What Do Musicians Listen To?

I always find it curious when I go to someone else’s house to see what kind of music they have on CDs and Vinyl. Most musicians usually have rather large collections. It usually tells me something about what they find important about what they want to do when they play themselves.

Rarely do I find a Jazz musician that doesn’t have Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Monk, Mingus and Sonny Rollins in their collection, but I might also find Classical music and usually some Rock as well. Just because you play in one genre, doesn’t mean that you are interested in only that type of music. Charlie Parker used to listen to Debussy, Stravinsky and Bartok quite a bit. Miles Davis was no different. He also liked Opera.

Classical Musicians are an odd bunch at the best of times but we are interested in other kinds of music too. Anna Sophie Mutter the famous violinist apparently is a real fan of Diana Krall (as I am). I have a lot of Jazz recordings, and quite a large opera collection as well. I also have some Sting recordings, and I would like to get some Bjork and Joni Mitchell. I’m not too keen on much of the Pop music I’ve heard but occasionally have heard some remarkable things like Danny Michel and have purchased some of his music.

I prefer things that are out-of-the-way or unexpected. I want to be surprised and up-lifted, and there is much to choose from. Recently I have found a number of newer classical releases that are “live” recordings. These have included some recent Concertgebouw Orkest recordings and some Berlin Philharmonic recordings. The performances seem more fresh and spontaneous. They’re not so tight and seem to have more expression than the typical studio recording.

Making music is after all a process. You can’t freeze it in time. It happens and it is gone. Maybe that is why I like Jazz so much. Once you’re done with one version of the tune, you will get up and do another one. You are never done. Classical music should be the same. Discipline is one thing, but when it gets in the way of communicating to an audience, then I think you might be in trouble. That comes first.

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