If I could shadow someone for a year, it would be Marian McPartland of NPR's Piano Jazz. Not only is she an amazing jazz pianist at age 92, but she gets to play with and interview some of the top jazz musicians in the world. Her guest on the show I heard this evening was saxophonist Phil Woods (he's 79, a young-un).
During a portion of the interview, they discussed how their perceptions of music and improvisation had changed during their long careers. Woods said (not verbatim), "When I was younger, it was all about getting in as many fast notes as possible. Hearing an early recording of myself I wondered when I had time to breathe."
But his next comment made me think a bit. "Sure the sixteenth notes can be fun to play, but it's the sustained whole note that really means something."
My first reaction: "Whoa, that's applicable to life on so many different levels."
Second reaction: "But if he hadn't experienced all those sixteenth notes, would the whole note carry the same meaning?"