Jun 11, 2011
Today was an important day for me because with encouragement and assistance I took some steps to return to society. I attended a jazz festival (some of the concerts) and in reflecting on it it reminded me where I have been in life and others as well. The music was free jazz not meaning "free" but as in highly improvisatory and discordant. Free jazz has a fascinating history (I'll put search phrases for the youtube footage of the various musicians). Free jazz has a character of expression of longing, of liberation, of the civil rights movement and indeed of spirituality. If you google "John Coltrane, A Love Supreme Live"(the two movements of it "Resolution" and "Acknowledgment" there is footage of the actual performance live and that and the song "Alabama" (commemorating a tragic event in the history of the civil rights movement) and the character and expression of the music take on spirituals as well as other music and incorporate it so it is a further exploration of what jazz is. There is more to it than that and much of it worth reading about and listening to.
Now as for the concert I attended (which was one day in a week long festival). The main musician I saw was Sonny Simmons (if you put his name and "live" as a search phrase you can see what the concert was like the concert itself was being videotaped by some people and may be uploaded at the same time as is traditional every year an artist was doing an expressionist painting to capture the feel of the event but also portray the musicians. The space itself had some history and was a community center on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Of course at the time that it was built, jazz basically didn't exist but there were some innovators who originated the genre who were still around (one essential figure is Louis Moreau Gottschalk who was incorporating some of the elements of Creole into classical music, he himself was of partial Haitian descent, another worthwhile listen). The concert itself (the show I went to see) was brief and to the point but also had a more reflective moment at the end where the main musician played on oboe (to play this instrument free jazz takes great skill).
The free jazz scene for a while had been dormant. Spaces were gone due to gentrification. Musicians had stopped playing and some were even homeless. However those who cared got the scene back together again and worked to have the musicians who had fallen on hard times have a network of support so this wouldn't happen again (from non profits and other agencies as well as donations and of course people attending shows, one musician even set up his own venue for other musicians who might well have otherwise not had a chance to play). So I thought about that for a while. And reflected that my ancestors who lived in that area had worked together as well to get where they were in life. And later on as my family worked that way as well. One didn't know what would occur in life but one knew not to give up (the image is a sketch my grandma did of jazz musicians, that was before she even met my grandfather, now passed on who as I've said played with the big bands in the 40's, at that time individual musicians didn't receive recognition on recordings so although he could name what recordings he might have played on we didn't know for sure).
I reminded myself how I never would have gotten into enjoying music if he had never introduced me to it. And I said to myself that was the best course of action for me. I had put together my accommodations. The people at the concert space after I contacted them had accepted them. I communicated by Ipod (as I cannot speak coherently without choking due to dysphagia) and received some help finding a seat (as I become disoriented during episodes of catatonia and dementia) and I was very appreciative. And so it reminded me that despite a new marked series of limitations that with the appropriate accommodations (and physical and mental recovery) I could through working with others be able to be a part of society. But I needed (as my psychiatrist told me) to take some time to enjoy it as well. As Miles Davis said "I'll play it first and tell you what it is later"..