Friday, December 10, 2010

Funeral Words

In March I wrote a blog about missing my grandfather even though he was sitting right next to me. My grandfather passed away on November 25, 2010. I learned a huge lesson in his final days. I regret that it took me this long and several painful experiences to learn this lesson. However, I tried to convey what I had learned when I spoke at his funeral. Below, I have included the audio of what I said, followed by an English translation. Finally, I have also included the actual Spanish transcription of what I said that day. I hope this will come across clearly, even though I fear it may have lost some of its essence in the translation.



Good evening, and thank you for coming. I know we all have our memories of him, and I have my own, but I would like to share something that has impacted me with respect to him, only recently in these past two or three weeks. Please forgive me if I have trouble speaking clearly…

I always remember my grandfather studying. Studying all sorts of things, like medicine to improve his veterinary practice. However, what I remember seeing him study the most, has always been the Bible. I'll always remember how he positioned his Bible on his desk. It was always, with all kind of other papers around, always the Bible in the center, in plain sight. He had his notes which were, at first, hand written, then typewritten, and later he asked me to teach him to use the computer so he could write more notes, and just write more. He never realized the full potential of the computer, but writing was always his aim.

I remember certain studies he had done, and in the years of which I remember, he was always studying sanctification, the death to oneself. The death of the believer to one's self, and being more focused on life, as it should be, in Christ. This was his focus. I always remember his desire to study more, to understand more, and above that, above studying, applying and living what he would study. Not just to casually live certain words in the Bible, like "Love one another" and that's all. Truly living the words of the Bible. It's true, one of his favorite verses was Philippians 1:21. "For to me, living is Christ and dying is gain," but living is Christ.

I know God has His purpose in everything, His time, His calendar. But I, for a long time - years - asked myself, and God; Why? I dealt with this, the Why? Why God? There's a paper around here that says he never asked God, why? But I did. I did. I was seeing this man: intelligent, honorable, servant of God. Why does this have to happen? Why to him? Years have passed that I asked, asked God, without response. This led me to a certain anger, a certain resentment against God, a certain apathy. The answer will never come, we'll know in heaven - but I don't want to wait that long! What has been the purpose of his suffering with this disease? Is it a lesson, something we have to learn? Is it a punishment because of him, or the family? Is it something more I can't even understand? If it is a lesson, who is that lesson for, and why can't they, or I, just learn it and get this over with? These were the questions I would ask myself, and God, without understanding. So many years that I've dealt with this, and the depression of seeing his deteriorating condition.

In these three weeks several events have occurred in my life, that include my grandfather, and other things, that have shaken my view of faith, a real shock. Three weeks ago he was taken to the hospital because of pneumonia, in a week he was in a hospice house. On one of those days we were all gathered there, after my nephew's party, visiting him. We started to read, and my mother read from the Bible. He always wanted to listen, and we believed that even though he couldn't respond, he could still hear us, and he would like to listen to the Bible. We were reading from Colossians, Ephesians, Galatians, Psalms, any of his favorite passages. We arrived at Philippians, in the first chapter. We arrived at these verses that impacted me. I was following along as my mother read. These verses had a real impact on me. If you have your Bibles please follow along, if not, please write these down so you can read them later, on your own time. Verses 19 to 27 of the first chapter of Philippians read as follows… "for I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ. My confident hope is that I will in no way be ashamed but that with complete boldness, even now as always, Christ will be exalted in my body, whether I live or die. For to me, living is Christ and dying is gain. Now if I am to go on living in the body, this will mean productive work for me, yet I don't know which I prefer: I feel torn between the two, because I have a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far, but it is more vital for your sake that I remain in the body. And since I am sure of this, I know that I will remain and continue with all of you for the sake of your progress and joy in the faith, so that what you can be proud of may increase because of me in Christ Jesus, when I come back to you. Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ so that - whether I come and see you or whether I remain absent - I should hear that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind, by contending side by side for the faith of the gospel." (New English Translation)

When these verses were read, I finally received an answer. I feel, as strongly that night, as I do now. While these are the words of Paul, I feel these were the final words from my grandfather to me; to all of us, but specifically to me. The answer is found here in verses 19 to 21, and also in 23 to 26. Verse 24 says "but it is more vital for your sake that I remain in the body." The answer, the why. Then, what he always, always taught, and the culmination of it all, the larger purpose; verse 27 "only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ so that - whether I come and see you or whether I remain absent." Now he is physically absent, even though he lives in our memories. However, his legacy to us is that, to live in Christ. I strongly suggest you read this passage because this impacted me in such a way. As I said, it is as if these were the final words from my grandfather to me. Necessarily, verse 27 "conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ." I believe this is the message, the sanctification, the death to oneself, all this was to this end; to live worthy of the gospel of Christ. Thank you.


Buenas noches, y muchas gracias por venir. Sé que todos tenemos unos recuerdos, unas memorias de el, y yo tengo las mías. Pero yo quiero compartir con ustedes solo algo que me impactó, recientemente de él, y fue en estas ultimas dos o tres semanas. Me disculpan si me es difícil hablar pero…

Yo siempre me acuerdo de ver a mi abuelo estudiando, estudiando cualquier cosa, pero, estudiando la medicina para, mejorar su medicina veterinaria. Pero lo mas que me acuerdo a ver le a el estudiar es, siempre ha sido la Biblia. Y siempre me acuerdo como ponía la Biblia en la mesa, lo tenia allí mismo con el, así puesto. Y siempre estaba, y otros papeles de cualquier cosa, pero siempre la Biblia en el centro, en el centro a la vista siempre. Con sus notas, primero escrito a mano, y después a la machina, y después me pidió que le enseñara la computadora para escribir mas notas y para escribir mas. Y aunque nunca logró usar la computadora a todo su potencial, pero eso era siempre el fin de él.

Me acuerdo de unos de los estudios que el hacía, y en los años del cual yo me acuerdo, el siempre estaba estudiando santificación, y la muerte del yo. La muerte del creyente a si mismo, y estar mas enfocado en la vida, como debe ser, en Cristo. Ese fue el enfoque de él. Y yo siempre me acuerdo de ese, de ese, ese, no se, anhelo para estudiar mas, para entender mas, y mas que eso, mas que estudiar, aplicar y vivir lo que estudiaba. Vivir no solo unas letras en la Biblia, ok, "amad unos a otros", ya, pero no. Vivirlo en sí, en carne propia. Es cierto, uno de los versos favoritos de él, el Filipenses 1:21. "Porque para mí el vivir es Cristo, y el morir es ganancia", pero el vivir es Cristo.

Yo se que Dios tiene su propósito en todo, su tiempo y su calendario. Pero, yo siempre, por largo tiempo, años, me preguntaba a mí mismo, y le preguntaba a Dios, ¿Por qué? Yo lidiaba con eso, el ¿por qué?, ¿Por qué Dios? Y hay un papel que dice allí, no me acuerdo cual, que él nunca le preguntaba a Dios ¿por qué? Pero yo sí. Yo sí. Viendo a un hombre, inteligente, honorable, siervo de Dios, ¿por qué tiene que suceder esto? ¿Por qué a él? Y años han pasado que yo preguntaba, le preguntaba a Dios, sin respuesta. Y a fin, eso me llevó a un cierto enojo, a un cierto resentimiento con Dios, a una cierta apatía. Nunca va llegar la respuesta, lo sabremos en el cielo, pero yo no quiero esperar hasta ese tiempo. ¿Cual es el propósito, cual ha sido el propósito de él sufrir tanto en su enfermedad? ¿Será una lección, algo que tenemos que aprender?, ¿Será un castigo de algo de él o de la familia? ¿Será algo mas que yo no puedo entender? y si es algo que tenemos que aprender, ¿quién es el que lo tiene que aprender? y ¿por qué no viene esa persona, o porque no lo aprendo yo, y ya, se acaba? Esas eran las preguntas que me hacía yo a mí mismo, y después a Dios, no entendiendo. Y entonces, tantos años que lidiaba con eso, con la depresión de verlo, la condición de el, deteriorándose.

Hace tres semanas, en estas tres semanas me han ocurrido varios eventos en mi vida, que incluyen a mi abuelo, y otras cosas en mi vida, que me han sacudido, me han cambiado como veo la fe, me han, en si, no se, un sacudón. Hace tres semanas él, le llevaron al hospital por la neumonía, una semana estaba en la casa de "hospice" hospicio. En unos de esos días estábamos todos juntos después de una fiesta de el sobrino mío, fuimos a visitar. Y empezamos a leer, mi mama estaba leyendo de la Biblia, porque él siempre quería oír, y pensábamos, bueno, creemos que el todavía nos oye, aunque no puede responder, nos oye. Y le gustaría oír, de la Biblia. Entonces, estábamos leyendo de Colosenses, de Efesios, de Gálatas, de cualquier, de Salmos, de cualquiera pasajes que eran los favoritos de el. Y llegamos a Filipenses, llegamos a Filipenses, el primer capitulo. Y llegamos a estos ciertos versos, que me impactó, y yo estaba siguiendo, mi mama estaba leyendo y yo estaba siguiendo, en el teléfono mío tengo la Biblia y yo estaba leyendo, siguiendo. Y estos versos me impactáron. Si tienen sus Biblias siguen conmigo, si no, lo escriben por, les sugiero que lo lean después a su propio tiempo. Los versos 19 de 27 del primer capitulo de Filipenses dicen así… "Porque sé que por vuestra oración y la suministración del Espíritu de Jesucristo, esto resultará en mi liberación, conforme a mi anhelo y esperanza de que en nada seré avergonzado; antes bien con toda confianza, como siempre, ahora también será magnificado Cristo en mi cuerpo, o por vida o por muerte. Porque para mí el vivir es Cristo, y el morir es ganancia. Mas si el vivir en la carne resulta para mí en beneficio de la obra, no sé entonces qué escoger. Porque de ambas cosas estoy puesto en estrecho, teniendo deseo de partir y estar con Cristo, lo cual es muchísimo mejor; pero quedar en la carne es más necesario por causa de vosotros. Y confiado en esto, sé que quedaré, que aún permaneceré con todos vosotros, para vuestro provecho y gozo de la fe, para que abunde vuestra gloria de mí en Cristo Jesús por mi presencia otra vez entre vosotros. Solamente que os comportéis como es digno del evangelio de Cristo, para que o sea que vaya a veros, o que esté ausente, oiga de vosotros que estáis firmes en un mismo espíritu, combatiendo unánimes por la fe del evangelio," (Reina Valera 1960)

Cuando se leyeron esos versos, a fin recibí una respuesta. Y siento yo, tan fuertemente, esa noche, como ahora. Aunque éstas son las palabras de Pablo, yo siento que éstas son las ultimas palabras de mi abuelo a mí. A nosotros todos, pero mas especifico, a mí. La respuesta viene aquí, en los versos 19 al 21, y también del 23 al 26. "Pero quedar" el 24 dice "Pero quedar en la carne es más necesario por causa de vosotros." La respuesta, el ¿por qué? Y después lo que el siempre, siempre, siempre enseñaba, y todo el, la culminación de todo, y el propósito más grande de todo esto, para mí, el 27 "Solamente que os comportéis como es digno del evangelio de Cristo, que sea o que vaya a veros, o que esté ausente," y ahora el esta físicamente ausente, pero en las memorias nuestra, vive. Pero, el legado que el nos dejó es eso, de vivir en Cristo. Y yo les sugiero otra vez que lean ese pasaje, porque eso para mí, me impacto de tal manera y siento yo, como les dije, que esos fueron, como si fueron las ultimas palabras de mi abuelo a mí. Y es necesario eso, el verso 27 "comportéis digno al evangelio de Cristo" y ese es el mensaje que yo creo, la santificación, la muerte del yo. Todo eso era a ese fin, a ser, a vivir, digno del evangelio de Cristo. Muchas Gracias.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Improving... Intentions

My goal, career-wise, is to be a successful working bassist. Now, the term "successful" is certainly relative, but, for me it is defined simply by my being able to support myself, and eventually a family, on the money I make from being a musician. This, of course, may take several forms like performing one-off gigs, or having a steady gig with a band or production company, or perhaps being an on-call studio musician. To some extent I've been successful in these terms. It is not lost on me, the fact that I am getting paid to simply play music. However, I consider myself "mildly successful" where I would like to be "wildly successful." I started to think about what it takes to be an A-list player. What are the differences between myself and players like Nathan East, Will Lee, or Tony Levin? Are the differences in the playing, or in technical proficiency. Is it a personality aspect or a certain business acumen? I started to think about what things I might need to learn, improve, or change in one or all of these areas.

So the first thing I learned was that after 15 years of playing bass, I still have only begun to scratch the surface. There is so much more I have yet to learn, but now that I can recognize what those are, I can begin taking the steps of learning.

This summer I had a unique (and serendipitous) opportunity to begin my "improvement" and start moving my career to the A-list. I decided to begin with my playing. I played in a show called "Kinetix" at Busch Gardens which was a nightly show featuring all kinds of acrobatics, dancing, lighting effects and pyrotechnics. The music that we played during this show was some of the popular music from the past year and a half, and since there was so much going on, I think it was necessarily simple, driving and repetitive. The kind of music that might make a musician bored from playing such monotony. However, I saw this as an opportunity to be a professional. I resolved to play even the most mundane parts to the best of my ability and not like a bored musician just getting through it. During rehearsals and shows I treated my part as though I were recording it for the original artist and my intention as a bass player was to lock in with whatever feel and groove the drummer was laying down. This brought me to the idea of "intentional groove." For many years I have played with a certain feel or groove or "in the pocket" because it's what I've heard in my head. I've done things out of a natural response. I think of this as a "passive groove," in which it's almost reactionary to what is happening around you. While I still firmly believe in listening and reacting to the music around you, I took that opportunity to be more intentional with my groove. I took a more active, less passive, approach to locking in with the drummer. I found myself more actively listening to all the individual parts of the drumset, and even more so, the spaces between hits, using those spaces as cues guiding me in the groove. It led me to a certain confidence in what I was playing, and confidence that I was playing the most repetitive parts in a way (along with the drums) that will move people to dance, or at the very least tap their toes. I feel that I may have accomplished that this summer, but I also need to further this concept for myself. This is something I try to incorporate now every time I play, regardless of the genre of music. I believe it is helping to move me forward.

I have been working on the other aspects that I mentioned, but I'll save those for future posts.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Sadness in Cycling, and Paradox in Kinesia

Almost a week ago I saw a retweet from a cycling journalist that has had such a profound impact on me. The original tweet came from Jonathan Vaughters of the Garmin-Transitions pro cycling team. "My thoughts & prayers for Jorge Alvarado's family. I did not know him, but it always hurts when you hear of a cyclist killed out doing his job." When I looked up the info of what he was talking about, I had to retweet because his words so succinctly expressed my feelings. Jorge Alvarado was killed by a car on April 8th while riding his bicycle in California. I was sad because he was a fellow cyclist, and more so, a person who lost his life in such a tragic way. The following day I found this article on that affected me even more, both in anger and despair. As I read the article I fought back tears, but I never knew Jorge, ever, at all. I could not understand why this was affecting me so much. I've read, and heard from survivors, too many stories of car/bike accidents and the toll it takes. Sadly, I've also read how, on many occasions, the law gently punishes motorists leaving families with very little recourse to cope. As I re-read the article and pondered my own feelings I came to the very jarring realization - that it could have been me killed that day. Of course, any time we read of any accident, there's always the chance of "that could have been me." This time however, it was too real. He was a young (just under one year younger than me) Hispanic guy, out riding his bike in training. He was NOT riding on the wrong side of the road. He was NOT taking up an entire lane disrupting traffic. He was NOT being offensive or abrasive to motorists. He was killed because someone ELSE was, stupidly, racing at 70 mph! That could have been me!

Please. If you're reading this, then you probably know me. Chances are you know at least one other person who rides a bicycle on the streets. Share the road. I personally believe that it is a cyclist's duty to also obey traffic laws, but it is also a motorist's duty to recognize cyclists as legitimate vehicles on the roads. I stop at stop signs and traffic lights, partly because of the law, but also because I recognize that no matter who has the right of way, if I come in contact with a car, I lose. Just remember when you're driving, we are not just perceived annoyances, we are people. The next cyclists you cut off, or side swipe could very well be me.


On a totally different note. A man in the Netherlands that suffers from Parkinson's disease seems to be able to ride a bicycle with no problem. I first heard about this two days ago while I was listening to podcast interview of Davis Phinney for Bicycling Magazine. Davis was a professional cyclist and now suffers from Parkinson's. He started a foundation, called the Davis Phinney Foundation. Similar to Lance Armstrong's Livestrong, DFP is focused on improving the lives of people with PD, as opposed to strictly finding a cure (Michael J Fox does that). Today I found this NY Times article on the Dutch man. This phenomena even made it to the New England Journal of Medicine. Naturally this story intrigues me, and even though it is amazing, I'm not totally surprised by it. Riding a bicycle is probably very ingrained in his brain over so many years in such a strong bicycle culture that they have in the Netherlands. At the same time, it reminds of my grandfather just a few years ago. He had such difficulty walking, but amazingly he could climb stairs very quickly. We had to guide him to the stairs and he'd hold onto the banister with both hands, but as soon as he took the first step, he flew up the stairs.

I don't pretend to know why these things are, and I wish it were as simple as putting my grandfather on a bike. I just wanted to share some of what has been on my mind in these recent days.

Friday, April 9, 2010

The Race

That's my son with the Tampa Bay Lightning mascot. Keep in mind we're at a bike race, and cycling and hockey have very little in common. In fact, I can't think of anything they have in common.

March 27th was the 2nd annual Tampa Twilight Criterium. Last year my family and I went, but I didn't have Nicholas with me here that weekend. This time around I wanted to make sure he was here. He loves being outside and being active. He also loves riding his bike, and I think he has a competitive streak since he's always talking about racing. I love cycling also and when a race comes here to town, I'm going to do everything I can to either be in it, or watch. Plus it's good time to spend with my son. Oh, and btw, the lightning bug did eventually get hip to the whole bike thing. Well... more like, trike thing.

We watched some really good racing going on. Even my nephew, Tony, was trying to see the bikes flying by.

Although he didn't pay as much attention.

The race took place on the streets around Lykes-Gaslight Park in downtown Tampa. In fact, there were actually several races since each category of racer got their own time slot to race. It was a really fun experience, and they gave time for spectators to ride the course without interrupting the competitions. Nick had some chain issues. :(

All the same we had a great time and will absolutely be doing this again. I'm glad I get to share my love for this sport with my son. It's not the traditional American thing - like football or baseball - but hey, I'm not the traditional American. Besides, I don't much care for football or baseball. We did see people playing "bike polo" which is like regular polo, except with bikes instead of horses. I gotta try that sometime. Nick was digging it.

So here are some pics. There are more on my facebook page.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Remembering a life that is passed, but not gone.

A few weeks ago I stayed home with my ailing grandfather while the rest of the family went out to some Colombian restaurant. Something very interesting happened that day, and it's something that I can't help but write about.

First of all, you should know that my grandfather has very late stage Parkinson's disease and is practically bed bound or chair bound. He can no longer really talk, and when he tries it comes across as mumbling or just groans. In recent months he's been sleeping most of the day and fairly unresponsive. There are times of lucidity for him, but even then, it is extremely difficult to communicate with him.

The day I stayed with him my mother asked me to sit in the kitchen to be able to keep better watch of him. I was able to do so since that day I only really had to work on copying transcriptions, and that could be done anywhere. So, we put on the TV to the channel that plays music all the time, this time to the classical music channel. At a certain point my grandfather started making some noise, possibly to try to say something, but there was no way I could understand it.

Suddenly, the Brandenburg Concerto #3 by JS Bach came on. I was pleased since I know and love that piece, but I was more surprised by my grandfather's reaction. He sat up and listened, with his eyes open. I couldn't believe it, and it almost brought me to tears, as is writing this now. I stood next to him while the piece played, and he looked at me and acknowledged me. I asked him if he remembered this piece and with just the slightest nod he was able to convey a yes.

Memories flooded my mind. I remembered when I was younger sitting in his office and talking with him about so many things. We would talk about chess, God, medicine (he was a veterinarian) and so many other things, not the least of which was music. He knew I was a musician. He'd seen me singing in church at 3 years old. He'd seen me playing piano and trumpet. We'd talked so much about classical music, hymns and different instruments. I know he had a love for music and a true appreciation for it. I remember playing through some violin pieces that he had on the piano and discussing it with him. It was a bond we shared. Hearing that piece on the TV with him being so aware of it instantly reminded of him in my life.

Sadly, it also reminded me of him not in my life. I realize he will die one day, but even now he is not as I remember him. That day I missed him. I was standing right next to him, but I missed him. I believe that he is still there. I believe that his mind is still probably working, at least close to what it used to be. The tragedy is that we can't communicate with him, or him with us, the way we would like. I miss that. When I first moved here to Florida he was still able to stand, albeit with the aid of a walker. He would listen to me as I practiced my upright bass and a few times I would stand him up and let him play it. Now, sadly, that's not possible.

I was talking with a friend of mine about this the other day, and he commented on how interesting it is that music can communicate where words cannot. True. Still, I miss my grandfather, even though he's right here.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Bass amps and country music

This past weekend I played a festival with country singer Shelly Starks. The legendary Charlie Daniels played later on that day. He was amazing, I only wish I am that good and that alive when I'm his age, but this post isn't about him.

It's about a bass amp. I was told I had to use the bass rig they had already set up. Too bad it was an Ampeg. Now for some people this would be heresy, but I couldn't stand the sound of this amp rig. I couldn't get the sound I wanted or the volume I needed. Ampeg is heralded as a premier bass amp and this is the second or third time I've been able to use a full rig in a band setting (you know, more than just messing around in the store) and even when I was just messing around in the store, I must say, I'm not impressed. Maybe I'm just used to my GK (1001rb2/sbx410) or maybe the Ampeg sound is just not I hear in my head, I'm not sure. All I know is that I won't be buying an Ampeg any time soon.

This got me thinking though. Since this is my first post on here, I'd like to put something up I wrote a while ago. A post I wrote when I was still living in NJ seems apropos right now, although I could update it a bit, but I won't.

Rediscovering Bass

some time in 2001 i got my first drumset. it was a very exciting time because i had always been fascinated by the drums and would practice as much as i could at school or at church, and now... i finally had my own set that i could play at any time. well the reality was slightly different because the drums are quite loud, loud enough in fact that the whole block resonated with the sound of drums when i played. obviously this fact limited the times of day that i could actually play, but nonetheless i practiced extensively when i first got it.

while i was in college a couple of friends of mine were throwing around the idea of starting a band to simply have some fun with it. i - always wanting to have fun with music - of course joined up. i took my bass to the first rehearsal and we ran through all the covers that we knew (mostly rage against the machine and metallica). that band, while fun, quickly dissolved for a number of reasons, one of which being that the drummer was involved in other things. the remainder of the group still wanted to play so i offered to fill the drum seat because we knew another bass player. eventually from that group of friends i got involved in another band in which we covered pantera, metallica, rage, deftones, stp, white zombie and a few others i can't remember right now. that certainly challenged me on drums never having been required to play that fast or that hard, for any duration of time. this was also when i got my first double bass pedal, a new skill of coordination to work on!!

around 2004 Seeking Through Silence began to take shape and i chose to stay with the drums for this incarnation of the band. as we progressed in the band, the music that we were writing became increasingly challenging for me, intentionally most of the time. we have a penchant for changing meters in our songs and playing unison parts and accents and the like. all of these things and my honest love for the instrument forced me and pushed me to immerse myself even more into the instrument that is the drumset. i studied technique, improvisation, rhythms from various styles and musical backgrounds. i delved into the world of drum construction, cymbal alchemy and all the things that a drummer should know (or at least i think should know). this is certaily not uncharacteristic of me. drums became a true passion of mine, i wanted to know everything about them.

i certainly don't regret my choice to become a drummer, except for this one fact. i neglected my first musical passion, the bass. how could i have neglected it like that? even to the point of no longer considering myself a bass player at one time and thinking that i would no longer be a serious bass player, relinquishing it to occasional use. even though throughout this whole time - and still now - i listen very much to the bass, and in the context of the band i rely heavily on the bass, i was no longer thinking like a bass player. i had converted all my thinking to that of a drummer, thinking less in terms of harmonic structure and content and strictly in rhythms, pulses, and feel. while those are also very important to a bass player, my approach to them were different now that i had sticks in my hands. nevertheless the bass was not totally gone from my life. i would continue to play occasionally and certainly began to notice the decline in dexterity of my hands due to a lack of practice. (on the converse, my paradiddles, doulbe stroke rolls, and particularly single stroke rolls have been improving tremendously of late)

there was one person though who always encouraged me to stay with the bass. he first met me as a bass player and only later, after having known him for a some time did i tell him that i played the drums as well. musically, there's something very important when the bass and drums are working together. it's something that is absolutely necessary but not always achieved. often it takes time to develop a rapport so that the proverbial "groove" can just happen. such was the case for me with one drummer, remy. we played so much together, in church and in a hip/hop group we produced, that we were musically tight. it became instinctive. the only other drummer that i've had that with is a gentleman by the name of richard lee. a friend of mine to this day, he has been a big supporter of my adventures on the bass, often expressing to me that i've got something special in my playing, in my musicianship and versatility. i certainly do appreciate the confidence, and really i do believe it, not because of arrogance; certainly not. rather the opposite is true, i tend to believe that i'm not good enough and that my performances are not up to my (sometimes exorbitantly) high standards. but he has not been the only one to give me unsolicited praise for my playing. and that is always appreciated. (i'd like to make it clear that i never solicit anyone for praise)

these past two months have been a sort of renewing of my thoughts, musically anyways. while i have still been immersed in the drumming world (listening to neil peart, steve smith, matt cameron, art blakey, danny carey and others) and have continued to push myself in terms of learning and developing technique, i have also seriously begun the road back to the bass. one night i visited my friend richard and brought my bass so we could jam. after nearly 20 minutes of jamming on different styles ranging from jazz to bossa nova and even touching on some hip hop, i looked up and said to richard "wow, i really miss playing the bass" and it was absolutely true. that night i was able to develop coherent bass lines and what's more, develop interesting chord progressions and melodies from them; and that excited me. i was rediscovering my passion. from that night on i was no longer satisfied to have the bass as merely a hobby of mine, i resolved to make it the forefront of my musical career. if at the very least it would share the forefront with the drums for right now. as is characteristic of me, when i am passionate about something i develop this urgent and pressing desire to know everything about it, and so, i study. i did it when i first picked up the bass 12 years ago. i do it now. to this end i have recently had my contrabass repaired after having been out of comission for at least 9 months. i desire to learn the bass in all its stringed manifestations, electric bass, contrabass, even the guitarron (in due time). these past few days i have had alot of the same music on my ipod, with some minor exceptions, but have been listening differently. where previously i would focus entirely on the drummer, now i have been listening to the bass again. i've been reacquainting myself with some of the serious bass players: jaco, geddy, ben shepherd, john wetton, and of course, cachao.

to you who have read this, i thank you. i thank you for having taken the time to read this that i've put time and thought into, and even for caring enough about something that could seemingly be so trivial, but important to me. now you know a little more about me, i'm on the road of rediscovery.