"Being a writer is always about being a reader first." Matt Bell
I'm usually not fond of absolutes. But for me, the "always" in that sentence above is beyond dispute. And in my experience, replacing the words "writer" and "reader" with "musician" and "listener" does not alter the fundamental truth of the sentence one bit. Although I'd enjoy hearing from writers or musicians on either Bell's formulation or my corollary, I'm equally interested in anyone's views on this subject.
Without fail, each time I think I've been exposed to the "best" version of a particular great song, someone upends my expectations. Most recently, for the first time, I heard Freddie Hubbard play the majestic Jimmy Van Heusen composition called "But Beautiful" - oh...my...goodness. I've often fantasized that in my next musical life, I'd learn trumpet. Maybe doing that would allow me to mimic Hubbard's exquisite phrasing on Van Heusen's great tune, or capture the tone Miles Davis gets on "My Funny Valentine", or copy a few of Woody Shaw's phrases of improvised magic from his take on "It Might As Well Be Spring". What a musical life that would be.
Fantasy aside, I'll settle for using the lessons all three performances of these timeless songs have taught me in my continuing evolution as a jazz guitarist. In addition, I'll continue listening and reading until I become the best musician and writer I can be.