Branford Marsalis took his share of heat over the years. Whether it was pushing the boarders of jazz with his modern work, or breaking perceived boundaries altogether and moving into hip-hop, not everyone has been a fan of everything he’s done.
In an interview with Questlove (on the Questlove Supreme podcast) Branford was asked about dealing with his critics. Quest wanted to know how he’s dealt with so many people’s opinions over the years about what he could, should, and would or wouldn’t do? He gave one answer that’s helped him keep moving forward, and it’s advice we can all take:
The critics say…? Well, what do the critics play?
Whatever we are doing, we’re the ones taking the risk and putting it out there. Plenty of people will offer an opinion, but there’s no requirement or often even a reason to listen to them. Instead of accepting their critique at face value, think about where it’s coming from and why.
As Branford also points out, there are certainly people we do want to listen to. We can learn from others and this isn’t an excuse to crawl into some protective hole. It is, however, a reminder to qualify the source behind the talk. If it’s worth it, listen. If not? Ask to see their work.