Or Meditations on Jim Pepper, Chief Bey, Milford Graves, a Heron and a Flock of Geese
(excerpts from this appeared in the Winter/Spring 2005 issue of Planet Jazz magazine)
If anything is a coincidence, then everything must be; And if everything is coincidence, then surely nothing really happens by chance.
Item: One of the first times I listened to saxophonist Jim Pepper ("Comin' and Goin,'" from the album of the same name). I was driving on a crowded highway outside of Boston when a V of migrating geese suddenly whooshed up from below the median guardrail, so close to my open driver's-side window that it was like they had come expressly for me. In fact, I literally felt for that fleeting instant that they did have me, that they were sucking me out through the window just as if we were all rushing into a vacuum - and that if I had just given into it my soul, my spirit, if not my body, would have gone with them. For that fleeting instant the flying V was more real and the speeding, growling traffic was more ephemeral.
Item: Fast forward about 15 years. As Gunther Schuller's orchestral "Witchi Tai To" (from The Music of Jim Pepper) was slipping into its final strains, and as I was making my way past the toll booth and onto the ramp leading to another New England expressway, the majestic floating figure of a great blue heron winged its way across the road just ahead of me.
Say what you will about coincidence, or the lack of any connection between events, but even scientists will tell you that millions of light years of distance, billions of years of time, aren't enough always to break the bond between paired (or as they put it, "associated" or "entangled") atoms or sub-molecular particles - that what happens to one, simultaneously and identically happens to the other. Whether you're looking forward in time or back, facing toward one end of the universe or another.