The Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians has long used that line to describe their music: “Great Black Music, Ancient to the Future” and their membership has, over the years, included people who I’d say deserve that appelation: music I hope is remembered, is fundamental to the interesting things that come in the future of innovative, intelligent music.
But for the latter half of the phrase, “ancient to the future,” it’s always brought to mind Steve Coleman’s music. Coleman is a badass alto saxophonist, as you can see in this clip:
… and with his various groups over the years he’s done something that’s very hard, which is to fuse the kind of technical virtuosity, freedom and wildness of “free jazz” with innovations from funk and other popular (African-)American music, more roots from West African music, all served up with the deadly hipness of the now.
It always seemed to me that this was the kind of jazz that would be listened to on spaceships headed for the outer regions, or, maybe, this would be the earliest examples of the nascent form of improvised music that posthumans would dig out of the datavaults when constructing polymetathreaded musical improvisations that can only be properly experienced by a fully digitized mind.
And today’s your lucky day, if you’ve never listened to Coleman’s music: he’s got a bunch of out-of-print albums available for free download on his website, here, along with samples from albums still in print.
My personal favorite is Tao of a Mad Phat (fringe zones), which I very highly recommend.