Who writes the idea of your soul? We all have to be who we are in this world, no matter what, but who decides where and when you are born, and with what purpose? I have always felt out of time and out of place, and left with no choice but to trust the process of life itself.
So many things just make no natural sense, don’t make any sense on a level that deep down you just know are wrong. There are things that human beings have done and are doing that cannot be right. Life so often feels like a never ending test of what Spike Lee called do the right thing. We have failed in such extremes that one wonders how the school continues to exist. Over and over we must make the choice that somehow from deep down inside, we know is the right thing. What happens when you choose the path that you know is wrong?
In jazz we’re thought to have to tell a story. But who’s writing it? I like to think we have a hand in writing it, and that our experience as souls, and the choices that we’ve made, lead us to the lessons we need to move forward. This is the issue I have with astrology. Was I born as an Aries because that’s the energy of my soul before I arrived, or am I an Aries now because that’s what I’ll need to achieve the goals of this lifetime? Was my being born as an Aries a choice, an assignment, or who I am no matter what lifetime I’m living? How can we all be simply broken down into 12 Houses? What power lies beyond that process? My soul is old enough that I’m no longer content to accept that there are things that are impossible to comprehend. At the same time, humility and gratitude before that power is called for from almost every religion on Earth as a matter of spiritual survival and process.
Five years ago I met someone who convinced me to go back to school. My initial intent was simple: find a way to survive that is better than retail and whatever other off the rails hustle I pursued with the goal of having a place to sleep and food to eat. Along the way I had to throw myself under a musical microscope to find out exactly who I was. I have spent the last three years going through jazz history with a fine tooth comb. There’s a good reason for this. What does someone do who’s mentors are from the swing era and and also from the so labeled new thing in jazz? During the three years I spent as much time in the shed as I did working on the music from an academic perspective. All of this culminated in the writing of my thesis where I went to the center of Ornette’s relationship with the world and how it worked. My thesis may end up being my Skies of America as a writer. I certainly learned that true academic writing, proving your case with facts, is extremely different from writing music or words from your soul. I have new respect for book authors who have the tenacity and patience to give ten years of their life to a book. I hope people can recognize that when you hold a book in your hand you are holding what may have been years of effort in somebody’s life. It’s just not the same with putting out records today.
I can answer at least one of my questions. The reason I do everything I do, everything, is to play music. I’m here to play first and foremost. I can’t control the relationship of my music to the world, I just know I have to keep making it. I have at least five records inside me right now. I hope I get to make them all. Where does my music come from and why do I have to create it?
I spoke to a master astrologer, the late Jeffrey Wolf Greene, about my astrology chart almost twenty years ago. He insisted that I understand that I am the source of my music, that it doesn’t come from beyond. I’m the source of it. I’m the sun of my own music. He said that with my sun in the third house, that communication with the world is my prime directive. To this end, he said I would have to take my music all around the world to deliver my message in person. Still waiting on that. Ornette told me that I was his astrologer. Maybe I was!
I know that in the 12 Houses I’ve created a sacred space where music practitioners can collaborate together in playing music that openly deals with the deeper realities and mysteries of life, even if we don’t understand it or yet have access to the knowledge. That’s why brothers Juan Quinonez and Aaron Martin Jr both played with us recently. Their music openly engages the deeper meaning and mysteries of life itself. Asking the biggest questions is what my music is all about. I believe that if we keep playing and keep asking these questions, that if we keep doing the right thing, and that if we don’t give up when the whole world goes off the rails, that one day we can truly be