Recording a Shamanic Ritual

The main reason that the ToTeM blog had no new posts for a year is that the beautiful Temple space where I have been running events became largely unavailable. (There were also many limitations on the schedules of my colleagues). This caused me some despair, but finally I resolved to take up another strategy. If I can’t do live events on a regular basis, I have to produce a recording that can serve as a starting point for people interested in this process.

Many challenges. Reserving the Temple; booking the musicians for that specific time window when we can get the temple; booking a recording engineer willing to come to our site. Cost is far from trivial, but not enough to stop me. Limitations on the musicians’ schedules means going into session with no rehearsal. This is fine for standards where my arrangement doesn’t take it too far afield from what people are used to, but songs that I have reconfigured to suit the shamanic purpose give rise to some frustrations during the sessions. Thankfully, our engineer, Warren Kahn, was very patient through all this, and helped move things along smoothly.

Keeping all the musicians in a mindful state of altered-consciousness support, under these circumstances, was a touch-and-go affair. The first session, frequently blocked by difficulties. But it got better.

The highlight of the week was bringing together a mass of volunteers to join in the grouop ritual performance experience for my re-working of Pharoah Sanders’ “The Creator Has a Master Plan.” In addition to the four-man core ensemble and the unrehearsed lead singer, we grabbed another four people virtually off the street to join in. We did it all live, in one long take, in a true joy of celebration. That is magic!

Then, a week of mixing, and the sound is ready. Then, time to think about packaging; a whole new world of decision-making that I would have preferred to avoid somehow.

As I write this, I’m in the almost finished assembling the material for what has morphed from simple liner notes to an entire book, where I can offer guidance to the process of using this jazz for a shamanic journey.

CD release party coming up!

One thought on “Recording a Shamanic Ritual

  1. I think, as the (mostly) unrehearsed lead singer, what allowed me to relax and trust the process was your reminder that we are both graduates (Summa Cum Laude) of the “Wing It School” of Magical Working- aka: the “Well, we’ve got the experience, and we know what we want, so let’s see what happens”, school. I know I am a singer, and I’d done what I could to familiarize myself with the material (with many thanks to YouTube), but I had very little idea, what was going to happen when I stepped up the mic, and that was okay.
    I mean, after all, isn’t that the essence of jazz? You know the lyrics and the changes, but you don’t really know what’s going to happen after the downbeat. If you do, it’s something else, but it’s not jazz.
    Thanks, again, for the opportunity, and I look forward to seeing you again, soon.


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