Look Alive

20 March 2012

Cherish the Species

"I have considered the days of old, the ancient days, the years of ancient times. I call to remembrance my song in the night: I commune with mine own heart: and my spirit made diligent search."
- Psalm 77:5-6

Before our meeting, a former classmate specialized in entomology, meaning he studied insects. Etymology-loving me was surprised that I had to look the simple-looking word up when he first mentioned his early goals. Having done so, it made perfect sense when group discussions about human nutrition, organ systems or body types and temperaments somehow drew comparisons to some worm, long-legged creature or another. Where most people would hum a ditty, cringe or talk crap about 'la cucaracha', he would probably notice beauty or revere their persistence. Moving quickly from that, it was cool to learn that each member of the small world we tend to acknowledge more in this Spring and the coming Summer season have millions more faces than the few we commonly recognize.

Covering the journey from coarse kingdoms to fine specimen and back, there are seven primary strata. And without doubt there Is God. What comes to mind for me in that regard is popular culture's depiction of Heaven's levels or the whole tones in a Western scale. With the great differences of human beings (snowflakes too), the whole world can agree that music has the power to consistently highlight and harmonize our similarities. Ok. I admit it! Like my friend, it seems I find a way to include what I love in almost every conversation too. 

That being said, Esperanza Spalding's "Radio Music Society" was one of the albums released today. Arriving almost a month after The Robert Glasper Experiment's "Black Radio", the 'ready, yo' theme informs some great moments in the artform. With the exception of a boombox image on the lady's cover art and the now common feature of a third-party on almost all of the group's songs, however, both albums are beautiful snapshots in what should continue forward as high-quality catalogs but don't quite represent what radio looks like for now.  

For instance, if popular broadcasts didn't seek to dull the senses with repetition of *@&%! and instead graced us with the 'hope' to "Always Shine" or more Stokley (of beloved Mint Condition fame), "Ah Yeah"... our days might be "Crowned & Kissed" with the gentle wisdom inherent to simply sitting and sipping the aural tea of a "Cinnamon Tree" or pretty luxuries like those first experienced in '91. No need to look to the left, though. A mellow and effective Nirvana awaits in the midst of the albums' 12/24 selections, due only in part yet dually to another long-time favorite singer, Lalah Hathaway. Wait - I just envisioned an "In Living Color"-era Tommy Davidson. Somebody say Christmas comin'? Wrap it up!

Ms. Hathaway, like the mother she shares her birth name with, exemplifies good speech when the root eu- puts a positive spin on the la tone connected with certain singing or repetitive movements of the tongue as with ululation. Phonetically, the daughter's proximity to "Leila" links the name to blackness. As Ms. Spalding's "Vague Suspicions" and "Land of the Free" did in light of injustices including that which claimed the life of Trayvon Martin, Hathaway's music could easily offer very soothing and centering vibrations during a dark time.

For me, the "silence is the sweetest sound" lyric of 1994's "So They Say" in particular made bearable the doctor's orders to shut up for a couple weeks after a minor throat surgery if I intended to continue as a soprano or just heal properly. The gift of Lalah's captivating contralto provided me with frequent company and then encouragement in the procedure's two-year radius. Grateful to express myself when necessary since being that stubborn microphone fiend, her talent continues to bless my space 'hear' and now as well as the "Endangered Species" and "Cherish the Day" covered on the respective releases. The two albums are otherwise linked by Spalding's farewell-in-stereo "Let Her" about a she who fronted on tampering with a brother's phone at the very least and the Experiment's endearing cover, "Letter...", later in the grand sequence.  

In the opening scripture here, the Psalmist king meditated on Divine inspiration like a song in the night to weather illusory storms. Like a single cell, thought or music note for that matter, the essence of what makes Life special on any given day often goes unseen when generated into this plane of existence until it multiplies like family, is arranged in a unique order, enhanced by a sense of class or the name(s) signifying its actual or desired qualities and honors the established rank & file regarding division. This can be applied well or wrong. Such is the case with healthy or cancerous bodies; plans that build bridges or yield the breakdown of war; symphonies or finally, sad excuses for songs—which none of the above titles are. Over ALL, the Most High has Kingdom Dominion. Understanding this, whether or not an utterance is made, every day can bring a perspective of peace with which to look at and maybe show (tough) Love for the little things, just as the unified Infinite does to infinitesimal us.

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