Music Is the Source of Love, Transformation, and Meaning – Joshua Maxey


It’s interesting folks get upset about saying a particular jazz musician is not great, or another cliched frustration like “those people”that think jazz is background music/don’t give it enough respect. Is it really that difficult for us to grasp that it’s not a very popular form of music? In rock etc. it’s fine to say “greats” suck. Dylan is awful. 99.9% unlistenable. At best, others covering his music make it work.

The Beatles couldn’t possibly groove. Ever. Not even that one song on the White album. Plenty of people say SRV is bad. Or I’ve certainly heard Clapton used in describing what it is to take something and make it more boring.

The point being, that’s all been said before and it doesn’t matter. That music is what it is. Nothing to defend. So can’t we just be adults about the jazz as a whole? A large % [of the music] is bad and the overwhelming majority does not appreciate it the way the musicians who love, play, and study the music do. So, where does that leave us? Truthfully, I don’t care where it leaves “us”. What does that mean to me?

What I heard in jazz initially, I don’t hear a lot of today. I concede that I resonate with a fairly specific aspect of music in general & the genre’s lineage in particular. I think it’s important to play music with intent to participate in the transformative nature of sound & expression. I find sound and music are a conduit for meaning, love and purpose.

I heard Coltrane as a kid and it made everything else in music before that [which] was meaningful fall into place. It all made sense. There’s a spectrum to this creative flow. I am drawn to improvisation & find it to be the closest expression to the source itself. I am particularly interested in the area that the notes on the guitar meet with this presence of meaning and love. That’s the zone I work toward and the reason I write every song. Each one is an attempt at finding another entry point.

For me, music is the experience of states of consciousness manifested in sound. I am happy to hear that in Coltrane, Blues, Zeppelin, Nathen Page, Rodney Jones, Benson, Grant, Jimi, Wes, McCoy, the Dead, Phish and many others. I don’t hear a disconnect anymore in my favorites. All of what I listen to falls along this spectrum of accessing conscious or describing the peaks & valleys of a soul’s journey and reach. I know I’m not solving any of the jazz genre’s problems. If it even has any.

I am not even trying to push the music any further. Exactly how much further can you push from Coltrane, Miles and other giants? I think Coltrane had it right when he said he had a spiritual awakening & humbly asked to be able to make others happy through music. That is beautiful. I think music is closer to the source of love, transformation and meaning than we even suspect.

For me, that’s what’s important.

-Josh Maxey


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