1. Just as light art succeeds avant-garde
painting in the evolution of art towards absolute holography, so jazz, and in
particular jazz classical, succeeds classical in the evolution of music towards
absolute jazz, a pure pitch climax. This
is especially true of the mainstream bourgeois/proletarian civilization of late
2. Rock musicians can extend their musical commitment either down towards the classical or up towards modern jazz. In the one case they are drawing on classical precedent and transforming a chosen piece of acoustic music into a type of pseudo-rock, electric and, as a rule, highly rhythmic. They are, in a sense, upgrading the classical, and such a procedure is by no means untypical of European rock musicians. Indeed, it is probably the most representative trend in instrumental rock, since the extension of rock towards modern jazz, as in the other case, presupposes identification, in one degree of another, with an alien tradition, namely the American, and requires, moreover, a degree of improvisational facility which most European and, in particular, British rock musicians tend to lack. Nevertheless, hybridization of this nature does in fact occur, and the result, though falling short of modern jazz, is usually preferable to both rock and pseudo-rock. We can call this hybrid music 'jazz-rock' or, alternatively, 'progressive music' - the European equivalent of modern jazz.
3. When American jazzmen extend their musical commitment in any direction, it is usually down towards rock - the converse of the European extension of rock up towards jazz - and the result, while being musically inferior to modern jazz, is generally superior to rock, being, in effect, a kind of vocal jazz. One could claim that they have relapsed from the spiritualistic to the materialistic or, rather, pseudo-spiritualistic, that is to say from a free-electron equivalent to a pseudo-electron equivalent. The resultant music we can call 'rock-jazz' or, alternatively, 'fusion'. Sometimes the extension of commitment is even further down than rock, embracing classical music of one kind of another, but the resultant music is still fusion, if on 'pseudo' terms, like rock-classical in Britain. However, not all fusion music is culturally hybrid; for it can just as easily transpire that the renegade jazzman decides to adapt a piece of American classical music, which, in any case, is usually jazzy and thus a national step down from modern jazz. Such an adaptation can make for a superior type of fusion music to that availing of rock techniques. Yet it is not as culturally national as the kind of fusion music suggesting a compromise between modern jazz and trad jazz, seemingly alternating between the one and the other. Likewise, the fusion musician may decide to go even further down the path of American music, way past the trad to the painful birth of jazz in the blues, and thus incorporate blues techniques or structures into his music - a procedure appealing more, on the whole, to black jazzmen than to their white counterparts, who, at the risk of oversimplification, will incline to the adaptation or incorporation of classical precedent.
4. Fusion music, like progressive music, is not, as a rule, a fusion of the serious with the popular, the instrumental with the vocal, but a fusion of different types of serious music, whether contemporary or traditional. American jazzmen do not, as a rule, deign to fuse jazz with soul, that American equivalent of pop, any more than their European counterparts deign to fuse rock with pop. Generally, soul and pop are left to their proletarian practitioners, since the fusion of civilized with barbarous music is both illogical and incongruous, not liable to make for an aesthetically satisfying result! Folk music is one thing, fine music quite another, and rarely do the two fields cross-fertilize, even though attempts have been made, in recent years, to cross-fertilize them, with, by and large, unconvincing results. If the chief criteria of the most civilized late-twentieth-century music are instrumental sophistication and facility combined with an almost Buddhist religious commitment which may or may not seek vocal expression, then it follows that jazzmen will be careful, as a rule, to ensure that their excursions into fusion music do not resemble excursions into popular music, with particular reference, in the American context, to soul. They will ensure that at least one track on their fusion album is instrumental or, failing which, that certain of the songs will have fairly lengthy instrumental solos and be of a religious rather than simply romantic significance. An album conceived solely as songs of a romantic nature would be unlikely to pass muster as fusion music!
5. Hitherto I have not spoken of British and
European jazzmen, nor of American rock musicians, but the reader will have
gleaned that I regard them as exceptions to the rule and, therefore, as
generally unrepresentative of their respective traditions. In my estimation, European jazzmen are
exponents of an American music, even if they play it in a European, i.e.
classical, fashion. Similarly, American
rock musicians I regard as exponents of a European music, though their handling
of it is more likely to veer in the direction of jazz than classical, sounding
somewhat akin to progressive music; just as the European jazzmen tend,
willy-nilly, towards a kind of fusion music, with or without vocals. Probably there are many more American rock
musicians than European jazzmen, but this fact wouldn't render their music any
the less unrepresentative of primary American trends. Even if their music is serious, it is of an
inferior order of seriousness than the mainstream bourgeois/proletarian
achievements of modern jazz, a sort of quasi-European seriousness co-existing,
on a lower plane, with
6. At its best, improvisation is all on the one level, concerned with pitch and therefore disposed to fast-note 'runs', each note being of approximately equal duration and, thus, equal value. Such improvisation is highly democratic, if by democratic we mean equalitarian. The introduction of varied duration would entail melody, and melody entails rhythm. A music that is truly free, functioning as a free-electron equivalent, cannot invoke melody or rhythm. It needs to keep the pitch as pure as possible, undiluted by rhythm. Such a procedure is usually upheld with the best improvisation and, as already noted, improvisation is the essence of jazz, the 'modern' no less than the 'trad'. However, behind and beneath this improvisation one finds the rhythmic accompaniment of drums and/or bass, but this accompaniment is itself often improvisational in nature, functioning on the level of a pseudo-electron equivalent given to the creation of intricate patterns of volatile rhythm which assume a quasi-pitch status deferential to, rather than dominant over, the lead soloist(s). Such is the norm with modern jazz, and it conforms to the relatively post-atomic integrity of contemporary American civilization. Since the essence of this jazz is improvisation, it follows that the music is essentially a free-electron equivalent. But, of course, it cannot be absolutely so, since involving the relative use of a quasi-electron equivalent, namely rhythmic pitch, and this relativity is consonant with the socio-political integrity of mainstream bourgeois/ proletarian civilization.
7. A music that could be defined as equivalent to an absolutely free-electron status, involving pure pitch and nothing else - neither rhythm, melody, nor harmony - could only pertain to an absolutely post-atomic civilization, a civilization rooted in Social Transcendentalism. Such music would be conceived/performed on a synthesizer - in other words an instrument which is both highly artificial and electronic, as well as being a kind of composite of earlier instruments which yet transcends them all in its own unique technological integrity. Thus a kind of omega instrument, akin to the dovetailing of traditional visual arts/entertainments into a medium, viz. television, which yet transcends them or, alternatively, to the dovetailing of all so-called world religions into a True World Religion which is yet distinct from them and uniquely itself. Just so, the synthesizer, although capable of sounding like a guitar, an organ, a piano, flute, trumpet, sax, or whatever, is also distinct from these traditional instruments and able, in consequence, to produce a truly unique sound. Such an instrument would be suitable for the production of pure jazz, the successor, we may believe, to modern jazz. Notes would be played or programmed to play equally, as so many free-electron equivalents floating on air and floating, needless to say, without any rhythmical accompaniment.
8. This absolutely free-electron music will be the only music of the next and ultimate civilization, since both folk music and traditional civilized music would be irrelevant to an absolutely post-atomic age dedicated to the social wellbeing and moral progress of a truly civilized proletariat. There could only be one type of music in this transcendental civilization, which would be of a quintessentially religious significance. Earlier types of music, whether barbarous or civilized, would be discouraged and thereafter consigned to the rubbish heap of history. The People would soon forget that such music had ever existed, assuming they were in a position to remember! Their ears would be solely attuned to pure jazz; though it is questionable whether they would spend as much time listening to this music as people of earlier times spent listening to their kinds of music, and for the simple reason that the emphasis in a transcendental civilization would be on still higher things, including meditation. Pure jazz would serve as an appetizer, so to speak, for the 'main course' ... of contemplation and meditation, rather than as an art form to be listened to for its own sake. Once again music, together with each of the other fine arts, would become inseparable from religion, functioning as an ingredient in the religio-cultural integrity of the True World Religion, as practised in meditation centres - those future successors to churches, mosques, temples, synagogues, etc.
9. In the present century, however, music is as often as not secular as well as religious, though the development of a religious dimension to the best modern jazz indicates, plainly enough, that music is on the way back to a religious allegiance - one neither pagan nor Christian but transcendentalist. Of course, modern jazz is not concerned with Transcendentalism in any absolute sense - since nothing is known of such a True World Religion in contemporary America - but with its petty-bourgeois precursor in what may be termed Buddhist Transcendentalism, as taught by Eastern gurus, whose dedication to transcendental meditation is unconnected with a knowledge of technological requirements to-come (before the attainment of transcendence becomes possible), and who, in any case, tend to a rather complacent acquiescence in certain traditional oriental beliefs and practices more attuned to the occult than to the supernatural. No, while the best modern jazz has associations with relative transcendentalism, the pure jazz of the future will be exclusively associated with an absolute transcendentalism which, to the extent that it upholds the practice of meditation, will stem from the former while surpassing it in terms of a freedom from occult theology and simultaneous awareness of evolutionary transformations to-come. What rhythmic pitch is to modern jazz, theological occultism was to its religious inspiration in neo-Buddhism. Neither ingredient could be encouraged in an absolute civilization!
10. Having spoken of American jazzmen on the foregoing pages, I should add that, after one or two countries have taken the lead in developing pure jazz, such absolutely free-electron music should become the prerogative of all peoples. Thus one won't be entitled to define pure jazz as basically an American music, but will regard it as a universal music, played and respected the world over, even if, for a time, it has the appearance of being unique to one country. Such, in reality, it cannot be; for this music, together with everything else pertaining to an absolute civilization, is intended for global appreciation, being, in essence, something that transcends race and nationality - like, to a certain extent, modern jazz. If it begins in one country it will end everywhere, the first truly universal music, transcending all previous cultures and, as already remarked, instruments and instrumental combinations. Not on an electric piano, organ, or guitar, those quintessentially higher bourgeois/proletarian instruments, still less on a sax, flute, or trumpet, the class precursors of the above, but on a synthesizer or combination of synthesizers ... is the most likely way in which the ultimate music will be performed or, more probably, programmed in advance for autonomous performance, since manual manipulation of the keyboard would doubtless prove incompatible with absolute proletarian criteria.