The other night I rented the movie Zodiac and watched it for the first time. Having missed it during its theatrical run, I had looked forward to watching it for some time. So anyway, one of the first things I picked up on about the movie was its very inventive use of the music from the same time period the gruesome serial murders occured in Northern California — stuff like Donovan's "Hurdy Gurdy Man" for example.
So in this one key scene, they use Santana's "Soul Sacrifice," letting it play out pretty much all the way through during the pivotal scene.
This is not, by the way, a review of Zodiac (though I would highly recommend it as one of the better movies I've seen this year). The reason I bring it up here at all is because in this scene, the odd dichotomy between the wild spirit of experimentation in both art and music going on in and around San Francisco at the time, and the horrifying crimes of the Zodiac killer, seems to point itself towards some sort of ultimate truism.
I'm not exactly sure what that truism is, but I am damn sure that whatever it is, Ralph J. Gleason is a guy who understood it completely. One of the most respected jazz music critics in America at the time, Gleason put his reputation at considerable risk by embracing the psychedelic rock music coming out of San Francisco at the time. History has of course long since proven that he made the right call. But at the time, Gleason had no doubt horrified jazz purists from one coast to the next in doing so.
Watching the remarkable footage captured on this DVD, it's not at all hard to see how Gleason was able to connect the dots between the improvisational spirit of jazz, and what was going on in the Bay Area during the heady period of the late sixties to the early seventies.