In December 1964, over a single evening session in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, John Coltrane and his quartet recorded the entirety of A Love Supreme. This jazz album is considered Coltrane’s masterpiece – the culmination of his spiritual awakening – and sold a million copies. What it represents is all too human: a climb out of addiction, a devotional quest, a paean to God.
Five decades later and 50 miles downstate, over 12 hours this April and fueled by Monster energy drinks in a spare bedroom in Princeton, New Jersey, Ji-Sung Kim wrote an algorithm to teach a computer to teach itself to play jazz. Kim, a 20-year-old Princeton sophomore, was in a rush – he had a quiz the next morning. The resulting neural network project, called deepjazz, trended on GitHub, generated a buzz of excitement and skepticism from the Hacker News commentariat, got 100,000 listens