Pure Jazz Magazine is a semi annual magazine featuring in depth Jazz stories, interviews plus other information you may find interesting. Based in Brooklyn, USA for the world.
J THE INFLUENCE OF JAZZ ON A POET Abiodun Oyewole azz has been a great influence in my life especially when it comes to writing poetry. When The Last Poets first got together, we had a loft on 125th St. between 5th and Madison. The name of the loft was The East Wind. There we would conduct workshops political workshops theatrical workshops and writing workshops. National Black Theater was developed there by Dr. Barbara Ann Teer. I conducted the writing workshop. I would use Jazz compositions by Trane or Miles or Lee Morgan and others to motivate and inspire the participants to write poetry. This was the same process I used to write my poetry. I always felt that Jazz artist are really poets of sound. The Last Poets actually chronicled that by doing an album entitled JAZZOETRY. The Jazz artist didn’t usually write words down on paper like a poet would, but they would give you a title like SEARCH FOR A NEW LAND by Lee Morgan or EQUINOX by Trane or SKETCHS OF SPAIN by Miles. A poet could easily transcribe those sounds into words. Of course we have had some greats who did use the word and the sound in concert. Eddie Jefferson King Pleasure John Hendricks and Oscar Brown Jr and we can’t leave out the incomparable Nina Simone. These artist could easily go down in history as Jazz poets. Gary Bartz , Yusef Lateef and Charles Loyld used poetry to inspire some of their compositions. Two of the most prolific and profound artist were Sun Ra and Rasshan Roland Kirk. They were masters of their craft. One of my favorites being Kirk’s THE INFLATED TEAR. Sun Ra was very much influenced by the late great Henry Dumas. Most if not all Jazz titles are lead-ins to a poem. If you listen closely you can see the images you can taste the fruit you can smell the flowers and you can feel the passion of life itself. Often when I’m writing I have some Jazz as my background music to relax my mind and help me concentrate on the subject. Most recently I wrote something to Herbie Hancocks’s SPEAK LIKE A CHILD. I hadn’t planned to. I was supposed to be writing something else but the music moved me and I couldn’t stop my pen from flowing with it. Sometimes I’ll just ride with the rhythm and cadence of a Jazz track to write a poem. Carlos Jobim is also another favorite. I love that Brazilian sound. It is medicine to me. Jazz for a long time has been the soundtrack of my life. Not a day goes by without me singing a Jazz track listening to some great Jazz or recalling where I was when I first heard a great piece like Infant Eyes. I had heard earlier Wayne Shorter’s original version of it some years before I heard Doug and Jean Carn’s version with words. I cried the first time I heard the track. I am also very proud of the relationships I have had with some of our Jazz singers like Jon Lucien . Leon Thomas and the incomparable Nina Simone. For many years I had a Jazz ensemble called GRIOT. In the last twenty years The Last poets have been up and running. The poets now are Umar Bin Hassan and our drummer Donald “Babadon” Eaton and myself. We have been a little too busy for me to have another group right now but I miss it so much. I have often compared what Umar and I are doing is very much like Miles and Bird. There is even a physical resemblance. They took jazz to another level like what we’ve done and are doing with poetry. We have in recent years made collaborations with Jazz artist like David Murray. We did a series of European tours with him and his band called TONGUES OF FIRE. Umar and I wrote poetry. The Black Panthers were the theme. David wrote Jazz compositions to our poems. We had tremendous turn outs and performances. All and all I don’t think Black poetry would be as profound and as powerful if not for Jazz. After all it is the only American classical music we’ve got. Page 22 - Pure Jazz Magazine © Copyright Fikisha Cumbo ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
SPEAK LIKE A CHILD Abiodun Oyewole WE CHILDREN OF ANCESTORS ONCE ANCESTORS OURSELVES WHERE TRUTH WAS THE ONLY BANNER AND WE WAVED IT GRACIOUSLY PRONOUNCING OUR BEAUTY PRONOUNCING OUR PRESENCE AND SHARING OUR LOVE WITH EVERY LIVING THING WE MUST SPEAK LIKE THAT AGAIN IF NOT WE’LL GROW OLD AND BITTER WE’LL BECOME TIRED AND WORN OUT WE WILL ALL GET OLDER BUT WE NEVER HAVE TO BE OLD Pure Jazz Magazine - Page 23