“My Favorite Album” is a weekly column in which we ask a musician exactly what the title suggests — to name their favorite album of all time. This week, it's jazz artist Laraaji.
My favorite music album of all time is Poinciana by pianist Ahmad Jamal and his trio. It was in my youth during early study of the piano. I was fascinated with jazz pianists, and I discovered Ahmad Jamal’s treatment and style to set a glowing model of cool pianistic skills, listening for hours on an unpretentiously simple record player. This album drove me and my devotion for the piano far and deep. His cool smooth style and pacing at the keyboard, along with the tight bass and drum accompaniment, kept my ears glued to that little record player for hours during my early youth.
I most admit, though, that my favorite, deepest and most impacting listening experience, not just of all time but of eternal nonlinear time, happened on an otherworldly plane not by playing a jazz piano album but during an early morning meditation practice in the mid-1970s, during which I had attracted my first deep mystical hearing experience of inner cosmic music churning through my brain and the timeless universe. Multiple layers of brass horns wailing an insane breeze of cacophony somewhere on the edge of my uncharted and exulted imagination. A music that pointed to the immediacy of eternity and to the reality of this simultaneous now-moment all pervading as a universal oneness creation. It was this listening experience that drove me immediately into celestial music composition and performance. A frequency of music that calls the emotional imagination back into alignment with sustained present time and transcendental self-awareness.
I do not claim to make this kind of music with earthly instruments. But the hearing of this music informs the approach I use to channel/improvise/perform music on electric zithers, voice, synths and more. And with my inspired music performance support the listener's inner absorption in the eternal unbeginning unending wonder where they currently are.
Laraaji plays with Arji Oceananda and Dallas Acid at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 13, at Zebulon.