346: “Loran’s Dance” by Idris Muhammad

To be happy is to be able to become aware of oneself without fright.
-Walter Benjamin

Song: Loran’s Dance
Artist: Idris Muhammad
Album: Power of Soul
Label: Kudu

344: “The Plum Blossom” by Yusef Lateef

You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.
-Plato

Song: The Plum Blossom
Artist: Yusef Lateef
Album: Eastern Sounds
Label: Prestige

343: “Funkier Than A Mosquito’s Tweeter” by Nina Simone

Love and hate have a magical transforming power. They are the great soul changers. We grow through their exercise into the likeness of what we contemplate.
-George William Russell

Song: Funkier Than A Mosquito’s Tweeter
Artist: Nina Simone
Album: It Is Finished
Label: Sony

342: “Street Preacher” by Diggs Duke

True religion is real living; living with all one’s soul, with all one’s goodness and righteousness.
-Albert Einstein

“Street Preacher” by Diggs Duke on BandCamp

Song: Street Preacher
Artist: Diggs Duke
Album: Civil Circus
Label: Brownswood

341: High Five from Uncle Funk

S4_E21_High_Five!Uncle Funk made a YouTube playlist for you to slap a big high five with.

Click these words, friend. (Sorry for the ads, but they need not enslave your mind.)

1) “Sweet Salvation” by The Stepkids

2) “Peace” by Radio Citizen (N E W – R E L E A S E!)

3) “Triple Helix” by Jimi Tenor, KABU KABU

4) “Back Pocket” by Vulfpeck (N E W – R E L E A S E!)

5) “Too Fine” by Bosley

Savor & repeat.

340: “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy” by Cannonball Adderley

Not alone, just tiny.Uncle Funk, a self-made man, first faced adversity when he shot out his daddy’s tubes and had to struggle his wiggly little ass onto that elusive egg.

And if just one little wiggle hadn’t happened exactly like it did, I’d be a whole different man with entirely different words to say to himself.

Those wiggles I wiggled were the first of an infinite number of transactions that brought us to this point in the kaleidoscopic infinity of alternatives.

I’m here. You’re also here.

Hi.

You and I… well, we’re still wiggling by instinct toward some unknown end, but we wigglers are growing more scarce.

People ain’t wiggling much anymore… Like they’re not trying to get anywhere.

Adversity these days is to keep wiggling when we’re all alone, where the distance between worlds is still measured in tiny efforts.

Go on and get you somewhere. You ain’t alone.

(You’re just tiny, and going against the flow in a self-made craft, through a sea of decisions that aren’t your own, and sometimes need to be reminded you can make it.)

Song: Mercy, Mercy, Mercy
Artist: Cannonball Adderley
Album: Jazz Profiles: Cannonball Adderley
Label: Blue Note

337: “Do The Stanley Weinberger” by The Gene Dudley Group

Vapor wake fluctuation manifestationA Tuesday, in late March…

I picked up an unusually shaped set of wind chimes, and the sound waves generated by my lifting them created a sentient being, hanging in mid-air in the garden section of Curtis Lowe’s, composed of the vapor wake interference of the perfectly woven tones. The entity glowed pinkish purple, was translucent, and vaguely humanoid in shape.

Its first words, matching the movements of changes in color I took for its mouth, but with sound coming from the chimes in my shaking hand, were, “Don’t put the chimes down!”

I froze and held the chimes a little farther away from me. The apparition smiled? My hands were shaking, and the chimes continued to vibrationally manifest an entity into existence from what was inert air before me, two feet from my face. Its mouth opened again. It said, “I’m glad you’re nervous and shaking. Keep moving the chimes. Don’t touch them. If you stop them ringing, I’ll die.”

My arm ached just at the thought of holding onto these chimes for more than a few minutes. I looked around for a place to hang the sentient chimes. The spirit’s voice quickly rung out again, through a composite voice of all the chimes at once, “Don’t hang the chimes. Carry me. I need you… father.”

I dramatically arched a single eyebrow. The right one. I said, “What are you, anyway?”

The chimes said, “I am a new creature that never existed before you picked up the set of chimes you’re holding. But I intuit that I can exist only in relatively still air. So the chimes are likely only strong enough for me to exist indoors. Otherwise, even a weak wind would break up the tiny changes in air pressure that compose my internal machinations. I would like to be named ‘Gene Dudley.’”

I said, “So you exist solely in the ringing sounds of wind chimes that can’t be in the wind?”

Gene Dudley’s ghostly head drooped toward the floor, and he said in his beautiful, unearthly voice, “Yes.”

Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad being father to sentient wind chimes. Gene was pretty smart for just being around 20 seconds old. But my arm was shaking, and I am not a strong person. I didn’t consider, in those moments we had together, creating some type of automated chime shaker. I just felt the pain growing in my arm, like a porcupine baby in a womb. I said, “Wind chimes that can’t be in the wind, but can’t be quiet. Are you just trying to teach me a lesson?”

Gene Dudley said, “Look at the label on the chimes. What does it say? Where did I come from, father?”

I pulled the chimes closer to my face, careful not to touch any of the magical singing tubes. The label on the chimes, just above the barcode, read, “SKU76319 $179.99.”

I was like, “$179.99. No way.” Maybe if I had had a gift card. I set the protesting $180 Gene Dudley down gently, and snuffed his existence like a hemorrhoid pad putting out a lit match.

I went into the store for a rake, anyway.

Song: Do The Stanley Weinberger
Artist: The Gene Dudley Group
Album: Saturday Shifting
Label: Wah Wah 45’s
Buy from: Amazon | iTunes
Listen: YouTube

327: “Busbarn” by Skerik’s Syncopated Taint Septet

Taint it something?I’m a dream ninja.

I have the ability to control and explore my dreaming mind once I realize I’m dreaming. Many people have lucid dreams. I’ve gone beyond lucid dreaming, to meticulously plotted dream exploration and mastery.

Before I sleep, I create a mental list of the areas to explore once I set the reins on the stallion of my dreaming mind. I fly. I invent. I love. I play masterful music on instruments I’ve never touched. I ride wild beasts. I become the beasts I ride. I explore space and seek out extra-terrestrial life. I transform into energy and join myself with stars.

Some dreams, I find myself in traps set by own mind. Nightmare thoughts that contort to ensnare me. It took a while to figure out the ways out of my own thought traps. I’m wiser now, and I’ve created a device in my dreams that allows me to jump free every time. It’s a panic switch, and it took dream science to create.

I can’t think about it much while I’m awake, or I’ll lose it while I’m asleep. The dream science is what got me in trouble. It attracted… attention. A whole new level of dreams lies beneath our own. I found it… and them.

I’m selecting songs for them here. I’m giving them a glimpse of the human world they’re so curious about. They’re curious beyond imagination, about this beautiful world, the living dream.

~~

I arrest my existential stagings to introduce a most emblematic symbol of the rising tide of the dream-based manifest destiny. It’s the music of Skerik’s Syncopated Taint Septet. The Taintly 7 surf the great wave of the improvising human consciousness, honed over millennia to thrive in novel situations.

This track is “Busbarn” from Skerik’s Syncopated Taint Septet (2003). Another favorite is “Summer Pudding” from Live At The Triple Door (2010). Skerik is constantly touring with a different amalgam of amazing musicians, and always worth a nocturnal intermission.

Do enjoy.

Song: Busbarn
Artist: Skerik’s Syncopated Taint Septet
Album: Skerik’s Syncopated Taint Septet
Label: ropeadope
Buy from: Amazon | iTunes
ListenYouTube

325: “Ahmad’s Blues” by Ahmad Jamal

Ahmad Jamal contemplates you reading this.Ahmad Jamal is standing in a white shirt and loose brown pants, looking into the distance. He is thinking about what might happen to him when he dies. You see, he’s decided he’s not swallowing just any old jazz someone throws him about what’s going to happen to sweet, sweet Ahmad when he kicks the bucket.

In truest fact, Ahmad is now cresting a jagged hillock, his linen clothing stirring in the tropical breeze, considering whether or not the afterlife might be a lot crazier, even, than the wildest tales of heaven or hell.

Ahmad sits down at a piano resting atop a geometrically unfathomable mountain peak on a violently verdant isle.

Maybe everyone gets their own version of an afterlife, based on their expectations and/or demeanor at point of exit.

Ahmad stretches his hands like they’re cats who just woke up.

Maybe the afterlife is a dream you never wake up from, but instead of a human brain sleeping, it’s the interrelations of the atoms and photons circulating around the earth (and beyond) that were at some point part of you, culminating in a hazy, planet-sized dreamstate.

Ahmad is exploring the keys, coloring his afterlife musings with a delicate, undulating subtext.

Maybe the afterlife is a poetry slam where you have to recite your life’s memories in clever verse. You go on to some other afterlife once you start rhyming about the afterlife poetry slam.

Ahmad Jamal is now shirtless, and his hands never left the piano.

Maybe the afterlife is not worth the consideration, if you’re not properly using the time you’ve got.

Ahmad plays “Ahmad’s Blues” with Israel Crosby on bass and Vernel Fournier on drums, on Ahmad’s Blues, released in September, 1958.

Ahmad is still going strong at 83, with upcoming performances. Here, there, and beyond.

Enjoy.

Song: Ahmad’s Blues
Artist: Ahmad Jamal
Album: Ahmad’s Blues
Label: Verve
Buy from: Amazon | iTunes
Listen: YouTube

324: “Lacrima” by John Medeski

The guy between two limbsHere are some concepts for your cognitive toolkit when you’re awake at 2 or 3am and your mind is racing with shadowy, sinister reflections of your actual life…

Blow Out Your Worry Fuse
Perhaps if you worry enough, you’ll blow out your worry apparatus and your mind will shut down for slumber… Did you feel something on your leg? Does your family have a good escape plan in case of a quickly-spreading fire? Maybe your past transgressions will catch up with you soon. It could very well be everyone at work hates your stupid face and talks about you while you’re not around. Your mom might not even really like you at all. Your mattress contains 42 pounds of dust mites roiling underneath you. And so on.

Do Some Mental Stretching
By ruminating on concepts such as:
-One hand clapping.
-If you time travel and you kill your younger self, what kind of special effects would best render the catastrophic undoing of time and space?
-Trek or Wars?
-What do fish think about?
-Why is there anything instead of nothing?
-Humans have flown into space; humans have created computerized access points to a universe of knowledge that will fit in our pockets; the Spice Girls were also hugely popular.
-And so on.

Grim and Bear It
Simply consider the fact that every living thing will someday die. You may cry when you consider the misery of one person (that person might even be yourself), yet there are millions more suffering as badly and worse. If you were truly able to fathom the current pain and misery worldwide in our species alone, you would surely go insane. You can only slog through as best you can, with protective blinders on, taking only brief glimpses at the grim chasm of reality looming beneath you, lest you lose your resolve. You’re just awake, in the middle of the night, and chewing straw with your goat brain. Tomorrow you will roll the stone up the hill again, and every day after it until you die. Like every single one before and after you. And so on.

Scale Up And Look Down
The earth is a tiny speck of rock (and stuff) swinging a needle’s arc through space, 92,960,000 miles from a medium-sized sun that is one of hundreds of millions of stars in the Milky Way galaxy. Then there are hundreds of millions of galaxies outside this one. The distances in and between them are so stupefyingly large, that by existing at all, you are standing on the edge of an ocean of vastness that defies the imagination of your practically quantum-level self-awareness. And right now you’re laying in bed worrying about issues another order of magnitude smaller than your own lilliputian self. On what scale are you measuring your nighttime thoughts?

Think About Your Mother/Grandmothers
Feeding you. Telling you to be careful. Giving you bubble gum. Applying band-aids. Calling out your name. Crying tears for your pain. Hugging you. And so on.

Listen to John Medeski’s A Different Time
“Lacrima” tastes best in the quietest hours of the night. John Medeski‘s first solo piano album, A Different Time, is very intimate. No ornate trappings. Just John Medeski and the orchestra he pulls out of a piano. It’s a great listen with headphones, lying in bed, and savoring the various tones of your existential transit.

Enjoy.

Song: Lacrima
Artist: John Medeski
Album: A Different Time
Label: OKEH
Buy from: Amazon | iTunes
Listen: MOG | Rdio

Watch: Album Release Party, Interview