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...
Benjamin Boone's The Poetry Of Jazz could easily have been titled The Jazz of Poetry because of the almost interchangeable nature of the terms. The composer/saxophonist's vision to put music to the U.S. Poet Laureate Philip Levine's prose is a reminder to listeners that jazz was birthed by the common man, and is not to be kept in an ivory tower.
Both professors at Cal State Fresno, Levine and Boone had performed together before, and the saxophonist had used the poet's writing in some orchestral work. For this recording, made in multiple sessions over three years, Levine actually entered the studio to read his poems with a revolving cast of musicians, including guest artists Tom Harrell, Branford Marsalis, Chris Potter, and Greg Osby.
Levine's poetry, which won two National Book Awards and a Pulitzer Prize, has always centered on the working man, much like Kenneth Patchen's poetry or Bruce Springsteen's songs. For Patchen it was steel mills, for Levine automobile plants. The rhythms of assembly lines and the factory clock serve as a backdrop in poems like "What Work Is" and "A Dozen Dawn Songs, Plus One" causing the human spirit (like jazz) to rise above the grit and grease.
But like good jazz, poetry is also a history lesson. Here, Levine retells the Williamsburg Bridge legend of Sonny Rollins with Chris Potter's tenor saxophone accompaniment, and also of Charlie Parker's breakdown while recording "Lover Man," as told to the poet by trumpeter Howard McGhee. That history is also ingrained in our lives, with "I Remember Clifford," Tom Harrell plays the role of Clifford Brown as Levine recalls when he first heard "the high clear trumpet of Clifford Brown calling us all to the dance," and of the loss jazz endured at the trumpeter's sudden death at 25. Branford Marsalis plays the role of John Coltrane as Levine and his elderly mother both find solace in a Trane solo.
These guest artists might be the attraction for the jazz listener, and Levine for the poetry fan, but that would miss the extraordinary music both written and performed by Boone and several excellent sidemen, including pianist David Aus and bassist Spee Kosloff.
Track Listing: Gin, Making Light of It, The Unknowable (Homage to Sonny Rollins), Yakov, They Feed They Lion, I Remember Clifford (Homage
to Clifford Brown), The Music of Time, Soloing (Homage to John Coltrane), Arrival; A Dozen Dawn Songs, Plus One; Our Valley,
Call It Music (Homage to Charlie Parker), By the Waters of the Llobregat, What Work Is.
Personnel: Philip Levine: poetry, narration; Benjamin Boone: alto saxophone, soprano saxophone; Tom Harrell: trumpet (6); Branford
Marsalis: tenor saxophone (8); Greg Osby: alto saxophone (12); Chris Potter: tenor saxophone (3); Stefan Poetzsch: violin (10,
11); Karen Marguth: vocals (1,7); Max Hembd: trumpet (4, 5, 10); David Aus: piano (2-6, 10-14); Craig von Berg: piano (1, 7, 8,
10); Spee Kosloff: bass (1, 2, 3, 7, 9, 10, 12); Nye Morton: bass (4, 5, 11, 14); John Lauffenburger: bass (6,8); Brian Hamada: drums
(1-3, 6-8, 10, 12); Gary Newmark: drums (4, 5, 11, 14); Atticus Boone: French horn (6); Asher Boone: trumpet (6).
I love jazz because of Elmer Bernstein's score for the 1957 American film noir Sweet Smell of Success, which I first saw as a teenager in the '70s. As a playwright/screenwriter, I write to music and I'm always looking for ways to incorporate it into my work; the most recent example being Bob Crosby and the Bobcats Big Noise From Winnetka, which became the signature theme for my last stage play The Gift of the Gab
I love jazz because of Elmer Bernstein's score for the 1957 American film noir Sweet Smell of Success, which I first saw as a teenager in the '70s. As a playwright/screenwriter, I write to music and I'm always looking for ways to incorporate it into my work; the most recent example being Bob Crosby and the Bobcats Big Noise From Winnetka, which became the signature theme for my last stage play The Gift of the Gab. My late great pa-in-law--the actor Keith Michell--wins the contest hands down however, as he co-starred in the 1962 movie All Night Long rubbing shoulders with Dave Brubeck, Keith Christie, Bert Courtley, John Dankworth, Ray Dempsey, Allan Ganley, Tubby Hayes, Charles Mingus, Barry Morgan, Kenny Napper, Colin Purbrook and John Scott! Wish I could have been a fly on the wall of that soundstage!
We sent a confirmation message to . Look for it, then click the link to activate your account. If you don’t see the email in your inbox, check your spam, bulk or promotions folder.
Thanks for joining the All About Jazz community!