I wonder how it feels for jazz pianists. Does the primary rush come from the rhythm they're keeping with the left hand, or is the real thrill those melodic trills they're playing with the right? Most of them look pretty damn happy, and they spend more time looking at their right hand, so I guess it's the high end that butters their biscuit. That's the end that thrills most folks like me, who play the guitar. It's a load of fun to play rhythm guitar, and I'm sure it's a ball playing bass. But it's when you get all wired up playing lead and get up into that higher register that things start to get magical. Watch the look on Eric Clapton's face as he gets into those tiny, tiny frets.
One of the most wonderful things that happens to a musician is when they get to actually play with folks who are a whole lot better than them. With me, it was usually sax players. The best pianists I ever played with were only above average. The best guitar players had some licks I didn't have, but I was not overly impressed with their skills. I guess I had been ruined when I got to see and hear Duane Allman lay hands on a six-string.
The great thing about a sax genius is how they hear it all. They hear the bass line that doesn't fit the song in any rational way, but fits just the same. They'll play that line as a sort of fill some nights. The bass player should notice this and nod -- not make eye contact -- just a slight nod, saying, "I hear you. Thanks." They hear the subtle ways the guitarist plays the rhythm, and they'll throw in a syncopation on some nights, way in the background where no one else really cares, to match that twist. Again, a nod is all that's required.
There are a few songs in a gig that you can't wait for, because it's your turn to shine. It's your turn to wait patiently, and in perfect tune, for that break you feel somewhere down deep inside. I can tell you that the most sublime moments I ever had playing live music were when I was in the midst of such a break, lost in the lines which made perfect sense to me at the time, and I would hear the veteran sax player chime in on a lick that I didn't even know I was going to play until I played it.
But he did.