The great jazz saxophonist John Coltrane once said: “My goal is to live the truly religious life, and express it in my music. If you live it, when you play there’s no problem because the music is part of the whole thing. To be a musician is really something. It goes very, very deep. My music is the spiritual expression of what I am – my faith, my knowledge, my being.”
Trane wasn’t only a fantastically gifted musician, he was a remarkable spiritual individual. All you have to do is listen to his music and it becomes obvious that the depth of his musical ideas came from more than rigorous wood-shedding. At its core, his music was a spiritual soundscape that he invited listeners to explore in their own life’s path. It seems to me there’s a parallel here. Trane couldn’t separate his music from his life. What he played was what he lived and how he lived became a musical expression as well.
Some of the most musical people I know can’t play a note on an instrument. Some of the most spiritual people I know are artists (and other folk) who don’t seem very religious, if you know what I mean. Some of my most inspirational musical moments have come when I’ve seen the light go on in a person’s countenance while I’m playing with Oîkos. A smile erupts, a head nods, a sigh emerges… you can almost hear an amen. To touch another person with the Spirit of your art is a special thing. Trane was right. “To be a musician is really something. It goes very, very deep.”