Various Artists

Cool Scene From Cafe Bizarre

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Despite its title, The Cool Scene at Cafe Bizarre: Twelve New Ways to Fly is one of the more unusual retrospective compilations to be issued in the 21st century. The Cafe Bizarre may have become truly infamous in the late 1960s as an East Village haven for radicals and psychedelic experimenting philosophers. That said, in the later '50s and early '60s it was also a cathedral for the Beat writers and various elements of the jazz scene. This collection features poets reading their works as well musical selections by the Cafe's more famous patrons from the jazz world: Charlie Parker, Lennie Tristano, Roy Eldridge, Gerry Mulligan, Chico Hamilton, and even George Shearing. Most of the poetry on this set is by long-faded personas we never knew, and sounds like it: nostalgic yet reverent and intense imitations of works by their more well-known forebears. In other words, the works of the Mad Monk, Ellie Girl with Seven Beat Sulks, Ringo Angel (who sounds like a professor and might have even become one), Felix Lupus, Stevenson Phillips, and Jamaica Johnny Cayonne are here for either nostalgia or ridicule, but they contain a certain innocence that long ago died in America. There are other musical selections as well, and all of it adds up to a curiosity piece for those obsessed with history or the dregs of Beat-era poetry.

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