Great Gift Ideas

Hey, everybody else publishes a gift guide, so I will as well. This will be a multi-purpose guide, which works all year long. Christmas, Groundhog Day, Saxophone Day, Clock Changing Day, Pi Day, Talk Like a Pirate Day, Ugly Day, etc. (Nadine says Ugly Day will slip up on you before you know it).

1. Take somebody out to hear live music. Humans communicate in more ways than we are consciously aware of. When I’m in the room with people making music, there are so many subliminal, visceral channels of experience–more than once I have heard somebody live whose music I had previously been indifferent to, and in being there when they played I would come to understand and appreciate them better. And for a young musician, there are so many practical yet uncodifiable lessons to be gained–watching the interactions of the musicians, feeling the way they focus themselves physically, feeling how they reach out to the audience…The things we do best, we do naturally–we learned them viscerally, through immersion, and speaking the language of music can be the same.

2. Buy Local. I was just in Powell’s City of Books in downtown Portland. Not only did I feel like I was contributing to maintaining our local treasure, but I got help from nice and knowledgeable staff people–and there was some sort of tribal satisfaction in being in a crowd of people with armloads of books…some sort of reassurance that those folks are still out there. I felt like I was visiting a Cathedral of Thoughtfulness. The same goes for Music Millennium, our surviving independent record store.

Speaking of books:

3. Take Five: The Public and Private Lives of Paul Desmond by Doug Ramsey.

4. John Coltrane: His Life and Music by Lewis Porter.

5. Lester Young by Lewis Porter.

6. Musicophilia by Oliver Sacks.

7. Lush Life: A Biography of Billy Strayhorn by David Hadju.


8. John Ellis, It’s You I Like. The music of Mr. Rogers and Elliott Smith.

9. Martin Zarzar, Two Dollars to Ride the Train.

10. Joel Frahm, Project A. It’s from 2009 but I just discovered it.

11. Visit some of my favorite players and check out their stuff!

12. And to be shamefully self-serving, maybe you’d like some of the recordings I appear on.

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