December 1, 2015Vince Trombetta - AFM International Executive Board Member and President Emeritus of Local 47 (Los Angeles, CA).
Winter is a time for rest. Soon comes the rebirth of spring. By summer, all the flowers are in bloom. We should take a cue from Mother Nature to do our very best to improve how we nurture our bodies and our minds. It is always a good idea to release the events of the day. Preparing for and awaking to a fresh outlook and a positive perspective can be a major transformation for the new day. Never forget some of the changes we face are nothing more than just the cycles of life. Our lives should be in a constant state of rejuvenation.
Rituals keep memories alive. And the existence of such great human beings as Saint Francis, Einstein, or a Leonardo da Vinci indicates that human potential can reach amazing heights. With that said, and in keeping with the many rituals we have in our everyday lives, I hope you had abundance to eat on Thanksgiving and saved some room in your tummies for Christmas or Chanukah.
There are many holidays we celebrate in December. We move from one important family, community, or religious event to another.
Whether we celebrate Bodhi Day, Chanukah, Kwanzaa, or Christmas, we do so at a very special time in our world history. Keep your family, ethnic, religious, and national rituals alive for future generations to hang onto and build upon for their futures and memories.
There will always be variations on the theme, but as musicians we are very comfortable with variations, yes? I know how hectic this time of the year can be for all of you; just do your best to make it a time to share your happiness with everyone you come in contact with. Live a life of purpose. During this holiday season, so full of the various rituals, smells, and bells, let’s be thankful for what we have and show generosity to those less fortunate. Our existence is a reflection of our choices.
Breaking out of familiar patterns takes great energy. Many musicians still get nervous before a live performance or a recording session; but, over the years, hopefully you learned that adrenaline is essential for a good concert and a good performance. I am sure by this time, we have all heard the stories about the great Al Jolson who would regurgitate before many of his live performances, and then go on stage and blow the audience away. His famous line was: “You ain’t heard nothin’ yet.” My father had the pleasure of backing up Jolson many times during the World War ll years on USO tours. In the future, I hope to share details of some of my father’s wonderful stores of those bygone years.
Musicians have been the troubadours since the beginning of time, bringing their music to all who have ears. It’s all a matter of taste, but we have carved our way through the most awkward of musical situations. Many times we must leave our hometowns to make a living. When career opportunities are good, we must do what we must do. I like to call it, “fork moving.” Some call it “following the almighty dollar.” We not only have to feed ourselves, but care for our families as well. These are basic responsibilities. These moves build up our stories and our vocabulary of life, and help us mature as musicians and as human beings.
Envision going into 2016 with a goal of being happier and more prosperous with your talent and skills. Skilled instrumentalists are not always good musicians. But, when you combine talent, hard work, and experience, skill will fall into place and you will feel fabulous. The more skill and knowledge you acquire, the greater your chance of worldly and musical success.
Never forget that having good health is about as wealthy as it gets; it will make you feel prosperous and give you the energy to back it up. We must all work together for a healthier world. In 2016, try to get rid of some of the weighty stuff on your plate of life. Though not always easy, forgive and forget is possible, and can take away some of the negativity you carry.
Always remember to find fulfillment in applying all that you have been taught and learned over your many years on earth and as a musician. Just think of the repetitive practicing you did to achieve your level of skill—thousands of hours. “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.” I like to think about that old saying in reverse: “Where there’s a way, there’s a will.” It may work for you. I truly believe that out of our greatest rejection comes our greatest direction.
God bless Phil Woods for what he shared with us. I never heard Phil play a bad note in person or on his many recordings. What a skillful and talented human being. He was one of the best storytellers, not only by his words of wisdom, but also through his many melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic improvisations. His teaching and mindset helped me make up my mind to become the best version of myself. Again, “Where there’s a way, there’s a will.”