Monday, March 23, 2009

Don't write like a band... write like a piana'

"You don’t write like a band... you write like a piana’. We were a big piana’." -- Eddy Byrne speaking on his playing with Thelonious Monk.

Simplicity is an art seldom perfected. Einstein is noted as saying, "Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler." That is, well... simply brilliant. I just purchased the documentary Helvetica (trailer can be seen HERE) and it supports what I've been feeling recently (I thought it was old age creeping in)... what's passing for communication these days is often just clutter. Cool and whiz-bang is ok -- and even invited around ADG... but concept and messaging needs to be clear, and alas, simple.

I heard a great NPR segment recently called Monk At Town Hall celebrating 5 decades of the genius that was Thelonious Monk. During the radio cast, trombonist Eddy Byrne spoke of playing with the great pianist as well jazz heroes like bassist Charles Mingus, and Miles Davis -- whose legendary trumpet skill is, even today, some of the finest ever recorded. Despite the monumental talent of each individual contributor, Burke and the collective strove to sound as one voice. "A big piana'" as he so eloquently put it. Complexity well formulated and thought out is simplicity at its finest.

Try this: black coffee, big chair, dim lights, and Blue Monk (one of his best offerings, available here at Amazon.) Life is undoubtedly complex. Here's an opportunity to simplify, if only for the 10 minutes and 13 seconds that the legendary pianist tickles the ivories on my favorite tune by the master.

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