When your idols hear you, your perception of who you are on the scene and who you are as a musician takes on a new meaning and purpose. We are always in a state of development as improvisers and constantly experiencing this multigenerational and multicultural world of music we live in. The wisdom of the elders combines with the enthusiasm and exuberance of youth in all of us and is documented in our recordings throughout our lifetimes as jazz musicians.
If you know people are listening to you, you might play a certain way so they might dig you. But if you don’t know, the pressure is off and you might be yourself, for better or for worse. In my case, the first time Dewey Redman heard me play, I didn’t know he was listening. I was having a jam session at my loft on 23rd Street in New York City. We were playing some things in a very free and open way. My friend, guitarist Michael Bocian (who later played with Dewey) looked out of the window and saw Dewey standing there listening. After awhile, he looked up and asked Michael who was on tenor. Michael told him Joe Lovano and he said, “Tell him to keep playing!” and walked away.