Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

4

Jon Raskin and Clara Harryman: Open Box

Eyal Hareuveni By

Sign in to view read count
Among the varied collaborations between poets and musicians, or the adaptation of poetry to music, the setting of Carla Harryman's genre-busting poetry to improvised music by Rova Saxophone Quartet's Jon Raskin is outstanding. Not only because of Harryman's avant-garde poetic language—often focusing on the language itself, its contradictions and shortcomings—subverting its attempts to capture the fleeting thoughts of the poet or contemplating on its contribution to common complicity to power; rather, mainly due to its success at creating an original sonic world that wraps Harryman's radical words with chaotic, even disturbing, polyphonic staging—highly suggestive, rich in detail and meticulously arranged.

Raskin enjoys the presence of Harryman herself, who has experienced in many inter-disciplinary projects such as the Poet's Theater that operated in San Francisco in the seventies and eighties and many other poetry-performances projects. Other Bay Area forward-thinking improvisers such as percussionist Gino Robair, vocalist Aurora Josephson and guitarist Ava Mendoza augment this project.

Each musical adaptation is a world of its own. The roaring, metallic assault of "Fish Speech" reflects the chaotic state of nothingness sketched in Harryman's poem, "in the beginning," before the notion of language was conceptualized to include the distinction between here and end, inferno or extinction. Harryman and Raskin's plain narration in the two parts of "Open Box" is embraced with fragmented, weird sounds, a true abstraction for the disjointed imagery of this poem. Her insight of the poetic action is described as

The psyche of the poet Exceeds the poem Without the poem Disappearing Into an exterior world In which the poem cannot survive The poem is therefore A representation of an edge Performed in other worlds Not this Once .

"LA Reactive Meme" is a short meditative musical interlude, coupling mysterious overtone singing with Raskin' slow breaths on baritone sax. Jospehson sensually recites "Song for Asa" over inventive, sparsely rattling sounds. Harryman, Josephson and Roham Sheikhani's long choral narration of the enigmatic "A Sun and Five Decompositions," which begins with: "(we are floating under it) so the body is experienced as imaginary because we share a double experience...," intertwines theatrical speaking roles woven with minimal yet noisy textures, while "JS Active Meme" ends this exciting journey with a psychedelic metallic jam.

Open Box is a remarkable reflection of experimental poetry with experimental music, both idiosyncratic and challenging—and totally arresting. Tzadik, the label that released another unique adaptation—the poetry of Paul Celan to music by Dan Kaufman—with Force of Light (2007), deserves huge applause for supporting such a project.

Track Listing: Fish Speech; Open Box Part 1; Open Box Part 2; LA Reactive Meme; Song for Asa; A Sun and Five Decompositions; JS Active Meme.

Personnel: Carla Harryman: reader; Jon Raskin: reader, sax, vocals; Liz Allbee: trumpet, electronics; Eli Crews: pro tools, studio; Aurora Josephson: reader, vocals; Ava Mendoza: electric guitar; Gino Robair: drums, electronics, percussion, piano; Roham Sheikhani: reader; John Shiurba: electric guitar.

Title: Open Box | Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: Tzadik

Tags

Watch

comments powered by Disqus

Shop for Music

Start your music shopping from All About Jazz and you'll support us in the process. Learn how.

Related Articles

Read Sheer Reckless Abandon Album Reviews
Sheer Reckless Abandon
By John Kelman
May 19, 2019
Read Gratitude: Stage Door Live @ the Z Album Reviews
Gratitude: Stage Door Live @ the Z
By Jack Bowers
May 19, 2019
Read To My Brothers Album Reviews
To My Brothers
By Victor L. Schermer
May 19, 2019
Read Social Music Album Reviews
Social Music
By Roger Farbey
May 19, 2019
Read Circle Inside The Folds Album Reviews
Circle Inside The Folds
By John Eyles
May 18, 2019
Read Momentum Album Reviews
Momentum
By Jerome Wilson
May 18, 2019
Read Bonsai Club Album Reviews
Bonsai Club
By Roger Farbey
May 18, 2019