What was the first New Age music album? you might ask. There is a wide consensus that Music for Zen meditation and other joys by Jazz clarinetist Tony Scott (1921-2007) was the first release. But what makes this into a New Age music album? Read on, and we will try to describe the first example of that special New Age music 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.
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.
… and other joys
I think it says something about New Age music that the first album was a “Music for meditation” kind of release. This is music that has a use, and it is not purely for enjoyment. I absolutely love the “and other joys” ending of the title. This is music that can be used for relaxation, love making, washing up… The number of other joys are infinite. My favorite track is To Drift like the clouds. I like the parts where Scott follows the melody of Yuize and Yamamoto.
Music for Zen meditation and other joys is a fantastic release. It opened for a new world of sound. No one can say that it is not an important album, and it is still very enjoyable. I can safely recommend it to everyone. It is a part of music history to cherish.
We give it 100 out of 100 points; It is an album that always will feel fresh and new.
Here are scans of the original LP cover: