Sunday, November 22, 2009

Amiri Baraka reads Black Art

videoAmiri Baraka reads his poem Black Art with Sonny Murray on drums, Albert Ayler on tenor saxophone, Don Cherry on trumpet, Henry Grimes on bass, Louis Worrell on bass, for the album Sonny's Time Now. The first album lead by Sonny Murray, Sonny's Time Now was released on Baraka's Jihad records in 1967 (it's liner notes are republished in Black Music, now back in print). Decades later it was reissued by DIW in Japan in a limited edition. Black Art remains one of Baraka's most controversial poems, even at this late date. Composed and recorded with the fires of Black Nationalism fanned to a high flame, it remains innovative on a number of levels, technical and social. The demand that poems ought wrestle cops into alleys, fly planes, shoot guns, remake the world, are bullshit unless they are lemons piled on a step, &c. are but a few examples. The work also provides a snap shot of some of Baraka's thinking prior to his movement away from Black Nationalism and into Third World Marxism, or M-L-M. In terms of jazz poetry, or poetry and jazz combos on record, this would have to rank among the highest historical examples.

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