During a panel discussion about the future of jazz on Saturday morning at the Portland Jazz Festival I made a point about keeping your ears — and other senses — open to new sounds. It's a lesson that the great producer Teo Macero once passed on to me — a lesson he learned from working with everyone from Duke Ellington to Vernon Reid.
I've already recounted the conversation I had with a young-ish music fan who was seated beside me on Sunday afternoon for her first Cecil Taylor performance, and her excitement after what I regarded as a fairly average show by Taylor.
After I returned home I received an email from one of my oldest friends, who had just seen Ornette Coleman in Vancouver. My friend has always been a music fan, but he's not what I would call a rabid jazz listener. Nevertheless, he was knocked out by Coleman's performance, despite the fact that the saxophonist is now 77 and not playing with the best band he's ever had.
Time to renew my faith in those lessons about open ears. It's too easy to become jaded when you're exposed to a lot of music; sometimes you have to hear things through the ears of others to refresh your own senses.