Tag Archives: jazz

Jazz Vespers: Walk with Me -The Third Fall

Jazz Vespers arranged by Dan Forshaw

Jazz Vespers arranged by Dan Forshaw

Here’s a thing for St. Cecilia’s Day (22nd November). Dan Forshaw, the great Jazz Saxophonist, has just sent this lovely recording from the Jazz Vespers at Westminster Central Hall. Its a fabulous setting of Jesus Walk With Me into which Dan set my sonnet ‘The Third Fall’, performed here by the actor Darren Raymond, who was also reading passages from Martin Luther King that evening as part of the celebration of Black History Month. I’m really honoured to have my poem included in this fabulous event, and to hear it so well set and rendered. You can hear it by clicking on the ‘play’ button or the title. I’ve given the words of the poem and there is a full list of all the musicians below

Walk with Me/Jesus Falls

 

IX Jesus falls the third time

 

He weeps with you and with you he will stay

When all your staying power has run out

You can’t go on, you go on anyway.

He stumbles just beside you when the doubt

That always haunts you, cuts you down at last

And takes away the hope that drove you on.

This is the third fall and it hurts the worst,

This long descent through darkness to depression

From which there seems no rising and no will

To rise, or breathe or bear your own heart beat.

Twice you survived; this third will surely kill,

And you could almost wish for that defeat

Except that in the cold hell where you freeze

You find your God beside you on his knees.

Vocals Juliet Kelly

Sax Dan Forshaw
Piano Chris Grey
Bass Joel Humann
Drums Richard Morgan

Read by Darren Raymond

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Filed under christianity, Poems, Theology and Arts

And the Beat goes On

I am fascinated by the threads of connection that run between all the kinds of poetry, song, and story-telling in which I delight and am always pleased when they are living connections in the form of real people you can meet, friends you can make. For example as my father-in-law and I got to know each other we found we had the same tastes in literature, loved the same poets and even the dame pasgaes in some of those poets, and we both seemed to have learned to appreciate the same qualities. I remember saying to him that it was CS Lewis, as a literary critic who had guided me into the fields of literature and given me some keys to understanding it all, and he replied, “well he did the same for me, only in person as he was my tutor at Oxford!” Suddenly we both knew who the connecting thread was and I felt a particular pleasure that my father-in-law was a living link for me back to an author whom I knew intimately but had never met in the flesh.

The same goes  for my passion for American song and poetry, especially the work of Bob Dylan. From the day I bought Highway 61 Revisited Dylan has been the voice and channel for me for a whole stream of American poetry which I soon came to realise stretched back behind him, not only nto blues and folk, but very specifically into the Beats,  especially the great figures of Ginsberg, and Kerouac, who were in their own radical way carrying on a tradition of flamboyant, inspired anarchic, energetic writing that goes back to Walt Whitman. In Dylan’s film Renaldo and Clara there is a moving episode where he and Ginsberg visit Kerouac’s grave and play music and recite poetry together, honouring someone who served the same muse.

I have been involved for a while in a jazz poetry project, the Riprap Collective, which takes its inspiration from the Beat Generation and tries to do in a new way and in new jazz and poetic genres, what the beats did in their day, but until now we had no living link

with the beats who insired us. but all that changes this week! This Friday, 22nd October I will be playing host to Gerald Nicosia, the  internationally acclaimed author of Memoy Babe, the great Kerouac biography, and a recognised authority on the whole beat generation. but he is himself also a performance poet and has performed alongside Ginsberg at blues and poetry festivals and indeed Ginsberg has commended his woek on Kerouac. Gerald is coming to Cambridge to give a public lecture on the Friday in the English Faculty, 9 West Rd, to which all readers of this blog who are in, or can make it to Cambridge are welcome. But then on Saturday he is going to join with me, Riprap and  another Cambridge poet Keith Dursley and we are going to do our own version of the kind of Jazz-poetry happenings at which Kerouac and Ginsberg used to read. This should be an amazing, and in its own way historic event, and again all my readers here are very welcome. I am giving all details below and hope to see some of you there.

Two Jack Kerouac Events









The Writer Kerouac, the Mythological Kerouac, 
the Popular Kerouac, and the Real Kerouac 

A Lecture by Gerald Nicosia
5pm Friday 22nd October, GR-05, 
Faculty of English,
 9 West Road Cambridge.

All welcome, free admission.

Poetry and Performance

A poetry reading and performance by Gerald Nicosia with members of
The Riprap Quartet.

With support from KM Dersley and Malcolm Guite. 

8pm, Saturday 23rd October, 
Memorial Church (Unitarian), 
Emmanuel Road
CB1 1JW. 

Tickets £5 on the door.
see also:
http://www.ampublishing.org/kevinflanagan/quartet.htm

www.geraldnicosia.com

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Filed under imagination, literature, Music, Poems, Songs

Out for the count

Heres a poem I wrote, voiced for Neal Cassady on his last night. I hope it will form part of a larger work, my second libretto for Composer and Jazz Saxophonist Kevin Flanagan. First a little background:

On February 3, 1968, Cassady spent a night of hard drinking in the
Mexican town of San Miguel De Allende. In a state of extreme
inebriation, he wandered along a deserted railroad track with the
intention of walking the fifteen miles to the next town. It was a cold
and rainy night, and Cassady eventually passed out wearing only a
T-shirt and jeans. He was found beside the tracks the next morning in a
coma from the mixture of the inclement weather, alcohol and drugs. He
was taken to the nearest hospital, where he passed away the following
day. Typical of Cassady, even in death, a legend persists – that he had
been counting railroad ties, and his last words were “Sixty-four
thousand nine hundred and twenty eight.” His death came four days before
his 43rd birthday and one year before Jack Kerouac’s.

Out For The Count

Tongue-tied as I count the rail-road ties,
The crucifying cross-beams of my dream,
You roll me on your scroll and count me in
With angel-headed hipsters, cowboy junkies
A panoply freewheelin’ thru’ your head,
Count me with the ghosts, the countless shadows,
The hardly-living and the grateful dead
Call me and count me, call me cowboy Neal
Call me the Dean my friend and count me in
Make me another poetry projection
And run my life out on your empty screen
Co-opt me as the the driver of your dreams
Your drunken angel on the magic bus
Count me in before you count me out
Love me before you see me crucified
Before the rain man gives me my two cures
Tongue-tied, as I count the rail-road ties.

Kevin and I also collaborate on a neo-beat project called the riprap collective, check it out here

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Filed under Poems