Chasing Trane 2: A Love Supreme Trumps Hate

a-love-supreme-albumBy Al Perlman
Editor and Publisher, Jazz Collector

To my regular Jazz Collector readers, I promise I will be back with a normal post on Tuesday. In the meantime, I ask for one final indulgence for this one final post so I can close the book on this Chasing Trane diversion.

First of all, I would like to let you all know that I am doing well. Since the election I have not turned on the television news or read any news or opinions in any periodical — print or online. It has been a blessing. My head is not clogged with useless information, my guts are not wrenched with fear, my vision is not clouded with images of people who spew hatred, vitriol and divisiveness.

Even better, I have begun to channel the spiritual awareness that the Coltrane documentary helped to inspire. I am walking down the street with a new energy that seems to be apparent because people are smiling at me and talking to me as never before. I am chatting with people in the elevator. I’ve reached out to friends that I have been estranged from for years. Plus, with my head cleared, I’ve had a burst of creative energy. The previous post on Chasing Trane is just one example. I am also doing great work for my clients and I am doing more writing on the side.

In fact, my attitude and energy have made me so much more engaged that some of the people closest to me are a little worried that I may be a bit manic. They are concerned I may be headed for a fall. But I asked my wife, who is a shrink, and I asked my shrink, who is a shrink, and I asked my son, who could be a shrink, and none of them is worried, so neither am I.

I find it is helpful to spend time doing things I love to do, such as going to the theater or being with friends and family. One of the other things I love to do is write. Most of you probably don’t know what I do for a living and why it keeps me from writing posts more frequently for Jazz Collector. In my work, I write, for hire, about how organizations are leveraging technology to change their businesses and change the world. It’s an interesting topic and it is rewarding because it gives me an understanding of the vast possibilities of what technology can do for all of us. The fact that I am a true technophobe myself, has, surprisingly, never negatively affected my ability to do this work, which I have been doing in various forms since 1977.

My current business is called New Reality Media, which is just a two-man shop that I started nearly nine years ago with a wonderful and talented friend named Mike Perkowski, who commented on the previous post. I spend most of my days writing. But I don’t normally get a chance to do creative writing, which is one of the reasons why the Coltrane article was so meaningful. It gave me the chance to really write, and it also gave me the chance to dig deep and explore and express my innermost feelings.

It has been, quite frankly, one of the most rewarding creative experiences of my life, and I’ve had quite a few. In addition to the wonderful comments on the Jazz Collector site, I’ve gotten at least an equal number of extremely warm, generous and caring emails from friends and family. I was also extremely gratified to see that the filmmaker John Scheinfeld not only saw this article, but also posted this lovely comment on Facebook:

One never quite knows how the world will embrace their artistic endeavors or what response it will generate. So, we were delighted to read this passionate and emotional essay from Al Perlman at Jazz Collector about seeing CHASING TRANE at DOC NYC.

I feel the same way as Scheinfeld. I put this essay out into the world not knowing what response it would generate and, here I am more than a week later, still basking in the afterglow. But I do realize it is time to move forward and see where the creative energy will take me to next. Before I completely move on, however, I want to take care of some housekeeping. First, let me reply to some of the specific comments on the Jazz Collector site:

To AbrasiveBeautiful and Daryl, I will fix your typos.

To my personal friends Steve, Myrna, Mike, Chris and Barbara, thanks for being there and supporting me in all my various endeavors.

To my son Michael’s friend Charlie Thurston, thanks for all of your creative work that has inspired and uplifted me through the years.

To some of the regulars here, Abrasivebeautiful, Gregorythefish, banksofthecliff, RichDGMono, Adamski, Daryl, BillW, Fredrik and others, thanks for your comments and for your active participation in the Jazz Collector community.

To Clifford, thanks for commenting and for your regular contributions to Jazz Collector. I appreciate them tremendously, and I know many readers do because I monitor the site’s traffic.

To Willem H, thanks for joining the commenters, and please feel free to continue participating.

To Keith Semerod, do I remember you! Are you kidding. When you sent me that original comment about seeing my articles 40-plus years ago in the Syracuse New Times, it was one of my favorite all-time moments in all the years of doing doing Jazz Collector. Thank you!

To Craig Holiday Haynes: Is your Dad Roy?

To Tessa Souter, thanks for reposting and tweeting.

To Brian Anderson, Steve Heckman and RL1856. Thanks for your thoughtful comments and the deep feelings behind them.

To Giovanni and Bill W, thanks for reminding me to get back to business.

To Danny, thanks for always being there and for being my partner and teacher in sharing this lifelong passion for jazz

And thanks to all the family and friends who reached out by email. I won’t remember everyone, but thanks to Jim, Mitch, Joe, Amy, Mark, Yael, Ari, Jessie, Yocheved, Ludi, Tyler, Rachelle, Charise, Susan, Jules, Heidi, Hy, Elliot, Rony and everyone else who responded.

And thanks to the many new readers who came to Jazz Collector because they heard about this specific article. I imagine the non-jazz lovers won’t stay for much longer, but hopefully the jazz lovers will. The site has been around for more than a dozen years, and we’ve posted many articles that may provide enjoyment and give you a deeper insight into jazz. The links below will take you to a few of my personal favorites. Enjoy.

Song for My Father

Memories of Mingus

The Complete Jazz Collector Bruce M. West Collection

An Old Jazz Collector Tribute to Charlie Parker

In Memory of a Jazz Collector

Confessions of a Vinyl Addict, Part 1

Finally, just so you all know I am really okay, here I am as of last night in my natural habitat.

a-love-supreme

 

 

16 comments

  • Al, it’s great to hear you’re feeling better and focusing on your writing, your music and socializing with friends & family. I think we all need to spend more time doing the things that make us feel good.

  • Thanks for making public your heartfelt feelings, and your way through them via Coltrane (and others!). Below is an actual “sermon” i gave some years ago, when asked to speak to a jazz service. I thought you and others might find it appropriate:
    Coltrane’s Meditations
    (begin when bass solo ends)
    When in the late 70’s I first heard what was to be Coltrane’s last recording with his long time partners McCoy Tyner and Elvin Jones, the album entitled Meditations, my musical universe was radically altered, for I heard in their music sonic possibilities I had hitherto thought unimaginable. This was enough to keep Meditations in regular rotation on my turntable for many years, but it took a personal sadness, one we must all face, for me to come to realize the full depth of Coltrane’s profound wisdom in creating this music, and to learn the healing and spiritual force that animates jazz at its most fundamental level.
    PAUSE 20 SECONDS
    While Coltrane often said he believed in all religions, since he believed deeply in religion’s power to invite us to engage in acts of self-reflection and discovery, Meditations is perhaps his only recording to reference directly Christianity. It is a five-part suite, beginning with The Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost, followed by sections entitled Compassion, Love, Consequences and Serenity. Why these sections, and why consider them to collectively be Meditations—this is what I came to discover, and want to share with you.
    PAUSE 20 SECONDS
    My mother died of cancer some 18 years ago. The first music I listened to immediately after her death was Meditations. At the time I was not sure why I turned to this, I was in emotional turmoil. Meditations appeared to me as the only thing to listen to, and I found myself again and again delving into its sound-world, both turbulent and calming in turn. I had cared for my mother as her health slowly declined, and had witnessed her passing. During this time I had engaged in assorted Meditations, often confused and vexing. It is worth pausing for a moment to muse on what a Meditation is, from that engaged in by Descartes when he comes to his famous statement of self-existence—I think therefore I am– or the many meditative techniques taught by religions the world-round. Meditations are serious and full contemplative acts, usually concerning topics of profound importance with spiritual content. Yet they are more than this—they are always personal, even when about universal subjects, you cannot escape the “I” in a meditation—Descartes does not say “we think therefore we are,” or “whatever thinks is”, but I think, therefore I am—meditations are acts of self discovery, they involve going into your most intimate inner room, closing the door, and taking the time to see, to really see, what is there.
    PAUSE 20 SECONDS
    Coltrane’s meditation, and that of his fellow musicians Pharoah Sanders, McCoy Tyner, Elvin Jones, Jimmy Garrison and Rashied Ali, is framed by the image of the Christian trinity, but it goes on to explore universal human themes, Compassion, Love, Consequences and Serenity. They sound their mediations for us, and the music they create is simultaneously the means by which we may enter into a meditative state, and the very content of their collective meditations, it is means and end wrapped into one. My personal discovery of this aspect of Coltrane’s Meditations is what finally allowed me to reach a state of serenity surrounding my mother’s passing, and explained to me the order of my emotions—it showed to me how compassion may yield to love, and that the consequences that may follow from the passing of a loved one, however painful they may be, can yield serenity. Coltrane showed me both that there can be a dawn at the end of the storm, and in the midst of the storm, there is planted the very seeds of its resolution.
    START at 7:50
    When my mother’s illness first began to sap her vitality I felt compassion for her, for her pain and suffering. This soon became defocused, and morphed into a pure feeling of love. When her death soon followed I was cast adrift into the sea of consequences, anger, pity, fear, despair. It was at this very moment when I turned to Coltrane’s Mediations, and when he and Pharoah engage in their duo that opens the section Consequences, as if speaking in tongues, (to this day I continue to hear it in these terms), that I found the sonic turmoil that soon engulfed me to be a perfect musical image of my own feelings. It was as if they knew exactly how I was feeling, and were guiding me to a safe haven. For as this section, which many find positively scary and virtually unlistenable, slowly resolved into the final part of the suite, Serenity, I realized—I realized deeply and profoundly—that serenity not only could result, but would result, and perhaps more importantly still—that the turmoil of the consequences was necessary to finally resolve into serenity.

    PAUSE UNTIL 9:30
    I realized that you needed to face your own fears and demons, to be thrown psychically, emotionally, spiritually and physically to the four winds before serenity would appear. That to suppress the consequences would never result in inner calm. Musically the message was that the sonic chaos was a necessary prelude to the serenity, but as a meditation the message was far more profound. I came out of my listening with an immediate sense of the passing of the consequences, I was not freed from them yet, but I now realized, because I heard it, and so felt it, that serenity could be found, by facing the consequences. I realized that my compassion and love were what made the consequences so strong and seemingly insurmountable, but that equally they were what also ensured that serenity would come. Meditations, as a full suite, was for me, a complete sonic map of my psychic journey prior to, and immediately after, my mother’s death, and pointed the way to the serenity that could, and did, follow.
    PAUSE 30 SECONDS
    One of the powers of music—any music—is its still mysterious ability to present to us how emotions and feelings unfold in time. Aristotle believed that music sounds like emotions feel. For each of us, I believe, there is a piece of music that will show you the emotional way in times of psychic disturbance. For me it was, and continues to be, the powerful journey from Compassion, through pain, and resolving in Serenity, that constitutes the meditations that Coltrane and his fellow improvisers undertook in Nov. 1965. For each of us there is, out there in the world of Jazz, our own Meditations, I urge you to seek it out, to learn from it, and to use it as your own tool in an ongoing search for self-understanding and spiritual awareness. As Coltrane said:
    There is never any end, there are always new sounds to imagine, new feelings to get at. And always, there is the need to keep purifying those feelings and sound so that we can really see what we’ve discovered in its pure state. So that we can see more and more clearly what we are. In that way, we can give to those who listen the essence, the best of what we are. But to do that at each stage, we have to keep on cleaning the mirror.
    PAUSE UNTIL 13:05
    Find the music that allows you to clean the mirror in which you may view your true self. This is my message to you all today.

  • Al– You are most fortunate in your wealth of caring family and friends. Since the election, I have read very little about politics and like it that way. Like you, many of us jazz lovers enjoy immersement in music and its spiritual feedback. You are lucky to be living in the City and to meet and know many like-minded people.

  • I have taken the opposite approach in the news: I read it as I have before, because I fear what would happen if I was uninformed, and try to temper it with the knowledge that 2+ million Americans do not want the current developments, and many more who did vote for Trump don’t want them either, now that they can see his act for what it was.

    Jazz is helpful.

    And I love having people to talk to about this fun hobby. So you’re very welcome. 🙂

  • I posted your Coltrane story to my Facebook feed and one of my friends who has been struggling since the election said it helped them. Just thought you would like to know that.

    Take care!

  • Dear Al
    I am glad to know that you’re feeling good. You know, I visit Jazz Collector blog everyday and find it always intersting both on musical and human aspects of life, Some great contributions from the readers too like Eric Lewis one on “Meditations” and its artistic and spiritual importance . Keep on!

  • Al, I only now discovered your émouvant Song for my Father. A great read. Glad you are back to face the world.

  • Al, our Jazz Collector world, was my personal thing, not shared with anyone outside, as they generally had no interest in Nutters who pay silly money for old records of an art form that quite frankly irritates most! The only one who i regularly show Jazz Collector to is my wife, whom I very nearly dragged along to to meet you on our Honeymoon to NYC a few years ago to get some records (in hindsight a very shit idea!) … But after the Coltrane post and your heart felt words I inexplicably found my self
    copying and pasting your link to the tread to as many people i could. I simple put in the header
    Read this: ‘The power and spirituality of music for a troubled soul and mind’.
    I had countless replies with so much warmth it was incredible. They all connected.
    Again thanks for sharing your soul with us, it simply means you regard the Jazz Collector community
    as friends. I know I speak for us all here, we like that! …Keep on keeping on Al.

  • So I had Alexa play Coltrane for us but I still owe you a real hug hope we saw you soon, you look great

  • Love to hear such a positive vibe. XO

  • Doc,
    It’s just nice to see your smiling face. Glad you’re feeling better, and I am looking forward to the day when our paths cross again. See you soon, my birthday brother!

  • Thanks Al for sharing your thoughts/feelings.

    Like GTF I’ve been following the news closely. For now I’m trying to stay positive and hope the checks and balances built into the system work, but we’ll see….

  • Like so many others I was moved by your personal message here. I’m glad you’re finding solace in family, friends, work and music. All these things are important. But I want to add that although the next four years may be terrifying to contemplate, we have been run by fools, egomaniacs, criminals and sociopaths in the past and have survived.

  • from Cradled in the Waves……………..Glad you are soaking up the positive energy when so many nasty vibes currently embrace us all. The world is great, love is great, family and friends are great….and so is music….especially jazz.. Thanks for allowing me to enjoy your insights on this site and be well.

  • Thanks Al, All I can say is that which is done in dark will come to light. Those who choose to feather their nest with wickedness and hate and abuse of people through government power, will be illuminated and spotlighted. If and only if a vigilant public care for the greater good of all.

  • Its great to put a face to the name so to speak. Thanks for sharing everything that you have brought to the table. An abundance of friends is an abundance of blessings! Your column always brings a smile to my face. It is so wonderful to be able to feel connected to a network of Jazz lovers. I have lost every dear friend I had who could share Jazz with me and most of my listening these days is done in solitary but with great people like you, Al, and all the wonderful folks who are part of this super network you have brought to us all, I do not feel alone. Millard Fillmore the Second shall not steal our spirits!!! JAZZ will live on forever. Love Y’all man. Best wishes to you Al especially and to all our Jazz brothers and sisters particularly.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *