AAJ: What you are saying is that your intentions in music and your purpose in life overlap. Can you give us a brief picture of what your life is about above and beyond the music as such?
DP: Wayne helped me realize that when you perform, you tell stories about yourself and what's important to you. More and more, I try to unite everything I do. I really love the therapy in the music. I love the capacity we have to create antidotes against violence, create a vaccination, and create practical things that help humanity. I love the aspect of music that deals with human development. I'm always open to documenting things that are important to me. And I love to encourage my colleagues to look at music as a therapeutic tool, to help us to become better human beings. Music reveals things that are completely invisible. It's not about ego: "Oh man, I'm jive!" Music, especially jazz and improvisation, reveals everything that you're working for in life. So I'm completely committed to the idea that music can be a great tool for human development.
I travel a lot. I'm going to Africa next week, and all that traveling can become tedious, but it's all become one for me now: Africa, Panama, The Berklee Global Jazz Institute, the Panama 500 band, the Wayne Shorter Quartet, and my whole family, especially my wife and kids. We're all united by this idea of human development through music. Music is a form of social activism. Helping people. Music can provide values for society, to end violence, to help people to concentrate, and to relate to others from different cultures.
I love jazz because it is both challenging and exhilarating, and the endeavor of improvisation is the highest form of art.
I met so many great musicians--including my two earliest heroes, Maynard Ferguson and Dizzy Gillespie--by attending concerts
and being willing to treat them with the respect they deserve.
The best show I ever attended was the Pat Metheny/Ornette Coleman Song X concert at Cornell University.
The first jazz record I bought was an RCA compilation by Dizzy Gillespie.
My advice to new listeners is to not be afraid to listen to something because you're not familiar with the artists or the band or
the genre or anything - this is music that is best experienced through discovery.