Recollecting my moments on a moving train to the woods I was still struck by how my evening ended on Friday 13th October.
It began with me eating a cheeseburger and fries and ended with having a conversation with a musician from Roy Hargrove’s Quintet whilst he ate his cheeseburger and fries….a little intrusive? (I’m not sure either).
He is one fifth of Roy Hargrove Quintet, plays the drums with a Zildjian spiral cymbal…his name is Quincy Philips.
Who is Quincy Phillips?
“Who is she?” (Roy asks), I’m neither a groupie nor a stan, just a jazz enthusiast who wants to know the makings of jazz musicians (and add a little faith to the mixer!). Welcome to the first post of our new segment, “A Conversation With…”
Still fresh at navigating my way around that awkward question I ask Quincy after the gig, in my very British polite manner of course, if I can take some time off his evening. He accepts (me not knowing if I was interrupting his evening or not…let’s continue). We walk to a burger joint and my friend decides to move Quincy’s instrument like it was incorrectly placed. I watched as the trolley slowly tilt backwards and the hardcase fall forward. What makes more noise in the house but only custom made cymbals *facepalm moment* everyone stops and stares at my friend who looks more startled by his own actions. If the evening could not get any more awkward, I would happily go home and bury myself in embarrassment and never talk about that again, (we never did bring that up).
Later on that evening as we sat with Quincy we got to know the makings of a man who I can only describe as humble, patient and a Christian.
The story of a drummer beginning at the age of 3 in Baltimore, I’m not sure if he chose the instrument or the instrument chose him but here we are. In London from Sweden and he flys out to Amsterdam the very next morning touring with one of Jazz’s greats. I watched that evening as the band performed. I could see intensity, focus, coordination and tightness. I was mesmerised by the different tones, inflections, crescendos and the mis beats and waves which were plucked out of the air. I couldn’t see what they could see but I simply understood that the rhythmic beats were meant to be felt. At a point I was caught in a serene moment almost lost, but I quickly composed myself, not like last year. Sometimes you can only catch the moment and never forget the song.
We went into conversion about faith and the journey of a musician from the church into a secular environment. His gospel inspirations being Doobie Powell, Thomas Winfield, Dawkins, McClurkin, Franklin and Ms. Caesar. There were clearly more that influenced him than his gospel background but we just got stuck on this one element.
The big question was
How are you a Christian in a touring jazz band?
How does someone remain strong in their faith as a touring musician? How do you avoid the temptations of life in the music business? Using your gifting outside of the church arena comes with its challenges. You must believe God is in what you do like you hear God in jazz music. In one conversation I learnt the importance of being prayerful, lifting your teammates and their families in prayer and being a light where there is none. Always read the word and lift yourself in prayer…have your covering.
“Jesus was rarely preaching inside the synagogue” – Q
The journey is not for the faint hearted but in our calling we are lights no matter where we go [Isaiah 42:6], salt and light [Matthew 5:13-16]. Jesus was rarely in the synagogue but He was out preaching to the public in places that many people avoided. Gods promise is that He will never put us in a situation beyond what we can handle, as long as we trust Him and know that what we are doing lines up with our purpose. I got more than I expected and felt like I was sitting on a sermon. It’s refreshing to speak to someone who inspires other Christians who struggle with following their passion and keeping their faith; there is a way. I left that evening feeling humbled by the opportunity and convicted to pour a spirit of excellence in my own worship and artistry. All I had was massive respect.
What does the next couple of years look like for Quincy? hint hint, look out for new music to drop next year. I’m just telling you to prepare yourselves. It might feature as one of our Melody on Mondays post.
It’s exciting to open up this thread with this conversation as I will be talking to people from different walks of life (you might see a trend of artists :P) about how the church has influenced their life and careers.
Stay tuned and be encouraged that someone has walked down the road you have before.
[featured image: Pam Kaplan]