Off The Record: An Introduction To Spiritual Jazz
Do you suffer from a prolonged or pronounced sense of inner emptiness or lack of self-worth?
Have you experienced a bankruptcy of the soul? Has life become bereft of meaning? A drawn-out existential crisis brought on by grind of the generic daily modicum? Or has music simply lost its charm and romance?
Then the healing quality of spiritual jazz could be just the thing for you. In several easy steps through the medium of modal jazz, you can find your place in the circle of consciousness.
Spiritual jazz is a meditation on genesis; on our composition, whether cultural, biological or cerebral. It is an exploration of organic rhythms and the nature of conscience and conscious. Structurally, it resists the harshly generalist nature of label. It is spiritual in essence, free in form, and melodious in its atonality.
But where to start?
Pharoah Sanders – Karma
Unsurprisingly, Pharoah Sanders features prominently in any discussion on jazz and its fusion with Eastern mysticism and spirituality. The jazz saxophonist emerged from Sun Ra and John Coltrane’s groups as one of the pillars of free jazz in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
Replete with the scat and inimitable yodelling of Leon Thomas alongside a remarkably talented group of jazz musicians that included Lonnie Liston Smith, Reggie Workman, Richard Davis and more, Karma is a transcendent monolith. It’s widely considered among the more accessible of the free jazz canon; a lyrical, melodious journey. I regard it as among the most special experiences I’ve ever had with a record, and it’s touted as a spiritual successor to Coltrane’s meditative explorations in the mid-to-late ’60s.
The Pyramids – King Of Kings
Hypnotic rhythmic percussion from Idris Ackamoor and The Pyramids, whose recent We Be All Africans release has emerged among the very best of 2016. The Ohio jazz collective undertake a spiritual reflection on African history, rite and ritual in their use of call-and-response chants, references to African folklore and traditional instrumentation such as the Ugandan harp and African fiddle. Endlessly funky and throbbing with the spirit of birth, death, and renewal, King Of Kings truly is a celebration of life.
This week’s playlist
In light of his recent death, it’s time to revisit William Onyeabor’s [main image] Who Is William Onyeabor? compilation on Luaka Bop. He was one of Nigeria and Africa’s most celebrated electronic music pioneers, and the celebration of the elusive synth-funkateer’s catalogue has become one of the most important catalysts into a wider exploration and appreciation of African music and its wonderfully diverse history (along with Awesome Tapes From Africa, Strut Records, Soundway and many others).
FRIDAY FEBRUARY 3
Hubert Clarke Jr., Prequel, Luen @ Freda’s
FRIDAY FEBRUARY 10
The Island Afterparty feat. Norman Jay MBE, Simon Caldwell @ Oxford Art Factory
SATURDAY FEBRUARY 11
A Human Movement (Day) Party feat. Ben Fester, Alba @ Beach Road Hotel
SATURDAY MARCH 4
Modular Sounds Festival @ TBC
SATURDAY APRIL 22
Carl Cox, Adam Beyer @ Jam Gallery