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Observations placeholder

Woods, Frederick - ‘Session’ from Departure, Vol 3, No 8



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

FREDERICK WOODS. ‘Session’ from Departure. Vol. 3, No. 8 (undated).

(The scene is a jazz-club)

''We're there, thought Ray, we've done it. They're roaring, shouting, threshing, but they can't beat us. They can't drown us. He leant the mike into the guts of the open upright, and let Louie come in with the heavy, sharp chords off-rhythm, till they didn't know, any of them, who was playing, who was listening, but they were all playing and all listening, and Larry came in high up in triplets, catching them by the throat and holding them with sweet bitterness, his notes silver and hard, cleanly coming and high again, Ray taking his note and Larry cutting out, so that the change-over was impeccable.

The crowd was gone, its noise the sea's noise or a waterfall, coming to it round the side of a hill, rising and retreating, and he was alone on the hill, blasting and challenging the sky with his lasciviously-toned sax till the sky opened and there was nothing beyond, and the challenge turned to praise, ecstatic, believing, strong. The notes kept coming and the inspiration flowed in Ray like blood, essential.

The passion rushed out of him, and then Larry and Louie and Hank were up there with him, all on-the hilltop, all praising, and there was nothing beyond nothing, and again nothing. There was rushing wind in his ears, waves on sand, thunder, and the voice of the world in peace.

The hillside darkened and split, a negro stumbled up the slope, tears on his face. His pink palms rattled on tight drum skins, giving an edge to the deeper tenor.

He swayed like a snake. The bass crashed to the ground and Dix's voice called to the soul wildly, extemporising mad parabolas of sound. Larry hit G in altissimo and held it, a screaming fury, and then shaking on it till the hillside crumbled and the sky came together and they were back in the room with the lights and the crowd-and the heat.

There was stillness in the small room... There was no cheering, no applause, just a gentle murmur as [the crowd's] breath escaped. They stared at Ray as though hypnotised, and a little afraid of what they had seen and heard. They had seen Ray crouched over his alto, blind to everything but the music, blowing something that was either profanity or a Prayer...

[Ray] lurched to the centre of the dais, still dazed and still on the hill alone, only now instead of nothing, there was poison, evil, staring hatred. He stared back at the evil and-the hatred with equal hatred.

"Is that what you wanted? Is that what you were yelling for? Well, you got it. You got what you wanted. Do you know what you got? You got everything, heart, soul, guts and bones. There's nothing-else left. Do you understand? You bled me, sucked me dry. You asked for everything and you got it. Do you know what you got? You got the world's passion, the force of the hill I was on, where I saw nothing and everything and it was beautiful..."'

The source of the experience

Woods, Frederick

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Science Items

Activities and commonsteps



Listening to music