About John Coltrane Essay Research Paper James — страница 3

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fellow travelers unfolded before the black poet a new kingdom, a world which has little in common with the systematized reality around him, and in which he leaves behind all concrete feelings in order to discover within himself an ineffable longing. The "new wave" jazz–having extended and mastered the contribution of bebop–opened the floodgates of passion, anger, pain, and love, and aroused that fury for liberty which is the essence of the new black art. It joined itself to earlier, major epochs of black music by reaffirming the creative union between the improvising soloist and the total musical collective. But it also forged a new role for music in the hierarchy of black expressions–that of guide rather than mere analogue to other communicative modes. The root

of the black writers’ elevation of music to a position of supremacy among the arts lies in the music’s aversion for fixed thoughts and forms. By the very fact of its "otherworldliness," of its independence of values derived from empirical and alien experiences, it enters the Afro-American’s consciousness on its own, necessarily general, terms. And because of their independence from familiar, "Western" idioms, these terms represent for the new artists the ethos of black nature with an absoluteness and an intensity denied to other creative media. The thought of giving to words and prosody values equivalent to music is an ancient one, in African and Afro-American as well as Western culture. But with modern black literature, it assumes the force of a

specific idea: the notion that black language leads toward music, that it passes into music when it attains the maximal pitch of its being. This belief contains the powerful suggestion that music is the ultimate lexicon, that language, when truly apprehended, aspires to the condition of music and is brought, by the poet’s articulation of black vocality, to the threshold of that condition. Thus, in the verse of Baraka, Larry Neal, Alice Walker, Etheridge Knight, Michael Harper, and countless others, the poem, by a gradual transcendence of its own forms, strives to escape from the linear, logically determined bonds of denotative speech into what the poet imagines as the spontaneities and freedoms of musical form. Black poetry now unabashedly seeks the unfettered lyricism of

"actual music" (Haki Madhubuti) for it is in music that the poet hopes to achieve both the individual creation–the call bearing the shape of his own spirit–and communal solidarity–the response of infinite renewal. From Henry Dumas’s Probe ("Will the Circle Be Unbroken?") to Ishmael Reed’s Loop Garoo Kid (Yellow Back Radio Broke-Down), the artist in modern black fiction is, archetypically, a musician (especially a horn player); for it is only in music that aesthetic conventions can touch upon both the pure energy and improvisational wit necessary for survival in the black diaspora. This faith in the dominion of music leads the black poet to experiment in the use of words for their musical effect, inducing a mood proper to the experience, not of the

static text, but of the jam session performance. The fullest statements of this hope, of this merging of the word with the musical ideal, can be found in the myriad poems directly inspired by Coltrane. The "Coltrane poem" has, in fact, become an unmistakable genre of black poetry and it is in such works–by Ebon, Madhubuti, Sonia Sanchez, Carolyn Rodgers, A. B. Spellman, and Harper, to list but a few–that the notion of music as the quintessential idiom, and of the word as its prelude and annunciator, is carried to an apex of technical and philosophic implication. Harper’s "Dear John, Dear Coltrane," for example, in the brooding intensity of its incantatory lyricism, turns upon a metaphor of cosmic, and searing, musicality. It images the black man’s

spirit, Trane’s essence, as a resolve to play the elemental notes despite the Orphic rending: there is no substitute for pain: genitals gone or going … You pick up the horn with some will and blow into the freezing night: a love supreme, a love supreme. All the poets, like Harper, felt in Trane’s music the self-commitment to an exalted state, the "will" to pass beyond apparent limits of material (including political) existence or of mere method. Listening to Trane, they sensed that formal entities no longer derived from the dicta of an inherited tradition but from the spiritual unity of the artist’s vision. Since this vision was inimical to existing structures, the traditional artistic forms would be incapable of containing them, and new forms, expressing the