After several decades of jazz music mainly serving as something to dance to—as Wikipedia drily notes, “the association of jazz with sex is early and extensive”—by the time the 1950s rolled around it was time to get a little more serious. Spiritual jazz is product of the late 1950s and after; it is most commonly associated with John Coltrane, whose 1965 album A Love Supreme eventually became an essential part of the record collections of impressionable college students everywhere. The trend of long-playing albums made it possible for experimental works to explore a single theme for 20 or more minutes at a time, which also lent itself to more serious explorations of divinity.
Last week the London online radio station NTS dropped a colossal, nay transcendent 4-part “history of spiritual jazz” lasting more than 12 hours in all. It starts with Fred Stone’s “Theme from Lawrence of Arabia” (originally composed by Maurice Jarre, this rendition happened in 1972) and ends with an ambitious composition by the Art Ensemble of Chicago called “Certain Blacks ‘Do What They Wanna.’” In between you’ll find remarkable music by Stanley Crouch, Elvin Jones, Sun Ra, David S. Ware, Herbie Hancock, Don Cherry, Amiri Baraka, Pharoah Sanders, Ornette Coleman, Albert Ayler, Last Poets, Gil Scott-Heron, Roland Kirk, Earth Wind and Fire, Art Blakey—and that’s leaving out another several dozen musicians whose names are not as familiar. (Interestingly, Charles Mingus is not represented.)
So put this on and let spiritual jazz define your week.
via Open Culture
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
‘A Joyful Noise’: Cheer up with the gleefully cosmic philosophy of Sun Ra