tossing her a single seed.
“I expect you to have grapes for me when I come again.”  AFKAP dissipated into the night, sends us all to our various places of residence. In the past few days I have tried to reach out to AFKAP, but he has not been reached since.
Obviously this is not how it happened but this is a lot better than the actual happenings of the day.  I had decided after the ordeal to retreat to my bed, leaving practicing to tomorrow, but my roommate Jacob inspired (forced me) to go out with him to a jam session.  Arriving at the Jam session knowing that I should probably play more than just ballads all night I put together a list of songs I had been working on.  None of them went well. It was kind of like when you challenge  your teacher to a cutting session, except the other saxophone player was my age (because I ain’t shit).  However, I took a great solo on Autumn leaves (that’s probably a lie I probably sounded like dog food tastes…delicious!!).  I decided that in order to get over my funk, I had to flirt with my waiter.  Which went like this:
“Hi, my I take your order?”
“YOU HAVE BEAUTIFUL SKIN, WHAT’S YOUR NAME??”
“Ummm, Ativa”
“YOUR NAME IS BEAUTIFUL!  LOVE ME!!!”
(Side note if you are flirting with a waiter, you have to buy something and leave a tip.  I was not prepared to do either of those things.)
When I got to the room, I almost got down into my feelings but instead I started calling people down a list of like three people (including my mother).  And I spent a lot of time laughing and saying this isn’t that bad.  Enter day two.
I wake up feeling like I have little orphans in my head looking for a family.  (Get out of my head Annie!!). So I think to myself let me send her a little message.
“I woke up with a headache…because of how much you have been running through my mind…(imagine me bobbing my head and pointing sporadically)”. And after that I made up my mind to only practice, and I went strong for a good 4 hours, then I says to myself I says, Shaquim, deserve a break.  I got on Facebook and started critiquing myself in videos, because that’s how I take breaks, I put myself down.  After that was done, I checked Instagram and saw a hilarious picture.  

  

I immediately sent it to my nongirlfriend and then continued to practiced.  Then she called me and this is how that went:
“Omg, I didn’t know you were going to call, do you want some coffee, I can make you some coffee!  I never made coffee but I can get ASKAP to send me there to make you coffee.”
We got off the phone soon after because I successfully made a fool out of myself.
Lastly on the final day that I have experienced, I woke up and listened to Hunnid Stax by Ab Soul.  I decided today, that I will cook myself a nice meal, something healthy and filling, delicious and nutritious.  I made hamburgers.  As I was making them I had an elaborate daydream about cooking out with her family with the way that I cook with her dad saying things like:
“These hamburgers are burned, what did you do?  Have you cooked before?  Do you have a working nose?  These smell burned, what do you mean that’s how you like it?  You like your food burned?  It tastes like Coal, you have found a way to increase one of our most precious nonrenewable resources, congratulations!  You should be a scientist, that is how bad this meal was, your meal tasted like a science experiment from 2nd grade.”
My mind is subconsciously telling me to work on cooking things medium well, and maybe one day I’ll make to rare, for the people who like knowing their cows name before the dig into.
In all actuality this is been a weird experience but I’m just really going to focus on becoming more solid as a musician to the point where my bad days only sound bad to me.  So in a way it is good because I can refocus on myself.  Thank you all for reading and feel free to leave comments on what you thought.
(Side note, my roommate saw me typing this and asked me, “omg what are texting her, that’s too long man!”  Thanks for having faith in me Jake!)
(Double side note, I thought about not texting her, and my first thought was, should I let her know that I am not texting her, what if she’s worried?  If I tell her does that defeat the purpose of not texting?  So many questions, so little answers!!)

Cool Personified

I have not gotten better at introduction sentences during my transition into NCCU. But I have gotten better at playing saxophone (and segues) opening me up to many more playing opportunities. I am going to use this blog post to tell one of my performance stories and compare it to one of my offstage stories.

During NCCU’s homecoming I was asked to play with the Vocal Jazz Ensemble in the Chancellor’s dining hall (which is fancier than Iggy Azalea). During this performance I did not have a chair and was confined to a smaller space than usual, so I took most of my solos leaning against a counter. Most of the songs went pretty well and the crowd liked it (which is all you can really ask for.) So after this performance we were required to unload and a man recognizes me from ten minutes prior (who looks very similar to Dizzy Gillespie) saying “You sir, are Cool Personified!” (Trademark, it’s mine and you can’t have it). He went on to explain that my demeanor during my solo was relaxed and akin to having a conversation. I told him I appreciated it, while my inner nerd pushed up his glasses and laughed nervously. This made me think to myself, what if I really am cool in the deepest part of my being? Which leads me into my next story.
About a week after this event I realized I had a paper due that I need to get like three more sources for. I thought to myself “Bet” (my new word, you can borrow this, I’m test driving it right now). After this realization, I decided to go to the library…right after I listened to Partynextdoor. Of course as a jazz musician I couldn’t let my day be fully influenced by non-jazz music (I’m a Nardis), so I turned on You don’t know what love is by Sonny Rollins a song that I am currently trying to learn because I love ballads.

After getting a ways through it, I thought I don’t know the lyrics!! How can I play a song I don’t know the lyrics to, which lead me to Karrin Allyson’s version. Then my friend called and asked if I had ate, and since I hadn’t we went to the café, and decided, we look kind of scruffy, I think we might need a shave (No Sweeny Todd). Needless to say, I spent a large portion of my day just procrastinating and listening to great music (including Mos Def, Joe Lovano, Illinois Jacquet and many more). By the time I actually decided to go to the library it was about 8 o’clock. I suited up for the weather, preparing for a battle already in the opponent’s favor. During the walk I saw very few people in the library which made my brain happy because I wouldn’t need to walk past people seventy three times. Come to find out, I wouldn’t even walk past them once. The library was closed. The library is open on Wednesdays. The library is contributing to my procrastination, but this time I was prepared for work. And it was so cold. Ohhhh so cold. I walked back to my dorm where I saw some of my RA’s and one of the said “Hey Shaquim!” and I waved like a cool guy while sipping water, like a cool guy, and then I choked on the water…in front of my four RA’s…like a cool guy? I sat in my room for a while and contemplated my coolness (or lack thereof). Then I laughed and wrote this post.

On a semirelated note, do you know the only time you will really see a blind snake (no pun intended)? When you are supposed to be editing your essay that is due on Tuesday. I’ll give you the link just in case you are there too. Have a beautiful day and thank you for reading!!! http://didyouknowblog.com/post/102472256596/in-2011-engineers-building-a-dam-in-the-amazon

Things you can’t say on a gig

The reason that I started this blog was to explore all of the random thoughts that I have in random situations.  One constantly present thought is the old “Things you can’t say” social appropriateness….thing.  I would never ever say these things, but they cross my mind in a what-would-happen-if-I-said-this type of way.  At a performance, things are bound not to go particularly as planned, so for instances like those, these are the thoughts that were in my head, as bad decisions.
1.  I swear on everything I love, if you miss this ending, I will cut your strings/break your sticks (Whatever is applicable.). 
Have you ever rehearsed a song and taught your bandmates a specific ending and they struggle with it for a while.  And you KNOW they haven’t practiced?  What are the options that you really have on the gig?  You aren’t able to just kick someone out, but you know that they are about to mess it up, like…their finger is on the red button.
2. Drums, play louder!
Do you remember the last time you were taking a solo and you just felt that the music was too balanced.  I know personally that happens to me constantly.  In these instances I turn to my drum and say “why am I able to make cohesive ideas!!!”.  We all know that situation never, ever, evvvveeeeerrrr happens.
3. Sweet Jesus!!! You didn’t suck!!!
This line is always great for making people not ever want to associate with you musically (or personally).  Even though the grammatical setup is compliment styled, the actually meaning is “You know, usually I would have swore when you played that, but somehow you progressed just enough to where I could bear it”.
4.  Can you accelerando to about double the time throughout the solo sections, turning Misty into a bop head?
A lot of music from the postbop era such as Coltrane, and more emotional artists depended on energy for solo sections.  Sometimes the entire rhythm section would be so passionate that it would slightly rush, adding to the emotional content of the song.  HOWEVER, (comma) that does not mean that I should be taking In a Sentimental mood at 200 bpm.  Certain things are not done, not because it doesn’t sound good, but because it will unravel our perception senses.  It would break the world.
5. You don’t need to know the changes, just play what you feel.
So imagine me at a gig, calling out Giant Steps at regular tempo, but playing a slow blues on the solo section.  Imagine me playing Donna Lee blazing fast over Polka Dots And Moonbeams.  It’s great to play what you feel, but if you don’t know the changes, you have no musical foundation and should not solo on this particular song.  Now on a blues, you can go to town!! Everything goes in blues, however it’s up to you to sound listenable.
Since these thoughts of what not to say are very common, you can expect this to be a semi-frequent occurrence.  I would also like to thank everyone who reads this blog! I really appreciate your support and good vibes and look forward to more helpful hints and constructive criticism, thank you!  If you have things that you shouldn’t say, put them in the comments! (But I’m really not trying to be an accomplice)

A Night with The Cool Kids

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.

It’s early in the morning

Good Morning All!

You may be thinking to yourself, “Even though it is technically the morning, does he have to say good morning?”  Nope! I don’t however, it provides a pretty nifty segue into the topic for this blog post.  When I was younger, I didn’t hate jazz, but I didn’t really care that much about a music that wasn’t “saying anything”  However I always had memories of songs my mother used to play when I was a child such as Lullaby of Birdland (if it isn’t Sarah Vaughan it isn’t the right version) and Equinox by John Coltrane.  One day I received a present from my father which enclosed one of his favorite Cd’s:  Joe Williams, Blues Under a European Sky.  Image

(Note that this album for a long time sat next to my first rock album, Panic at the Disco’s A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out, which I bought because the cover was intriguing.)  Being of youth, I had to see why my dad liked this album so much.  As I listened to it, only three of the songs actually caught my attention and those were Satin Doll, What a Difference a Day Makes, and! Early in the Morning.  The later song is my inspiration for the post.  This song is heavy in the tradition of the blues and speaks of the loneliness of the speaker, tragically yearning for his love.  This is my take on the song as a now 19 year old Jazz musician.  At the age of 12 or so, I thought this song was HILARIOUS because at one point he says “I went to her mother’s house and she began to shout ‘get away from there Joe'”.  I listened to this song so many times just to hear that part that only THAT song would skip.  I never told my dad how much I appreciated him giving me his favorite CD, but I will make sure to add Early in the Morning to my rep list to show him I listened!