© Andrea Canter
“Life without poetry makes no sense to me.” — Amy Nash
They call it Jazz Word Jazz — a night of small ensemble jazz and poetry readings most recently held on the Saturday Night Jazz at the Black Dog series in 2016. Now, with SNJ curator Steve Kenny heading his fourth summer season of All Originals Jazz at Studio Z, he brings Jazz Word Jazz3 to Lowertown St Paul on Friday, August 25 (8 pm). Featured at Studio Z will be the musicians of MIL TD41 (Chris Bates, Will Jenson, Steve Kenny, Nathan Hanson, Greg Schutte); poet Jim Larson; and visual artist Rebecca Doyle.
The merging of jazz with poetry has an extensive history, from the presentations of the late Steve Lacy to pianist Fred Hersch’s Leaves of Grass to vocalist Patricia Barber’s reinvention of Ovid’s Metamorphoses (Mythologies), and locally from Prudence Johnson’s Millay Project to the weekly open poetry night at the Artists Quarter during the club’s run in St Paul. More broadly, the words of poets have been frequently set to music or have become lyrics to existing compositions in both classical and improvised genres. The long-running Twin Cities ensemble Soul Café has presented concerts for more than a decade that pair jazz works– usually songbook and classic jazz standards– with poetry readings.
Jazz Word Jazz
Notes Chris Bates, acoustic bassist/curator with the MIL TD41, Jazz Word Jazz first performed in 2014, featuring the band and poet Jim Larson. “The intention is to listen to the text and phrasing that each poet delivers and create a musical environment that supports and reflects their work. Improvising with this intention takes a degree of subtlety that places the emphasis on creating a compositional framework from a non-musical source. It’s very liberating.” Electric bassist/curator Will Jenson notes that the “community” of Jazz Word Jazz performs “shows that are unique, one-night only experiences that happen live in real time, no rehearsal, no nets.”
Don’t miss this night of artists who improvise with words and music.
Studio Z is located at 275 E. 4th Street in the Northwestern Building, across from Union Depot in St. Paul’s Lowertown arts district. Doors at 7:30; show at 8 pm; $10. Tickets at the door or at www.originaljazz.org