Be Open to the Immediacy of the Moment

In David Perell’s interview with the jazz writer Ted Gioia he shares a story of John Handy, Charles’s Mingus’ former saxophonist:

During one performance, Handy played an inspired sax solo, the audience was absolutely loving it. Mingus calls him over after the performance and tells Handy to never do that again. Handy thought that Mingus was jealous. He did something exciting and now he was the center of attention. It only occurred to him later what Mingus really meant. You had a moment of inspiration, don’t try to play that tomorrow night. Instead of coming tomorrow fresh and open to the experience, you’re going to try and recreate the performance from the night before. Mingus wasn’t was jealous. He wanted Handy to do great things. And the only way to do that is to be open to the immediacy of the moment.

This story highlights why jazz is one of my favourite genres. Improvisation is a big part of jazz and witnessing a great jazz performance is a one of one, the performance is unique.

This story also highlights a pattern I’ve seen amongst high performers: staying present in the moment.

June 2, 2024

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