Driving my car from my dear friend/bandmate Liz Tobias’s performance of Luciana Souza’s music, I couldn’t help but thinking over and over again about what Luciana, who were at the concert, told me after the performance.
Luciana, three-time Grammy Nominee who studied with the same jazz composition teacher as mine at Berklee a decade earlier, and I, had performed together many years ago as a part of the ensemble led by my long time collaborator Mark Shilansky. Not seeing her ever since, I wasn’t quite sure if she remembered me. So I figured that I should say hi and tell her who I was.
She remembered me, perhaps because male Asian jazz vocalist was one of the most rare species in the US, and asked me how my group was doing. I told her that we disbanded, unfortunately. But her reaction, within less than a second, was “Congratulations!”
I thought she might have misinterpreted what I said, given it was loud out there. So I said, “well, it was unfortunate (that we disbanded)” to her. Again, she immediately responded and said, “That’s why I said congratulations to you. Change is good.”
She did not misinterpret what I said, indeed. She really meant to congratulate me.
Puzzled. Still not really digesting what had happened, I added, “well, instead, I started a new band with this girl,” pointing Liz, who was still in the echo of her outstanding performance. And her response, once again in less than a second, was “see, I told you. She’s amazing. You are starting something new with her (who is THIS amazing). Change is good, right?”
It may sound ironic, but in a way, Luciana has never changed. As I recall, Luciana was just like this a decade ago when we rehearsed and performed together. She was extremely smart and quick, and told people something that ordinary people wouldn’t normally think about. In many sense, her mind is always a few minutes, if not few years, ahead of us.
I do admit. Until today, even though I had truly been excited with my new band “More Than Four,” I still was in the process of recovering from the loss of Syncopation, the band that I started and lasted for10 years. Running a band is like a marriage. Any divorce would force you go through emotional challenge. The same thing is true for the band.
But now I am finally convinced. The change was good. Pretty damn good. From now on, I will never use the word “unfortunate” for the end of Syncopation’s era. There is a bright future ahead of me with this wonderful new group, with full of new ideas that could never happen if there was no change.
Thank you, Luciana, for being a wonderful inspiration both with your music and the way you are. Thank you, Liz, for being wonderful and willing to be my collaborator. By the end of my 20 minutes drive, I somehow stopped thinking about what Luciana told me. The next thing that I realized was that I started thinking about the next compositional ideas. Life goes on, and so does music.