Friday, January 19, 2007

when wynton writes, we weep

Nate tipped me off to Jazz ABZ: An A to Z Collection of Jazz Portraits, a book of poetry for children, written by Wynton Marsalis. NPR has written and recited excerpts as well as an interview with Marsalis. The entries on Armstrong, Basie, Coltrane and Lady Day are reproduced on that page.

He also sent me a choice quote from the Ornette poem:

"Ooh oozy oomp. Ow! Oompah varoom! "Oolong of oodles," opined Ophelia
portly opened pour posted au pair opposite polly-opals pro quo quakkis
oak Quintana Roo quoth roccoco cue co-wrote,

"Our round droll groom drools orange o'er trolls to trounce known knolls,"
where Homer wrote, "Nor ornament, nor orthodoxy, nor ornithology.
Now we know who's been writing all that seemingly randomly-generated poetic spam mail. My knowledge of poetry is near nil, but 26 poems in which the amount of alliteration absolutely achieves an avuncular accumulation of avowedly absurd, aggrandised assessments and arcane afterthoughts appears ill-advised, to say the least. Also, putting Dizzy Gillespie under Z for DiZzy is a stretch. I'm not surprised Zorn and Zawinul were cut, but what about Zutty Singleton? However, some of the illustrations, the cover and that of Armstrong in particular, are nice.

Finally, Nate asks "Idle question: how many good poems have been written by jazz musicians?" and suggests Cecil Taylor, Henry Threadgill and Joe McPhee as places to start looking. The one time I saw Taylor, he recited/performed a poem. I had trouble hearing him, as I was right at the back and the top (third balcony) of Flagey's main hall and Taylor wasn't speaking into a microphone, but it was something about the evolution of, well, just about everything on the planet and was pretty cool, at least as a barely-heard theatrical performance.

The floor is open to your contributions (as it always is).