these are the verbatim notes I wrote on my last day at MacDowell…..
“word” notes from a composer
I can’t express enough the joy and satisfaction, and how rewarding it has been, to perform for my colleagues at the Savidge Library on 2 occasions. 1st, a Solo Jazz Piano Improvisation Concert, and this last week, I hosted a Monday Night Jazz Jam after dinner. The response was overwhelming, and went long and deep into the night. The nationally acclaimed poet and MacDowell Fellow Dennis Nurske from NYC sat in and played sax and flute, I took requests, and played 2 hours nonstop for my friends. It was an intimate gathering, and I am so glad to have shared that evening. It was the chance to work among and with an assemblage of world-class artists, to get past the differences, and find the common goals, and camaraderie. The human foibles and weakness of spirit seem to vanish.
It’s never been the accolades, or the critics. It is always the pleasure and recognition from your peers that gives you the little voice inside you that says “I know this.” I have had confidence at a local and even regional stage, but the positive and enthusiastic response from peers here at MacDowell is at a national, even international level, and thus has so much more impact and significance to me.
The isolation here, the time to reflect, the freedom to pursue all avenues of thought, forces you to reassess what’s important in the rest of your life. I have a wealth of experience, and I’m just now getting my wings.
In the last 30 days I found out more about myself as an artist than I could have otherwise in five years. I see that my years of performance experience and improvisation enable me, and allow work at a higher level, with intuition. The struggle to discover “new” and “fresh” is beset with setbacks, difficulties, a new learning curve, and lack of complete understanding on a high level. Yet these struggles enhance and stimulate one’s library of skills. The exposure to these logic constructs, these “alternate universes,” often augments and induces a wild and novel approach to my internal dialogue and craft.
I am finding that my rationale comprises only a small part of my artistic totality. I have hidden reserves and resources. My trick now is to accept these resources as truth, and these possibilities exist and must be reached.
“morphisms” from the past 4 weeks:
“Some days God just gives it to you.”
“Other days He’s no where to be found.”
The other significant discovery is that I can juggle multiple projects, and make more use of valuable creative time and resources. If I reach a dry spell, where nothing seems to work, I can shift focus to another project, an arrangement, a transcription, and return later with a freshness and new perspective. I found this so valuable this month.
Perhaps I cannot finish while I am here, but the seminal ideas and concepts would have never surfaced had I not had the supreme luxury of time and space at MacDowell. It’s the ultimate birthplace for stimulus and crystallization.
Hank Hehmsoth – Jazz Performing Artist/Composer