Critical Dharma for Thinking Minds
This is the Bob Thiele Emergency with “Lament for John Coltrane”, from Liberation Music: Spiritual Jazz and the Art of Protest on Flying Dutchman Records 1969-1974, a collection of works from artists of the same period as Soul Jazz. The album features recordings such as “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised by Gil Scott Heron” and “Sais (Egypt)” by my favorite, Lonnie Liston Smith and the Cosmic Echoes.
As the Soul Yogi, I am going to cover the spiritual side of jazz music that developed during this period and later, from John Coltrane to John McLaughlin.
Liberation = Politics + Spirituality.
Liberation isn’t just ‘politics’; in particular, it’s not just identity politics, such as gender, race, ethnicity or religion. Liberation isn’t just personal or psychic liberation. Liberation is a spiritual liberation that not only frees the individual, but by doing so, frees humanity as a whole. When politics is divorced from spirituality, it is ‘just politics’: divisive and self-serving, or serving factional interests and materialist purposes. It becomes a battle for control, a power grab. On the other hand, when politics is wedded to fundamentalist religion, but not spirituality, it becomes violent, oppressive, fascist.
Spirituality or religion that fails to engage with social liberation becomes escapism and self-righteousness, esoterica, a spiritual bubble.
Spirituality must not only liberate the individual, it must heal and coalesce the collective. It must correct inequalities and mediate dualities. It must confront but also heal divisions, which is spirituality in its political form (or politics in its spiritual form) providing a foundation for a healthy society.
What I’m moving towards now is the end of ‘just politics’ and the beginning of Liberation, which is spiritual liberation. I think it’s interesting that I’m discovering this in the context of music, in particular, soul jazz and spiritual jazz music, cosmic funk. Music is becoming the ‘practice’ by which I discover new spiritual truths and work out liberation.