At fifteen I discovered the great jazz pianist, Oscar Peterson. Emotionally and psychologically unhealthy physically damaging hours of piano practicing became obsessive with Oscar as my idol. My ego became inflated by acquiring some ability at the piano and garnering attention at school. I was more like an addict than anything else, an ego maniac with low self esteem. I was very insecure. My playing was constricted and tense and generally lacking feel by way of a disconnect to the awareness of my heart intelligence. There were however auspicious encounters when suddenly without knowing what I was doing, music would come through me that would move listeners to awe.
An example of this kind of auspicious enrapture, was participating in an audition for the New Jersey Allstate Jazz Ensemble. I was in my junior year of high school and the audition was held at the home of one of the directors in his teaching studio. They were associated with William Paterson University which is now one of the finest jazz departments in the United States. My dad and I drove to this home and he sat in the living room while I went upstairs to play for these two daunting educators. I successfully played all the(more structurally advanced) harmonies that they asked for, adding some twists that impressed them. I also had to sight read some music which I did effortlessly much to my amazement. Then something out of body happened. I had been developing the standard tune, On A Clear Day regularly in my pseudo jazz style of Oscar Peterson. Some lines resembled Oscar’s style and some more like Bill Evans. I was also heavily influenced by the great John Coltrane’s pianist, McCoy Tyner. The directors asked me to play for them and I shared that I would play, On A Clear Day. They responded with anticipation. Then it happened - As I began to play the tune, I left my mind and body. As I was playing, all that I was hearing appeared to be very distant from my physical ears. Something else was coming through and it was very much like the style of the great jazz pianist Bill Evans. When I got done, they were stunned. It was very quiet in the room for what seemed like a long time and I was aware that something quite "other-worldly" and definitively odd had transpired.
I have come to learn in depth, that what had taken place was me temporarily accessing a state of being “out of my own way”. Somehow, I ended up in an awareness of pure consciousness where I was listening and allowing for the information and the impulses of the music to come through. In our modern times otherwise know as “the zone”. The audition was complete and we walked downstairs to meet my father. He had a rare smile of approval on his face. The two college professor/teacher/directors expressed very complimentary words to my dad. He acknowledged them and given that the experience was such a surreal blur, I really don’t remember what was discussed following. I am remembering them asking about who I was studying with and if I had thoughts for my musical pursuits.