I actually spend very little time listening to any new music.
I have to plead basic ignorance of most new jazz artists here.
To make the bloody thing talk the way I do when I'm on a verbal roll, in my idioms and rhythms.
I have no doubt that there are great people about though... the thing of it is, nothing to this day moves me like classical music (Debussy, Vaughn Williams).
I don't think so, in so far as I always aspired to play the way I do now but just couldn't get the sounds out always due to technical limitations - now I can pretty much play what I hear in realtime.
The ability and desire to transform the mundane materials at hand that we both bring into the collaboration well beyond the sum total of the parts - to birth a new baby neither of us could claim single parentage of.
While I shared many of the same emotions Bill describes, in no way did my experience ever degenerate into the grimness I find in his book - I didn't have to live with Don, and I think that made a big big difference.
Maybe its a case of one guitar feeling a certain way to the hands that makes one subsequently move differently over the strings, but my intent is always to wring the maximum emotional resonance out of the object in hand.