Mohawk: John Sinclair
(Iron Man Records)
John Sinclair - legend! He was the 60s in a nutshell: cultural
revolutionary, manager of the MC5, founder of the White Panther Party,
subject of a John Lennon protest song after being imprisoned on drugs
offences (part of The Man’s crushing of anything countercultural), poet,
broadcaster on Radio Free Amsterdam – but he was really a child of the
50s. His great book Guitar Army includes dedications to people like
Coltrane, Ayler, Dolphy and Kerouac, and those influences are still
reflected in Mohawk, essential a 50s-tributing beatnik jazz record. As
‘Carolina Moon’ explains, it was conceived in 1982 after hearing of the
death of Thelonius Monk, and recorded in Amsterdam much more recently.
Sinclair’s spoken word lyrics are meditations on Monk and lots of other
jazz sessions from the 50s, “when Bird, and Diz and Monk made it all
happen” (‘Bloomdido’) set to louche be-bop backing from Steve The Fly
(who tries to utilise the original titles or tempos of songs by Charlie
Parker, Dizzy Gillespie and Monk).
It’s a labour of love for Sinclair, reworking beat poems he’s been
developing for decades, while Steve The Fly’s arrangements try to break
the mould by incorporating a little scratching, tape manipulation and
glitchy electronic effects. It has a certain historical and cultural
interest but it’s really only worth a toke if you’re a jazzbo (it will
blow the berets off the Café Oto-nians for sure), although ‘My
Melancholy Baby’ – a tribute to New Orleans documentarian Stevenson J.
Palfi – has a general, swampy charm.
FATTENING BLOGS FOR SNAKES 2014