So let’s see, what’s all that jazz about the Jazz Meditation.
During the course of the post-war United States, respectively the Beat Generation and counter-culture were getting very into eastern philosophy and doctrines that this cultural influence was everywhere in the art world. The vast majority of this interest was on Buddhism, for that’s doctrines emphasize meditation to get more connected with your inner world and presence.
Jazz meditation is an activity that consists of guided meditation practice with improvisational instrumental jazz; along with mindfulness techniques like breathing exercises, visualization, and body movements. Inherently, both jazz and meditation have many things in common; such as both of them needs their participants to be present at the very specific moment and reflect on it. This is the philosophy of improvisational jazz, it is the exposition of the split second through music. Similarly, meditation has a similar philosophy that encourages you to concentrate and understand the point that you are in your life.
There were many late 20th century Jazz musicians that were influenced by this phenomena, from Sonny Rollins to Herbie Hancock; but probably the artist that embraced the idea most was John Coltrane with his “A Love Supreme”. Years later, Alice Coltrane commented on the re-creational process that JC went through:
“When [John Coltrane] created A Love Supreme. He had meditated that week. I almost didn’t see him downstairs. And it was so quiet! There was no sound, no practice! He was up there meditating, and when he came down he said, “I have a whole new music!” He said, “There is a new recording that I will do, I have it all, everything.” And it was so beautiful! He was like Moses coming down from the mountain. And when he recorded it, he knew everything, everything. He said this was the first time that he had all the music in his head at once to record.”
Decades later it is still an active and useful field in jazz music and music therapy which helped many people to achieve a greater and different understanding of well-being culture, jazz music and therapy.