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Artistic evolution is a natural part of an artist's journey, although not every artist goes through it. Personally, my favorite artists tend to evolve over time. For instance, Miles Davis went through various eras in his work, and John Coltrane had different stages in his career. Stevie Wonder is another example of an artist who constantly evolves.
It raises the question of what triggers these moments of artistic change and what informs the decision to explore new pathways.
As artists progress, they create pieces that embody their true art. For example, Innervisions, A Love Supreme, and Sketches of Spain are some of these works. There are also snapshots of artists in motion, such as Miles Davis' Cookin, Steamin, Workin, and Relaxin or Coltrane's Live at the Village Vanguard.
From a historical perspective, these changes seem logical and obvious. However, the question remains of what happens during the interim that allows for such a transformation. These pieces are often a reflection of the artist's life experiences and the music industry's available resources during that particular period.
All of these artists had a life centered around music. For instance, Stevie Wonder started composing for Motown as a child and continued to do so throughout his life. He had the opportunity to create music and practice his instruments every day while still finding ways to replenish his artistic inspiration. His hard work paid off, and his albums sold well, while labels arranged tours and promoted his records. Essentially, the structure of his life maintained his enthusiasm for creating new things.
I believe that it is the experience of a musical life that provides fulfillment to the artist and enables and shapes these transformations.
In 2017, I released my second album, Clean. The process involved numerous hours of composing, organizing, fundraising, practicing, and promoting the project. To get my band fully immersed in the music, I rehearsed and performed with them as much as possible. Additionally, I hired a top publicist whom I couldn't really afford to help spread the music as far as possible. However, most of the work involved me working at a bar four nights a week to save up funds to create the album.
When the album was finally released, I felt extremely proud and viewed it as my first true artistic statement. The positive press it received further reinforced my happiness. Nevertheless, the day after the release concert, I had to go back to working behind the bar, which hurt.
The album opened up new doors. However, upon approaching these opportunities and exploring them, I realized that the lifestyle they offered wasn't appealing to me. While the extensive press coverage was a major accomplishment, it only represented the first level of the music industry. Venues preferred an artist who could release an album annually as it would make for a more exciting release tour. However, securing guarantees from venues was challenging, and financing a tour for my band seemed impossible. The thought of repeating the process of creating and funding an album every year, while spending countless hours setting up tours and local shows, didn't seem like the kind of life I wanted to lead. All I could see was myself spending more hours at a bar and in front of a computer, rather than improving my musical skills. In fact, I felt that this path might hinder my progress as a musician. I knew it was time to change.
I yearned for a life where music played a more central role in my day-to-day existence, but I wasn't certain how to make that a reality. I decided to let go of several musical endeavors and focus on finding work in music that allowed me to play more frequently. I stopped composing because I needed more personal space to refuel my creative inspiration and feel excited about music creation again. It took me several years to establish a lifestyle that felt more musically fulfilling and allowed me to come closer to creating another album.
Currently, I adore my musical journey in New York City, where I perform about 4-5 nights a week. I'm grateful that it's enough to let me live in the city and lead this type of life.
Initially, I envisioned releasing standards albums after making some initial original albums. It's easier to find standards gigs around town in a more day-to-day life. Previously, I played music I enjoyed deeply about three times a year, but now I get to play it multiple times a week. Venues also cover the expenses for the band in standards projects, which is awesome.
My album series, The Process, is a reflection of a life spent making music. It offers glimpses of a musician's technical and artistic growth. Volume 1 was recorded in Rome, Italy, after a ten-day tour of my original music. The band is deeply invested in the work. Volume 2 was recorded at Pinch Recording and showcases the stylistic changes I've made musically over the past two and a half years.
I plan to release Volume 3 of The Process series in the next year or so. My creative wells have recently been replenished, and I'm feeling inspired to work on another creative album in the next 2-4 years. I'm excited about my future life, which is more centered around music, and grateful that I no longer have to stand behind the bar.
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