In Book I of his Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle makes use of the function argument. He argues that humans, like other things, have a function, and that true happiness comes when one exercises one’s function. For Aristotle, humans’ function is to think rationally, just as a knife’s function is to cut.
Brian Blade had his knife sharpened as he played at Revolution Hall with the Fellowship Band and cut the place up. The last time he was in town, last October, also at Revolution Hall, he was in the company of Wayne Shorter, and he played so fiercely that at one point one of his sticks went flying into the audience. Although he managed to keep control of them this time, he was no less sharp. Two things have always impressed me about Blade’s playing, his enormous energy and the joy with which he plays. He always has a smile on his face, and his joy infects both the band members and the audience, and it doesn’t matter if he is playing a high-energy tune or the more mellow tune with which he closed the show, a song written for his mother, “Friends Call Her Dot.” Not all bands have two horn players; and alternating among tenor, soprano, alto, and bass clarinet gave a real weight to the band’s sound. The revolution was not televised, but true happiness surely was present.