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I urge all of the young musicians to get some form of health care and maintain it. You will never know if or when you'll need it. It should be as primary a concern as paying rent. I urge them all to see a doctor for blood work and a physical twice a year and the same goes for the dentist. If the body in part or in whole begins to break or shut down, we literally can't function properly as people or musicians. I've heard the excuses from all of the young musicians (and made the same bullshit ones when I was their age). I used to spend more on compact discs and vinyl records over two to three months and easily could have sacrificed and afforded and should have paid for health insurance instead. If you're lucky enough to be working, do yourself a favor and make the sacrifice.
GC: How has fatherhood affected your outlook on jazz, the jazz scene or on life in general?
DB: Fatherhood completely changed my life. Most don't know, but I suffered with kidney disease and eventually did six, straight years of daily, kidney dialysis. I underwent a much needed and successful kidney transplant on December 15, 2010. I have now re-entered the realm of normalcy. Most of my life, I hemmed and hawed and straddled the proverbial fence about fatherhood and deciding if it was indeed for me. Everyone that knew me would say or tell me I'd be the perfect father. I would see children one day and think them to be so cute and tell myself I wanted that experience. Then, I'd see a child while walking down the street, giving his parent or parents grief or hear a news story about an abduction or some cruel act perpetrated against a child or children and ask myself how could I ever consider bringing a child into this pit of a world? I give a great deal of credit to my son, Quinn for keeping me alive. He literally gave me something to live for. I was diagnosed with kidney disease at the start of 2004 and began dialysis in September 2004. There were many times in my first year that I felt I was going to die or possibly not make it through to illness but once he came along, my focus was regained. I knew I had a great new job. I now had to help shape a kind new citizen of the world. I want to help guide him through to being a great man. I want to see him graduate schools, college, work, and become a generous, productive, law-abiding member of society and the human race. I came to the conclusion and still hold fast and strong to it that if I never played one more note of music from this moment forward, I would hope that I am more if not equally fulfilled by doing the best job of raising my son to be the finest possible human being on this or any planet. I take raising him that seriously.
I actually believe that having or starting a family is more to the heart of the question. I juggle. I am home with my family, in spirit, at all times. Probably even more so when I am physically absent. It has become increasingly more difficult to want to leave my house to play gigs that I may be less enthused about. There were some nights this past winter where I absolutely hated walking out the door and leaving the warmth of my family and apartment to make music. Ever since my son's birth, I have genuinely hated traveling. It doesn't help that the American airline industry has gone to shit behind 9/11 with their lies and terrorism hysteria and fuel price excuses, baggage charges, and having to suffer the ignorance and ineptitude of the TSA all designed to gauge the consumers. I am in service of my family and then I am in service of the music. My health and my family are my top priorities.
The jazz scene is almost nonexistent to me. I'm the last one to hear the rumors or latest gossip. I feel like I live in a bubble. I learn of things now from reading them on Facebook. Otherwise, I'm trying to scrape the pennies together for food, ren,t and child and home related expenses. I also try to maintain my fire and desire to grow within my dream of what music is and could be to me.
As a kid, my mom told me I'd like jazz. I thought she was nuts. Then I went to hear Cannonball Adderley (with Nat Adderley, George Duke, Walter Booker, Roy McCurdy and Airto) and everything changed. Yeah, mom knows best.