So tonight I went to hear Quincy Troupe along with jazz violinist Billy Bang. It was AMAZING. Billy Bang is just an incredible musician (he's played with Sun Ra and all kinds of other heavyweights) -- when he started playing tears came to my eyes, and OK that happens a lot when I listen to excellent jazz (partly because my father was a jazz musician so I grew up with the stuff plus it reminds me of him), but I wasn't really expecting to have that sort of reaction tonight. He played stuff that made me giggle, and stuff that made me cry, and stuff that just made my jaw drop with its sheer virtuosity. He made a violin sound swear to god just like Jimi Hendrix on guitar, besides channeling Miles and Duke and his own inimitable self. I think I have blisters on my fingers just from watching him. I bought two of his CDs (and got them signed), and can't wait to give them a listen.
And Quincy Troupe -- well, a lot of you reading this have probably heard him before, so you know he is practically a musician himself with his words, and to see/hear him trading riffs with Billy Bang was just insanely hot. I think the highlight for me was "The Architecture of Language," title poem from his 2006 collection (which I bought and got him to sign), which was just a tour de force of language & music & emotion. Also "Vichyssoise," which was just plain fun, and his poem about Magic Johnson, and a long one set in Spain (which he read solo). You could tell he was loving the music and having a good time, too.
The scary thing? They hadn't really performed together before. But of course that's what jazz musicians do, they sit in, they improvise, they create a conversation that's never happened before and will never happen again. They do apparently have plans to work together more, so watch out for them, because if you get a chance to hear them, YOU MUST GO.
So if anyone sees Cathy Bowman (organizer of this particular poetry series) at AWP, let her know that Quincy and Billy rocked the house.
everything is changing everywhere poetry grows
word by word, sound by sound, form by form, cadence by cadence,
mack by mack, word plays sluicing under the syllables
stitching evolving language into innovative soundtracks,
found in the very air we breathe every day
everywhere, everything is changing
[from "The Architecture of Language"]