Saturday, May 22, 2004

A Love Supreme

Just a few days ago the great jazz drummer Elvin Jones died. He was 76. I saw Jones play about 12 years ago when I started getting into jazz. He played with Ravi Coltrane, the son of Jones's old boss John Coltrane. They were simply amazing. The name of the group was "The Elvin Jones Jazz Machine"--and they really were a tightly focussed, well-oiled set of interlocking gears that a significant amount of improvisational power could be sent through. Jones's percussive abilities is/was devastating. He was grunting and mumbling while bashing away in some transfigurative ecstasy that, much like Glenn Gould's humming, was an apt vocal accompaniment to the flight the music was taking over the solid and soaring aural delights. Apparently Jones was playing up until a few weeks before he died, taking an oxygen tank up on stage. Total dedication.


Let's disappear into jazz. Why? Because jazz is a compound of the utmost strength, but also the utmost malleability. It is a sonic portrayal of the universe-- the universe up to what we can surmise, waveringly measure, or faithfully leap towards. Beyond that amorphous boundary is something that, I must admit, is beyond jazz. I'm not sure why I'm expounding on jazz, I hardly enjoy it. I like beyond jazz much more; though I have yet to hear what it sounds like. I can only describe what I'd like to hear within its chambers. Namely, the absence of notes, time, and tempo. Timbre is best when it has the ability to stroke the ear so let's go for one that comprises the emerald of percussion and the low frequency bass uses to grow those vines of endorphin and adrenaline that will ensure the composition takes flight. Reeds made from Egyptian ideas and the metal forged by enterprising blacksmiths would bring in a type of foreground that is much desired in order to temper the monolith of an under-occurring and infinite texture-- seemingly grey like an Eastern European train, yet easily made bright by a Mekong sunset.


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