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Is an artist responsible for the impact of the visual or sound manifestations that he brings into the world? The sustainability of the Visual Arts seems to me to involve every creator: the form, the symbolism, the meaning and the energy of a work will vibrate in space and resonate on those who look at it.

As far as music is concerned, the following account does not allow for such a clear answer.

As a painter, the way in which a creation will interact with the viewer questions me in different aspects.

How does a work reach us? How do we let ourselves be touched by it? Is there a prerequisite? What are the forces at play?

In 2015, while I was spending 3 months of a polar winter in Manhattan, I had the chance to attend the unique concert given by Keith Jarrett at Carnegie Hall. An iconic solo pianist, Jarrett is one of the greatest improvisers in contemporary jazz.

The performance has begun. I oriented myself towards a meditative state, directing my attention towards all the senses (including thought, emotions) solicited by the notes, the instrumental digressions and the waves of improvisation... this seemed to me to enhance the most complete receptivity to the experience as a whole and the music in particular.

From a cafe across from the Carnegie, before the concert.

Photo © Maby 2015

Nothing happened. Worse, it was uncomfortable.

Perhaps there were many who, probably also disappointed at not finding the familiar accents of the legendary “Concert in Köln”, were also unable to let themselves be carried away by the pianist's excesses? We don't move at a Jarrett concert, we don't cough... but there were very low whispers here and there; my Russian neighbors were fidgeting. After the intermission, the room was almost a third empty.

I felt totally out of place, disappointed, excluded — with almost a touch of shame — at not knowing how to appreciate the uniqueness of the moment and the genius of Jarrett. An ounce of clarity forced me to recognize that I had arrived with an expectation (not to mention the state of euphoric excitement), and that my quality of presence was spoiled by a complex dynamic in dissonance with "the flow".

I stayed, considering the unique privilege given to me to be there, in snow-paralyzed NYC, at the Carnegie, Jarrett on stage... and I let my disappointment relegate me to a posture of renunciation; as an observer, I looked, I heard but I no longer listened.

And in this abandonment a luminous space delicately opened up where the music unfolded in an unexpected, numinous and masterful way. Place, time, no reference no longer operated.

It was in relaxation that everything merged in a synaesthetic way: the reflections of the Steinway, the overly strong perfumes, the charged aura of the mythical room... all the senses other than hearing brought me back to that of listening, but which has become transcendent.

The synergy of the forces of the moment put into poem by the radical harmonic vibrations of Jarrett in trance propelled me into an experience of sublimation (chemical allegory and not psychoanalytic) - as totally impersonal and deindividual as initiatory and brilliant.

Is this what we call Kenshō?

It's a unique and extremely inspiring memory, to which I am reconnected "physically" sometimes without wanting to. And a literal illustration of the consequences of Bernie Glassman's* first tenet: "Not knowing" or the ability to lose control of the situation in order to fully understand it.

On a collective level, did the energy of the room shift after the intermission allowing Jarrett to find a truly 'interactive' sound? It seemed to me that global listening became an integral part of his music.

I have no legitimacy to “comment” on the Maestro’s concert and I am well aware of the crazy pretension of such a publication. Let us consider here that this is my personal testimony on a disposition to receive, the effect of tension and the experience of openness which dissolved it. Just that. :)

The tuner works before the concert.

Nothing exists yet. Nothing will exist afterwards.

Photo © Maby 2015



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