A touch of Jazz and some poetry this week, including some experiments in sound and video.
It’s so good to hear jazz artists who have great affinity for each other and play together without printed music, just concentrating on each other to produce that mix of improvised and written/arranged music that sets makes jazz stand out as a great art form.
I heard bassman Sam Trapchak playing at LIC Bar (www.licbar.com) on Monday April 2nd with guitarist Adam Lomeo in an hour long set that consisted of a range of pieces that allowed each artist to express their individual skills to a high degree as well as show off their attunement to each other. Regular readers of this blog will know how high I rate Sam Trapchak as a player and writer. I haven’t heard him in a duo setting before and recognise how this combination of guitar and bass can be exposing of skill, imagination and creativity. This was a set that combined intimacy with intricacy, Lomeo’s subtley amplified1940s Gibson standing well with the big, but unassertive double bass. Whenever I see a bass I’m reminded that it is not a bass violin, it is in fact the last remnant of the ancient viol family of instruments, built to play in domestic environments, generally in a consort or supporting instruments such as recorder, crumhorn, virginals and rebec; that in themselves are not loud. So it’s nice to hear it played in this way. LIC Bar isn’t always the easiest place to play intimate music, catering as it does for regular drinkers, sports watchers and random dogs. Fortunately Monday night was not too noisy and the attentive audience were treated to a form of subtle jazz that relied more on intricacy of playing and expresssion than volume and excitement. However, this was not introverted performance. I have been to some jazz sessions where I felt that the presence of an audience did not matter, such were the players concentrating on themselves. Here the two players were definitely aware of their audience and played a range of new and more well known pieces and arrangements, some of which had great energy and movement that engaged you as a listener. Foot tapping if not head banging.
Check out this video of Charlie Parker‘s classic “Moose the Mooch” –
I’m still learning how to use photo software and sometimes I get results that surprise me, so I thought I’d show this one of Adam Lomeo:
I took an excursion across to Manhattan the other week and caught the reunion performance of the band Nonononet at Drom (http://www.dromnyc.com/), in East Village. Nonononet (http://www.sus4music.com/nonononet.asp) is a brass group of nine players (hence “nonet”) who play a range of well arranged music that spans a range from Duke Ellington, through the Beatles to Led Zeppelin, via some of their own compositions. The band consists of leader Robert Susman on trombone, two saxes (one doubling flute and clarinet), two trumpets, tuba, French horn, drums and percussion.
There is something about brass, that combination of lips and reeds, rich harmonies and strength. I used to enjoy brass band competitions when I lived in the North of England and used to catch my nephew’s brass group “Fat Lips” in clubs around London. Nononononet had a great sound, with lively and skilful ensemble. I love the use of tuba as the bass line, the characterful Dale Turk underlining the ensemble with real aplomb. Though not all were members of the original (and quite youthful) band from the early1990s I imagine that they faithfully reproduced their energy and skills. They played two sets, a good chance to really listen and to allow the planned performance to spread across a couple of hours and to offer a good spread of fast/slow, traditional and new: all music that is designed to entertain. This was real music, real arrangements with real instruments; and played by real people. A very satisfying night.
Drom is a bar/supper club so there was a small cover charge and expectation that you buy food at the table – not unlike other places in Manhattan. In return for this I hope that the band were paid. A nine-piece is an expensive proposition. Here’s a video of one of Nonononet’s own pieces “Aloneness” featuring original member, French Horn player Jeff Scott.
Check out some more photos on:
It’s apparently National Poetry Month, who would know it? Where is the spread of posters across town, on every street corner, in bus stations, on subway walls and tenement halls. Where are the poets competing to be heard across Times Square, in gated Florida communities and, just as you’re about to fall asleep, grabbing you by the heart, flying screaming from the TV?
I’ve met a few poets around LIC and I want to give some of them an opportunity to share their work on this blog. So asked them for some written examples of their work and some have offered audio/video recordings.
Click on the links to hear the readings.
Three are represented here: Lee Goffin-Bonenfant, Audrey Dimola, and Robert Bell Burr
Lee Goffin-Bonenfant is an LIC-based actor, poet and musician. This is her tribute to Anne Sexton, Sylvia Plath and George Starbuck.
AFTER CLASS, BEFORE THERAPY
into the Ritz with a dirty martini
Each one, in turn
looks past the first, beyond the second
and into themselves again
convinced they are someone else’s Different
And Everyone is staring at Anne
exuberant, forceful, loud
constantly the center of attention
like the gaudiest ring in the jewelry shop –
not what you came here for –
a ridiculous thought in the first place
bu so jam-packed with precious stones and eye catching glints
that you can’t help but stare at and long for her
forgetting that a ring is nothing but a beautiful circle around
a gaping hole
(And she is every one of us
setting off all our bells and whistles
because she is more aware than anyone
of the emptiness pressing against her insides
constantly threatening to escape
and expose the nothing she always knew she was)
in a slightly darker shade of burgundy
standing behind herself
with her hand on her own shoulder
giving herself some sympathy or empathy
or the friendship she so desperately needs
and can’t let herself have
instead of letting them find out for themselves
she wears her insecurities like chain-mail
sinking (slumping) slightly under the weight of them
and arming herself with a set of goals
and forced, if objective, confidence
And the spirit self
that watches her body interact
like watching an old TV with the lights on
and your reflection
flickering in shadow behind the players heads
takes constant notes
and reports the minutes to the physical self
And where is George in all of this?
The libra holding the scales
The intellectual diving block
from whence these two launch themselves
The Man Overlooked.
While the women stare at each other
through the large hanging mirror on the opposite wall
and cleave to his elbows
in hopes that one of them will win
the prize that loses all (glamour)
Robert Bell Burr is a poet who lives in Hunters Point
SMOKED OUT, THE FIERY RANTS
I see the rainbow where the century ends,
the gold where it begins: a turned frail, white-backed
dinosaur in leg irons astride a world cracked
by famine and drained reserves (that now depends
on quick money schemes). Writhing with loss, it sends
its flame-filled screech out over waste drums long stacked
on desert sands, its arteries and veins part-placqued
from what it daily consumes, feeling “the bends.”
The rights of people, too, seem less than real,
while that same dragon sleeps beside its pile,
guarding its wayward stocks — its vacant smile,
long unctuous, come out of all it doesn’t feel —
there, just dozing, awaiting its finest deal
to top its many all too foul ones. All wile
and no play works its way through its dreams. And vile,
it’s true then, are contracts wearing its seal.
|And when he’d stand to take in our applause,|
|He’d first bow briefly, noting then our joy,|
|Before he’d sit again, the room grown quiet.|
|Nor did he seem to tire of the strings,|
|Each piece so brightly conjured in his hands,|
|“Recuerdos De La Alhambra” brought tears.|
|An artist (only) does this, I think. Tears–|
|Wondrous surely, gauged by the fierce applause,|
|Not Pavlovian drops atop clapped hands–|
|Were there because of some exquisite joy.|
|The “little orchestra,” so called, six strings,|
|Our Maestro says, needs fingers that are quiet.|
|A month has passed. I’m in my room. It’s quiet.|
|No yelling in the hall. The shouts with tears|
|My neighbor’s daughter makes, followed by strings|
|Of curses, then by laughter, and then applause,|
|That quick-smart kind that means now let’s have joy,|
|Have stopped. I take my guitar in my hands.|
|Artless thick-set fingers, a fat-cat’s hands,|
|That turn their pages, crispness cutting quiet,|
|Have flipped to find their favorite, “Jesu, Joy…”|
|Time was, my proud attempts brought me to tears.|
|For praise, oh well, my head could make applause.|
|And yet, as now, the thrill was in the strings.|
|Once threads of gut, not temperate nylon strings,|
|They would require much tuning, extra hands,|
|Applied with swift elan during applause|
|(Nor can the timpanist tune when it’s quiet).|
|But I digress. To get back to my tears,|
|Or ours, or theirs, they don’t just come from joy.|
|My waxing here, didactic?…That’s called joy.|
|But when you’ve heard the bell-tones of the strings|
|Just before they melt into bright tears,|
|Nothing’s more pure in all the days of hands.|
|No other solace matches them for quiet,|
|Or better lends itself to grand applause.|
|Are tears in the applause not tears of joy;|
|Who would know the quiet blush of strings|
|And suffer his two hands to find such tears?|
The light came in upon you while I read
a page or two and wrote enough to fill
a sheet torn off the hotel notepad. Still,
the way it crossed your leg, your hip, your head,
then continued with a gentle pulse to spread
itself, as though its source above the sill,
below the blind, a bright square hole, might spill
forever, got me up from my own bed.
Like a voyeur from some peep-holed realm, I thought
but felt quite differently, in fact. What rocks
or sways the mind to find such fiction where
there’s no intent to startle or to scare?
That morning early, while you slept, I taught
myself merely to be a camera box
Audrey Dimola describes herself as “an editorial acrobat and lifelong lover of words whose mantra is:
burn bright, never regret it. She writes, sings, reads, and dreams her way through life in her native Long Island City and Astoria, Queens, usually wearing leopard print and always rediscovering the magic of everyday. Audrey is best known around town as the former Managing Editor of LIC’s only glossy arts magazine, Ins&Outs, and she has helped to promote and support the arts and culture in Queens for years. Recently, the Queens Poet Laureate selected her for inclusion in the inaugural Queens Poets & Poems exhibition in Queens Borough Hall for National Poetry Month. You can find her portfolio online at audreydimola.com, and the wild multimedia blog she edits at sugarnthunder.com.”
Three poems from Audrey:
For Always audio file
forked tongues in careless mouths
and the tempers rise again.
and apologies murmured
through gritted teeth.
how far will it go tonight?
or how deep will the subsequent
when time again we’re faced with the fact
that we’ve said all we can say?
our paths converged what seems like
and still we cannot quite figure out
where to place this
that burns us at the stake
yet comes to salvage the charred remains.
we get older and we stay
to sling the stones of words
we’d like to – but can never –
trying to force your words
to fade away
was always the problem.
you never fade.
and if you start to –
one strand of recollection
ignites your memory
and floods my soul with color
the way you always do.
you were all the good things i had lost –
the unapologetically alive.
just being near you
made me more than myself –
i could look at you
and not know what to do.
only now it seems we do know
and are afraid to act on the truth.
you’ll be what i think of –
like our old gravel-voiced friend sings –
when i’m dead in my grave..
because even then i’d wish for
to fly too close and melt my wings.
in another lifetime, perhaps,
we’ll be what the other needs –
or, perhaps, we already have been
and all this time
have been chasing that dream.
i can only remember you
and being whole –
and finding my place.
seeking the solace and affirmation
now regressed to the point
where no words can express
the bottomless disappointment
in one defeated breath.
you were everything –
that stubborn archaic hope
that drives men to build
and keep dreaming
what they were never meant to dream.
you were, are, will be –
that one last riddle
between the sphinx’s paws
i’ve always wished i could solve.
the futile hope never dies in me.
another time, another place
another life, another plane –
i’d still be waiting,
wishing for you.
in another guise
in some time beyond my reach
i’ll feel that familiar hope
that electricity and madness
so breathtaking and infuriating
so perfectly alive –
and all at once
for now and ever
i’ll know –
i’ll know it’s you –
and i’ll love you
just as endlessly
as every time before.
this is for you,
it seems to me
is the muse’s silent killer..
and stand on a street corner
holding a sign,
or shouting from a mountaintop,
or thrashing in the sea,
waiting for someone to notice.
we writers have to ask ourselves
over and over –
does it matter?
in so many ways
the greats, and others like them,
have said – write not for an
the purest writing comes from you,
praise or criticism may come
or alternately, you may
have only silence.
but whatever you are faced with,
i tell you –
picking up the pen is your
you have realized
the grand illusion –
out of nothing.
and do you know what else?
have you considered
how much of your audience
is invisible –
simply part of the pen and ink,
the walls of your heart,
the fragments of memory..
spirits of the past,
circumstances of the present,
possibilities of the future –
star-trails and planets
and the universe all one –
it all moves to an
when you take that breath,
that step – to create.
how much more validation
do you need?
i worry about you.
you’re tied to me on a thinning string –
i know you grow so weary of the world
you can feel your immortality.
you traverse the streets at night
in your thoughts you wander, too –
but you’re a step ahead of me
because i’m too afraid to leave my head.
such a pure soul
loving wholly, truly
clinging too tight.
stay little –
i only wish i could control my temper
(sometimes it’s hard to know what to say).
you’re afraid, but just like i am
your anxieties always get to you
but i hope they don’t keep you from sleeping
like mine still do.
i wish you could believe.
you fight tirelessly against everyone,
take those hands that mend the world
and know how much they are needed –
i wish i could alter your alchemy
to free you from your own mind.
walking paths i hope to follow –
the light that illuminates your spirit
colors the soul in me too.
undeserving shackles and clipped wings
cannot subvert your hunger for knowledge
you know the things in books before you read them
– you always do.
your calls for inexistence – an end to this – pain me
because no one shines with the light of god like you do.
see yourself the way i see you
because even when you are gone
i will wander endlessly to find you, wherever you are.
the heart in me is clenched –
a volatile soul
watching for the prism of light
splitting through the cracks in the darkness.
and only confirm what is already inherent –
i only wish i could be the being
i know we all have the potential to become.
of this heart to push and pull –
it’s been so long, this back and forth
my spirit almost cannot know another way.
chaos and normalcy walk hand in hand
in this house so weighted by its energy
i cannot leave any piece behind –
or bear to be the one that is left.
all those years ago i was the little girl
just wishing for the pieces to fit.
but through time’s graying lens
it seems i simply want
each piece to find their own peace.
and i can’t write to save myself
because the words don’t rhyme
and the feelings don’t flow
like they used to.
i feel like ever since november
i’ve laid to rest the part of me
that could feel pain–
the part that fought
the part that believed
but most of all
the part that survived.
now one day fades unintelligibly
into the next
and sometimes i don’t even remember
i lose myself
and my thoughts and my words
are mangled and pieced apart
by the train rides and the late nights
and the girl in the mirror
who knows she can’t feel anything at all.
i’m drifting, but so violently
that i seem to destroy everything i touch–
and sometimes i wish i had
a bottle, a drug, a cigarette light
to help me drag this soulless body
through the night.
i burn my bridge to the outside world
and let the embers settle in my throat
until i can’t breathe
and it’s a relief–
because it’s my only chance to get
myself to go away.
every time i close my eyes
the grenade goes off and i see him–
my angel with his secret heart sewn shut.
his halo flickers like a fluorescent bulb
and paranoia sparks a fire in my blood
as i watch him catch a light
on a pair of smoldering eyes
and he savors the smoke
and her smile
without ever knowing i was there.
scars and doubts and memories
stare down from the heavens,
laughing in my face
and i wonder
if you ever really know anyone at all.
BOUNDLESS TALES – ASTORIA