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Musical Choices from a Drummer/Composer’s Perspective

When I first made the decision to start playing jazz in the late 70’s, and changing just about everything I was doing up to that point artistically, it was the second biggest personal challenge of my life. The first was leaving home to join the NAVY. When that time came my circle of friends changed too. It was an exciting new musical scene that presented daunting but unique challenges that motivated me to excel. Being around that level of musical talent was inspiring. Jazz was an interesting new world for me. Playing with Abdu Salim and many others back then opened a creative box that remains open to this day.

I was hungry to swing and play any gig I could get just as long as it was jazz. Playing the clubs. Touring and traveling to new places then the festivals. Playing with different people….usually playing someone else’s music. After a while I started to feel limited artistically and was getting tired of the repetitive motion. I wanted to play the ideas I was hearing in my head and write my music so I learned how to compose. That was a risk, getting away from the familiar. People didn’t want Jae Sinnett’s music at their wedding or for background fodder. Even in some so-called jazz clubs or venues. Play this or you don’t get the chance to play. That became fine with me. I couldn’t do it anymore.

It was necessary because that was the only choice I gave myself…finding my way to do it. Sink or swim. I realized I would limit my opportunities so I got the steady job which enabled me to do what I wanted artistically and survive. That’s fine with me too. I’ve managed to stay afloat all of these years playing my music. Granted with the help of a job I love but for me it’s all artistically connected. Many people determine your successes on if you’re able to get paid playing and survive or who or whom you’ve played with or where or how many gigs you have or don’t or who’s talking about you or who you hang with or whatever. It’s all subjective.

In my view, ultimately, your success is in how much of you you’ve created on your artistic terms in your career. Without the hook. Not how much you’ve done of someone else. YOUR body of work. There are great players of this music struggling, not because of a lack of talent but rather having to deal with a culture that is relentlessly being conditioned to hear it a different way. Or logistical quagmires. Less venues now than ever to play this great music. Now you have to travel around the globe to play a club – and then pay?

I’m proud of the fact I’ve found my way to do it, and in that regard I’ve succeeded. I’m at peace with what I have or don’t. Now I prepare for the release of my number 14. Yes, a body of work. Zero to 60 is perhaps my best recorded work. Incredible band that played my music beautifully. My best writing in terms of maturity and vision. Strong melodies and themes, etc. We achieved our objectives with getting to the conceptual and artistic intentions with the music. After all that’s all we as artists hope for…reaching successfully, our artistic point. What happens after that is out of our control. We hope for the best but we’re at peace with whatever comes our way or doesn’t. To Ralph Bowen, Hans Glawischnig and Allen Farnham, we have a work to be extremely proud of and your playing is exceptional. Thank you. The gift and blessing is that we’re able to do this in the first place. – Jae

“This show is great…for both learning and listening. It should be on television ALL of the time!”

— N.C.