|I've played first bass a few times for|
August's cover subject. Circle of Life.
How do Norse mythology and religion inform or inspire your work as a bassist?
What follows is the complete text of my answer to Greg. I have attempted to explain my thoughts on the complex interaction of mythology, religion, science and creativity in my own life. I'd like to thank Greg for featuring me in the magazine, and I'd like to thank my mentor Jimmy Cheatham (1924-2007) for being the first person to open my eyes to the mystery of the Creative Spirit.
|Here is Odin gaining the Mead of Poetry that will inspire creative|
artists. Strangely enough, this illustration shows him sporting the
same exact hairstyle that I rocked in high school. Circle of Life.
For several years, I hosted the Avant-Garde Jazz Jam Session in Chicago with saxophonist David Boykin and drummer Mike Reed. I vividly recall a time that we were performing a very fast, very intense improvised trio piece. I had my eyes closed while I was playing, and I remember this strange experience. Everything seemed to go red, and I felt like I was floating in an ocean of sound. I had no conscious control of my hands, but this wild music was happening on its own all around me.
Do I think that a mystical Norse god appeared at Café Mestizo and took over my body? Of course not. I believe in science. What this experience taught me, however, is how a concept of Odin as the god who possesses his followers could have developed. In the worldview of the ancient Germanic peoples, this out-of-body experience could easily have been explained as Odin "unbinding" the mind of the creative artist – a power of his that is attested repeatedly in ancient poetry and mythology.
|Here is another view of Odin gaining the Mead of Poetry.|
I can't really grow a beard this glorious. Circle of Life?
The question for me as a modern artist is this: how do we understand these creative experiences? In other words: is it more deeply meaningful to read a scientific article explaining brain functions or to read poetry that describes the workings of Odin? For musicians, the deep meanings in the myths help us to grasp the realities of the creative process in a way that is, ultimately, more "real" than the purely scientific explanation.
|The late, great Jimmy Cheatham (1924-2007)|
Twenty years later, I finally understand what he meant – that there is something about making music that is not reducible to a simple mathematical equation. There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in our science. To really understand our lives in a fundamentally meaningful way, we need mythology.