I like to envision being on the Earth where there are no cities, no suburbia, no people and no requirements to live other than to simply exist. The only constant would be the Earth continuing to rotate and orbit. The sunrise and sunset the only barometer of the existence of forward motion. Perhaps what I miss is life in ancient Egypt, but that would be too much society, too much structure. I envision a place where the only relationship that exists is one with the forces that are beyond our control and beyond our understanding.
I could pursue this kind of reality as a mountain man perhaps, or if I somehow found a deserted beach. Last night I came as close as I ever have to this reality in New York City of all places. Down at the RFK bridge in Astoria where the bridge reminds me of what we’re capable of creating when we’re not wasting all our energy on the culture that spawned Trump. The bridge also reminds me of giant spiritual structures, though it certainly does not contain the power of the great pyramids.
Down by the riverside is where I’m drawn to practice music meditation. I have, for some time now, been practicing music meditation often as close to the river as possible. The reason is that I feel the rivers natural power. Despite being surrounded by human structure, it exists as does the sky and the ocean. The river is defiant in today’s world, like the trees. When you play a wind instrument, you take air inside of your body that becomes warmed by the fires of your soul. You then release the air back into the world as your sound. Down by the river you are taking in air blowing right off the river. That same air that pushes the river forward.
I have always practiced music meditation before or after the things that I must do survive. I have played music during many sunsets over the years. Recently, a window opened to my first sunrise music meditation. The energy was of course, very different. While I could see the sunset, the sun rose behind me from a view where I couldn’t see it. I could just feel and see the light permeate the spread through the darkness. Playing music at different times of day akin to the energy is certainly nothing new, but a sunrise session was new to me.
Going through one door opens another one. After the sunrise I saw the next door: 4 am, the hour of God. I learned of this powerful time initially from John Coltrane’s album Transition. The final movement of his Prayer and Meditation suite: 4 am. 4 am is also known as the hour of god. Brahma Muhurta in the Hindu religion. Common belief is that during this time the veil between this world and the next is at its lowest point. The time just before the sun returns is often when we’re in our deepest sleep in commune with the soul. Being awake and seeking eye contact with God through music during this time is extremely powerful.
I have often believed that musicians pursue the music of John Coltrane to a point, but many stop short of his personal study of the cosmos from multiple perspectives, and don’t consider the source of his music. Some musicians even emulate him without a connection to the source. I believe that the level of spiritual expression that both he and Albert Ayler expressed is possible without having to leave the world as early as they did. Throughout my life I have been drawn to the world beyond this one. Practicing a music meditation at 4 am down by the river last night was the closest I have ever come to the world I have often envisioned. There were no people. It was just me, the river, and one of my sounds. Before I began I felt my chest burn as if a dormant bright light had been turned on. I immediately thought of what Charles Gayle, my biggest influence on bass clarinet, told me. When Charles played the bass clarinet he told me his chest would burn. I call this Spiritual fire.
During the meditation I realized that Trane and Ornette could only be a reference point. This was my conversation with god. What I heard was the core of my music. The core of my sound. It was like what Trane told Nat Hentoff in the liner notes to his album Meditations.
“There is never any end. There are always new sounds to imagine, new feelings to get at. And always, there is the need to purify these feelings and sounds so that we can really see what we’ve discovered in its pure state. So that we can see more clearly who 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 cleaning the mirror.”
At each stage, is telling.
Then Hentoff added:
“That is what Meditations is all about-cleaning the mirror into the self, going as far through the looking-glass as is possible each time. Making music as naked as the self can be brought to be.”
I have cleaned the mirror many times.
At 4 am this morning, for the first time,
I saw myself looking back.
Coming up next: Ornette’s Astrology chart!