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With a passionate alto saxophone cry, Bobby Bryant starts the session with “Summertime.” A lively rhythm section backs him up as the leader improvises with an emotional appeal. Jennifer Bowens joins him with remarkably to-the-point spoken poetry. “My language is gentle, yet tough,” she says, as the words punctuate the air. Her message is social, political, and philosophical. Then Bridgette Bryant enters with a lovely, straightforward cover of the same Gershwin song with lyrics. Eventually saxophone and poet return to alternate with a message steeped in tradition and driving right at you.
”The Rhythm” begins with a poet’s determined voice bringing a personal touch to the session. He laments the passing of jazz trumpeter Bobby Bryant, Sr., and honors the artist for his courage and leadership. He and poet Bowens emphasize the family values that have been handed down from father to son. Bobby Bryant, Jr. turns the tune into a spiritual arrangement of “Afro Blue.” Pianist Nate Morgan, known throughout Southern California for his overt avant-garde slant toward the extended growth of modern jazz, supplies a spiritual solo to drive the message home. Alternating straight-ahead jazz with powerful post-bop improvisation, he and saxophonist Bryant say it all. The saxophonist’s instrumental arrangement of “Invitation” honors Charlie Parker; floating, diving, and swirling with powerful expression.
The spoken word combines with mainstream jazz in a natural partnership. This highly recommended album provokes deep thought while clearing the air through innovation. The Jazz Poetry Collective may be contacted at: 4401 West Slauson Avenue, PMB #109, Windsor Hills, CA 90043 (213) 918-1143.
Track Listing: Those Who Keep Spirits Alive; Dance Women of Shulam; Lively Up Yourself; Soon I will be Done, Trouble of This World; The Rhythm; Flowers Stolen from the Yards of Old Folks; Invitation.
Personnel: Bobby Bryant- alto saxophone; Jennifer Bowens- poetry; Bridgette Bryant- vocals; Marcus Miller- drums; Leon Mobley- percussion; Nate Morgan- keyboards; Al Threats- bass; A.K. Toney- poet; Mark Tyson- guitar; Eddy Oliveri- keyboards; Wadada- bass; Jessie Williams, Alex