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Practice Makes Perfect

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As I have said many times, I often look outside the law — including to performers and musicians — for inspiration in life, and in performance as a trial lawyer and persuader. For great performers, nothing substitutes for well-directed practice, practice and more practice.

Ahmad Jamal’s version of “Poinciana” has riveted me since I first heard it in the 1970’s. Recently, I heard “I’m Glad There is You” and noticed a particular overlap at the 1:55 section of the Pershing version of “Poinciana” and 1:25 of Carmen McRae’s version of “I’m Glad There is You.” I found nothing on Google relating the two songs together. “I’m Glad There Is You” was composed in 1941, and “Poinciana” was composed in 1936. Maybe Jamal — who recorded his Pershing version in 1958 — threw in the riff consciously or unconsciously having heard “I’m Glad There Is You”, or maybe it is coincidental.

I experienced an amazing performance by Mr. Jamal and his trio at Tinker’s in Boston in 1981. During the first break, Mr. Jamal gave me permission to take a few flash photos. The photos taken with my Nikon are there for me to find.

Nearly forty years ago, I learned to do the cups and balls magic routine — without the big ball finale — but never with clear cups as Penn and Teller do. Dai Vernon (see Vernon here, too) did a great version a few decades earlier. Many hours of quality practice would have been required for Vernon and Penn & Teller to pull off this smooth performance.

As a very talented amateur jazz pianist responded to what he believed to be the idiotic question to a jazz great about how much the musician practiced: “You practice til you’re fu–ing great… Then you have a cup of coffee… Then you practice some more.”  And some more.

Jon Katz – Criminal defense and DWI defense lawyer practicing in Fairfax County, Virginia. 703-383-1100.