Updated March 30, 2013
It takes courage to be an artist because an artist is someone who creates new and unique things that require active engagement by audiences. This does not always align with popular cultural fads and must be reconciled at some point. As an artist, to create new work is our highest inherent calling. All else is secondary to this mandate. I remain unapologetic about the fact that I am an artist. I have entertained and performed, but I am an artist. It takes a certain discipline to be a performer because a performer is always considerate of the audience being present during the production of the art. It takes the ultimate degree of professionalism to be an entertainer because an entertainer has the primary goal of presenting a program that has the purpose of reaching the sentiments of a specific audience. Again, I have entertained and performed, but I am an artist.
All of these points are related to the act of being an artist at some level. All take courage and commitment to engage and realize. All of these are continually developed over the artistic lifetime of a career.When I embarked upon the path of life as a professional performing artist, back when I was a young saxophone player from Paola, Kansas nearly forty years ago, there were several personal tenants I held that remain to this day. Among these primary goals and objectives was to grow the obvious talent and musical aptitude I was born with and to always further utilize my professional artistry in a context with service to my community at large.
//Professional Military Bands// I became a well-rounded professional instrumentalist, composer, arranger, company manager and qualified leader of a diverse demographic of personnel after many years of formal schooling, technical training and applied practice of the art of musical performance during the two decades of active military service I did in the Regular US Army. At the time I served, there were only 2,300 musicians total serving in the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines. It was very competitive to be among that relatively small number of saxophone players. You had to be able to do the diverse and difficult job of a military musician. You had to be a professional performer. You had to be a professional entertainer. And, you had to meet a diverse and professional level of musical proficiency as well. Many of the greatest names in jazz music also served in US military bands at some point at the beginnings of their careers. John Coltrane, Cannonball Adderley, Grover Washington, Jr. are only some of the saxophonist alumni who come to mind. It was a great place to start my artistic career and also establish my life as a human being.
//Kansas City Jazz// I come to the Kansas City Jazz Scene naturally. I am a native and a legacy of sorts. I come from a very large and talented family. My oldest brother is a musician whose resume is second to none. So, I understand that level of the music industry outside of the military service bands too, from having seen it reflected through him all of my adult life. Therefore, I came back home to the Kansas City scene a dozen years ago with an entirely different perspective than someone who is just at the beginning stages of their musical life and career as a professional artist. My purpose at this wonderful stage in my life and career is much different than it was when I first began this incredible journey. I have paid my artistic and personal “dues” to be here. It always takes courage to be yourself as an artist. I am now on a mission to present my original music through recordings and concert performances. This type of mandate involves engaging my audience beyond the cursory by inviting listeners to actively experience the works I have written and the artistry of the musicians who are bringing the art to life during performance. Listeners are more sophisticated than they are often assumed to be. Any “jazz” music is an acquired taste for most any listener, regardless the tunes selected. It’s about sounds. Either you like them or you don’t. You don’t have to be a musician or promoter to make that type decision.
~ Chris Burnett
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Selmer (Paris) Saxophone Artist; Marketing and Communications Manager at American Jazz Museum; Professional Jazz Recording Artist; Composer; Educator; Entrepreneur; and, Businessman