Life/Work Lesson: Filter

Life Lesson: Anton Goudsmit.

Anton Goudsmit is a Dutch guitarist who played in my Amsterdam based group for over 3 years. We met through my husband and since he was a fixture on the Amsterdam music scene,  I had heard Anton play live a couple of times.  I loved his playing, his energy.  He exploded on stage.  When I decided to put together  a group s few years later, I booked Anton for a couple small gigs, playing mainly standards with little rehearsal. I didn’t know it then yet my whole idea of music and what was possible started to change.  My husband and I had started writing and I yearned to express  my own words and voice more. I was busy figuring out my own sound, beginning to tire of the jazz mannerisms that I had latched on to and I didn’t know how to shake  off.

I can best describe Anton as the perennially good side of a 10 year-old with all the greatest of intentions. He is a warm, carefree, fun-loving, open, brutally honest and creative person who was and is always in the moment. Sometimes I’ve tried to have a conversation with him and he veers off looking at some clouds while he contorts is face in a weird way. Then he’s back, dead serious, looking at me dead in the eye. Always present. This made the experience of performing with him a gift because I never knew what would happen. He showed me the pure joy that lay in just expressing oneself in the moment and how an audience can react to that. Audiences LOVE him. Anton had no filter.

Anton and I connected immediately on those early gigs and started working together shortly thereafter.  As it turns out he is, to date one of the best musicians I have ever worked with. He is a serious musician and an original thinker. His skills as a guitarist are world-class and he has his own “sound”.  He is pretty influential on my sound because we played many unisono passages with voice and guitar on original pieces or arranged standards.  He had to figure out how to sustain a tone and I needed to blend my voice with is sound.  I asked him to be on Darker Than Blue, my second outing for the Dutch label Timeless Records that I’d record in New York.  I knew we were off  to a good start when House Party Starting, the Herbie Nichols tune  I couldn’t find the music to, turned out to be Anton’s favorite tune when he was studying.  He knew it inside and out. Everything fell into place on the recording. I asked him to be part of a new band I was going to form. He said yes immediately and stayed in the band until I left the Netherlands for good in 2003.

We performed a lot with that group so I saw how much he was a part of the music he created and how it all came out like water. How the ideas flowed in anout through his fingers. All the time.   Anton and I talked about it, me trying to understand something that was so purely him that he never gave the thing a thought. It’s just how Anton was.  Same off stage.  Same onstage. This was the way to BE. Was it possible for me to be that way too?  No buttoned up sentiments or canned nuances with walls in between me and the audience. The real thing – true connection. I too sought to be more honest in my expression. I wanted to express ME. Whatever that is. Anton showed me the door and walked me through it sometimes and it was a treacherous yet exhilarating feeling to try. Try to express ugly, sad, happy, angry, sensual, loud, strong, vulnerable, sassy, sexy, political, analytical, beautiful, spiritual, small, big, historical, bad, righteous, bawdy and a whole lot more.

I owe Anton big for that.

Check out a video and here him play on the link below..
Han Bennick & Anton Goudsmit

Originally posted on my teaching blog The Visible VoiceJuly 2008