Mark is a student for life. That’s really the impression I get from him. He’s very serious about music, serious about artistry. The thing that’s special about playing with Mark is that he’s so much himself. He’s immediately recognizable as a musician, his approach is immediately recognizable. Just being around that type of energy, that focused voice, is in itself an amazing experience. It’s also inspiring, even outside of the music, to see how deeply he investigates all sides of his instrument and all sides of the music itself.
I’d heard stories that Mark, in the studio, really embodied this “Eastern” approach to music and life, i.e., that whoever you are at that moment, whatever your performance is at that moment, that’s what it’s supposed to be, that’s what it’s meant to be. I’d heard that he’d be doing a take on a recording and let’s say there was a crack, or he’d squeaked a note, and people would say, “Would you like to do another take?” and he’d say, no, no, I think that was fine, I think that’s what was meant to happen. So he really lives by that philosophy. And I knew that going into the duet, and sure enough, when we were recording, it came out that way. We only did two solo passes—both of those passes were absolutely gorgeous, and Mark was extremely accepting and non-judgmental about what came out. He was comfortable with who he is musically, and really believes that what happens in that moment is what’s meant to be.