[Dixielandjazz] Jazz - The Spiritual Side vs. Technique

Steve barbone barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Mon Dec 6 08:01:59 PST 2004

Branford Marsalis has a new DVD out exploring the work of John Coltrane.
Some music, some interviewing etc. Fascinating look & listen

A point is made throughout the disc's interviews about "A Love Supreme,"
recorded in 1964 and that what came after this, in Trane's  career, was an
emphasis on spirit over technique, through more and more extended works.

Marsalis, fascinated by this idea, interviews Coltrane's widow, Alice,
saying that too many people have analyzed the music of "A Love Supreme" but
not the spiritual motivation behind it, whether that be Trane's Methodist
background, the various Eastern religions he was investigating or any
element of his music that came from his feelings rather than his studies.

She agrees. Citing a Miles Davis story, about playing the blues one night. A
beautiful woman was standing there, and he was digging her. He was playing
to her from his heart, from within. Then he decides he'd show off the
technical side of his ability. As soon as he started playing everything that
he could write out, that students could read, going into the cache of what
he'd obtained academically, the woman walked away.

Wooooo. I think there is a message there for all of us. Are we too wrapped
up in the technical/analytical sides of e.g. King Oliver / Baby Dodds / Bix
Beiderbecke, Pee Wee Russell et al., and not enough in the spiritual. (or
how they played from the heart) Could the "woman" Miles talked about be
like, gasp, an allegorical "audience"?

Steve Barbone

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