The Tao of Jazz
The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao
Likewise, the Jazz that can be named is not the eternal Jazz.
You may say BeBop, Swing, Dixieland, Cool, Hard Bop, Free, Latin, Ragtime, Modal, Third Stream, et alia ... and they are simultaneously "Jazz" and not Jazz. They are Jazz in that they evolved within the unfolding universe of Jazz, but they are not - each alone - Jazz exclusively.
The universe of Jazz continues to expand and defy borderlines, even in these modern and dystopian times, perhaps especially because of modernity and dystopia. Jazz can offer a deep reflection of our world, but simultaneously offers a portal out of it ... or, perhaps, next to it. A mirror-world where we can abstractly explore our cosmic connections to this strangely unfolding story we carelessly label Reality (as if "Reality" is concretely the same for everyone experiencing "it").
As such, Jazz is not the music itself, but a conduit through which music flows, and through which we can travel to dimensions of awareness that connect us to ourselves, to each other, and to the Cosmos.
Some artists are very intentionally creating music with this mysticism in mind, and so I thought it would be interesting to offer a small playlist for you to explore a very few of the artists I have come to enjoy for the way in which their music can lift the veils of mundane reality to reveal dimensions and depths of magical, musical experiences.
These are not my Top Ten, even though there are ten titles. Rather, these are ten from among thousands and thousands. I'm skipping over a few obvious choices (John Coltrane, for instance) because you're likely already familiar. Here I'm offering a double-handful of names and albums that you might not have explored, each of them a different entrance into The Grand Mystical Forest ...
- Pharaoh Sanders : Thembi
- Archie Shepp : The Way Ahead
- Alice Coltrane : Ptah, The El Daoud
- Grachan Moncur III : Evolution
- Eric Dolphy : Conversations
- Bennie Maupin : The Jewel in the Lotus
- Kamasi Washington : The Epic
- Donald Byrd : Electric Byrd
- Paul Horn : Inside the Taj Mahal
- Wadada Leo Smith : Taif - Prayer in the Garden of Hijaz