coming out of my shell

coming out of my shell

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Cool Jazz and Buddhist Chants

Last night T and I went to hear Wayne Shorter and Herbie Hancock play jazz. In the context of jazz music I am merely trying to be a supportive wife. Imagine my surprise when I found I liked it.

Truthfully, I have always enjoyed listening to contemporary jazz more when it is live versus when it is blasting from our CD player. There is something about our small house being bombarded by disembodied dissonant chords that sets my teeth on edge.

All the music was improvised last night. I was amazed they could sustain a creative dynamic nonstop for almost 90 minutes. In front of an audience of strangers, no less. It made me think they had discipline, confidence, and faith.

Herbie Hancock worked his magic on a grand piano and a synthesizer. It was crazy, the musical noise he made. I lack a musical nomenclature, but I could almost follow what he did because there is something seemingly linear about piano. There is at least the appearance of a beginning and and end with whatever they play. Please don't assume I know what I'm talking about. I am just writing this trying to figure out what I think.

The musician who knocked my socks off was Wayne Shorter. Jazz sax players do NOT seem linear to me. They are explosively expressive and endlessly, belligerently creative. It was nuts how he played around the piano music, how he filled up space with bursts and bleeps. Like I said, I do not have the language to describe it. I certainly don't "understand" what they were playing. I only know these two guys are in touch with some deep creative groove and I enjoyed watching and hearing them settle in to it.

T reminded me that we saw Wayne Shorter perform a million years ago, when he was in the band Weather Report. I have no memory of that performance. It was the early 1970's and believe me, at that time I was way more interested in David Bowie than jazz. I am still more interested in David Bowie than jazz.

Wayne Shorter is a jazz saxophonist, one of the best. He has been referred to as jazz's greatest living composer. He is also a Buddhist, as is Herbie Hancock. They both practice Nichiren Buddhism through an organization called Soka Gakkai International. I knew nothing about this religious discipline before starting this post, so I am absolutely not writing this to promote SGI. I just reference it so I can try to understand what motivates these two guys. Pretty much all I know is what I found on one of the SGI website pages:

"The core Buddhist practice of SGI members is chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and reciting portions of the Lotus Sutra (referred to as gongyo), and sharing the teachings of Buddhism with others in order to help them overcome their problems."


When I heard these guys playing I knew they were plugged in to something heady. It must be nice to have a spirituality that encourages you to lose yourself in abstraction and beauty. I kind of envy them that.
Mucky stuff in the lake


  1. I missed Herbie Hancock? I am devastated!

  2. I like to listen to jazz, especially live. It is very sexy music.

    1. I like to listen to it when we eat our evening meal.

  3. Wow, what a wonderful experience that sounds like. My favorite Jazz instrument is the sax. I love how it sweeps you away, at least it does me.
    I learned to love Jazz in the 70's. I worked in a little Jazz club here in Portland and got to listen to it live very often. I don't often think of it now, but this was a nice reminder to tune it in again.
    I'm going to look up that branch of Buddhism - it sounds beautiful.
    I really enjoyed reading the way you sound so enthusiastic about your experience - it was fun!

    1. I'm glad it was fun for you. It was definitely fun for me.

  4. PS: That "mucky stuff in the lake" photo is spectacular!
    Frame worthy!

  5. Herbie Hancock is ab fab. Wayne Shorter is no slouch, I am just partial to keyboardists. Great opportunity. Yay.

    Fabulous pic.

  6. We are fans of jazz! There is a restaurant in downtown New Port Richey with jazz on Tuesday nites. Now that I work, Tuesday is one of my nite classes, but we could still make it there, a wee bit late, every now & again. My musical tastes are eclectic, with jazz fully embedded among the others. We have several jazz CDs and I would also stream it over the years at my jobs. We would have enjoyed the concert, especially with you & T!!! As for the Buddhism, AWESOME! So many spiritual practices for each of us to craft the path we need. Love you!


So, whadayathink?