In our recent Jazz and Meditation Jam Session, we delved into Archie Shepp’s “The Magic of Ju-Ju,” blending meditative techniques with his soulful music to cultivate inner peace and self-awareness. We experienced a profound journey through “moment-by-moment awareness,” exploring the layers of sound and our consciousness. Join us to enrich your mind, body, and spirit and discover pathways to liberation and freedom through the harmonious blend of sound and meditation.

On June 19, 2024, we gathered online for a transformative session blending the power of Spiritual Jazz with the practice of meditation. Our virtual space resonated with the soulful, transformative sounds of Archie Shepp’s saxophone, each note inviting us into a more profound journey within.

We entered the world of Meditativism, exploring the intersection of music, meditation, and spiritual awareness. In this world, we integrate meditative techniques with artistic expression to cultivate inner peace, self-awareness, and a deeper connection to The Beyond.

We began by exploring “moment-by-moment awareness” as a meditation technique, practicing “noting” – observing our thoughts, feelings, and sensations without attachment and being aware of being Aware.

First, we applied this technique to the cover art, a quintessential element of the spiritual jazz album. We examined the influences of Ju-Ju, a West African spiritual tradition associated with the rituals of life and unity with a higher force. Ju-Ju merged with African American culture, represented by the red, black, and green, symbolizing a rich blend in Shepp’s music.

In 1920, Marcus Garvey unfurled the flag of the Universal Negro Improvement Association because every nation needs a flag. Red represents the blood that unites all people of Black African ancestry and the blood shed for liberation and freedom. Black symbolizes the Black people whose existence as a nation, though not a nation-state, is affirmed by the flag. Green stands for the abundant natural wealth of Africa.

Shifting our attention from the art to the music, we applied meditation techniques to the title cut of Shepp’s iconic album, “The Magic of Ju-Ju.”

We began by focusing on the types of instruments, then the rhythms, beats, movements, and finally, the composition as a whole.

Throughout the session, we discussed the importance of Ju-Ju in Shepp’s music. Ju-Ju’s magic transports us to a non-physical realm and transforms us through musical rituals. Shepp’s music became a Ju-Ju-like ritual, helping us explore and experience our own magic.

As we meditated on specific instruments or rhythms, we learned to discern the layers of sound, much like peeling back the layers of our consciousness.

The “noting the noter” exercise made us aware of our awareness, a meta-cognitive practice that deepened our meditation experience.

We let the music wash over us, noting the sounds, reactions, and emotions that surfaced. The rhythms of Shepp’s saxophone, combined with the polyrhythmic drumming, created a hypnotic effect, drawing us into a deeper state of awareness. It wasn’t just about listening; it was about experiencing each note and each beat and recognizing how it resonated within us.

Our session fostered introspection and connection with the collective energy in the room. We:

  • Experienced the themes of liberation (freedom from constraints) and freedom (freedom to live authentically) central to Shepp’s music, reflecting on what these concepts mean in our lives and how the music could catalyze personal and societal change.
  • Shared understanding and collective aspiration.
  • Noted our internal reactions and the shifts in our mental and emotional states.
  • Participated in a Ju-Ju-like ritual.
  • Experienced how music could influence our meditative practice and vice versa.
  • Concluded with a powerful reflection on the interconnectedness of music, meditation, and life.
  • Left with a deeper appreciation of Archie Shepp’s music and practical tools to integrate meditation into our daily lives.

Our experience was enlightening and empowering, a testament to the profound synergy between Spiritual Jazz and meditation.

Our journey toward liberation and freedom is ongoing. Through practices like these, we can continue to explore and expand our understanding of ourselves and the world around us, making liberation and freedom happen in music, meditation, movement, and life.

The invitation remains open for those who missed this session. Join us next time to experience firsthand the magic of Shepp’s music and the transformative power of meditation. Engage in a journey that promises to enrich your mind, body, and spirit and discover pathways to liberation and freedom through the harmonious blend of sound and awareness.

Join us next month (July 17, 2024) as we explore Dorothy Ashby’s Spiritual Jazz world.

Also, check out other posts from this Series:

Spirit of 76