“People can think that something’s happening when nothing’s going on; but they can’t think that nothing’s happening when something’s going on.”
- Sonny Fortune (1996)
My last two blog posts at Khanfrontation were about Commitment and Responsibility. You might think that I was writing about pain and starvation for all the reluctance that so many people seem to have to these two elements – essential for everything from high artistry to meaningful love. Neither of these sacred pursuits (and all other important ones) can be truly achieved without the intensive embrace of both substances. They need to be viewed in the same way that great food is a source of bodily nourishment.
In my 48 years of exposure to profound artistry, I’ve been powerfully blessed to have seen these forces at work at the highest level as both a recipient of them and a facilitator. On the latter tip, I’ve been privileged to have represented some of the most extraordinary messengers of profound Truth – and recognized as such by MacArthur Genius Awards, Kennedy Center Honors, The Pulitzer Prize and NEA Jazz Mastery. Unrecognized by all of those (and similar) honors, the man who I quote above stands equally tall. The day after he said that to me, he illustrated the concept of Responsibility in a manner that will remain prominent in my consciousness for as long as I have one.
We were driving uptown in the early hours of a Friday morning after two amazing sets by his quartet at Sweet Basil. As stunning as the music was, the audience reception was only mildly enthusiastic. Sonny just kept shaking his head and saying “I don’t know, man. I gotta figure this out.” I tried to explain it away in every way I could imagine – Thursday night; prices that discouraged the real fans; club-style distractions; etc. As we pulled in front of the post-gig all-night bagel joint, he uttered that quote, followed by “It’s on me. It’s my responsibility.”