photo of man with hand on chin sitting on concrete pavement in front of white wall

Why Did I Say That?

Ego and self-consciousness are tough things to deal with sometimes.

My situation is music-oriented, but relatable to life in general (at least I hope so!). So bear with me through this story and I’ll try to explain.

In Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows Part 1, George Weasley suffers a serious wound to the head; specifically, he gets a hole in his ear.  When his twin brother Fred arrives, George says something about feeling “saint-like”.  Seeing his brother’s look of confusion, he clarifies by saying, “I’m holy!”

Happily surprised at his brother’s good humor, Fred responds by saying, “The whole wide world of ear-related humor; and you go for ‘I’m holy?!’ ”

In a few days, my new jazz album will be released.  I like the recording and am excited to share it with people, but I’m also battling some self-consciousness and ego issues.  Sort of like George Weasley, I had the whole world of jazz music to explore and play with, and I went for… the stuff I played on the new album!?

Why?  Why did I “say” that? Why did I play like that?

Do I not like what I played?

Yes, for the most part, I do like it (at least as much as my self-critical self will allow).

The cover art was painted by my daughter Ally.

But just as Fred’s question to his injured brother implies- couldn’t I have done something better?  More challenging?  Couldn’t I have taken more chances?  Played more difficult tunes or more adventurous  solos?

Yes, I could have.

Then why didn’t I?

Bear with me again as I answer that question with another story.

Years ago I was determined to be the best trumpet player I could be. I wanted to play the most challenging material I could.  As I was learning jazz, that attitude led me to be-bop and other music with fast tempos and crazy, rapidly changing chord progressions.  That was a big challenge! And with practice, I got a lot better at playing in those ways.  Not world class awesome or anything close to it, but I could hold my own and was (usually) fit to be heard in public, at least in my hometown.  

But what I discovered after awhile was that I didn’t really love playing that way.  I liked it, but it just didn’t seem like a natural fit for me.

I realized I was more into less. Fewer chords, fewer fast tempos, fewer notes in solos and melodic lines.

It took me awhile, but I finally realized that I didn’t have to play any certain way if I didn’t want to.  There was no teacher in front of me demanding that I progress on to the next level of difficulty.  I realized that I could just play the way I liked.  More relaxed.  Not worried about playing something technically excellent, but instead just trying to play something that sounded good and felt good to me at the time.

That’s what I did on my new album.  I played in the style I like best, on songs I thought were fun to play, and I played what I felt at the time we were recording.  Like every jazz player, if I were to do it all again today, it would turn out differently- that’s part of the beauty of jazz.

So, I guess I’m writing this post to justify myself to myself. Maybe I’m reinforcing myself against those who may say my album is weak, doesn’t hit hard, doesn’t show enough chops or harmonic adventure, doesn’t contain especially challenging songs or intricate solo lines.

All of those things may be true. But the one thing I can say for myself is that I played what came naturally on songs I enjoy playing. At the end of the day, I think that’s what jazz musicians are supposed to do.

I may have to just remind myself a few more times.

Jazz On King Vol. 1 by Todd Fulginiti Trio is available September 22 on major streaming platforms. Pre-save it on Spotify here. You can also listen to it now at my website.

21 thoughts on “Why Did I Say That?

  1. You would be easy on yourself if you consider this (and all other creative works) as a WIP and not an end in itself. Where WIP means Work In Progress (ok I know you knew that). So even if there is any regret on your present piece of work it fits totally as WIP in your continuous journey. Hope I made sense !!

  2. Music is only worth listening to if it’s true to the artist, I say! And when you wrote this: “I realized I was more into less” it stood out to me as a “Todd Truth”. Not less…just what speaks to you, musically. I’m all for that! And congratulations again on your upcoming release. So excited for you…being you…as an artist! Yay! 😎🥰😎

  3. Oh Congratulations Todd. How exciting. Yes, I think you’ve answered the question: “I played in the style I like best, on songs I thought were fun to play, and I played what I felt at the time we were recording.” That’s all anyone can expect when they listen to new music. Good luck!!!!

  4. You should always write and perform music for yourself. You cannot please everybody so please yourself. I am not a muscian but I can imagine how badly music would sound if perfomred based on “this is how you do it” opposed to what come naturally. Reading your blog I could not help but recall an interview with Neal Peart (late drummer of Rush) in where he states he had to reinvent his method of drumming because it no longer felt right snf hr felt his music was suffering. All the best with the release.

    1. Thanks Danny-great point! I’m going to look that interview up on YouTube if I can find it – sounds like a good one 👍

  5. Sometimes less is more, Todd. One of my philosophies in life is “Done is better than perfect!” Yes, you could have agonized and done more to make everything technically perfect, but you did what made you happy. That, in itself, is a victory!

  6. A friend of mine, when she turned 50, she told me she started to say ‘no’ without inventing any excuse for it. She would simply say ‘no’ because she doesn’t want to, she doesn’t like or doesn’t feel like. I think that we are mature enough to decide to do what we like most, and possibly when we like most. Well done Todd!

    1. Thanks Cristiana! 50 is empowering like that- I’ve gotten better at “no” since then too 💪🏻🙂

  7. I had this very thought today – how does one decide what pieces to publish and which ones to hold back? And are we ever fully satisfied?

  8. I love this, Todd. Your stories are great and your point about finding your way to how you wanted to play – that is the work of polishing your path. So inspiring. Can’t wait to hear your music! <3 <3 <3

Leave a Reply