“On the Corner”

The album came out when I was 11 years old, but it wasn’t until college that I finally came face to face with the Miles Davis album “On the Corner.” I had been digging his musique concrete era when I put this album on the turntable. But nothing could prepare me for what was about to happen. The bass and drum groove of the first track (entitled “On the Corner” of all things) started to fade. I heard something strange way in the back of the mix somewhere. Couldn’t tell what it was. But like a railroad, it got closer and closer, and I felt something dangerous was about to be revealed. The drums, the bass, the brass all started to fade. And what had been in the background all along was now front and center: Collin Walcott playing electric sitar, and Badal Roy playing tablas! How could this be? This was a JAZZ album, not a classical Indian music album! And after the initial shock, I realized that there was no rule about such things. It’s something I had told myself without much reflection, but all it did was limit my possibilities. I realized that life was, in fact, full of limitless possibilities. That one can do anything with anything. My ears needed more: I sought out (and found) klezmer musicians playing Jewish songs on Indian instruments. I listened to the intense, compelling “fourth world” sounds of Jon Hassell, classical violinists playing Indian music, Brian Eno, contemporary western classical music that had seemed strange to me before and now sounded almost conservative. I listened to what is now called New Age music, and to what is now called world music. The barriers of my past had been shattered, explosively shattered, into millions of pieces. Music was beyond borders. And I wanted to be beyond borders, too. And that is the odd but true story of what led me to seek a career with the U.S. Foreign Service…

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Gregg R. Baker

Gregg R. Baker

Humanist, social scientist, pianist, Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, Tenured/Commissioned U.S. Foreign Service Officer, dad, soulmate and knowledge seeker.