Hour 2: Jazz and Poetry: Benjamin Boone, Laurence Hobgood, Jane Ira Bloom, Matt Wilson, David Murray

Philip Levine – Benjamin Boone

Since the Charles Mingus – Langston Hughes collaborations in the 1950s, there has always been a durable under-current of Jazz / Poetry projects. Recently Poet Laureates Robert Pinsky and Philip Levine have recorded with pianist Laurence Hobgood and alto-saxophonist Benjamin Boone. Bassist Steve Swallow and poet Robert Creeley collaborated on several projects as have tenor player David Murray and Amiri Baraka. In 2017, two projects used the poetry of American masters as the inspiration for jazz suites. Drummer Matt Wilson recorded a project with the poetry of Carl Sandburg and soprano saxophonist Jane Ira Bloom celebrated the writings of Emily Dickenson. Jazz and Poetry in this hour of Jazz at 100 Today!

Benjamin Boone and Philip Levine
Benjamin Boone and Philip Levine discovered common ground in their love for jazz and artistic collaboration while both on the faculty of Cal State Fresno. Levine, Poet Laureate for the United States from 2011 – 2012, not only brought jazz and jazz players into his work, his delivery fit comfortably into the cadences of Boone’s moving compositions.

Soloing. Benjamin Boone and Philip Levine
(Benjamin Boone-as/ss, Branford Marsalis-ts, Craig von Berg-p, John Lauffenburger-b, Brian Hamada-d, Philip Levine-narr). From The Poetry Of Jazz. Origin 82754. 2016.
Call It Music. Benjamin Boone and Philip Levine
(Greg Osby-as, Benjamin Boone-as/ss, David Aus-p, Spee Kosloff-b, Brian Hamada-d, Philip Levine-narr). From The Poetry Of Jazz. Origin 82754. 2016.

Laurence Hobgood and Robert Pinsky
At NPR’s A Blog Supreme, Pamela Espeland wrote, “Former U.S. poet laureate Robert Pinsky was born too late to be a Beat poet, but he would have fit right in. A former saxophonist, he’s often performed his poems with jazz musicians, including Ben Allison, Vijay Iyer, Andrew Cyrille and Bob Moses. For POEMJAZZ, his first recording of poetry and jazz…, he turned to pianist and arranger Laurence Hobgood, who spent 20 years with the poetically inclined singer Kurt Elling.” Unlike the composed pieces featured in the Boone / Levine works, these Hobgood / Pinsky works are improvised in the studio.

Samurai Song. Robert Pinsky – Laurence Hobgood duo
(Robert Pinsky-poet, Laurence Hobgood-p). From Poemjazz. Circumstantial CD. 2012.
Sayings of the Old. Robert Pinsky – Laurence Hobgood duo
(Robert Pinsky-poet, Laurence Hobgood-p). From House Hour / Poemjazz II. Circumstantial CD. 2014.
Funny. Robert Pinsky – Laurence Hobgood duo
(Robert Pinsky-poet, Laurence Hobgood-p). From House Hour / Poemjazz II. Circumstantial CD. 2014.

Steve Swallow and Robert Creeley
Steve Swallow and Robert Creeley first collaborated on a recording project with the disc Home in 1980. Twenty-five years later, Creeley recorded a number of pieces, often with very idiosyncratic readings, for which Swallow created musical settings.

Ambition. Steve Swallow – Robert Creeley
(Steve Kuhn-p, Steve Swallow-b, Robert Creeley-voc, The Cikada Quartet – Henrik Hannisdal-vln, Odd Hannisdal-vln, Marekl Konstatynowicz-vla, Mortn Hannisdal-cel). From So There. XtraWatt 12. 2006.
Sad Advice. Steve Swallow – Robert Creeley
(Steve Kuhn-p, Steve Swallow-b, Robert Creeley-voc, The Cikada Quartet – Henrik Hannisdal-vln, Odd Hannisdal-vln, Marekl Konstatynowicz-vla, Mortn Hannisdal-cel). From So There. XtraWatt 12. 2006.

Jane Ira Bloom and Emily Dickenson + Matt Wilson and Carl Sandburg
Presumably by chance, in 2017, Jane Ira Bloom released her suite inspired by Emily Dickenson and Matt Wilson released his suite of Carl Sandburg’s works. While Bloom lets the poems and fragments of writing serve as inspiration for her best composing to-date, Wilson formed songs using Sandburg’s poems as lyrics. On the Jazz History Online site, Thomas Cunniffe wrote, “In terms of the overall structure, Bloom and Wilson take diametrically opposite approaches. Wilson lets Sandburg’s words unify the suite, while Bloom uses her music as the constant element.”

Alone & In a Circumstance. Jane Ira Bloom Quintet
(Jane Ira Bloom-ss, Dawn Clement-p, Mark Helias-b, Bobby Previte-d, Deborah Rush-voc). From Wild Lines: Improvising Emily Dickinson. Outline OTL143. 2017.
Bright Wednesday. Jane Ira Bloom Quintet
(Jane Ira Bloom-ss, Dawn Clement-p, Mark Helias-b, Bobby Previte-d, Deborah Rush-voc) From Wild Lines: Improvising Emily Dickinson. Outline OTL143. 2017.

Anywhere And Everywhere People. Matt Wilson Quintet with Christian McBride
(Ron Miles-cor, Jeff Lederer-reeds/harmonium, Dawn Thomson-g, Martin Wind-b, Matt Wilson-d, Christian McBride-voc). From Honey And Salt – Music Inspired By The Poetry Of Carl Sandburg. Palmetto Records MEGA 2184. 2017.
Snatch of Sliphorn Jazz. Matt Wilson Quintet with Jack Black
(Ron Miles-cor, Jeff Lederer-reeds/harmonium, Dawn Thomson-g, Martin Wind-b, Matt Wilson-d, Jack Black-voc). From Honey And Salt – Music Inspired By The Poetry Of Carl Sandburg. Palmetto Records MEGA 2184. 2017.
We Must Be Polite. Matt Wilson Quintet with John Scofield
(Ron Miles-cor, Jeff Lederer-reeds/harmonium, Dawn Thomson-g, Martin Wind-b, Matt Wilson-d, John Scofield-voc). From Honey And Salt – Music Inspired By The Poetry Of Carl Sandburg. Palmetto Records MEGA 2184. 2017.

David Murray – Amiri Baraka
David Murray and Amiri Baraka have collaborated through the years, notably on the 1982 disc, New Music – New Poetry, and, in 1996, on the disc Fo Deuk Revue. Pamela Espeland wrote, “Recorded in early 2009, “Yes We Can” — borrowing its title from Barack Obama’s campaign mantra — brings two giants together: Amiri Baraka, poet, playwright, activist and cofounder of the Black Arts Movement; and David Murray, prolific master of the tenor sax and bass clarinet. The meeting happened at the direction of electric bassist Jamaaladeen Tacuma for his album Rendezvous Suite. Pulling lines and phrases from his “Barack Obama” poem, Baraka swings in and out of Tacuma’s funky, popping composition.”

Yes We Can. David Murray – Jamaaladeen Tacuma Quintet
(David Murray-ts/bcl, Paul Urbanek-key, Mingus Murray-g, Jamaaladeen Tacuma-b, Ranzell Merrit-d). From Rendezvous Suite. Jazzwerkstatt 095. 2012.

Resources
Schermer, Victor L. (2019, January 21). Benjamin Boone & Philip Levine: The Poetry Of Jazz Volume Two. AllAboutJazz. https://www.allaboutjazz.com/the-poetry-of-jazz-volume-two-benjamin-boone-and-philip-levine-origin-records-review-by-victor-l-schermer.php

Dayton-Johnson, Jeff. (2006, November 28). Steve Swallow with Robert Creeley: So There. AllAboutJazz. https://www.allaboutjazz.com/steve-swallow-with-robert-creeley-so-there-by-jeff-dayton-johnson.php

Farbey, Roger. (2017, August 27). Jane Ira Bloom: Wild Lines: Improvising Emily Dickinson. AllAboutJazz. https://www.allaboutjazz.com/wild-lines-improvising-emily-dickinson-jane-ira-bloom-outline-review-by-roger-farbey.php

Sullivan, Mark. (2017, September 10). Matt Wilson: Honey And Salt. https://www.allaboutjazz.com/honey-and-salt-matt-wilson-palmetto-records-review-by-mark-sullivan.php

Cunniffe, Thomas. Poetic Jazz. Jazz History Online. https://jazzhistoryonline.com/poetic-jazz/

Heining, Duncan. (2019, October 14). Poetry And Jazz: A Chronology. AllAboutJazz. https://www.allaboutjazz.com/poetry-and-jazz-a-chronology-by-duncan-heining.php

Espeland, Pamela. (2014, April 11). 5 Points Where Poetry Meets Jazz. A Blog Supreme From NPR Jazz. https://www.npr.org/sections/ablogsupreme/2014/04/11/301435058/5-points-where-poetry-meets-jazz

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