that was the best title i could think up.  

i remember being very influenced by an interview with george harrison where he said that he realized early on that there's always someone faster and more technically proficient than you, so he devoted most of his career to really expressing himself on his instrument instead of gunslinging. on the other hand, i read an interview with steve kuhn (who comes off as pretty arrogant at times in my opinion) where he said that if you're goal as a musician isn't to become the greatest player ever to play your instrument, then you should just give it up right now.  

on that same topic, there's a friend who i went to high school with who's a fantastic, session level pianist.  the guy is phil degreg and ccm trained, but he was good before then.  since then, he's matured into a great player who can handle just about anything.  at least once a week i almost give up the notion of playing piano because i know that i'll never play with the ease or virtuosity that he does no matter how much time i put in.  everything i that i play sounds clunky and stilted compared to the sound that he puts out.  i'm guessing that everyone here feels the same thing when they listen to oscar or tatum.  how do you deal with it?
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(in case the above is unclear, my friend was trained by phil degreg, starting in high school, and then he continued to study under him as a jazz piano major at ccm).
ahhh...another edit: the "greatest player" quote came from paul bley, not steve kuhn.
i think its pretty simple - you need a certain amount of humility to play good music.  if your goal when youre playing is boost your own ego it will inevitably be dead obvious to the listener and it inevitably comes across as being unattractive and unmusical.  

the really good players pretty much never seem to just be ego boosting when they're mainly seems to be students who do that i think.  

to become a good jazz player you obviously have to work incredibly hard for a long long time.  to work like that, that hard, for many years all with the goal of just trying to win some musical competition would be an extremely selfish and vain pursuit i think. and the music you come up with would inevitably be shallow and pretty meaningless in my opinion.
i think the true purpose of music is to enjoy yourself and help out others lives. when your just using music to boost your ego, you could make other people mad, and you will cause problems. it all comes down to musicality and facial expression and how your posture is and your body movements that determine if you look ego boosting or not. i don't know if i'm right, but i think whenever you play a bunch of notes without musicality and expression, the listener will think that you're purpose of playing piano is all about your technique and playing "fast", so therefore he thinks your trying to boost your ego, and therefore he gets mad because he thinks you think that your better than other musicians.

besides that's what most jobs are for, right? they are there for you to help out others and for you to enjoy yourself, not to be ego boosting.
great post scott:
i'm starting to think that the problem with marian petrescu.

with reference to the paul bley quote, it may be worth remembering that being the 'greatest player ever' on your instrument does not necessarily mean being the fastest, or having the most technique.

people like miles and monk can be considered right up there amongst the greatest ever trumpeters and pianists whilst it is generally agreed that there were and are players with 'more' technique than these guys.

i think the key must lie in developing your own sound.  the reason miles and monk were so great is they had a unique way of playing that gave their music an instantly-identifiable personal identity.  their technique was perfectly honed to play the music the way they conceived it.

great technicians and virtuosos will always be around and, chances are, like george harrison said, there will always be someone with more chops than you.  however, if you concentrate on developing your own sound, then you have the chance of adding something unique to the music.  

different strokes for different folks, as the saying goes...
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