John Sinclair

If I Could Be with You

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Poetry and jazz have rarely mixed together very well, with jazz inevitably taking a back seat. John Sinclair's live set with Ed Moss' Society Jazz Orchestra has a prominent jazz background played by an octet with some brief solos along with ensembles influenced by Charles Mingus (most notably on Duke Ellington's "Chocolate Shake"), but it is essentially a poetry reading. John Sinclair's talking (which sometimes shows unrestrained emotions and has a purposely hesitant style) takes time to get used to. A few of his works deal with jazz history including "In Walked Bud" (a disturbing "tribute" to Bud Powell that partly recreates Bud and Bird's disastrous Birdland gig of 1955), "Bloomdido" (for Charlie Parker), "If I Could Be with You" (an odd relation of the history of McKinney's Cotton Pickers) and the fanciful "Rhythm-A-Ning" which depicts a baseball game featuring bop players. However listeners more interested in hearing jazz than someone merely talking about it and dropping names are advised to skip this well-intentioned but occasionally annoying release.

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