Wednesday, February 23, 2005
Joseph Jarman: Lifetime Visions for the Magnificent Humans.
Shaku Joseph Jarman brings a decidedly meditative sound for celebrating Black History Month at HurdAudio this evening. Lifetime Visions for the Magnificent Humans is a millenial gift from the year 2000.
Joseph Jarman is a fascinating figure for me. He was active in the early days of the Chicago AACM and the Art Ensemble of Chicago. He is now a Buddhist monk in New York City (where I understand he has quite a following). His sound is unique and clearly draws upon some deep spiritual impulses that sound credible and sincere. His collaborations with Myra Melford have yielded some great sonic results (particularly Equal Interest in addition to Lifetime Visions).
The first two tracks feature a trio with Myra Melford and Rob Garcia. The first track, "Eyes of the Charm Giver" features Jarman on flute and voice, Melford on harmonium and Garcia playing percussion. "Eyes of the Charm Giver" is a prayer told over the drone of the harmonium. Jarman's voice takes a little getting used to but his flute is immediately appealing. Time seems to slow down as Jarman gently intones. "New Prayer for Jimbo III" nicely balances off the trio portion of this disc with an instrumental number featuring great performances of Jarman on soprano sax, Melford on piano and Garcia at the kit. A live audience can be heard drinking in this spirited music.
The remaining tracks then add Allen Silva on Bass and Jessica Jones on Tenor Sax/Flute to form a quintet. This is collaborative, joy-filled group improvisation with Myra Melford's piano work forming the adhesive that holds the sound together underneath the rubric of Jarman's compositions. Jarman's melodies move deliberately through a storm of accompanying activity in a manner consistent with his spiritual sensibilities. The two-flute opening for "Reflections on the Predestined One" makes for a particularly attractive sonic texture.
"Lifetime Visions for the Magnificent Humans" closes out this listening experience as a brief closing prayer/encore of joy and optimism. "Find the Buddha way and let your sorrows go" Jarman sings to a catchy melodic line. This music exists at a cross-section of the transcendent expressions of John Coltrane and Sun Ra. It strikes my ears as other-worldly yet convincing.