Universal Musical Mind


Bill Evans (1929 – 1980), was an American jazz pianist and composer. He is widely considered to be one of the greatest jazz pianists of all time. Evans approach to jazz was impressionistic and abstract. Evans was opposed to people trying to analyze jazz as an intellectual theorem. He believed there was nothing intellectual about it – jazz, he argued, is a feeling. Being interviewed, Evans said: “I believe that all people are in possession of what might be called a ‘universal musical mind’.”

This got me thinking. I wondered whether Evan’s idea is similar to what psychologists call a ‘genetic memory’. The memory present at birth, that in theory should not exist in the absence of sensory experience. The ‘genetic memory’ posits the idea that: common experiences of a species become incorporated into our genetic code. Carl Jung had a similar theory with his idea of the “collective unconscious’.  Memories, feelings and ideas, he believed, are inherited from our ancestors.

Well, music is a form of communication. It can be used to make us happy and make us touch our emotional side. A minor chord has an inherent sadness that communicates to everyone. Its not a stretch to think we were born with an understanding of sound and that Evan’s idea of the ‘Universal Musical Mind” might be part of the ‘collective unconsciousness’.

Inspired by Evan’s idea I have put together a musical stew that plays homage to his ideas. The mix does not particularly feature Bill Evans, apart from a brief snatch at the begining, but is inspired by his idea. Its for you to work out how each track fits the idea. To access the mix, click on the link below:

If you do enjoy the mix, please let me know and do share with anyone you think may be interested. And do the Tweet thing – this music deserves to be heard.


Bill Evans – Interview
Jukka Tolonen – Afro Blue
Carl B. Stokes – The Black Suite for String Quartet and Jazz Orchestra (edit)
Arve Henriksen – Plume of Ash (Feat. Sylvia Plath)
Wolfgang Dauner – Yin
Family Of Percussion & Archie Shepp – Here Comes The Family
Billy Harper Sextet – Knowledge of Self (with Amiri Baraka)
Brian Barley Trio -Two by Five
Warren Smith – Indiana’s Wedding Song
East New York Ensemble de Music – Mevlana (Based on Turkish Religious Melody)
Bob Moses – Bittersuite In The Ozone
Christiaan Virant – Metropolis Waltz (Feat. Sylvia Plath)
Nikki Giovanni – Seducation/ Kidnap Poem
Ursula Rucker – In Her Elizabeth ( Feat. Daniel “Gravy” Thomas)
Kamal Abdul Alim – Peace
Nat Birchall – Speak To Us Of Love
Youssoupha Sidibe & Charles Neville – Tree of Life
Paul Austerlitz and Michael S. Harper – Elvin’s Blues


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