Writings about Music

Incendiary Beyond Genre

Tom Dowd

Engineer and producer Tom Dowd was a key component in some of the most incendiary music we have, including Giant Steps by John Coltrane, Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs by Derek and the Dominos, and At Fillmore East by the Allman Brothers Band, all among my favorite music ever.

That being the case, I was stunned to learn how prior to music, Dowd worked on the Manhattan Project.

My compositions and realizations for meruvina include myriad examples of music that may be described as incendiary. Some of these most recent efforts include the concluding Ati Drut Gat from A Parrot Sipping Tea, Taffeta Patterns and Spirit Lady.

There are simply too many other instances of incendiary compositions to include here, as there are voluminous albums and compositions exhibiting an opposite shanta (peaceful, tranquil) and other similar rasas, with Jasmine Perfume, Green Garnets, Jetavana and Gregorian Winter being the most recent.

It is the expressive and intellectual blueprint informing ragas which allows for such musical extremes within the boundaries of a single vast utterance that attracts me to the form I was fortunate to study with Indian masters, interpreting ragas through the unique prisms of my instinctual and calculating nature, seeking a balance towards the ideal of perfection. "Form is content as deployed. Content is form as imagined." (Helen Vendler)

Among my recent journeying into piano improvisation, personally finding jazz standards born primarily during the early jazz, swing and modern jazz eras ascending as timeless ragas of jazz, fed by my jazz, Indian classical, European classical, rock and avant-garde orientations, the most incendiary sounds there would include passages - not the openings sections! - from Caravan, the But Beautiful duet with drummer Eliot Zigmund, and the Cherokee duet with tabla player Anindo Chatterjee, among too many other passages from other tracks for me to track down and compile at this time.

- Michael Robinson, March 2024, Los Angeles


© 2024 Michael Robinson All rights reserved


Michael Robinson is a Los Angeles-based composer, programmer, pianist and musicologist. His 199 albums include 152 albums for meruvina and 47 albums of piano improvisations. Robinson has been a lecturer at UCLA, Bard College and California State University Long Beach and Dominguez Hills.