Charles McPherson – A Musician’s Scope Should be Wide

SKF NOTE: At age 81 Charles McPherson is still creating beautiful music. Jazz first “clicked” for me while I was listening to Charles Mingus‘s band at Newport 1970. Then I listened to everything Mingus — which included a ton of Charles McPherson’s playing.

What McPherson told writer Chris Albertson in 1968 about being a musician rings true. McPherson echoes how he felt then in the modern video above.

Charles McPherson: “If you’re going to be a musician, you must not have any mental blocks. We, as musicians, can’t afford not to hear those who came before us. A layman, on the other hand, can listen to whatever makes him feel good, because he is not as wholly involved as the musician.

A musician should go as far back in his listening as he possibly can, ignoring all the little segregated categories that the writers and critics like to put music into. A musician’s scope should be wide; he does not have the layman’s privilege to be narrow. That is, if he wants to be great, if he really wants to become an artist.

Source: Charles McPherson: Ornithologist, by Chris Albertson, Down Beat, May 16, 1968

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