There are few things, few people, and few moments in life that come close to those you hold at the top of your list. I can think of a few in my life. Meeting my wife, moving to America, and playing with Pat Metheny would rank very high on the list of things that help me stay motivated, focussed, inspired and determined.
And one of the things, equally important to me on that very short list, is the subject of this post. It's been a constant source of inspiration and reason to do what I do musically for as long as I can remember, and yesterday I watched a movie that brought everything back to the surface in terms of what this person meant to me. The movie is "More to live for" and the person is Michael Brecker.
It was Michael and Randy's music that had such an incredible impact on me, and I imagine is similar to the impact John Coltrane had on Mike. It was hearing and studying that music that made we want to move to the states, and it is the unbelievable depth and goldmine of knowledge I am still discovering in it that helps me get out of bed in the morning and do what I do. Watching the movie about mike and his illness and eventual passing drove so many more things home to me about why it is I'm drawn to his energy and his music. He expected everyone around him to be just as, if not more, into what they do than him. Inspired, searching, asking, experimenting, failing, and always moving forward. I've been trying to do all those things as long as I've played music, and have never really stopped to ask where that came from. As long as it's there, and I'm motivated to work harder every day in search of something new, I guess it really doesn't matter. Why question something that seems to work so well? But it was very emotional to really look inside Mike's life more than I ever have before, through this movie his wife Susan was such a big part of making, and try and understand some of things that make musicians tick. I am by no means trying to paint a picture of being anywhere close to Mike's level of creativity, just a path of understanding where he was coming from, and where he was going to, and how I feel very connected to that energy surrounding something we both enjoyed so much.
Music is an absolute life saver. It has been for me, and I know many people who share similar experiences. For a long time I've felt like every day could be my last, and why not aspire to play like it really is. Work like it is. Talk like it is. Communicate like it is. There's so much to do, so much to ask, so much to say, and so much more to work on. We can be our own catalyst for inspiration if we let ourselves, and as soon as we look just a millimeter outside of ourselves the amount of questions we can ask, mistakes we can make, and progress we can feel is incredible.
I encourage you to think about the next thing you play, the next thing you say, and next thing you do. And ask yourself would that live up to be the very last thing you do, say or play. Of course we will fail at that, it's impossible to be true to that mantra throughout life. But it's at least something we can aspire to, and be conscious of from time to time. It's that brief moment of awareness that makes other people's lives around you better.
Watch the trailer for Susan's movie. It is worth 10 x's what I paid for it on iTunes, and I can't recommend it enough. Get on the bone marrow register, it's free, painless, and you could save a life. Mike didn't want to let the world know about his illness, but did so to raise awareness and try and save other people's lives. He is an incredible example of human strength, and we can all learn from him and be better.
I try and live every day like it's the last. It's a great feeling.
And here's a little video from the archives of 2012 where I got to be on the road with Randy playing some of my favorite brecker brothers music.