SYMPOSIUM II: A Live Integration of Jazz & Poetry
On April 6th at 9:00pm, the doors of The Engine Room opened to reveal an exceptionally inviting atmosphere. The second SYMPOSIUM would begin in about an hour but the excitement was palpable. I will periodically post video’s from the evenings activities. The message behind the event was to fully integrate imagination and improvisation in the performance of poetry and jazz. The expression of the musical ensemble was directed by my “notation” which can best be described as a 2-column score. The poem on the left represents the time and contains various instructions for the poets while the right column instructs the musicians various instrumentation, tempo, groove or soloist. SYMPOSIUM II contained zero rehearsals.
In this video, I am reading “Only Death” by Pablo Neruda with Nadav Spigelman (bass) accompanying me. Joe Goldberg later enter’s with flute.
Summer 2010 :
Based out of Philadelphia and New York City, I will examine the current state of jazz and poetry as one common entity. The work I will conduct will appear here on this blog in the form of recorded interviews, interview transcripts, summaries and photographs. By compiling the first collection of opinions by professionals on all sides of the jazz/poetry connection, this archive will allow new insight into the minds of these artists.
The clubs I intend on visiting are: “Smalls” , “The Bowery Poetry Club”, “Nuyurican”, “The Fat Cat” and various readings around New York City. Jazz musicians expected to speak: Steve Wilson, Ron Blake, Marcus Roberts, Stephen Riley, Spike Wilner and more… Poets expected to speak: Billy Collins, Bob Holman, Lee Kostrinsky, George Guida and more…
The weekend of February 20th brought pianist Marcus Roberts back to his home base of Tallahassee, Florida. He did not travel alone however. Accompanying him for a special live performance and recording session included Wes “Warmdaddy” Anderson (alto) , Marcus Printup (trumpet) , Stephen Riley (tenor) , Ron Westray (trombone) , Jason Marsalis (drums), and Rodney Jordan (bass). This world-class line-up welcomed two promising FSU undergrads to the band stand: Ricardo Pascal (tenor) and Alphonso Horne (trumpet).
I sat through both sets of the show at TCC on the evening of the 20th which both featured the same material. It cannot be said which set was more impressive or moving, for each piece left such an impression and level of humbleness that I was under a hypnotic state the entire evening.
Celebrating the 20th anniversary of the recording, “Deep In The Shed”, Marcus was extremely thrilled to bring the new caliber of musicianship to a record which has always been a staple of the J-Masters career. The record is based around the blues form and all of its variations whether it be moving around key centers or extending its length. One particular tune, perhaps the most challenging to play on the record entitled “E. Dankworth” involves an improvisational section in all 12 key centers and a technically intimidating “head” melody. It was during this piece in particular that the entire band was able to trade solos following Marcus’ killin introduction vamp. Trading is essential to the communicative nature of jazz, this we know. To see the youthful fire of Pascal and Horne holding their own against Riley and Printup was by far some of the best junk I’ve caught in my time in Tallahassee. Please look right to check out some of the shots I took during the show.
Refection: On December 11, I missed my first flight to Philly to catch night two of the James Farm world premiere. Chris’ Jazz Cafe, on Samson rarely caters this degree of a talent. The entire block seemed to be at a heightened sense of importance. I was able to snag a 5:45pm out of JAX, which put me into Philadelphia International at 7:30pm. I had to catch an 8:00pm show. The cabby left me off at 13 and Samson at 7:45. Enough time to chat with friends and family,snag a cup of french onion soup and find a safe place for my luggage.
On Monday, December 28th 2009, I found myself searching for jazz in the west village. I had to look no further than “Smalls”. Although I was at the club from 7:45pm to 2:00am the next morning, I was only able to document Ari Hoenig’s incredible trio. During the first bands set at 7:30, Larry Ham delicately tickled the piano with a stellar trio reminiscent of Ahmad Jamal minus the dramatics I love so much. It was during Ham’s two sets that I was able to sit down with co-owner Lee Kostrinsky for a great conversation, mainly addressing my curiosity on the current jazz poetry connection in NYC. This question will later be addressed in my field work Summer 2010. Lee’s perspective is extremely powerful, as his is passion and spirit for New York City. Check out the interview transcription with him over in the right column.
“As a music student earning his BA in Jazz Studies at Florida State University, FSU MIESA President, musical director, saxophonist and songwriter, Alexander Ariff arrives at last with his first publication. Dive into documented jazz music and culture, past, present and future with this multi-dimensional jazz journal. It will leave a new taste for curiosity, appreciation and enjoyment like never before. Please stop back here and keep up with a refreshing jazz journal that is surely swinging for the fences. ”