Thursday, December 31, 2009

Ornette Coleman and the Cure

Mr. Coleman, vertiginous saxophonist and innovator extraordinaire, is interviewed in the recent Esquire magazine, entitled "The Meaning of Life" (which is more about the opinions of celebrities--not quite the same thing). Ornette, like Sun Ra (but more terrestrial) can come up with some strange lines (just as he does on alto), but he can also utter the apt aphorism: "I don't play to please. I play to cure." Is he being grandiose or sagacious (or both)?

It's a hip chop, really. This sentiment can be applied to life more generally. People pleasers are neither innovators nor experimentalists; they do not improvise. Rather, they challenge--challenge themselves primarily, and in so doing, they challenge others. The cure may not scratch the itching ear. Yet it may reconfigure the ear, the mind, the heart.

We need the cure, the cure for boredom, for selfishness, for restlessness, for one-dimensionality, for spiritual tone deafness and unmusicality. We should cry: Please cure me. Please help me cure you. Psalm 88.

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