After more than a half century playing music, it sometimes surprises me to realize how infrequently I've felt simpatico when playing with others.
When someone asked me "how did it go?" following a performance some months back and I replied "I was playing against him", it dawned on me: I've often shared a stage - or sometimes just a space - with musicians who have limited awareness of give and take. And competition and ego have gotten in my way more than once.
Then I flashed to people with little regard for their volume and the impact that has on musical communication. In those situations I'm also not playing with someone, more like alongside them. Or maybe for them in some musically perverse fashion? Under those circumstances, I've tried increasing my own volume - and in the process - sacrificing subtlety and sometimes an audience.
But those moments playing against, alongside or for oblivious musicians - and the times I've been equally insensitive - fade much faster than moments of musical synergy. Two weeks ago, a grounded guitar player and I played just two songs for a reasonably attentive audience. It was really nice playing with him.