The first album in our New Age Music Essentials (NAME) series is Tony Scott’s Music for Zen Meditation and Other Joys (1964). There is a wide consensus that this album by Jazz clarinetist Tony Scott (1921-2007) was the first release in the New Age music genre. But what makes this a New Age music album? Read on, and we will try to describe the first example of this special sound.
Tony Scott was one of the most famous clarinetists of the 1950s and 60s. He played with many of the big names in Jazz at the time, like Billie Holliday and Sarah Vaughan. He held concerts all over the world, which eventually took him to Asia. The cultures of the Far East made a big impression on him, and he also got to play with local musicians. Music for Zen Meditation was recorded with koto player Shinichi Yuize and shakuhachi player Hozan Yamamoto.
Here is the album that started it all:
A Powerful Fusion
Music for Zen meditation is a fusion between East and West. It is a big step into the borderland between Jazz and the genre we today know as New Age music. There are hints of Jazz notes here and there, but the melodies are highly meditative and inspired by the music of the East.
After many years of Jazz, Scott was used to improvision. The album was created during jam sessions with the Japanese artists, where the focus was on expression and atmosphere rather than on form. The result was an album unlike all others.
Above picture of Tony Scott – CC BY-SA 3.0