309

Cassandra Cleghorn / Erik Lawrence / Rene Hart / Allison Miller: Merge

Mark Corroto By

Sign in to view read count
Cassandra Cleghorn / Erik Lawrence / Rene Hart / Allison Miller: Merge
Poet Bern Porter once told me that all he asked in exchange for one of his poems was a loaf of bread. If you really liked the poem, he suggested, you might bake that bread with a few raisins inside. Porter's philosophy is certainly a far cry from today's hip-hop generation, with its cognac, scantily clad women and MTV cribs. But then again so is the jazz music we listen to. It seems like a long time ago that poetry and jazz met popular culture and decided to take the road less traveled.

When these two art forms walk together the results can be quite gratifying. Poet Cassandra Cleghorn and musician Erik Lawrence contribute music and words to this collaborative project they call Merge. Joining them are bassist Rene Hart and drummer Allison Miller.

Cleghorn's written poems are interpreted, accompanied, embellished and sharpened by the three very talented improvising musicians. Lawrence provides some impressive extended saxophone technique throughout. On "Owl the bass walks in over Miller's cymbals and bells, and the slow pace is taken up by Lawrence's saxophone. Cleghorn speaks only a few sentences, but the scene has been played out in its entirety. Lawrence's circular breathing ends with the meditative pops and clicks of his silencing keys.

In some places Cleghorn opens a piece unaccompanied, her voice bringing into mind the poems of Ishmael Reed brought to life by Kip Hanrahan in the 1980s. The band drops into a blues mode as on "No Smoke, No Wires/Dashiuh. Other places there is an odd tango, a lingering echo, some hand drumming. Especially pleasing is the patient and very woody bass of Rene Hart, playing not so much the timekeeper's role as an unfinished attic where Cleghorn goes to speak her words.

Allison Miller's drum solo opening to "Bourrée speaks with as much certainly as any words. She continues as she accompanies the poet. The minimal sounds amplify the words beyond the physical act of speaking them.

This recording is a keeper.

Visit Merge on the web.

Track Listing

Firefly; Plan/Tearwater Tea; No Smoke, No Wires/Dashiuh; Honey; Whistle Stop; Bourr

Personnel

Cassandra Cleghorn: poetry, voice; Erik Lawrence: saxophones, flutes; Rene Hart: bass; Allison Miller: drums.

Album information

Title: Merge | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Merge Poetry Music

Post a comment about this album

Tags

Shop Amazon

More

All About Jazz needs your support

Donate
All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, shelter in place and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary effort that will help musicians now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the bottom right video ad). Thank you.

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.