A critical sentence: “A key element is respect for the tradition, learning from it without merely repeating it.”
I used a different title because I’m thinking about a particular element–the familiarity with the tradition. Jazz must become part of the musicians fundamental being. I love jazz, but I can’t play it, even to the extent I can play other music. I’m no great musician, but I can play ordinary music on the piano and when I was about 30 years younger on the trumpet. But when I come to something even jazz like, I can’t get the rhythm. I can play all the notes, but not even the most optimistic and generous person would call the result “jazz.”
Recently I observed my nephew David Schwab playing with a group. No music, no visible coordination, yet the group played beautifully. The music was part of them. They knew it (in all senses) and they knew one another in relation to it, and it happened.
I do think there is an analogy here to Bible study. Simply absorbing the facts about a passage doesn’t do that much. Absorbing it and making it part of your being requires more than just reading it occasionally or studying the data.
The reason I like that one line I quoted is that there are limits, but at the same time there is flexibility. But that flexibility only comes when you get into the spirit (or Spirit) of the thing.