I love going to jazz festivals. Listening to good jazz at home is enjoyable, but there is something special about the electricity that sparks during a live performance. And it’s not the same when you listen to a recording of a concert. It is completely different when you are actually there, immersed, experiencing directly with all your senses. I guess it’s similar with other types of music. But what makes the difference between listening to a recording and being at concert even bigger for jazz, is that it is all about improvisation. And then the experience with single concerts and festivals is also different. With concerts, you immerse yourself for a couple of hours into that magic and then go back to the normal world. But with jazz festivals, you relocate to live in a music village for a couple of days. This doesn’t only make it a different experience, but also calls for a different kind of decision.
Previously, when I learned of a new jazz festival or read the line-up of a familiar one, the way I decided whether to go was simple. I just checked who would be performing. If there were musicians that I liked, but hadn’t watched live, or some that I had but wanted to see again, then I went. If not, I usually wouldn’t risk it.
Once I chose to go, this brought another set of decisions. Jazz festivals usually have many stages with concerts going in parallel during the day and into the night. Last time I went to the North Sea Jazz Festival there were over eighty performances in only a few days. So there is a good chance that some of those you want to watch will clash, and you are forced to choose. And I kept applying the same low-risk strategy for choosing what to watch as I did for deciding if I should go at all.
Then one day, I arrived late to a festival just before two clashing sets were about to begin. I dashed into the closest hall with no clue what I would find. And there I experienced what turned out to be the best concert of the whole festival. I hadn’t heard of the group and if I had read the description beforehand I would have avoided their performance.
I realised then, by only choosing concerts with familiar musicians, I was over-exploiting and under-exploring. My strategy was depriving me of learning opportunities and overall reduced the value I got from the festivals.
Continues in source: Exploitation and Exploration | strategic structures