Archie Shepp: "The Magic of Ju-Ju" (and, My Mind Wanders Onto My Keyboard)

My fascination with the avant school of jazz music has much to do with that it's the frantic, loosely constructed illustration of the human psyche in a state of personal, societal and internal unrest.  Some call it annoying.  I call it the artistic realization of an extreme as a mind incapable of settling knows no boundary or structure, and life in tumult brings this sort of offensively off key deliverance to people unprepared to accept and ready to dismiss. 

Because of when and how it grew out of the continual evolution of jazz music in the 60s, the idea of improvisational styles completely losing any semblance of key or structure, the avant and/or free jazz stands as truer testimony to the era, moreso in some ways than the folk swaying hippie culture that's typically identified as the protest music of the decade.  This is loud and chaotic surface noise designed to delve into and distill.  It's not "peace" and "love" inasmuch as it's "power" and "respect:" a mantra one could (and should) take more seriously.  Respect can exist with or without love.  As a comment not only to the racial and societal tension of the time, but also as far as the people and their united wish to be heard, the avant-garde is protest without violence, declaration without civil unrest.  It's about gaining respect. 

Having said that, if anyone points to the world's ills ("what's wrong with these kids today," and the like), it's not that we've forgotten to love.  We've forgotten respect.

Listening to Archie Shepp's "The Magic of Ju-Ju," a piece of music that squeals and chokes, rushes and wanders, I want my stream of consciousness to sound like this.  I want the nights when my brain won't quit to burn with this sort of magnified intensity, as opposed to when it's lost in a constant cycle of remembrance, dream and calculation.  I want my hands to work with this sort of random brilliance, words, phrases and images to grow from nothing but untrained, unguided magic.  I want to drop a needle and become better.  

Happy belated, Archie Shepp.  75 years young, so another 75 shouldn't be too difficult to handle.

Letters From A Tapehead


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