There's a change in the air. I couldn't tell you exactly what it is. All I know is that I've been taking more chances recently. Those who have known me for a long time know that I typically prefer to have my music just so…orderly, predictable, and safe. The same goes with my personal life. When you live as a hermit, only leaving the apartment to run errands or play gigs, it's very easy to order your life.
Now I'm starting to seek new directions. I'm taking more chances with my playing, and I'm taking more chances with my personal life, stepping out and meeting people instead of staying home in my man cave. It's hard to say when it started. Maybe it began when I first started seeing results from exercising and improving my diet, but I think it may have started earlier, maybe as I was making the decision to make a lifestyle change and lose my excess weight. I wanted my outside to reflect my inside.
I tend to build walls around myself, and in a sense, my extra weight has been a physical wall, hiding the me inside. Lately I was struck by a comment from a new friend who appreciated how open and willing I am to share my life's journey with others. She wouldn't have made that comment a few months ago, because I wasn't very open at all. She didn't even know me then. She only sees who I've become now and has no idea how closed off I've been over the past several years.
As far as playing, I find myself yearning for new experiences. I still love playing background music, but I'm finding it isn't enough. Lately I've been deliberately putting myself in uncomfortable situations, just to see how well I can adapt. For example, I just started playing a weekly Wednesday night gig at Rotagilla Creole Cafe. I could play it safe and just perform my usual solo or duo material, but instead, I'm inviting other musicians to join me every week. Some of them will be other jazz musicians, but some of them will perform other styles. Every Wednesday night will be a roll of the dice.
While I'm mixing and matching my musician friends on Wednesday nights, I'm also interested in mixing musical genres. A Celtic-Jazz combination could be interesting. A few weeks ago I heard a terrific African drumming ensemble, Sehwe Village Percussion, and I heard very clearly in my head how a jazz guitar could fit into the mix.
One of my musical heroes, Miles Davis, deliberately put himself in uncomfortable situations so he could grow. I suppose I'm following his example as an artist. I'll almost certainly be playing background music over the years, but don't be surprised if you go to an African drumming concert or an Irish pub and see me pulling out my jazz guitar!
- Tom Godfrey
- Atlanta, GA, United States
- When I suffered a lip injury that ended my career as a classical trombonist, I thought my life as a musician was finished, but I fell in love with music all over again when Santa gave me a guitar for Christmas in 2003. Even as I was struggling with my first chords, I was planning a new performance career. As a trombonist, I performed with the Heritage of America Band at Langley Air Force Base, the Ohio Light Opera, and in pick-up bands for touring acts that included Rosemary Clooney, George Burns, and the Manhattan Transfer. Reborn as a jazz guitarist, I sing and play my own solo arrangements of jazz classics, am half of the Godfrey and Guy duo, and hold the guitar chair in the Sentimental Journey Orchestra. I have been a freelance music copyist since 1995, served as Director of Music at Northwest Unitarian Universalist Congregation from 2011 to 2017, and currently serve as Contemporary Band Director at the same congregation.