In Bruce Lee movies the fighting is so perfectly choreographed it almost looks real. Well, not REAL real, of course, but the way we'd imagine real might look in Hollywood. It would only make sense on screen. Imagine the scene in Fist of Fury where Lee takes on an entire school of assassins-in-training if it were real and not painstakingly planned out. It wouldn't make for a very interesting (or long) film. But we accept that such blatant posturing is the nature of the High Arts when they become commercialized.
Imagine if, at a concert at Carnegie Hall of Bach's Brandenburg Concertos, all the highly-trained instrumentalists walked onto the stage and started improvising on Bach themes. Unacceptable! Surgically-orchestrated art, free improvisation, structured improvisation—all these forms are valid and have found homes in the music world. I'd like to examine a piece from that second category, an expressionist jazz record made in 1977: Streams of Consciousness by Max Roach and Abdullah Ibrahim. We’ll get to that, but first a little background.