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  • James Danderfer

2023: What If...?


Hola, good "morning," and welcome to the Saturday "Morning" News Post!


I just got back from a little vacation in Mexico and 8 hours after returning home to Vancouver I've been back at it! Teaching a new Jazz Theory course at Capilano University, getting student schedules figured out, getting family schedules figured out, and getting ready for some exciting upcoming shows. Very quickly, the shows are as follows: Jan 12 at Frankie's Jazz Club featuring the great Quincy Davis on drums and two Vancouver favourites Sharon Minemoto (piano) and Conrad Good (bass). 8pm

Jan 25 at Tangent Café with Jesse Cahill (drums) and Wynston Minckler. 8pm

Feb 4 at Shadbolt Centre for the Arts w/ my Artie Shaw & Gramercy 5 tribute band. 1:45pm

Feb 4 at Shadbolt Centre for the Arts leading the VJO featuring Seamus Blake. 6pm and 7:45pm


So yeah, it's a busy time getting ready for all of this.


But back to the title of this post. It's 2023 and we are fresh into the New Year. My birthday falls between Christmas and New Years so there are a lot of perceived "milestones" at this time of year, and that always causes me to look back at the year and just... think. I think about what stands out to me from the last year, both good and bad. I think about my music, my family, my career, my wife's career, accomplishments, milestones, losses, etc... and just kind of notice how I feel about things.


About my music/career, I feel there were some positive steps. I also feel a lack of concrete achievements; I'm talking about the tangible kind of creative work: recordings, compositions, books, etc. (A friend and reader has since pointed out to me that the concerts I've put together last year, although fleeting, are indeed achievements. Thanks Ron!). All things I've been thinking about doing but have instead been busy staying afloat. And as I look at this coming year, I feel both excited by the possibilities ahead and aware of the real possibility I could just stay busy "keeping afloat" for another year if I'm not careful.


So, what then? A plan. A plan is necessary. This is something I used to write about a lot when I was blogging back in 2008-2010. I really saw the importance of it and had lots of time on my hands. Since then, well... considerably less time. This isn't to say that I've just squandered away a year of my existence, aimlessly breezing through the seasons of 2022. Not at all. But perhaps I feel a little untethered from larger, bigger picture pursuits and a little impatient with the speed at which I'm moving.


On my birthday, I spent about an hour just sitting in my chair, looking at an empty wall, imaging a timeline for my demise, and noticing what that did (and/or did not) trigger. I know... what a way to spend your birthday! I'm just a ray of sunshine over here folks.


I imagined I had 10 years to live, and this shook me a little but interestingly didn't really light a fire under me to get things done. "I've got 10 years, I'll get to it!" I thought. At 5 years, I felt pressure to move faster in my work and get the things done that have been on my mental "to do list." Also, I felt kinda sad. But not as sad as when I imagined 1 year. 1 year left. Sheeeaaaat. That's panic inducing. That's the the kind of timeline where I don't really care about work or music goals anymore; I'm just spending time with family and friends, and maybe travelling.


Sufficed to say, the 5 year plan felt like the best balance. A 5 year plan, broken down into 1 year segments. That's it. That's what I've got to do for myself now. That plan needs to be ambitious, routed in reality, and designed with the "what if" to light that fire and avoid being overly cautious. What would this plan look like if 5 years was all there was? "Cautiously" is not a word I want applied to how I navigate either the next 5 years or how I navigate 2023.


Now I just need to find the time to sketch out that plan. Probably not happening this month, but I don't want to wait too long or else I may be writing the same blog in 12 months time!


OK, I'm going to leave it there for now. How about you? Does any of this resonate with you? Any planning tips/tricks? How do you strike the balance between ambitious and sensible in your plans? Thanks for reading and have an excellent week! JD


(pictured above: the great Miles Davis, getting into some late-career painting.)




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Hello, and welcome to the Saturday (Morning) News Post! I know. I know. You've been without the SMNP for 3 weeks now. Tough stuff. I get it. There are probably upwards of two very disappointed readers

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