Monday, October 31, 2011

Will Alexander & Deep Time

Show description for Sunday 10/30/2011 @ 3:00 PM - 6:00 PM

Our guest this afternoon, in the 5 o'clock hour, poet Will Alexander. His most recent book, Compression & Purity, is new from City Lights. Also featured this week, new music from alto saxophonist and composer Darius Jones. His new disc, featuring Adam Lane on bass, and Jason Nazary on drums, is Big Gurl (Smell My Dream). We will also be listening in on the extraordinary 3 disc collection from William Parker Crumbling In the Shadows Is Fraulein Miller's Stale Cake.

Few poets writing today can compare with L.A.-based surrealist Will Alexander in terms of the intensity of his imagination or his radically experimental approach to language as material object. Through the use of automatic writing, Alexander practices a surrealism of the word, creating densely textured layers of signification from its sounded and written forms. Compression & Purity, volume five of our Spotlight poetry series, is Alexander's seventh full-length collection. Known for his visionary epics influenced by poets like Césaire, Artaud and Lamantia, Alexander here returns to shorter forms to address his ecological, cosmological and historical concerns. Highlights include monologues from the perspective of "The Blood Penguin" and "The Pope at Avignon," a song by the "Water on New Mars," and an homage to Cesar Vallejo, "Combustion & Leakage." In true surrealist fashion, the book also includes both an autobiographical lyric essay, "My Interior Vita," describing the evolution of Alexander's artistic consciousness through jazz and surrealism, and his disavowal of the autobiographical process, "On Anti-Biography." An imaginative tour de force, Compression & Purity confirms Alexander's reputation among surrealism's foremost contemporary practitioners.

"This new & rich gathering of Will Alexander's works – always in progress – marks him again as the true successor among us to the likes of Surreal & deeply explorative figures like Breton & Césaire. No other poet writing in America today does it the way that Alexander does – a range of words & images that startle & create new pathways for language & the mind-in-freedom (“alchemical, mesmeric, totalic,” as he names them in these pages). Compression & Purity, so aptly titled, is the work of a true American & world master – & a joy to have & read." —Jerome Rothenberg

“Even at its most confounding, most silent level, this work will unavoidably enter and leave you by a genetic thread of conscious mind woven beyond your 'domestic horizon,; your ‘provincial description' to a vibrating ‘celebration of un-brokeneness.’ This song, in the genealogical terms of cognitive evolution, sings us backwards ‘or forwards’ into a state where we are undifferentiated from the cosmos and can speak, as Will Alexander does, in the full range at once of carbon from dust to diamond.” —Ed Roberson

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Darius Jones Trio E-GazBig Gurl (Smell My Dream)AUM - Fidelity

Darius Jones Trio Michelle Loves WillieBig Gurl (Smell My Dream)AUM - Fidelity

Darius Jones Trio A TrainBig Gurl (Smell My Dream)AUM - Fidelity

William ParkerGreen Mountains (for Bill Dixon)Crumbling In the Shadows Is Fraulein Miller's Stale Cake.Centering Records

William ParkerPhiladelphia ClayCrumbling In the Shadows Is Fraulein Miller's Stale Cake.Centering Records
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Henry Threadgill ZooidLying EyesThis Brings Us To, Vol. 2Pi Recordings

Henry Grimes & Rashied AliLarger Astronomical TimeSpirits AloftPorter Records

Odean Pope featuring Marshall AllenThe TrackUniversal SoundsPorter Records

Roscoe Mitchell & Muhal Richard AbramsRomuSpectrumMutable
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Alice ColtraneLeoTranslinear LightImpulse

John ColtraneIndiaThe Complete 1961 Village Vanguard RecordingsImpulse
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Wasimxzama Khan NaseriKavaliMusic In The World Of Islam: Human Voice / LutesTopic

Dunya YunisAbu ZelufMusic In The World Of Islam: Human Voice / LutesTopic

Gadabursi Somali of OgadenLeader/Chorus Song (excerpt)Music In The World Of Islam: Human Voice / LutesTopic
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Interview With Will Alexander By Justin DesmanglesInterview With Will Alexander By Justin DesmanglesInterview With Will Alexander By Justin DesmanglesInterview With Will Alexander By Justin Desmangles
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John ColtraneChasing The TraneThe Complete 1961 Village Vanguard Recordings

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Making Moves with Dizzy Gillespie & His Orchestra

A Happy Birthday to Dizzy Gillespie!

Show description for Sunday 10/23/2011 @ 3:00 PM - 6:00 PM

This afternoon we will focus on the contributions of the Dizzy Gillespie Afro-Cuban Orchestra. As part of these efforts, we will also explore the music recorded by Charlie Parker as featured soloist with Machito & His Orchestra, including Mango Mangue, as well as Okidoke. In bringing attention to this period, the great composer, arranger Tadd Dameron will also be featured, including his earliest efforts with Harlan Leonard, the small groups featuring Fats Navarro, and the neglected masterwork, The Magic Touch, recorded for Riverside. Along the way we will hear poetry from Countee Cullen, Gwendolyn Brooks, Claude McKay, Margaret Walker, Sterling Brown, and Langston Hughes. (Pictured at right, Harriet Tubman)

Runagate Runagate

by Robert Hayden
Runs falls rises stumbles on from darkness into darkness
and the darkness thicketed with shapes of terror
and the hunters pursuing and the hounds pursuing
and the night cold and the night long and the river
to cross and the jack-muh-lanterns beckoning beckoning
and blackness ahead and when shall I reach that somewhere
morning and keep on going and never turn back and keep on going
Many thousands rise and go
many thousands crossing over
O mythic North
O star-shaped yonder Bible city

Some go weeping and some rejoicing
some in coffins and some in carriages
some in silks and some in shackles

Rise and go or fare you well

No more auction block for me
no more driver’s lash for me

If you see my Pompey, 30 yrs of age,
new breeches, plain stockings, negro shoes;
if you see my Anna, likely young mulatto
branded E on the right cheek, R on the left,
catch them if you can and notify subscriber.
Catch them if you can, but it won’t be easy.
They’ll dart underground when you try to catch them,
plunge into quicksand, whirlpools, mazes,
turn into scorpions when you try to catch them.

And before I’ll be a slave
I’ll be buried in my grave

North star and bonanza gold
I’m bound for the freedom, freedom-bound
and oh Susyanna don’t you cry for me


Rises from their anguish and their power,

Harriet Tubman,

woman of earth, whipscarred,
a summoning, a shining

Mean to be free

And this was the way of it, brethren brethren,
way we journeyed from Can’t to Can.
Moon so bright and no place to hide,
the cry up and the patterollers riding,
hound dogs belling in bladed air.
And fear starts a-murbling, Never make it,
we’ll never make it. Hush that now,
and she’s turned upon us, levelled pistol
glinting in the moonlight:
Dead folks can’t jaybird-talk, she says;
you keep on going now or die, she says.

Wanted Harriet Tubman alias The General
alias Moses Stealer of Slaves

In league with Garrison Alcott Emerson
Garrett Douglas Thoreau John Brown

Armed and known to be Dangerous

Wanted Reward Dead or Alive

Tell me, Ezekiel, oh tell me do you see
mailed Jehovah coming to deliver me?

Hoot-owl calling in the ghosted air,
five times calling to the hants in the air.
Shadow of a face in the scary leaves,
shadow of a voice in the talking leaves:

Come ride-a my train

Oh that train, ghost-story train
through swamp and savanna movering movering,
over trestles of dew, through caves of the wish,
Midnight Special on a sabre track movering movering,
first stop Mercy and the last Hallelujah.

Come ride-a my train

Mean mean mean to be free.


Countee CullenHeritageAnthology of Negro PoetsFolkways

Dizzy Gillespie featuring Chano PozoMinor WalkDizzy Gillespie Vol. 1/2RCA - France

Dizzy Gillespie featuring Chano PozoCubana Be Cubana BopDizzy Gillespie Vol. 1/2RCA - France

Machito & His Orchestra featuring Charlie ParkerMango MangueAfro-Cuban JazzVerve

Langston Hughesthe Negro Speaks of RiversAnthology of Negro PoetsFolkways

Langston HughesI, TooAnthology of Negro PoetsFolkways

James MoodyCu-BaJames Moody & His ModernistsBlue Note

Tadd Dameron SeptetJahberoTadd Dameron SeptetBlue Note

Bud Powell TrioUn Poco LocoThe Amazing Bud PowellBlue Note
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Margaret WalkerFor My PeopleAnthology of Negro PoetsFolkways

Dizzy Gillespie OrchestraThings to ComeBebopNew World Records

Kenny Clarke & His 52nd St. BoysRoyal RoostJazz In RevolutionNew World Records

Machito & His Orchestra featuring Charlie ParkerOkidokeAfro-Cuban JazzVerve

Dizzy Gillespie featuring Chano PozoAlgo Bueno (Woody'n You)Dizzy Gillespie Vol. 1/2RCA - France

Modern Jazz QuartetWoody'n YouNica's DreamNew World Records

Gwendolyn BrooksThe Preacher RuminatesAnthology of Negro PoetsFolkways

Gwendolyn BrooksThe Children of the PoorAnthology of Negro PoetsFolkways

Charles MingusYsabels' Table DanceTijuana MoodsRCA
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Woody Herman & His OrchestraLemon DropBebopNew World Records

Elliott LawrenceElevationJazz In RevolutionNew World Records

Dizzy Gillespie featuring Kenny HagoodOol Ya KooDizzy Gillespie Vol. 1/2RCA - France

James MoodyTropicanaJames Moody & His ModernistsBlue Note

Tadd DameronOn A Misty NightThe Magic TouchRiverside

Sarah VaughnA Ship Without A SailGreat Songs From Hit Shows Volume 2Mercury

Sarah VaughnHe's Only WonderfulGreat Songs From Hit Shows Volume 2Mercury
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Dizzy GillespieGroovin' HighIn The BeginningPrestige

Tadd Dameron featuring Barbara WinfieldIf You Could See Me NowThe Magic TouchRiverside

Sterling BrownLong GoneAnthology of Negro PoetsFolkways

Dodo Marmarosa TrioMellow MoodJazz In RevolutionNew World Records

Charlie ParkerRelaxin' at Camarillo BebopNew World Records

Dexter Gordon - Wardell Gray QuintetThe Chase Part 1 & 2Jazz In RevolutionNew World Records

Claude McKaySt. Issac's ChurchAnthology of Negro PoetsFolkways

Claude McKayThe Tropics in New YorkAnthology of Negro PoetsFolkways

Claude McKayIntro / If We Must DieAnthology of Negro PoetsFolkways

Randy WestonCon AlmaAfrican NiteInner City
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Harlan Leonard & His RocketsA-La-BridgesJazz In RevolutionNew World Records

Dizzy Gillespie featuring Chano PozoGood BaitDizzy Gillespie Vol. 1/2RCA - France

Dizzy Gillespie & Charlie ParkerHot HouseIn the BeginningPrestige

Tadd DameronDial B for BeautyThe Arranger's TouchPrestige

Tadd DameronYou're A JoyThe Magic TouchRiverside

Tadd DameronSwift as the WindThe Magic TouchRiverside

Dizzy Gillespie featuring Joe CarrollJump-Did-Le-BaDizzy Gillespie Vol. 1/2RCA - France
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Sarah VaughnEmbraceable YouSarah VaughnEmarcy

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Does the Secret Mind Whisper? Nov. 11, 2011


Bob KaufmanFriday NOV 11

"Does the Secret Mind Whisper?"
Will Alexander, Maria Damon and Justin Desmangles

a symposium on Bob Kaufman, Black surrealism, and cultural poetics
7:30 pm @ Meridian Gallery, 535 Powell Street,

Co-sponsored with Before Columbus Foundation

“…the ‘secret mind’ represents the convergence of multiple cultural trajectories. It is the political unconscious of the US, which registers all the ‘secret, terrible hurts’ (Kaufman, “Bagel Shop Jazz”) visited upon people who belong to an ‘America not on any map’ (Will Alexander), the disenfranchised who may ruminate silently on these social, spiritual and bodily injuries but who may speak of them openly only at their peril.”

—Maria Damon, Jacket2, “Poetry in 1960, A Symposium”

"Does the Secret Mind Whisper?" was the gnomic open question posed by poet Bob Kaufman in an early City Lights broadside by that title. In collaboration with the Before Columbus Foundation, the Poetry Center hosts an evening symposium under that rubric, in order to take up the nature of Kaufman's legacy and practice, and its extensions into the 21st Century. Featured guests include poet-scholars Will Alexander and Maria Damon, in conversation with Bay Area writer, radio host/dj and cultural worker Justin Desmangles.

BOB KAUFMAN (1925–1986) was a key participant in the 1950s San Francisco poetry renaissance and the Beat movement. Author of three renowned poetry broadsides, Abomunist Manfesto, Second April, and Does the Secret Mind Whisper?, published in the late 1950s by City Lights Books, his poetry in print remained elusive until two collections came out in the mid-1960s. The landmark Solitudes Crowded With Loneliness (1965), published by New Directions, has remained in print for better than four decades. Golden Sardine (1967) became a signature City Lights Pocket Poets volume alongside the works of renowned contemporaries Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso, and Lawrence Ferlinghetti. During Kaufman's last decade, editor Raymond Foye assembled the volume of fugitive works, Ancient Rain: Poems 1956–1978 (New Directions, 1981). The posthumous collection, Cranial Guitar: Selected Poems, appeared in 1996 (Coffee House Press). Following Kaufman's death in 1986, a two-hour feature program, Bob Kaufman, Poet, was produced by David Henderson for KPFA-FM and aired nationally through the Pacifica network. Regarded in France as "the American Rimbaud," Bob Kaufman has been celebrated internationally for his particular mode of Surrealism, permeated by a profound affinity for the outcasts of American society, the poor and punished. The late saxophonist and jazz song composer Steve Lacy called Kaufman "the greatest jazz poet, and the beatest of the Beats."

WILL ALEXANDER (see bio above) has previously published the essay "Bob Kaufman: The Footnotes Exploded" in Conjunctions 29: Tributes.

MARIA DAMON (see bio above) his written on Bob Kaufman, extensively in her early book The Dark End of the Street: Margins in American Vanguard Poetry (University of Minnesota) and more recently online at Jacket2.

Archive AudioJUSTIN DESMANGLES hosts the radio program New Day Jazz, currently at KDVS-90.3 FM, and available online, a heady blend of music and cultural commentary, focused on the African-American cultural continuum. Frequent guests offer a largesse of inquiring and informed commentary, via conversations with, e.g., scholars William W. Cook and James Tatum on African American Writers and Classical Tradition; A. James Arnold and Clayton Eshlemen on their collaborative translation of Aimé Césaire's Solar Throat Slashed; Robin D.G. Kelley on his stellar biography Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original; and jazz pianist Matthew Shipp on the legacy of Bud Powell. Chair of the Before Columbus Foundation, which hosts the annual American Book Award, Justin Desmangles has organized numerous public programs, at San Francisco Public Library and Yoshi's jazz club in San Francisco's Fillmore neighborhood, among other venues.

In a series of public programs on the life and legacy of Bob Kaufman under the title "Does the Secret Mind Whisper?" he recently brought together AACM co-founder Roscoe Mitchell with Kaufman's poetry in performances of original compositions. An upcoming November 14 Benefit for the Before Columbus Foundation at Yoshi's San Francisco will reunite Roscoe Mitchell and Amiri Baraka in duo performance, and feature the new Ishmael Reed Band.