Since all my classes are on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, Mondays are my homework day – which means Mondays are also my procrastination day. And what better way to procrastinate than with a blog post?
Since my last and first post, a lot of music happened: two album launches with Marie-Claire Durand (Quebec City and Montreal), a showcase with Irem Bekter, a recording session with Damon Hankoff, a show in Quebec City with Sarah Slean, and a free jazz/country duo show in Ottawa with Craig Pedersen. I also started a new part-time job at the McGill Music Library, working as a consultant in the computer lab (which I love!).
But since I don’t want this blog to be just about music, I won’t talk about all that, except to say that it’s been a wonderful month for music so far!! Instead, I want this blog to be about whatever happens in my life that resonates with me enough to make me want to share it with others. So today’s blog will be about death.
Last week, MC and I were having a normal conversation, and somehow the conversation turned to death. I told her about a bunch of different (indirect) experiences I’ve had with death in the past, especially suicide. The details aren’t important – what is important is that it was a beautiful and deep conversation about a very important (not to mention inevitable) part of life.
I feel very lucky that I’m the kind of person who can think deeply about uncomfortable subjects such as death. I also feel very lucky that I’m not a person with suicidal tendencies, or with any imbalance that could trigger these tendencies. Like everyone, I occasionally get depressed, but never dangerously so. In fact, when I’m really depressed, one of the things that never fails to cheer me up is thinking about death. My own death, I mean.
To be clear: I’m not religious – I believe that when we die, we’re dead. I don’t believe in an afterlife, and I find this finality comforting.
The more I think about death and its immensity, its incomprehensibility, its infiniteness, the more I get out of my own head and realize that the things that are getting me down don’t really matter. Even though this is how I’ve felt since I was quite young, I’ve learned that it’s one of the main teachings of Buddhism. I don’t agree with a lot of their teachings, but the concept of impermanence is something I can really get behind. Does anyone else remember when that Buddhist monk came to the art gallery in the Regina Public Library and made a Mandala?
Obviously, thinking about something and talking about it are two very different things, and even though I think a lot about this stuff, I don’t necessarily talk about it. And just because I’m writing about it now doesn’t mean I will want to talk about it later. I feel that one’s beliefs on the subject of death are as personal as religion and politics, two other things I think a lot about but rarely will talk about. For some reason, I felt like sharing this today.
I just realized that it’s almost one year since my grandfather died (October 27, 2013). Since there was no funeral or service of any kind (according to his wishes), I don’t think I’ve fully accepted it and dealt with it yet. Maybe that’s why death is on my mind a lot lately.
Tsutomu “Tom” Yoshida, 1923-2013
I think I’ll start a blog. Why not?
The first thing I’ll write about is this past weekend. It was an intense, music-filled few days. Friday night I played with the Craig Pedersen Quartet at IMOOFest in Ottawa. The night was opened by the solo cello with looping pedal and other crazy effects of Mark Molnar, and closed with the free improvisations for the Lina Allemano ensemble Titanium Riot.
Playing with Craig is very emotionally and physically demanding. His music is very intense, and he pushes the band is sometimes uncomfortable but always interesting directions. In order to rehearse for the show, we ran the set twice in a row in the afternoon (immediately after driving into Ottawa from Montreal), and then went to set up and soundcheck for the show (we also ate Shawarma twice that day). The show went super well, but I’m still recuperating from several after-effects – including muscle soreness in my hands, and a ringing in my ears.
On Saturday, I played a wedding ceremony in Kirkland with my string trio, Trio Da Capo. It was a nice ceremony, and entertaining because one of the couple’s four kids was running around the whole time, enjoying the sound of his new shoes on the church floor.
Saturday evening I was back in the Ottawa area, playing a house concert in a beautiful mansion in Gatineau with Renée Yoxon and Chad Linsley. The name of the concert series is the Tiny House Mansion Concerts. The place was incredible (I can’t believe I didn’t take a photo!), and the hosts were awesome. They had an old, slightly out-of-tune Heintzman upright piano, which Chad made sound great. It’s a total treat to play with these two! I always need to be on my toes, the music often takes surprising twists and turns. My favorite moment of the evening was when I sat down to listen to Renée and Chad perform a tune I don’t play on, entitled Little Prince. As the last note faded, there was an audible group exhalation, almost a sigh – like everybody had been released from a spell all at the same time. Maybe not a spell, more like a beautiful enchanted dream world, and they all came back to reality when the song finished. It was a really incredible feeling.
Sunday morning began with a great, relaxed home rehearsal for Marie-Claire‘s upcoming album launch. Maybe I’m biased, but I think it’s a great project, with a great sounding album, and a great band (Eric Thibodeau on drums! I get to play with him in Craig’s group, too). Marie-Claire’s composition has always floored me, I wish I could write that well. Apparently the album has been getting some CBC airtime, which is exciting!!
Sunday afternoon was a rehearsal with Siach Hasadeh, the formation with strings. With this group we’ve been heading into a really beautiful and interesting area, incorporating more and more free improvisation and extended techniques into the group vocabulary. So we worked on a bunch of improvisation exercises, and worked on some new material, and the whole process was exhilarating! Hopefully we’ll be able to do another tour this spring….
Sunday evening I got to check out Eric Hove’s new project at the OFF Jazz Festival. It was crazy! Wild spectral music over cool grooves. I’ve never heard anything like it before! It’s not often I get the chance to go to a concert, so this was a real treat, especially since the music was great. It was also a great jazz hang!
If you made it this far, thank you for reading. I hope to post about once a week, so stay tuned for more!
I’m off to do some web design homework.