If I could give this book six stars, I would. It is beautiful, profound, thoughtful and unique. Reading it was a joyful, educational and profound expeIf I could give this book six stars, I would. It is beautiful, profound, thoughtful and unique. Reading it was a joyful, educational and profound experience.
God's Mind in That Music is two things: Firstly, an exploration of theology in music, and secondly, an exploration of the life, work and meaning of John Coltrane's music on its own terms. In both halves it delivers quite well. It is remarkable to me that it would be a fascinating read for theologians who do not care for Coltrane, as well as for Coltrane fans who do not care for theology.
I first discovered this book when poking around the publisher's website. A fan of theology and the arts, and also a fan of jazz (and early Coltrane), I bought a n eBook copy with low expectations. Frankly I assumed it would be, as I described to friends at the time, "academic wankery." But by the time I was through just the Foreword and the Introduction, I bought a print copy of the book because I wanted fingers on paper, and I wanted to flip back and forth, and I knew that the book would be impactful to me and would need to live on my bookshelf for many readings and references.
The beginning of the book is an introduction to the ways in which we can understand deep meaning in music, even if it is not directly intended by the artist. How can we perceive the story of the things Sacred in music? How does the history of jazz, embedded with powerful racial dynamics, affect that perception of meaning? And who was this artist, John Coltrane, valued by many through his short and explosive career, and far past his untimely death 45 - !!! - years ago.
The next sections of the book are a listening party, taking seven songs from Coltrane's recordings and exploring meaning within and from them.
It's a beautiful dance that taught me so much - about theology and the arts; understanding music; Coltrane as an individual and historical figure - and even more so, about seven brilliant songs that range from accessible to otherworldly. I have long been a fan of Coltrane's earliest (most approachable) music, and just did not understand his later, more free, work.
Author Jamie Howison pulled the scales away from my eyes. For the first time in my life, I feel that I understand Coltrane as a musician, his approach and goals with his later work, but most importantly, how the man could pray though his horn and impact so many, with no words and no overt theology.
True, Coltrane was a deeply spiritual man who grew up in a traditional Christian home, but his his spirituality grew beyond that - as did many in his age. Like the author, I don't land in the same theological camp as a late Coltrane, but I find profound meaning in what the artist was able to create through his entire life - early and late.
I will not perceive or experience Coltrane, jazz or any music the same way again. As an artist, John Coltrane continues to impact me, not just as a fan of music....more
An unbelievably complete look at anybody who was anybody in 60s-70s music. Boyd clearly had unfettered access to music's giants and shot them well livAn unbelievably complete look at anybody who was anybody in 60s-70s music. Boyd clearly had unfettered access to music's giants and shot them well live or not performing....more