Both Jon and Dave are thinking, feeling musicians who have strong opinions (in a good way) about how the music should sound. When the three of us come together to play, we try different things until a consensus is formed. The beautiful thing is that sometimes the consensus changes as we continue to work on phrases and refine our interpretation. I'm really proud of what we've been able to accomplish in a relatively short amount of time!
Regardless of the instrumentation, you will improve rapidly not only from performing music with others, but making decisions about phrasing, articulation, and dynamics will make you a thinking performer who considers everything on the page as well as the things that only come to life when the ink on the page is translated into sound.
If you're "stuck in a rut" and need a little motivation, grab some buddies and start playing together! I promise you'll love it. In fact, the more time you spend playing together, the better you will get. A great new book on practicing together is from my former chamber music coach and Rhythm & Brass trumpeter Wiff Rudd has tons of ideas on how to work together to improve. Check it out!