Music and the Joy of Play

Last week was yet another sensational week of nurturing myself with outstanding musical performances.

When I reflected upon what made these  performance so special to me I realized something very simple that often seems to be ignored by music critics and especially by those interested in classical orchestral or chamber music.

The essence of music is play. It is about the play and interplay of instruments and  artists that is part  of the non-verbal communications and conversations.

Play implies fun, creativity, freedom of expression, spontaneity, joy and pleasure.

The abundance of this quality is what distinguished both of my experiences last week. You can tell a musician is having fun because they smile when they play their instrument and look at the other players.

The first event was a jazz set that took place at The Jazz Standard, I had never heard master tenor saxophonist Houston Person or pianist John Di Martino or the bass player Ray Drummond play before. The fourth of the quartet was my favorite drummer Lewis Nash.

The outstanding expertise of each musician was intensified by the musical banter between them all. They didn’t just converse -they played and the joy and fun that they expressed felt like a really great party and celebration was happening.

There  was a riot of fun and afterwards when I spoke to Drummond and Nash each pointed to other saying that the other was the “instigator”.

Later that weekend I attended an all piano concert given by The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center at Alice Tulley Hall.  Here is the music they played and the artists are pictured below.

Meet the Artists

Wu Han

Wu Han

Each pair of artists were clearly delighted by their collaboration with each other. It didn’t matter whether they played on two pianos or one, and no combination of partners was unbalanced with the performances of other pairings.

As each piece was completed the artists hugged each other, were laughing and left the stage engaged in conversation with the other.

The fun they each had was contagious to all present.

At the completion of both the jazz set and the chamber music concert a rare event happened.

It is highly unusual in recent times for performers to give encores.

At the jazz venue, another full piece was performed , to the surprise and joy of the the audience and the  four pianists sat together at one piano and played an eight handed piece.

What fun!!!!! Lucky, lucky me!


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