The Po/Jazz Connection: Live From Brave New World (2002)
Zenzele, a sparky feminist, wastes very little time on the first poetry session getting right to the point: "I be Queen Mother of this civilization!" As she elaborates, her words convey a coherent sense of urgency and perspective. Other poets follow. Khaliq tells us: "I need you next to me / ecstasy baby / Invest in me!" (and so on and so forth). Uva ascribes the pain and death of the ghetto to men, specifically those who pursue the "thug life." April Thorpe goes melodic with her vocals, draping an unabashed positivity over her performance: "Think of running naked through a field of daisies..." (Think of flower children.) Lameen Mahdee laments the shallowness of the times with reggae-tinged vocals that describe a modern day Babylon: "family values have been lost and forgotten." Lady Danco proclaims she's "dizzy delicious in your ear," translating the connection between music and words into one between sound and sensuality. Finally, L.I.F.E. goes neo-tribal in the moving closer: "The drum is a channel of energy, knowledge, and power."
Perhaps the most fascinating question that comes out of this recording is how poetry mixed with jazz somehow distinguishes itselves from rap harnessed to beat boxes. Comparing articulate jazz versus static 4/4 repetition, it's pretty easy to see a difference: high art versus pop culture. But somewhere in the middle, where the pieces blur, there's a connection and the two become one. And that's a beautiful place.
Track Listing: Welcome/Kukuru Jona; Walk On By; Daughter Of Destiny; 201 S. Matlack; Wanting To Be In Your Video; Got-Zilla Off My Back; Chocolatye; The Collective; Turn Away; Sisters; Who's That; Wet Walnuts and Whipped Cream; A Drink On Me; Adulterated Drum.
Personnel: The Arpeggio Jazz and Music Ensemble: Warren Oree, bass/vocals; Umar Raheem, tenor/soprano saxophones; Greg "Ju-Ju" Jones, drums; Doug "Pablow" Edwards, congas/percussion; Jeff Knoettner: keyboards; Mike Davis, guitar. Poets: Zenzele, Khaliq, Uva, Nicole McGregor, April Thorpe, Lamont Dixon aka Napalm, Lameen Mahdee, Lori Tsang, Zaki featuring Mecca, Lady Danco, L.I.F.E.
Record Label: Silk Skin Records
Style: Fringes of Jazz