Friday, December 7, 2007

The Duke Ellington Center for the Study of Sacred Jazz

This idea came to me so strong a year or two ago...I could see this interfaith center named after Duke, where Buddhist, Muslim, Jewish, Christian, Hindu...and and and all musicians and music lovers seeking to become more human and whole through this music we love would gather and swing beloved community style. Okay now truth is I also had a vision of me being the founder and dean of this spot...then I got all concerned about divinity school and/or phd in jazz studies or performance studies, oh and raising zillions of dollars in grants and finding a space and could you call it after Duke and not launch it in NYC or DC...I'm still wondering about all of the above, but luckily I had Vietnamese food in downtown Los Angeles yesterday, appropriately at place called "Blossom" and my friend says, start blogging on it. Begin the conversation. Ahhh.

Now this friend and most of my friends and family are a thousand times more tech savvy than me...I want this blog to look fine and sound so sweet...I'm going to get wiser soon about uploads and podcasts and groovy/inviting graphics...right now though I just want to start writing some of these ideas down and take 2007 out with deep river music gratitude.


"Now I can say openly...what I have been saying to myself on my knees," Duke Ellington.

That line from the chapter on the Sacred Concerts in Duke's autobiography, "Music is My Mistress" always stays with me. Last thing I want to suggest here is that I know what is sacred and what is not in jazz...I do want to wonder here and as much as possible start asking musicians and documenting what happens with the music that originates from knee conversations/chants/prayers/deeper silences? What happens in the composing or playing journey that feels different? How do we feel when we listen to these pieces alone? In community? With a lover? With our children? The recently retired genius preacher from Riverside Church, James Forbes gave an amazing sermon last winter about the spiritual, "Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen" where he questions the lines, "Nobody Knows the trouble I've seen, nobody knows but Jesus. Nobody knows, the trouble I've seen, Glory Hallelujah!" He says how you gonna have that kind of trouble and glory hallelujah together? But then eventually he gets back to, "somebody knows." Now in the tune and in the sermon, that someone is Jesus...and I'm a huge Jesus lover myself (in profound struggle with "Christianity" but give me Jesus) but for you that somebody might be John Coltrane. That somebody might be Charles Lloyd, Wayne Shorter, definitely Terence Blanchard playing his recent requiem for Katrina...somebody knows and blows our trouble AND hallelujah.

So I want to talk about the music itself that comes from the musicians' knee conversations and also the music that brings me to my knees with that recognition that somebody seen what I've seen.

"& poem is my thank-you for music
& i love you more than poem" Ntozake Shange

That's one of my favorite lines from Shange's "for colored girls"...I think of this new blog journey as just one of my humble thank yous for jazz. I'm excited.

5 comments:

groovyacousticsoul said...

Yes, my sister! Let the music begin.

CurtisR said...

I'll start off by saying, "I don't know ..." Now, with that admission I can open up to explore this intriguing topic … Perhaps whose answer lies readily in the undercurrent and needs shape and form to be articulated … or not.

I’m in … let’s rap about it.


CurtisR

CurtisR said...

I'll start off by saying, "I don't know ..." Now, with that admission I can open up to explore this intriguing topic … Perhaps whose answer lies readily in the undercurrent and needs shape and form to be articulated … or not.

I’m in … let’s rap about it.

Curtis R

Sermons given at Deering Community Church said...

Sacred--deep, a sudden, intense quickening in my chest, a tug on my tear ducts, maybe even a drop or two fills the eyes and I know I have been touched by the Spirit. There's a softening, an opening, a feeling of connecting with the Source and with all than emanates from that Source. Go forth, my child, follow your passion!

chicarica said...

This is beautiful! All creative activity is sacred, in that it's a channel for the movement of creative energy from within -- and that's spirit by another name.

Jazz is among my favorite kinds of music, because it's always new, always a channel for fresh expression, and the best musicians open up and let it flow through them. That's why it's best live.

My life work is to be a channel, and to open opportunities for artists who are clear channels to reach their audiences, and audiences to find their artists.

Wonderful idea you have; may it be!