Tag Archives: prophecy

Zazen Earworms: “Inevitable Western” and “Cascades”

So, I haven’t been earworming much during zazen, but last night I got one. Two, actually. “Inevitable Western” by The Bad Plus and “Cascades” by Oliver Nelson. The first makes sense. I saw The Bad Plus on Sunday, and I’ve been writing about that (and meeting them) for my Guitars and Geeks column. I hadn’t purchased the album Inevitable Western prior to the show because I wanted to see it live first. So when they played the title track to the album, it was the first time I’d heard it.

It was stunning.

It’s my new favorite by The Bad Plus. It’s been in my head a lot. There’s a fragility, a loneliness, an associative holding together of notes that is oceanic. The more I listen to it, the more my heart expands.

On the heels of this, somehow, “Cascades” by Oliver Nelson started up. It surfaced unexpectedly–I was actually startled when I heard the horns. Somehow, it made sense, because this song, born of a scales exercise, has the same associative fragility. It doesn’t seem like it at first (the horns are assertive, without being aggressive. Confident. They know where they’re going). But the same associative quality is what holds the song together and makes it more than scales.

While “Cascades” knows where it’s going, “Inevitable Western” ends up where it is going. “Inevitable Western” is the sonic equivalent of amor fati, and “Cascades” is Nostradamus. But the fate of character and the fate of prophecy are often the same: fated.

I watched and listened to these songs until they merged together, making something new, something wondrous. Something inevitably foretold.