Mastery and Play

For the next two days, I’m going to write about a concert I went to on Saturday night. Wow…. I saw Jacob Collier live in Detroit, and the experience was magical. It was also so uplifting. I’m going to be reflecting on it for a long while.

Jacob Collier is a musical phenom who was discovered at age 17 after creating several arrangements of songs on YouTube, using his voice to do all the harmonies. He’s also a multi-instrumentalist, totally skilled in every direction, it seems. Piano, guitar, percussion, bass guitar, mandolin, voice, and more. With another person, he also invented this vocal harmonizer that allows him to play keys and harmonize with his voice as he sings. On top of that, he’s a multi-genre composer and arranger. Ten years later at age 27, he’s in the midst of creating a four part album series called Djesse. Those albums include jazz, pop, rock, choral music, electronic music, orchestral arrangements — and you name it.

Jacob Collier is on the shortest list of most talented people I’ve ever encountered personally. And it was a joy to see him live, totally in his element, along with the tremendous band he’s assembled.

I have so much to say about this concert that it will take up two blog posts, but let me start here:

After experiencing this concert, I’ve been pondering something, in particular. There are times in our life when we have developed so much mastery in an area, that it really becomes play. And it’s such a gift to invite people into those forms of mastery-play found in ourselves. Jacob Collier has so much musical mastery that it is exactly that — play. I went to a concert, and I watched someone play creatively for two hours and in a way that invited our own play too. One of the things he’s known for in his live concerts is getting the audience singing and creating with him in the moment.

Most of the concert was his own original music, but he shares that in each location on tour, he likes to improvise other people’s music because it challenges him and “keeps him fresh.” So today, I want to share his live, improvised performances in Detroit of “My Girl” and “Bridge Over Troubled Water.”

Renee Roederer

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