Playing and the passing of time

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Where does the time go? Last autumn, I performed with De Voortrekkers – a silent movie from South Africa, in Edinburgh for the Africa in Motion Film Festival. I had some time after the performance to do some sightseeing and I reflected on the fact that I once shared a flat with several London based musicians whilst playing in a residency for the Edinburgh Festival – almost thirty years ago. I still have the key to the apartment on my key ring from that time!

Thinking about some of the aspirations shared by most of the musicians who stayed in that Edinburgh flat, it occurred to me that there were hopes that Jazz and Improvised music would develop larger audiences – we also hoped to make our marks on the genre in similar ways to the generation of trailblazing musicians who appeared on the scene before us.

Several decades later, I occasionally come across some of my flat mate musician colleagues from that time. In many cases, physical features have matured – sometimes with grace and perhaps less so in others. How do we feel about the passing of time and where we stand with regard to our calling as artists?

Audiences don’t seem to have grown much larger and each of us has needed to make choices regarding ways and means of sustaining our career paths. New kids regularly appear on the block and we exert a lot of mental energy finding ways to maintain relevance within the discourse of the scene.

To be honest, I haven’t had a proper conversation with any of my peers about this subject. I wonder if there is anything to be gained from evaluating such matters. At the moment it feels like it is best to let sleeping dogs lie. Perhaps it is enough that most of us are still around, functioning in one form or another.