You know that old joke? A man is walking down the street and asks a passing gentleman how to get to Carnegie Hall.
"Practice, my boy, practice."
I just spent a couple hours behind a piano practicing, and it was stupendous. It's the first chance I've really gotten to practice in I don't know how long. I mean, I gig all the time, but having time alone to work on ideas and let my musical mind flow ... that's amazing. I spent a good hour just playing "My Romance" in every key, with all sorts of variations. Not a hard tune, but I need to take baby steps while learning to transpose jazz harmonies into different keys. Tomorrow: Giant Steps. (For you non musicians, that's a joke. It's a difficult Coltrane tune usually played screaming fast. Certainly well above my abilities right now.)
I guess I was inspired to get back into the saddle by a musical gathering Jill and I went to last night, at the house of the lovely Paula Chase. Among the participants were Ken Ward and Bob Henschen, both excellent local jazz piano masters. After watching their musical vocabulary, learned and polished over a lifetime, I really felt how much I was missing out by being "too tired" or "too busy" to practice. I'm sure I'll be those things again, but it's always nice to have a kick in the pants that makes you want to be better.