ALOC Media Presents, Jazzetry Night!
Philip Bombara • March 13, 2017 • Art •
Jazzetry, at its core, is straightforward enough: poetry readings accompanied by jazz music. Harkening back to the early ‘20s, through the Harlem Renaissance, and to the Beat counterculture movements of the ‘50s and ‘60s, jazz poetry has a rich history in the spoken word community. Practiced by artists such as T. S. Eliot and Jack Kerouac, this form now finds a monthly home at The Laughing Goat in Boulder, CO.
Soft mellow jazz riffs noodle through the dimmed lighting as the three-piece that is Von Disco transitions seamlessly out of sound check and into their first song. Those in attendance take the cue and follow their ears to open seats the way a hungry nose leads a child to the bakery. As the evening’s proceedings will reveal, taking signs from the surroundings is a nuance that breathes life into this style of art. As the seats fill the music grows, and the chatter abates; nothing is out of place, and this carefully practiced yet unassuming stage is primed for the first performer.
With the final cymbal crash of Von Disco’s introductory song reverberating into silence, our host for the evening, Wes Adams, takes the stage. The jovial, self-effacing nature of the MC is a natural fit as he provides the crowd with some historical context in relation to Jazzetry, as well as some words about Von Disco, written by guitarist Jesse Hunter. The excitement felt showcased this underrepresented avenue of the spoken word community.
While the performers will speak through previously written work, the role of the musicians is speaking through their instruments, via on the spot improvisation. In turn, creating the vehicle by which the performers will deliver their poetry and prose. With this in mind, each performance carries a unique identity, as it can never be recreated exactly as it was witnessed, and fosters a collaborative, in the moment experience for both spectator and performer.
The subject matter of each performer’s work is as varied as the musical styling accompanying them. Somber subjects such as police brutality and personal strife, are interwoven with those discussing the lighter side of life, such as fake horoscopes or the off-kilter inner monologue of a young woman working to make sense of relationships and roommates. Though all cover differing topics, the unifying thread of each performance is the acquaintance of musician to writer. Each performance begins with investigatory chords and rhythms, while every stanza recited helps flesh out a more robust sound. As the cadence of speech syncs with the tempo, and the musical stylings embrace the mood of the content, a synergistic relationship emerges, transforming each contributing element. An effect certainly not lost on the audience who grows silent in reverence or erupts in laughter with a perfectly punctuated line to the tune of musical levity, ebbing and flowing with the evening’s tide. There are even moments in which it went beyond poetry being read in front of jazz music, and the collaboration transformed into song.
Arriving slightly early for the 8 p.m. event is the prudent choice for suave cats in the know, as The Laughing Goat’s selection of coffee, tea, beer, wine and pastries should not be passed in haste. While the event has not outgrown the venue yet, the room will most certainly fill once the performances get under way to near standing room only, so grab a seat if possible. Though the list of performers is curated, berets and finger snaps are in no way mandatory, and any and all poets looking to participate should reach out to ALOC Media for a spot in an upcoming event.The Laughing Goat