Colin Stranahan

I've been wanting to ask Colin to be a part of the Tenacity series since I first met him, and I first met him through Facebook. 

He came to know my music in some mysterious way (who ever really knows how these things work) and he reached out.  We had a lot of musical friends in common, so it was only a matter of time before we met and played together.

And play together we did at one of the last gigs I had in NYC before my Mom got sick and I took two and a half years off from making music in public.  Colin brought his small kit, crammed himself into a corner at the Gershwin Hotel, and we played a set of tunes.  It was a magical, memorable night.

(This interview is part of the TENACITY series.  Read the FAQ here.)

1. What made a difference for you along the way?

When I was younger I knew who I wanted to play with. The first time I heard Kurt Rosenwinkel I knew I wanted to play with him. There was something about his music...the sounds, textures, harmony, melodies. Everything about it grabbed me and locked me in. I use to listen to every recorded record of his. Also I came across a lot of boot leg recordings of live concerts he had done. 

When I went to the Monk Institute in New Orleans they asked the students to select a musician we'd like to have come down and teach and hang out for a week. I put Kurt's name on a list assuming they wouldn't take it seriously and that there wasn't a chance he'd be able to make it down. A week later I found out he'd be coming for a week. 

   When we started playing with Kurt I had my eyes closed and would just play. I had learned every tune he had ever written or played. It felt like we had been playing for years. At one point Kurt pulled me aside on the break and said " man why arnt you reading the charts? Do you know my music?". " yeah. Yeah I do in a very shy voice". " do you have a business card? " 

From that moment on I realized that I was able to do this. That was one of the most inspiring moments in my life. I followed my passion for his music and a few months later we were headed on our first tour together. Kurt tells me a lot how appreciative he is that I have a personal connection and history with his music. That again is fuel for inspiration and makes me want to work harder.  Ever since that experience if I know someone I want to play with I go for it and go beyond what I know to try and become closer to whatever that might be.

2. To whom would you like to ask this same question?  Living or dead.

There are many people is be curious to know their answer.  But I would really like to ask Duke Ellington that question. No matter how famous he became he always keep going and composing touring in the same way he did before. So what really changed for him?

3. Think back to a time when you were struggling with your music, your career, your direction. What did you do to get out of that place?

I seem to feel this way a lot! I'm always trying to figure out different ways to keep my mind, heArt and spirit going . The most important thing to me is to acknowledge my work and my efforts. We as musicians and artists work so hard. And I am the worst at taking a step back and saying wow! I work hard and look at what I have done . I'mGetting better but it could use some work.