The other day I watched a music group perform at a showcase. The bass player for the group was some young guy who seemed to have an attitude of his own perceived greatness. The group gave him a bass solo and he was awesome with it. As soon as he got the opportunity to solo his confidence seemed to explode. You could tell that soloing was “his element.” However, for the rest of the set he seemed to fumble around with finding the correct notes to play in the song. He would often attempt to “slide” into the right notes so that it wouldn’t seem as though he didn’t know what he was playing. With my ear I could tell easily. When I talked to him he had a “snub-like attitude” as though he was on a level much higher than me. I didn’t even bother telling him who I was or any of the things I have done. My question today is for all the “music cats” out there. “What defines a great musician?” Is a great musician someone who takes awesome solos or is he one that simply knows (and can play) the tunes? Is it the sound of his equipment or is it his professionalism when it comes to being prepared and showing up on time? Here in Philadelphia I know of “many great bass players” who will take fantastic bass solos. I personally do not take many solos (for most of the songs I play there is hardly any call for them) but because I know “a lot of songs” I work a whole lot. Most groups can hire me and I will play their entire set “without any rehearsal” but yet there are still groups out there who would prefer someone who takes awesome solos but has to work harder just to learn the songs. It feels as though some people actually believe that a musician who can solo greatly must be better than those who do not. If you were to hire a band, would you want the band to be composed of great players who are getting together for the very first time or regular guys with less talent but who have chemistry together and discipline? I’m sure someone will probably say that a great musician is one who will have “all the attributes previously mentioned.” I am fine with that, but if that is the case then how would you rank those attributes in accordance to importance? Would you take someone who can solo well over someone who actually knows the song? Would you take someone with conceit over someone who just loves to play with other musicians? Would you want someone who is loud? Musicians are different lot. There are some really weird ones out there with different morals about the music. There is probably no real correct answer to this question, but the question still stands. “What makes someone a great musician?” Thank you for checking out my Daily Thought, and as always I wish you the very best that life has to offer.
Singer Life Jennings in the studio with brother Bill Jolly and Brett Jolly