I was talking with a student a few weeks ago about the AEDSK list, and why I posted it. Basically, the records on that list have influenced me a TON.  That’s all.  But when I tried to explain how the records influenced me, I realized something…

As a musician, I have a playbook.  It’s a field manual for how to play my instrument in different situations and circumstances.  It’s the sum total of my knowledge about the instrument and how it works (i.e., the mental side of being a musician).  This playbook is quite detailed in some areas, very general in others, and the content is constantly being amended.  I’m always learning new things about my instrument, and what I learn gets jotted down in the playbook, figuratively-speaking.  The new knowledge adds to or clarifies the existing information in the playbook, and in some instances it even changes/replaces content I had previously thought to be trustworthy.  The idea is that my playbook is hopefully always getting more and more accurate and helpful.  I believe that becoming a good musician revolves mainly around building a solid playbook, and not just tackling and overcoming the many physical barriers that exist in playing an instrument.

Also, I’m trying to be as objective as possible in forming my playbook.  I don’t want to just fill it with knowledge about what I like and don’t like.  I’m instead looking for information about what works and what doesn’t.  Things like how an audience responds to certain grooves and fills, or the characteristics that make playing piano trio jazz different from Big Band jazz.  Of course no one can be %100 objective, but I’m just saying that hopefully the info in my playbook isn’t merely a reflection of my personal preferences.

So, back to the AEDSK list.  The list contains the records that it does because those records are the largest contributers to my current playbook.  There are a handful of other albums that would be on the list if I had made it 10 years ago.  They’re not on the list now though, because those albums contributed content to the playbook that I’ve since deleted or rephrased (because I determined the information to be flawed in some way).  I’m sure the next five years will bring more heavily influential records into my iTunes and onto the list, and perhaps I’ll even delete some of the existing records.

In the meantime, I think I’ll start going through the list and providing short explanations of each record.  I’ll include an overview of the record’s sound, what the drumming is like, and what kind of contribution the album made to my playbook.  Some of the records have been featured in the AOTW series, and so I’ll link to that wherever possible.

SUMMARY:  Every musician has a playbook that they use to determine what to play and when, and every musician should be constantly revising that playbook.  I believe the primary means of sharpening one’s playbook is through listening, and the AEDSK list contains the records that have influenced my playbook the most.  In fact, the albums have been SO important to me that I can’t imagine they wouldn’t help others’ playbooks as well.

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