My intention here is to offer a detailed but inevitably incomplete chronology of poetry and jazz. The focus is solely on the combination of the two art forms in performance, not on poetry about jazz or jazz musicians or poetry inspired by jazz but not performed to music. My definition of 'poetry' is fairly broad and extends to spoken word/text combined with jazz. Hopefully, readers will be able to add to the chronology by contributing further examples of which I have been unaware.
1957. The Clown
(Atlantic LP1260) Charles Mingus
, narration/spoken voice by actor/story-teller Jean Shepherd on "The Clown" only. Part-poem, part-story written by Mingus.
1957. A Modern Jazz Symposium of Music and Poetry
(Bethlehem BCP 6026) Charles Mingus. "Scenes in the City" only. Words by Langston Hughes, spoken by actor Melvin Stewart.
1957. Poetry Readings in the Cellar
(Fantasy 7002) Kenneth Rexroth/Lawrence Ferlinghetti/Cellar Jazz Quintet.
1957. Kenneth Patchen Reads with Allyn Ferguson and The Jazz Chamber Jazz Sextet
(Discovery Records DS-858)
1957. Word Jazz
(Dot Records DLP 3075) Ken Nordine
words and narration with the Fred Katz
Group, including Paul Horn
(woodwinds). (NB. Not so much poetry and jazz, as story-telling and jazz. Nordine wrote a series of vignettes for this and other recordings, sometimes surreal and humorous, sometimes mildly socially critical. Fred Katz and his group play a kind of chamber jazz. Katz would later play in Chico Hamilton's Quintet.)
1958. The Weary Blues with Langston Hughes
(MGM E6397) with two groups, one arranged by Leonard Feather
, the other by Charles Mingus. Poetry and spoken word by Langston Hughes.
1958. Jazz Canto Volume 1
(World Pacific WP 1244) Poems by Walt Whitman, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Dylan Thomas, Langston Hughes, William Carlos Williams and others. Various groups perform with various readers, including actor John Carradine, Hoagy Carmichael
Quintet, Gerry Mulligan
, Ralph Pena
Quintet, Bob Dorough
Trio, Jazz Canto Ensemble (with Buddy Collette
). (NB. There does not seem to have been a Volume 2. The Bob Dorough version of three poems by Hughes should carry a health warning.)
1958. Son of Word Jazz
(Dot Records DLP 25096) Ken Nordine/Fred Katz Group. (NB. Contains the piece "I Used to Think My Right Hand Was Uglier Than My Left.")
1959. Kenneth Patchen Reads with Jazz in Canada
(Folkways FL9718) Kenneth Patchen recorded in Vancouver with the Allan Neil Quartet. (NB. 1942 Patchen worked with composer John Cage
on the radio play The City Wears a Slouch Hat. Patchen also performed his poetry with Charles Mingus in the 1950s but no recordings are known to exist.
1959. New York, N.Y.
(Decca DL 9216) George Russell
. Features words and narration by Jon Hendricks
and a stellar orchestra including John Coltrane
, Bill Evans
, Art Farmer
1959. Poetry for the Beat Generation
(Hanover #5000) Jack Kerouac & Steve Allen
on piano. Recorded March 1958. Released June 1959.
1959. Blues and Haikus
(Hanover #5000 Jack Kerouac with Al Cohn
, Zoot Sims
tenor saxophones. Recorded Spring 1958. Released October 1959.
1959. Red Bird
Christopher Logue/Tony Kinsey
Quintetrecorded 29th May 1959 1959 New Departures
magazine launched by Michael Horovitz.
(Dot Records DLP 25196) Ken Nordine with the Dick Marx Orchestra.
1960. Poetry and Jazz at the Blackhawk
(Fantasy 7008) Kenneth Rexroth -group probably Brew Moore
(tenor), Dickie Mills (trumpet), Clair Willey (piano), John Mosher (bass), Hank Uribe (drums).
1960. Charles Mingus Presents Charles Mingus
(Candid CJM 8005/CSM 9005) Charles Mingus Quartet. Spoken word "Original Fables of Faubus" only. Recorded 20th October
1960. London Institute for Contemporary Arts, 20th November. Horovitz and Pete Brown
read "Blues for the Hitchhiking Dead" with the Joe Harriott
Quintet. Cornelius Cardew also performs.
1960. Radio Cologne, December. Michael Horovitz reads with a quintet including Derek Humble (alto) and Dusko Gojkovic (trumpet)
1960. Word Jazz II
(Dot Records DLP 25301) Ken Nordine with the Northern Jazz Quartet.
1961. Poetry and Jazz in Concert Hampstead Town Hall, 4th February 1961. Organised by Jeremy Robson.
1961. Anglia Television, March. Pete Brown reads "I'm Sorry I'm Late" accompanied by Buddy Bounds (trumpet).
1961. Jazz and Voices, Waterloo Room, Royal Festival Hall, 6th June 1961. Performance of God's Trombones
, a collection of verse sermons by James Weldon Johnson. Music by Michael Garrick
, Johnny Scott
Quintet and speakers from the University of London led by Heather Black (later a member of the Barrow Poets). Jeremy Robson meets Michael Garrick at concert.
1961. Poetry Reading Royal Festival Hall 11th June 1961. Reading only. Organised by Jeremy Robson.
1962. Poetry and Jazz in Concert, Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, 24th February. On behalf of/organised by Coventry Arts Umbrella. Arnold Wesker Centre 42 in audience. Asked Robson to organise series of concerts for his forthcoming Centre 42 festivals.
1962. University of Southampton, "Blues for the Hitchhiking Dead," 12th March "McTaggart's Blues," "Flying Home," "Night" performed by Michael Horovitz, Pete Brown, Stan Tracey
, Bobby Wellins
, John Mumford
(trombone), Jeff Clyne
(bass), Laurie Morgan
(drums). (Released 2013 Gearbox records as The Live New Departures Jazz Poetry SeptetBlues for the Hitchhiking Dead (Jazz Poetry Superjam #1)
1962. Center 42 Festivals, Autumn. Performances in five UK industrial towns, including Poetry and Jazz in Concert.
1962 Blues for the Lonely
(Columbia SEG8244 EP.) Michael Garrick/Jeremy Robson. Recorded 11th December 1962. Released 1963.
1963. Poetry and Jazz in Concert
(Argo DA/ZDA 26 and DA/ZDA 27) Michael Garrick/Jeremy Robson et al. Recorded 3rd March 1963, St Pancras Town Hall. Released Argo as two separate LPs.
1963. Poetry and Jazz in Concert, Hampstead Town Hall, 21st May. Jeremy Robson, Adrian Mitchell, Leo Abse, Christopher Logue. Michael Garrick Trio with Joe Harriott and Shake Keane
1963. Marquee Club -The Live New Departures Jazz Poetry Septet. Residency from May (Tuesday)/June (Saturday).
1963. Daevid Allen
Trio forms as poetry and jazz trio. Daevid Allen (guitar, poetry), Hugh Hopper
(bass), Robert Wyatt
(drums) plus Mike Ratledge (piano). Performs at Marquee Club Tuesday 4th June. Michael Horovitz guests. (Daevid Allen Trio"Live 1963" Voiceprint 122. Released 2015)
1963. Institute for Contemporary Arts, March 28th. Various artistsincluding William Burroughs, Bryon Gysin, John Esam, New Departures Quartet, The Machine Poets, Daevid Allen, Hugh Hopper, Robert Ellidge (Wyatt).
1965. Sonny's Time Now
(Jihad 663; reissued DIW-355) Sunny Murray
. Leroi Jones/Amiri Baraka
features on "Black Art." 1965 New York Art Quartet/Leroi Jones
(Fontana STL5521/ESP 1004). Jones/Baraka "Sweet/Dada Nihilismus" only.
1966. Before Night and Day
(Argo EAF/ZFA92 EP). Michael Garrick/Jeremy Robson. Recorded 28th May 1965.
1966. Black Marigolds
(Argo ZDA88). "Jazz for Five" John Smith/Michael Garrick. Recorded 3rd January 1966.
1968. A Black Mass: A play by Leroi Jones
. Accompanied by Sun Ra
and the Myth Science Arkestra. Jihad Productions (reissued 2017 Greyscale GSJGZ015CD)
1968. Black and Beautiful ... Soul and Madness
(Jihad Productions JIHAD 1001) The Jihad -Amiri Baraka and others. (Reissued 2009 Son Boy Records Sonboy 003CD)
1968. The Sun Steve Lacy
with texts by Buckminster Fuller, Lao Tzu, Eugène Guillevic (Recordings from 1967, 1968, 1973 released 2011 EMANEM 5022)
1969. Poetry and Jazz in Concert 250
(Argo ZPR264/265) Michael Garrick/Jeremy Robson. Recorded 22nd June 1969 Queen Elizabeth Hall. (NB. The '250' in the title indicates that this was the 250th Poetry and Jazz in Concert organised by Robson and Garrick between 1961-1969.)
1969. Poem for Malcolm
(BYG Records 529.311) Archie Shepp
. Title track only. Shepp wrote and performs the poem.
1970. Bradford Arts Festival, February. Graham Collier
Music perform Smoke Blackened Walls and Curlews. Words by J. B. Priestley, Ted Hughes, Edward Carpenter, Mrs. Gaskell. (NB. Broadcast BBC Radio 3 July 1971.)
1970. Small Talk at 125th and Lenox Gil Scott-Heron
(Flying Dutchman FDS 131)
1970. The Last Poets
(Douglas 3) 1971 Listen to the Silence
(Concept CR002) George Russell. Music by a group including Jan Garbarek
(Saxophones), Bobo Stenson
(piano), Jon Christensen
(drums), Arild Andersen
(bass) plus choir and other musicians. (NB. Russell selected the libretto from various texts to create a work that was highly critical of American foreign policy and its treatment of Native Americans.)
1971. Mr Smith's Apocalypse
(Argo ZAGF 1) Michael Garrick with John Smith plus band and choir.
1971. This Madness
(Douglas 30583) The Last Poets
1971. Pieces of a Man
(Flying Dutchman FD 10143) Gil Scott Heron. "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised."
1971 Black Ivory
(Perception PLP 18) Wanda Robinson. (Reissued Castle Music CMRCD 084)
Play with music about the life and work of William Blake. Libretto/script by poet Adrian Mitchell. Music by jazz composer Mike Westbrook
. Performed at the National Theatre.
1972. Tyger: A Celebration of William Blake
LP of above. (RCA SER-5612) Westbrook has reworked this material throughout his careerThe Westbrook Blake: Bright as Fire
(1980, Original Records ORA 203), Glad Day: Settings of William Blake (1999, ENJA ENJ-9376 2)
1972. Camden Festival, May 1971. Graham Collier Music perform Wheel of Dreams. Words by Walt Whitman, W. H. Auden, Conrad Aiken. (NB. Broadcast Radio 3)
1972. Free Will
(Flying Dutchman FD 10153). Gil Scott Heron "Billy Green is Dead," "Sex Education: Ghetto Style," "No Knock," "The King Alfred Plan."
(Blue Thumb BTS39) The Last Poets
1972. Alkebu-Lan -Land Of The Blacks (Live At The East)
(Strata-EastSES-1972-4) Mtume Umoja EnsembleGary Bartz
, Carlos Garnett
(sax), Leroy Jenkins
(violin), Stanley Cowell
(piano), Buster Williams
(bass), Billy Hart
(drums), Mtume (conga, tonette), Andy Bey
, Eddie Micheaux, Joe Lee Wilson
(vocals), Weusi Kuumba, Yusef Iman (poetry)
1972. It's Nation Time
(Motown B457L). Imamu Amiri Baraka plus various artists including Gary Bartz, Lonnie Smith
, Reggie Workman
, Idris Muhammad
1973. Southern Arts Association for the Worthing Festival of Literature, March. Graham Collier Music perform Sea, Sky and Down with poems by Ted Walker and Children of Adam, a setting of Walt Whitman poems from Leaves of Grass in Worthing in March 1973. Actor John Carbery narrates.
1973. Me and a Friend
(Perception Records PLP 37) Wanda Robinson. (Reissued Castle Music CMRCD 084)
1974. The Revolution Will Not Be Televised
(Flying Dutchman BDL 1-0613 -compilation) Gil Scott Heron
1974. Celebrations and Solitudes
(Strata East SES 7421) Jayne Cortez
with Richard Davis
(bass). (NB. Cortez was married to Ornette Coleman
and is the mother of Denardo Coleman
, who was her musical director in her group the Firespitterssee below).
1976. Small Change
(Asylum 53050) Tom Waits
"Small Change," "Step Right Up," "Pasties and a G String (At the Two O'Clock Club)" only.
1977. Foreign Affairs
(Asylum 53068)Tom Waits "Jack & Neal," "Potter's Field" only.
(EMC 3207)Tony Coe
, orchestra with poems of Jill Robin spoken by Mary Thomas
1977. The Day of the Dead
(Mosaic GCMD 783/4). Graham Collier Music. Words by novelist Malcolm Lowry from Under the Volcano. (NB. Excerpts broadcast BBC Radio 3 October 1977. Reissued BGO 1028)
1977. Delights of the Garden
(Douglas NBLP7051) The Last Poets with Bernard Purdie
1977. Rebirth Cycle
(Third Street Records TSJ 100. Mtume plus various musicians plus Side one "Sais" poet Muktar Mustapha.
1977-1978. White Suit Blues
A play with musiclibretto/script by poet Adrian Mitchell, music by jazz composer Mike Westbrook. Directed by Richard Eyre at the Old Vic, London.
1978. The Mind of Gil Scott Heron
(Arista AL8301) Gil Scott Heron
1979. The Way
(hatART Records HH2 RO3) Steve Lacy with text by Lao Tzu. Steve Lacy (soprano), Steve Potts
(alto, soprano), Irène Aebi (cello, violin, vocals), Kent Carter
(bass), Oliver Johnson (drums). Recorded in Switzerland. (Later Reissued hatOLOGY 2-604)
1980. Unsubmissive Blues
(Bola Press BP 8001) Jayne Cortez with Denardo Coleman, Bern Nix
(hatART 1985/6) Steve Lacy/Brion Gysin. Steve Lacy (soprano, vocals), Steve Potts (alto, soprano), Bobby Few
(piano), Irène Aebi (vocals, violin), Jean-Jacques Avenel
(bass), Oliver Johnson (drums). Brion Gysin (voice -tracks 4,6).