This compilation is posted in response to recent events here in Indonesia.
Jazz started out as dance music, then became a staple of concert halls, an entertainment.
That simplistic line omits one important ingredient: improvisation. When musicians are so completely in their zone that audiences have little choice but to follow, then magic happens. Such moments can be truly spiritual, albethey sadly rare.
The first time I went to a Pat Metheny gig, in London in 1982 (?), I didn’t know what to expect. We got sublime, saudade spine tingling melodies played acoustically, heard the fingers slide up the strings, loud synthesised orgasmic group singalongs, and Ornette Coleman free-formish what was that?
Being British, we applauded politely after each piece, some of which we recognised from the then few albums. None of us waved cigarette lighters (now camera-phones) in the air to say “Look at me, I’m at a Pat Metheny gig”, something which Americans posing as audiences are prone to do.
When they finished playing some of the tightest ensemble playing I had ever been privileged to witness ~ whoosh ~ the entire audience stood as one and roared for more. I still get goosebumps recalling that magic moment.
The group came back and stood at the front of the stage looked around, looked up, their arms around each others’ shoulders and you could almost hear their mutual thought ~ “What the f**k have we done here?” ~ as they realised that we had given them the ultimate accolade. They played another half an hour and seemed to surpass themselves. They knew we could take it.
More recently here in Jakarta, at the Tuslah gig when central Jakarta was in lockdown because Prabowo was having a hissy fit having lost the presidential election, and just last November at the Freedom Jazz Awards I felt similarly spiritualised. Tuslah played for themselves, were in their zone and we joined them. At the latter gig, Tesla Manaf, alone, got lost in his playing and we were lost with him, like rabbits caught in headlights, we were hypnotised.
As audiences, we’d been captured; entranced we entered the separate heavens created, not by gods, but by musicians seeking theirs through their playing.
Yes, there are many gods, and those who threaten us for not following their creed need to be told that they are worshipping a false idol … which is forbidden by their god!