Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Poetry 'n Jazz in Paris Jazz Festival setting

Went to see William Parker at the Black Rebels Festival up at La Villette Jazz Festival in Paris, and I was AMAZED. The band he put together was stunning, AND it included spoken word by Amiri Baraka (who used to be Leroi Jones: Black Power/Beat poet extraordinaire). The premise was "The Inside Songs of Curtis Mayfield". Now, I bought a ticket because of Baraka, and it was great to see a the man in person, doing his thing (and though he's looking a bit like a Beat Yoda these days--he's 72 years old--he lived up to his fireball reputation). But the real thrill of the evening was the music. It's rare to see a band that's really on fire. And William Parker's musicians were exactly that. The sax and trumpet players, Darryl Foster and Lewis Barnes respectively, were the smoothest and most impeccably together players I've seen all year, and Dave Burrell on piano managed to sound delicate and insane at the same time (and when he plays solos, the man looks like he's wrestling a rhino). And the drummer, a guy named Hamid Drake, sounded like an entire samba band when he got going. For once poetry, pop, and jazz all mashed up together to create something fantastic. The rather, er, expressionistic photo shows a hat, which is Baraka, and a turquoise wristband, which is William Parker playing bass. All of this in the magical Cabaret Sauvage, which is an old dance "guingette" (a wooden circus tent, essentially) that was dismantled from just outside of Paris and installed by the canal in the Parc de la Villette.