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The playlist for the “Out There a Minute” jazz program on Sunday 5/8, 10 a.m. until noon, will explore the conjunction of jazz and poetry, a concept that goes back to the mid-1950s. According to Leonard Feather’s liner notes for the album, Weary Blues with Langston Hughes, Charles Mingus and Leonard Feather (Verve, 1990), “Possibly there were earlier examples, but it was not until then that pure jazz, belatedly accepted by the intelligentsia as a legitimate art form, was recognized in turn by the poets.”The program is entitled “Be-Bop Spoken Here” because much of the jazz background or accompaniment happened to be “be-bop” jazz, and because much of the spoken word and lingo of the times also consciously tried to reflect the “language” of jazz.
By Feather’s reckoning, the pairing of jazz and poetry actually got under way in earnest in San Francisco, at a club called The Cellar, where Kenneth Rexroth, Laurence Ferlinghetti, Kenneth Patchen and others were reading their works to an in-group audience accompanied by a jazz combo. Meantime, in the mid-West, Ken Nordine was trying some similar experiments in Chicago, while in Greenwich Village, New York City, the Half Note and the Five Spot were holding nights which matched jazz and poetry.
The playlist for the 5/8 program will mix jazz and jazz-accompanied spoken word. Over the course of the program, you will hear jazz written or performed by Louis Armstrong, Bab’s Three Bips and a Bop, Charlie Barnet, Count Basie, Ornette Coleman, Dizzy Gillespie, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Lambert, Hendricks & Ross, Charles Mingus, Thelonious Monk, Junko Onishi, Charlie Parker, Bud Powell, and Sun Ra.
And it will include jazz-accompanied poetry and spoken word written or performed by Lenny Bruce, Edd “Kookie” Byrnes, John Cale, Al “Jazzbo” Collins, Bob Dorough, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Langston Hughes, Jack Kerouac, Ken Nordine, Kenneth Patchen, and Warren Zevon. Even Herman Munster (Fred Gwynne) takes a turn at the mic.
I hope you will tune in and I hope you will hear something that interests you.