When I first moved to New York it was maybe about a year, year and a half after the whole Wynton Marsalis explosion onto the scene. And somehow I thought to myself, and in hindsight it was the proper way to look at things, that Wynton, by his incredible immense talent, was setting up basically a glass ceiling, and no one’s going to penetrate that glass ceiling doing Wynton. You know, like trying to outdo Wynton.
So you have now like a long litany of people that are following in Wynton’s footsteps which is great you know. But if you want to like penetrate … have your own kind of sense of self … you better go over here and find your own ceiling you know something along those lines you know.
So I thought to myself I wanted to release like a very straight ahead purest jazz record where I’m playing you know 15 courses of “All the Things You Are” or something. I’m never going to do it like Wynton so don’t try.[a]
This quote comes from an interview of Chris Botti in 2013 by Michael Davis. Botti talks about his mindset upon arriving to New York with the recent dominance of Wynton Marsalis on the Jazz scene.
Before the quote, the interviewer refers to an previous interview Botti had given where Botti said that “there was no plan B” for him (in pursuing his career). Botti describes that back then, he made a concious decision on what he didn’t want to do. And he segways into the quote above.
He concludes after the quote, that he got into a bunch of other stuff (i.e. other stuff than the types of things Marsalis was doing) in pursuit of finding the right platform for himself as an artist.
Find your own ceiling … Find your own lane … Channel your natural genius zone … these phrases are all one in the same. It seems that the way to succeed is not to try to be other people and duplicate the things they are good at. But rather, embrace and invest in the things you are really good at and naturally gravitate towards. Your strengths will make a way for you. Your strengths are what God blessed you with and make you uniquely you.