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Jazz and Metal - Heathen Dawn [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]

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Jazz and Metal [Feb. 11th, 2008|01:45 am]
[music |Ornette Coleman "Focus on Sanity"]

I had an interesting experience a couple of weeks ago.    My girlfriend and I had a moment to relax - fairly rare of late - so I decided to put some music on.  The first thing I slipped into the disc changer was Ornette Coleman's The Shape of Jazz to Come.  By the time we'd hit the 45 second mark of "Eventually" (in the middle of a solo that sounds like every Kerry King lead played simultaneously on an alto sax), my girlfriend looked at me: "I'm sorry babe, but this is too much right now, can we listen to something a little more relaxing?"

It was an excellent reminder of just how violent this music really was and is.  While metal has certainly borrowed some from jazz idiom, it has always seemed to me that there is a much more important point of intersection between metal and modal and free jazz, a certain shared honesty and a fearless conceptual selflessness that allows the engagement with reality to lead the music (and musicians) in violent, unsettling or (on the surface) unpleasant directions.  It's not just the willingness to live dangerously though, it's that it's done with authentic sincerity, rather than the self-consciously ironic 'subversion' that is the two-belts-and-a-ballad currency of the hipster audition.