Monday, February 27, 2006

Dagnabbit!

I got selected for jury duty tomorrow.

If I get all Buddhist on them and explain the importance of loving-kindness and compassion, the prosecutor might have me excused.

But if I get all Buddhist on them and explain the importance of loving-kindness and compassion, the defender might sequester me for all his future trials.

If I discuss karma (you reap what you sow) the defender might have me excused, but the prosecutor might have me sequestered.

Probably best to just smile and nod, and let the chips fall where they may.

Right speech: before saying anything, ask yourself: is it kind? is it true? is it necessary?

Saturday, February 25, 2006

I'm going to hold off on writing about the sesshin in Bloomington for a little bit longer, because I read a very interesting article in last week's New Yorker (I'm a little behind in my reading) about Gnostic Christianity, and I was taken by some of the similarities between this historical movement and Buddhism. The article, "The Saintly Sinner" by Joan Acocella, was primarily about Mary Magdalene. But it also included the following fascinating account of the discovery of the Nag Hammadi library:

Biblical scholars had understood for a long time that the orthodox Church was just the segment of the Church that won out over competing Christian sects, notably the so-called Gnostics. But, apart from what could be gathered from the Church fathers’ denunciations of these supposed heretics, students of early Christianity knew little about them. Then, one day in December of 1945, an Arab peasant named Muhammad Ali al-Samman drove his camel to the foothills near the town of Nag Hammadi, in Upper Egypt, to collect fertilizer for his fields, and as he dug he unearthed a clay jar about three feet high. Hoping that it might contain treasure, he broke it open and, to his disappointment, found only a bunch of papyrus books, bound in leather. He took the books home and tossed them in a courtyard where he kept his animals. In the weeks that followed, his mother used some pages from the books to light her stove; other pages were bartered for cigarettes and fruit. But eventually, after a long journey through the hands of antiquities dealers, black marketers, smugglers, and scholars, Samman’s find was recognized as a priceless library of Gnostic writings—thirteen codices, containing fifty-two texts—recorded in Coptic (an early form of Egyptian) in the fourth century but translated from Greek originals dating from between the second and fourth centuries. In time, the books were confiscated by the Egyptian government and moved to the Coptic Museum in Cairo, where they remain today. (They were published in 1972-77.)

The Gnostic Gospels are full of surprising content, Acocella writes, with a Demiurge (not God) creating the universe, and the story of the Fall told from the point of view of the serpent, a friend to mankind. So far, Gnostic Christianity is still very different from Buddhism, which has no creation myth, but Acocella describes the key Gospel of Mary thusly:

As the treatise opens, the Risen Christ is preaching to his disciples. There is no such thing as sin, he says. Also, the disciples, in their quest for the divine, should follow no authorities, heed no rules, but simply look within themselves. Having delivered these lessons, Jesus departs, leaving his disciples quaking with fear. No sin? No rules?. . .

In Greek, gnosis means “knowledge.” To the Gnostic communities, it meant a kind of spiritual understanding — the goal of all believers — that was achieved only through intense self-examination, typically accompanied by visions. The Gospel of Mary shows the Magdalene as an expert in this practice. It also presents her as a leader, full of confidence and zeal.

Looking for answers within the self, no rules and no sin all sound very Buddhist. The early orthodox Church regarded the Gnostic communities as heretics, and in the fourth century when the orthodox Church was finally, after centuries of persecution, achieving stability, the leaders of a Gnostic community near Nag Hammadi, apparently feeling that they were now in serious danger, put their most precious books in a jar and buried it in the hillside.

The classic reference on this subject is Elaine Pagels’s 1979 “The Gnostic Gospels.” As Pagels explains, the Orthodox Church’s whole effort at this time was to create an institution, and certain Gnostic principles—above all, the rejection of rules and hierarchies —were utterly incompatible with institutionalization.

Pagels also points out that Gnosticism, for all its egalitarianism, was √©litist. To qualify, you had to set yourself, over a long course of study, to discovering the divine within yourself. This wasn't for everyone, and the orthodox Church wanted everyone. Accordingly, the Church did not ask people to search for the divine—their priest would tell them what the divine was—and it assured them that as long as they confessed certain prescribed articles of faith and observed certain simple rituals, they, too, could enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

Setting oneself on a long course of study to discover the divine within is very similar to the Buddhist meditative experience. Combined with the lack of prescriptive rules for behavior and the negation of the concept of sin, one can wonder if the early Mahayana Buddhists present in the world at the time of the Gnostics would really have found much to disagree with.

With the publication of the Gnostic Gospels, abetted by postmodern theory, a number of young scholars have come to regard early Christianity as a process, a vast, centuries-long argument among competing sects. Between the first and fourth centuries, Christianity had coalesced into a few broad traditions. One of these was Magdalene Christianity, whose goal was to put an end to the oppression of the world’s powerless. Magdalene Christianity was egalitarian in its organization, and Jesus was “not hero or leader or God” but just a brother to his fellow-reformers. It was only after his death and Resurrection that the focus shifted from the group to him alone, and that he was deified. The Resurrection, to Jesus, meant the ethical renewal of the world.

The Mahayana Buddhists pledge to save all sentient beings, and to seek enlightenment not for themselves, but for the benefit of all others. Magdalene's goal of ending oppression and bringing about the ethical renewal of the world, achieved through a long course of introspective study to discover the divine within, is amazingly similar to goals of the Mahayana movement.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

I Answer My Email

First of all, thank you very much to Kathleen Callon, Linda, Mumon, Summersun, and Greensmile for your kind words and consolations. I'm fine, and my lack of posts this past week or so hasn't been because of grief or depression, but merely due to a loss of words - after posting your father's obituary, what's the point of talking about your daily activities, re-telling ancient Zen stories or expressing one's political opinions? What more needs to be said? Life and death is the great matter, and how can it be addressed any more eloquently than that?

But even getting past that, once the rhythm and discipline of daily blogging was broken, it was hard to find the time to post once again, what with my earlier bedtime now that I've been getting up for the early morning zazen services, and due to a series of evening meetings this week.

But here I find myself once again back at the usual keyboard and this old and familiar site. This post may be nothing more than a figurative clearing of my voice to be followed by more of the usual stuff, but first allow me to address some of the questions and comments that have been emailed to me earlier this month.

Back on February 7, Kathleen Callon said, regarding the thought experiment, "Never thought of this... but if you have two flashlights, then the light is still moving at the speed of light, even though the distance they are moving away from each other is double it." Yes, the photons will still be moving at the speed of light relative to the person holding the flashlight, but that's a rather egocentric view, isn't it? I was trying to point out that it was moving at 2x the speed of light relative to the opposing photons to counter this egocentric viewpoint. But the real question is, what is the absolute speed of light, not relative to anything else in the universe? Not the observer, not other phenomena, nothing. Would it be motionless?

On February 19, Spider63 asked, regarding the long and the short versions of the Daibai/Plum Mountain story, "How about your version? What does it mean to you?" Very good question, and I refer the reader to my post of February 4, or better still, my post of February 17. Actually, I meant to discuss this at length over several posts during the month, but was silenced by the events discussed above. Perhaps I will pick this thread up again later.

Concerning that February 17 post, Eratio posed the often-asked question, "Where do you get your pictures from?" I generally refrain from answering this, first out of fear of an admission of guilt on copyright infringement (this blog is nothing if not one big, fat copyright infringement), but also to preserve the mystery. A magician doesn't explain his tricks, and very few people are interested in hearing a musician explain his technique. But the real truth is I don't really always know. While cruising the web and usenet, I come across many, many graphic images, and I download some of the ones I like into a cache file and when they seem appropriate, I post them. Sometimes, I find that I've saved several from many different sources that have some graphical or thematic similarity, like the mountains of February 17 or the yin-yang of February 3, so I post them in one big batch, usually on Fridays (by the end of the work week, I'm sick of words anyway). But I can't recall where I got each individual picture.

Also, let me add, there are occasionally my own digital photos posted here, and many of the pictures that were copied have been subsequently altered, cropped or otherwise manipulated, so there is at least a modicum of self expression here. So this blog isn't so much a ripoff as it is a pastiche or a collage - yeah, that's it, it's post-modernism, recycling the detrius of the internet's visual overload until it reaches a sort of visual/virtual satori. Or something.

There, glad to get all of that out of the way, and it feels like I'm finding my voice again. Way back on February 9 I had promised to blog about the Zen retreat in Bloomington, and the experience certainly was worthy of a post or two, so perhaps I will take that on over this coming weekend.

After I dump some pics from their cache on Friday, of course.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

M. William Hart passed away on February 12, 2006 while vacationing in Hawaii. Son of Mary Augusta Reilly and Sylvanus H. Hart, Jr., he was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. on May 16, 1931.

Bill graduated from Hofstra University, was stationed in Alaska by the U.S. Army during the Korean conflict, and returned to get his masters degree in Education at Hofstra. He was a unique spirit always living life to its fullest.

As a young man, he married his High School sweetheart, and together they raised four children. During the 60s and 70s, they moved from suburban Long Island to northern New Jersey, back to Long Island and then to Winchester, Massachusetts as Bill advanced in his professional career. It was during this part of his life that he discovered his deep love for the Bible and took that message to the airwaves with a Bible-based radio show.

He was a passionate lifelong fan of the New York Yankees and his enthusiasm for sports led him to wirte a newspaper column and to host another radio show. As a sports journalist, he became interested in publishing and became the editor and publisher of a magazine called SPIKE, dedicated to the sport of volleyball.

He was a gifted teacher and spent his entire professional life in education looking for ways to make a difference in the educational process. He called himself a "change agent" recognizing that change was good and necessary for progress in education. His work in the Somerville School System as the principal of the Kennedy, Winterhill and Cummings schools was proof of that philosophy.

During the middle part of his life, he remarried and raised three children. He founded the Georgetown Education Foundation and served on the Georgetown School Committee, the VFW and the Conservation Commission. He was a member and then president of the Kiwanis Club, where he ran a tennis tournament and the Old Nancy Road Race. In his "spare time" he also ran The Tin Roof antiques shop.

In the late fall of 2001, Bill moved to a small town in Maine called Rangeley where he settled into what is locally known as "the Strangeley Life." It was there that he met his third life partner and they agreed to share the "back nine" of life together.
Together they enjoyed rambling about the Maine countryside attending auctions and enjoyed many travel adventures always bringing along their golf clubs.

In addition to being an avid golfer, Bill loved the game of tennis. He also skied Sugarloaf and Saddleback Mountains, and enjoyed taking part in community events. Bill felt that if you lived in Maine you had to learn to play cribbage, and became an outstanding cribbage player. In the summertime, he ran a small antique shop known as Dallas Hill Antiques.

During the summer of 2005, while working for the Department of Inland Fisheries, Bill was credited for being the first in recognizing an invasive destructive plant on a visitors boat. Because of his quick action in averting the contaminated boat from entering the lake, he was dubbed a local hero and recognized by the State Department of Inland Fisheries as such. In his own way, he enjoyed the local teasing of being named "The Milfoil Man."

While in Rangeley, he enjoyed the quiet opportunity to write children's Christmas stories, several of which were published in the local newspapers at Christmastime. Bill was a member of the Rangeley Lakes School Board representing Dallas Plantation; a member of the Rangeley Rotary; and a member of the Board of Trustees for the Rangeley Public Library.

His constant companion, a chocolate lab named Rufus, was by his side day and night.

A memorial service for Bill will be held in Rangeley in the Spring. A Memorial Fund will be established at the Rangeley Public Library for Children's Books.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

My old friend Troy - dead in a car accident at age 40, 1995. Peter in the Engineering Department - age uncertain but certainly over 55, collapses in the office from a stroke, 2000. Tonya from the Drafting Department - car flips on the highway, killing her and her young daughter, 2005. My father - complications from pneumonia while on vacation in Hawaii, 2006.

Last year, I got a letter from Dad telling me that on the 12th of May, he suffered a transient ischemic attack - TIA, sometimes called a mini-stroke. It starts just like a regular stroke but then resolves leaving no noticeable symptoms or deficits, and occurs when the blood supply to part of the brain is briefly interrupted. When he got home from the hospital, he wrote:

"A heaviness came over me. I cannot do the same things as before. I cannot run into the ocean waves with a surf board over my head looking to grab the biggest wave; ride a bicycle into a tree; wear Billy Martin's baseball card on my NY baseball cap as I coached Little League plus Babe Ruth baseball for so many years; jump off a road bridge into the water below for a penny bet; slide down a slippery rock slide into a pool of water off the Kancamagus highway; dance to jazz such as 'Sing, Sing, Sing;' run for political office; have my own coffee radio station; write sport stories; be the host to my television golf show or ski down the slopes of Sugarloaf mountain. My body caught up with my age. Did anyone tell?"

I don't even have the letter any more - the only way I found the excerpt above was from searching through old blog entries.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

So where does a 50-something Zen Buddhist living in Atlanta go for vacation in February?

Why, Bloomington, Indiana of course.

I'm in Bloomington tonight, having flown from Atlanta (after the morning sit, of course) to Indianapolis and driving from there to Bloomington, home of Indiana University. I'm here for Shohaku Okumura's weekend Nirvana Day sesshin, two 14-hour days of non-stop sitting - 50-minute periods with 10 minutes of kinhin (walking meditation) - with no interruptions. No tea service, no meals (you take any meals you need to strengthen your practice off-site), no sermons or dharma talks. Just sitting.

We start tomorrow at 4:00 a.m., so if you'll excuse me, I have to go to bed. I may not be posting much over the next few days, due to both fatigue and to keep my mind focused, and also because my hotel does not have an internet connection (I'm sending this from a Barnes & Noble) , but I'll blog all about it sometime after the Sunday morning service when I get back down to planet Earth.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

After years of sleeping until 7:30 or 7:45 and breezing in to the office somewhere between 9:15 and 9:30, for the last two weeks I've been getting up at 5:00 and sitting at the zendo from 6:00 until 7:30. Ninety minutes of meditation to start the day, and then in to the office by 8:00, or at least 8:15.

It's quite a change, but a good way to start the day. After a few days, the calm, focused mind of zazen has managed to stay with me through the day much better than when I was doing my sitting only at night and then sleeping off the mindfulness that had arose. I still sit in the evenings, putting a matching cap on the beginning and the end of the day.

Someone had asked me how I felt with this new practice schedule.

"Tired," I replied.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Big day in our little city: toute le monde, including George and Laura, Bill and Hillary, Jimmy and Rosalynn, and Bush Senior (I guess Barbara had something better to do), were all in town today for Coretta Scott King’s funeral. Stevie Wonder and Michael Bolton, too. Where’s Bono when you need him?

Meanwhile, a petition signed last week by 21 Republican state senators asked Ralph Reed to withdraw from the lieutenant governor race, claiming that Ralph's ties to lobbyist Jack Abramoff endanger the state Republican ticket. Since the lieutenant governor serves as president of the Senate, Ralph's Republican opponent, Sen. Casey Cagle, has repeatedly noted Ralph's lack of experience in the chamber.

Tonight, I went to a meeting of the Beltline Neighborhood Association. The group had formed to provide a neighborhood voice on Atlanta’s proposed Beltline development, but tonight they were more interested in tomorrow’s City Council vote on a moratorium on building any new outsized houses (“McMansions”) in existing neighborhoods.

After years of losing residents to the suburbs, the initial phase of the Atlanta intown trend six or seven years ago didn't attract much attention. Buyers typically were young and single, and bought older apartments that had been converted into condominiums or trendy new condos on thoroughfares such as Peachtree Street or Ponce de Leon Avenue. Their impact on existing neighborhoods was limited.

Over the past two to three years, however, the intown home buyers have included a rising number of families from the suburbs with money to spend. And they’re choosing to build big houses on lots where a bungalow or ranch house formerly stood. In many cases, these McMansions tower over their neighbors, cutting off views, blocking the sun and raising property taxes. And while the increase in property valuation is a good thing, it’s come at the cost of decreased quality of life and higher taxes for their neighbors.

Monday, February 06, 2006

For some reason, I've always imagined that arsenic tastes like garlic.

Not that I want to test this hypothesis or anything.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Sesshin. Day two. Up at 6:15, at the zendo by 8. First sitting periods from 8:00 to 10:00.

How do you divide three sitting periods in to two hours? Forty minutes each? No, for some reason, the first two periods are 45 minutes, and the third 30 minutes. The sitting periods are separated by kinhin (walking meditation).

Dharma talk from 10 to 11, followed by a sangha meal until about 1:30. Driving home, picked up the Sunday NY Times to read during the Super Bowl.

Returned to the zendo at 3:00 p.m. for the Public Talk, this week given by a guest speaker. Back home again by 5.

Started reading the Times, but forgot about the Super Bowl. Go to bed by 10:30 in anticipation of tomorrow’s morning zazen service (6:00 – 7:30).

Thus was the day.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Today was the full-day, main event of the weekend sesshin. Eight a.m. until 9 p.m. (Actually, it started at six a.m., followed by breakfast at seven, but I find that missing the first period and breakfasting at home gives me an extra two hour's sleep - a good return on the investment of one missed hour of zazen.)

Legs and lower back are sore, but the mind is very calm and focused.

While dusting during samu (work) period, I came across a book of Layman Pang's sayings, and found this one on his encounter with Zen Master Daibai:

Dialogue With Ta-Mei (Daibai)

The Layman visited ch'an master Ta-Mei. Hardly had they met when he said, "I've long wanted to meet you, Ta-Mei. I wonder whether the plum is ripe or not."

"Ripe!" exclaimed Ta-Mei. "What part do you want to bite?"

"Dried-fruit confection," returned the Layman.

"Then give me back the pits," said Ta-Mei, stretching out his hand.

The Layman went off."


- The Recorded Saying of Layman P'ang, pg 65, translated from the Chinese by Ruth Fuller Sasaki et. al. (1971)

Like Daibai, the Layman was also a student of Baso's, and after his enlightenment under Baso he traveled around China, often accompanied by his daughter, testing the understanding of various Zen Masters of the time, including other students of Baso's, such as his dharma brother Daibai. Their encounter occurred after the monk had returned from telling Daibai "No mind, no buddha," and word had spread that Baso approved, saying "The Plum is ripe."

The problem is that the term "dried fruit confection" (po-tsa-sui) literally translated is a "hundred million pieces." The authors of the book state they do not know what kind of food this was in those days. It might, they supposed, have been a confection of dried fruits with the pits and skins intact. "A Chinese friend says that today the term means a thick soup of mutton and various vegetables that is favored by the common people," in other words, goulash.

However, I think the translators missed the mark here. The myriad dharmas are often referred to as the "ten thousand things," and the "hundred million pieces" might have been Layman Pang's direct pointing at the ultimate nature of reality. Or it might have been a play on words, implying both the myriad dharmas and a delicious snack at the same time. Two meanings. Sort of like asking at the cafeteria of a mental hospital if they serve mixed nuts.

Upon first meeting Baso, Layman Pang had asked, "Who is the one who is not a companion to the ten thousand dharmas?" When Mazu said, "When you swallow all of the water in the West River in one gulp, then I'll tell you," Pang realized his enlightenment, so this expression, "ten thousand things," must have had great importance to the Layman. It would only be natural that when meeting another student of Baso's, he puts essentially the same question to him, although this time with a pun based on the monk's dharma name.

In any event, Daibai's "then give me back the pits" was saying, playfully, "take that which you can digest, and don't worry about what you don't understand." This is consistent with his responses to both of the monks who had previously encountered him, "just follow the river" (go the way that comes naturally) and "never mind about 'neither the mind nor Buddha'." In all three cases, Daibai sticks with his practice, and encourages others to follow whatever practice works for them.

Or maybe I'm just loopy from too many hours of sitting.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

A Thought Experiment

Take two flashlights. Hold one in your left hand and hold one in your right hand. Hold your arms straight out so that the flashlights are aiming in opposite directions, and turn them both on simultaneously.

Light streams out from the flashlights at the speed of, well, light. Now, ask yourself this: what is the speed that the photons are moving away from each other?

According to Einstein, nothing can be faster than the speed of light. But the answer to the question above, obviously, is that they are moving apart from each other as twice the speed of light.

This leads to several possible conclusions:

1. Einstein was wrong.

2. By spooky action, the photons know they're being compared to each other, and thus slow down to at least half the speed of light so as not to violate the cosmic speed limit.

3. Space and time are curved, so that while from our infinitesimally small perspective, it appears that the photons are moving apart from each other, they're actually running in parallel.

4. Space and time are not curved, but by spooky action space and time become aware that the photons are moving apart from each other, and they bend to accommodate the cosmic speed limit.

5. There are no flashlights. There is no light and no speed of light; thus, there is no limit to the speed of light. There is no one to observe the speed of light. There is only mind.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Music Review: Eric Dolphy - Stockholm Sessions

In jazz, as in Zen, lineage counts for a lot. People ask, “Who’d he play with?,” about an exciting new performer, just as monks ask “Who did he study under?,” when the teachings of a new Master are spread.

And Eric Dolphy, just like Huineng, was a true original. He seems to have burst out of nowhere, suddenly, and with his own distinctive style and approach to music. While most of the other so-called avant-garde of the late 50s and early 60s sound very intense and serious in their playing, Dolphy's solos are playful and exuberant, even ecstatic. He was a true multi-instrumentalist, and largely introduced the bass clarinet to jazz as a solo instrument. He was also one of the first to record extended unaccompanied horn solos.

Dolphy played in relative obscurity in L.A. until he joined the Chico Hamilton Quintet in 1958. In 1959, he moved to New York and was soon a member of the Charles Mingus Quartet. Dolphy recorded quite a bit during 1960-1961, including three albums cut at the Five Spot while with trumpeter Booker Little, Free Jazz with Ornette Coleman, and sessions with the drummer Max Roach. By late 1961, Dolphy was part of the John Coltrane Quintet; their engagement at the Village Vanguard, now legendary, provoked jazz conservatives to brand Coltrane and Dolphy's work as “anti-Jazz” due to the lengthy and very free solos, greatly upseting Dolphy and causing Coltrane to fire back a response to Downbeat magazine.

Between September 25 and November 19, 1961, Dolphy recorded a TV special and a radio air check in Stockholm. These dates have been released as “The Stockholm Sessions.” It’s a remarkable album – the man’s mind sticks to nothing, and no two cuts are alike. Dolphy switches between highly varied approaches to composition; between playing alto sax, bass clarinet and flute; and between a Swedish quartet (Knud Jorgensen or Rune Owferman on piano, Jimmy Woode on bass and Sture Kallin on drums), a quintet (by adding the trumpeter Indees Sulieman on a few cuts), and totally solo (his amazing unaccompanied bass clarinet version of "God Bless the Child"). And although one can never pin him down, saying, “He’s the guy who plays in such-and-such style,” the album is a perfect conceptual whole.

The album opens with a short, crisp drum solo and then Dolphy’s energetic alto on “Loss” (aka “Les”). Dolphy’s blowing jumps up and down from one register to another and although free from melodic limitations, it never sounds dissonant or harsh. It’s an up-tempo number and the quartet kicks the beat along nicely until Dolphy squeaks and squeals into a slow fade of a finish.

On the next song, “Sorino” Dolphy switches to bass clarinet for a slow, bluesy number. And while the opening melody is conventional enough, he quickly starts playing scales and goes off from there into an exploration of the sonic possibilities of that most ungainly of instruments - the bass clarinet. In the wrong hands, the bass clarinet can sound like a petrified squid, but in Dolphy’s it sings like a bird (although, granted, possibly some sort of prehistoric bird). Never falling into a rut, Dolphy keeps surprising the listener with different and innovative approaches from one line to the next.

“Miss Ann” is another fast-paced, post-bop number reminiscent of the opener “Loss,” but this time with Dolphy sticking to the bass clarinet to show that the instrument can also swing every bit as hard as the sax. He spits out some nice hard lines, and trumpter Idrees Sulieman cuts in seamlessly.

But the showstopper is “God Bless the Child,” with Dolphy all alone on bass clarinet. The composition has its own fun-house logic, with Dolphy playing repeating scales, the same device that starts off his extended solo on “Sorino,” but occasionally stopping to play just one or two notes of the familiar melody before the cycles of scales start in again. And occasionally, just when you think you’ve got the pattern figured out and are waiting to hear the next notes of the melody, he pulls the rug out from under you with a sudden, soulful riff, or else a long, flat “blaaaaat” – the petrified squid sound. Or a run all the way down to the bottom of the bass clarinet’s range, a note so deep and low it reverberates in your sphincter. And strangely, although it was recorded way back in ’61, it almost sounds at times like electronic music, and the oscillating scales and repeating patterns pre-suppose the programmed synthesizers of 20 years later.

On the next cut, a cover of Mal Waldron’s “Alone,” Dolphy shows that he still has plenty of innovations up his sleeve, switching now to solo flute. The piece starts off very formal and traditional, Dolphy stating the melody and placidly going through the song’s lines for the first two minutes or so, until he suddenly jumps out with a bunch of bird-like improvisations and the band quietly falls in behind. Everything is quickly resolved, however, and his latter, more-varied approach to the flute is soon revealed to be the same melody used to start the piece.

“GeeWee” includes some great give-and-take between Dolphy, back on alto, and Sulieman, and on the closing cut, “Don’t Blame Me,” Dolphy returns to the flute. “Don’t Blame Me” is a long leisurely piece, allowing Dolphy to explore a lot of varied approaches to both his technique and to composition. The CD version of “the Stockholm Sessions” includes an alternate version of “Sorino.”

Eric Dolphy eventually settled in Europe and made it his home (his fianc√©e was a ballerina in Paris), recording three volumes of “Eric Dolphy in Europe,” as well as “The Copenhagen Concert,” “The Berlin Concerts,” “Live in Germany” and “The Complete Uppsala Concert.” Tragically, he died suddenly from a diabetic coma on June 29, 1964 at the age of 36.

If you have any interest in creativity or the possibilities of music, or if you just want to hear a master musician in his prime, check out this album.