Bass legend Ron Carter and acclaimed poet Danny Simmons will release a new album, The Brown Beatnik Tomes – Live at BRIC House, on June 7 via Blue Note. The album documents a night of jazz and poetry that took place last autumn at Brooklyn’s BRIC House – a project that began as a book, became an event and is now an album.
“I was trying to imagine myself as a Beat Generation poet in the ’50s,” says Simmons via a press release, “and how my concerns would be a bit different from Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s or Allen Ginsberg’s. In a way, the beatniks romanticized black people. They were hip, but they didn’t really see the plight. That scene largely was about the Negro experience but didn’t have the Negro in it.”
Listen to “For a Pistol,” the lead track from The Brown Beatnik Tomes – Live at BRIC House via the player below.
Throughout the album, the music feels both perfectly composed for every poem and also completely in the moment. “I hear the rhythm and cadence in my head when I write,” says Simmons, Tony-winning co-founder of the famed television series Def Poetry Jam. “To stand up there and have to reproduce that with somebody as accomplished as Ron was a little… I’m going to say ‘terrifying.’ Basically, I let him do his thing and I followed.”
Carter, who will turn 82 next week, not only played in Miles Davis’ Second Great Quintet; he is also the Guinness-certified most-recorded jazz bassist in history. On the album, Carter’s trio, including Donald Vega and guitarist Russell Malone, assembles for a pair of instrumentals, including “Here’s to Oscar,” a tribute to pioneering bebop bassist Oscar Pettiford. Playwright, actor and Def Poetry alum Liza Jessie Peterson also appears on one track, titled “Where Do I Begin.”
Featured photo by Mark Lee Blackshear.
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