My favorite musical term is “in the pocket.” Musicians I love and respect can always play in the pocket, and it’s beautiful to watch.
It’s hard to explain, so I’m going to let jazz musician Tyra Neftzger define it for you:
“In music, the pocket isnâ€™t a place where the musician holds something â€” itâ€™s an intangible place that holds the musician… it is a spiritual experience that goes beyond playing the right notes, great timing, or being in tune. The experience of playing in the pocket is more like becoming a faucet through which the music flows. Being in the pocket is not just about â€œlocking togetherâ€ or â€œsyncing upâ€ as a band. It goes beyond this to the place where the musician allows the music to take control.
Watching the lovely lovely Feist at her sold-out show at the Vic last Tuesday was a great example of someone playing in the pocket. To me Feist always seems like a woman who can marry kitsch, pop and cool effortlessly, and the show was a proof of that.
There was â€œWhen I Was a Young Girlâ€ (blazingly cool), reading from a science report that someone in the audience had (pop), looping birds and singing and guitar lines (cool), having a tap dancer on “Now At Last” (kitsch). She was powerful, inspiring, and created an atmosphere so personal and close that it seemed every single person in the audience felt Feist was singing for them. How Feist — who induced singalongs and strummed the guitar with mucho energy — stayed in the pocket while playing the music but never lost connection with the audience is the intangible mystery of her live show.
(Forgive the blur in the photos from the show. I was all starstruck, so I couldn’t keep my hand steady!)