Thursday, December 31, 2009


This past Saturday night, I took a(nother) "social networking" plunge, and opened a Facebook fan page. Taking this opportunity to organize my thoughts (no easy task), I determined to represent my "calling" as I now see it. Was able to get the following uploaded from my mind (again, no easy task). As it turns out, this represents a "manifesto" of sorts for 2010 (and beyond), in my (Facebook fan page) biography field. As such, I wanted to share it here also:


"In a few months, I'll turn 50, when some say "life begins" (50 being “the new 40”). It may be particularly true with respect to the next “phase” of my career. I have always been a full-time performing pianist; identifying, and identified, most strongly with “stride piano” and “classic” jazz, since my teenage years. Discoveries, personal/spiritual realizations, and a deepened confidence and “connection” to creative expression, have brought me to a new place. With, it seems, a wider-angle lens, I now survey a landscape with new features to explore, and possibilities to entice. From here I travel a broadened path, or perhaps multiple paths together. Not to forget “where I come from”, but to (purpose to) more fully embrace “who I am” (and who, I’m discovering, I have always been). Most important, I’ve learned, - in countless lessons, that it’s not about me. Among the “game changers”:
-The realization (working the Showboat Casino in AC in the mid-‘80s), that I make music to facilitate connections of service to others.
- The acceptance of service to others as a “calling”, symbolized by attaining a certification as a Music Therapist (MT-BC), several years later. Working on developing an “others” focus (admittedly, at times, very imperfectly), set the stage for the big “epiphany”:
- Understanding music making as, in essence, a Spiritual discipline.
This understanding allows all the aforementioned ‘burdens” of performance, connection, and service, to be removed (or, at least, loosened). Making the “connection”, is (now seen as) to lose my self (focus) and trust that which is “outside” of me. My friend, Bruce Kaminsky, is known to say (among many other “proverbs“): “That two people can make music together is proof of the existence of God“. If I am to touch another (musician with which I perform, of listener to which I perform), who is doing the “touching“?
Throughout the evolution of all this, my view has been through the lens of Christianity, or, as I would lean to characterize it now, a “Christian Spirituality”. As this evolution could be characterized (in this, and in my life as a whole), as a loosening of the grip on “agendas” (self-focus, and control), there is, underlying it all, a trust in God to “do the work”, and to “get it right”. In performance, what is most important to me is that the music touches you. If that is so, I’m comforted, and emboldened in the understanding that this is, ultimately, not my doing (in the larger, Spiritual sense).
Though I continue to perform with other musicians (both as a “sideman” and with my own trio), my main focus is to continue to deepen my “connection” (to the artistic expression, and to you) as a soloist. You will find, on my public schedule, an increasing array of opportunities to “journey with me”. From event to event, the emphasis may change on the titles performed, but not on the “process”. In addition to the “classic” standards I am known to perform, expect to encounter (depending on the nature of the event) - improvisation on classical pieces and themes, popular song, hymns, freely improvised original compositions, and the embracing of my own artistic uniqueness (most notably, the “A.D.D. Improvisation”).
Freely improvised pieces are a recent addition to my public expression, and can be heard on the new CD release: “Stories Without Words“. To explore further, visit http://joeholtsnotes.com
Thanks for visiting my Facebook page. I look forward to keeping in touch!"

As well as here. Happy New Year everyone!

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