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Spirits Rejoice!Jazz and American Religion$
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Jason Bivins

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780190230913

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190230913.001.0001

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Other Planes of There

Other Planes of There

Jazz Cosmologies and Metaphysics1

(p.220) 7 Other Planes of There
Spirits Rejoice!

Jason C. Bivins

Oxford University Press

American religious history is overrun with alternate, hybrid, or personalized cosmologies or metaphysics. In these widespread imaginings of a universe populated by innumerable unseen spirits, religious visionaries have produced elaborate vocabularies and intellectual or symbolic architectures by which to theorize their place in the order of things. This chapter shows that among the more creative and intense religious visionaries of the last century have been jazz musicians, many of whom have authored metaphysical systems that serve simultaneously compositional and speculative purposes. These systems include Ornette Coleman’s Harmolodics, George Russell’s Lydian Chromatic Concept, Anthony Braxton’s Tri-Axium system, and Wadada Leo Smith’s Ankhrasmation. Their efforts, sometimes housed in known religious traditions and elsewhere radically combinative, link up to American harmonialism and to millennia-old ruminations about the sonic nature of the universe.

Keywords:   cosmology, metaphysics, Harmonialism, Ornette Coleman, Anthony Braxton, George Russell, Wadada Leo Smith

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