Aesthetics & Metaphysics: Understanding The True J Mood

I had taken a break from the blog to focus on a couple of projects, including music production and
completing a novel that I'd been threatening to write for a few years. Well the music projects are underway and the manuscript is completed and being reviewed by my publisher. Both experiences have left me with a need as a writer to look into the spiritual side of being an artist and the function that jazz holds in maintaining the wellspring for artists who's work evolves from earth-based, spiritual practices.

In the 1980's, "J Mood" was the name of a Grammy award-winning album by Wynton Marsalis, where it sounded like he was trying to tribute Miles Davis. It's a very modal sounding project, much mores than Marsalis' other efforts. With this, he scratches the surface of the actual J Mood which is a spiritual realm, part way between physical reality and -what some refer to as- the astral plane. The effect that jazz has had on aesthetics can also be seen in the styles and types of literature that developed during the 20th Century, with the clear influences of jazz upon mainstream
authors like F. Scott Fitzgerald and philosophers like Jean-Paul Sartre, as well as the influence of the medium on the Beatnik Movement as well as the Black Arts Movement.

In the novel MUMBO JUMBO, by Ishmael Reed, the central "it" of the novel is a virus dating back to the murder of Osiris called "Jesi Grew" and jazz is alluded to as a manifestation of this virus. In the novel ON THE ROAD, by Jack Kerouac, his characters wax philosophical about the possession that takes place of a saxophonist when the saxophonist is playing a solo, and how this possession takes the audience and the band with him to another spiritual dimension. This possession is similar to that observed when a shaman or practitioners of a spiritual tradition are possessed. For Christians we see it in the Pentecostal and Holiness churches, where people are taken by the spirit. We see it in rituals when practitioners of Yoruba, Santeria, and Lacumi make contact with ancestral spirits and deities are invoked.

Duke Ellington hated the term jazz and referred to the genre as "Heritage Music" which is a very accurate description when you consider that its roots are essentially West African music played on European instruments and when you consider that even many European instruments are of North African origins (keyboards, guitars, flutes, etc.), as well as the melodic influence of eastern First Nations (so called Native American), and that jazz became a repository for the music of the Gauls and other French traditional folk forms, the musical roots of jazz are parallel to the evolution of spiritual music (i.e., the Black church). One of the reasons that the Black church has had a long-standing disdain for jazz is the unbridled spiritual roots of the medium. As a result you'll find that almost all true jazz musicians are very spiritual but not necessarily religious. The structure of Islam is such that it allows for jazz to function within the cosmology, explaining why so many jazz musicians at one point or another studied and/or converted to Islam as well as various traditional practices of West Africa.

For the next several installations on this blog, I will explore the abstract cosmology from wens jazz comes, and it's influences and manifestations in shaping physical reality.