Poetry and jazz, jazz and poetry, which came first? Ben Goldberg
poses that same question with Good Day For Cloud Fishing
. His answer to the philosophical 'chicken or the egg' riddle is well, both. Sure, Homer wrote the Iliad
centuries before King Oliver put cornet to lips, but damn if there wasn't some gutbucket rhyming to be found in Dante Alighieri's La Divina Commedia
Goldberg riding the wave of jazz/poetry projects beginning with Kenneth Patchen's collaboration with Charles Mingus
in the 1950s, Jack Kerouac and Zoot Sims
, Allen Ginsberg and Hal Wilner, up to recent works by Matt Wilson
(Carl Sandburg), Jane Ira Bloom
(Emily Dickinson), and Benjamin Boone
(Philip Levine). Except Goldberg's tribute has no spoken lines. He takes a unique, let's call it an ouroboros approach to the poetry of Dean Young. First he reads a Young poem and writes a composition based on it. Then he records the song along with guitarist Nels Cline
and trumpeter Ron Miles
, with the poet in the studio writing a new poem based on the music he hears. The caveat is Young is not told what the original poem was. The trio plus poet complete a circle, poetry inspires music and music inspires poetry, inspired by music.
This recording is not crafted for the digital download nation. The tidy box it arrives in contains twelve cards with the original poems printed on one side called "Entry" and the new poem on its opposite, "Exit." Reading along with the "Entry" poem while the music plays, or even better before each track is played, and then again after each track, consuming the "Exit" poem is an exercise in discovery. If you are not familiar with Young's poetry you'll be surprised (ignore this quote by Jane Austin: "surprises are foolish things") and entertained by lines such as "A mallet stops a horserace/There is a dwarf in my face/I rewind emptiness/It rains in my raincoat/A glance of glitter dislodges every cornea" from "A Rhythmia," which is followed by Goldberg's contra alto clarinet dredging up something Tom Waits
might savor, then Young writing the companion "Ornithology" with the line, "Just acting lost to make me feel better about myself." The card seem essential to get the full effect of the sounds. And the music spills over with the clarinetist's waggish nature. There are touches of early jazz, some marches, dance music, the blues, Hitchcockian cinema passages, and suggestions of Thelonious Monk
, a favorite source for Goldberg. With Miles and Cline, the music is executed with a grace and simultaneous frivolity fitting a neo-surrealist poetry reading without words.
Demonic Possession is 9/10ths The Law; Parthenogenesis; Phantom Pains; A Rhythmia; Corpse Pose; Because She
Missed A Test, She Introduced Me to Her Son; Reality; Sub Club Punch Card; Ant-Head Sutures; Someone Has To Be
Lowered Into The Whale Skull For The Ambergris; Surprised Again By Rain; An Ordinary Day Somewhere.
Ben Goldberg: Bb clarinet, contra-alto clarinet; Nels Cline: electric guitar; Ron Miles trumpet; Dean Young: