“No matter how good you get — if you don’t listen, then it’s nothing because listening is 99% of what we do”Marc Cary
Jazz pianist Marc Cary shares the wisdom he’s gained from years as a professional musician in his latest album Life Lessons. The first lesson he shares is that in order to truly understand jazz, you have to dig deep — real deep. The roots of this music go back farther than American history — across the ocean, and across continents even. All great musicians were influenced by the places they traveled and the sounds they heard, especially from indigenous groups. Marc opens up about his own Native American ancestry and how his music was influenced by their sound and turbulent history.
In addition to his fascination with and influence from indigenous music, Marc’s compositions are also quite lyrical, no doubt impacted by his time spent with vocalists like Betty Carter and Abbey Lincoln. Marc laughs about the time Abbey Lincoln told him it was alright if he couldn’t make her gigs once in a while so he could pursue his own interests — and then fired him the first time he said he was unavailable. While that year-long hiatus from her band may have disgruntled him at first, it propelled him to record his first album as a bandleader, for which he was grateful. His latest album Life Lessons includes two Abbey Lincoln songs, “It Was Supposed to Be Love” and “Learning to Listen,” where Marc opens up about the issue of domestic abuse and why listening is essential to making music.
Listen to the full Bite-Size Jazz interview with pianist Marc Cary about his new album Life Lessons to learn more about his passion for indigenous music, the inspiration behind songs like “Not a Good Day to Die,” and his collaboration with artists like Roy Hargrove and Abby Lincoln.
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