Monday, December 17, 2012

Conspiracy Theory. Liner notes by John Sinclair


By John Sinclair

Poetry is a solitary art. You make it by yourself, in the most intimate of circumstances, and deliver it to the page and to the stage in your own voice.

But once composed, my own poems find their completion when they are set—deliberately or spontaneously—to music and performed together with musical collaborators of almost infinite variety.

I think of this process as a vast artistic conspiracy wherein my verses are surrounded and uplifted by the contributions of my myriad co-conspirators in an endless quest to make these works heard as they were intended in their composition.

As a poet who travels far & wide in the course of delivering my works to the public, and as a friendly guy who enjoys the company of musicians of many stripes, I have the privilege of meeting & performing with all sorts of characters all over the western world who are open to poetry & music collaborations and have access to stages & studios where these collaborations may be realized.

This album collects 19 such instant musical conspiracies recorded over the past 19 years in venues from New Orleans & suburban Detroit to New York City, Cincinnati, Clarksdale Mississippi, Fayetteville Arkansas, and Covington Louisiana to London, Paris, Utrecht and Amsterdam.

“Ain’t Nobody’s Business” is from my recent collaboration with the London bassist and producer called Youth and a gang of musicians of his choosing led by Alan Clayton of the Dirty Strangers with the great George Butler on drums. The track was recorded in 2011 at Kingston University outside London where Youth was serving as producer in residence. A different take is on our album Beatnik Youth.

“Friday the 13th” is one of my most durable odes, first recorded at this concert in the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Cincinnati in January 1994 with pianist Ed Moss & his 8-piece Society Jazz Orchestra backing the poem with Ed’s composition “A Doleful Tear.”  It appeared on the Schoolkids Records album If I Could Be With You.

“It’s All Good” is the “radio mix” of my “hit” number recorded with the Dutch rappers & producers LangeFrans & Baas B at their D-Men Studio in suburban Diemen in November 2002 and released at the Cannabis Cup that year on a CD called KnockOut that was commissioned by Michael Veling, proprietor of the 420 Café where I sit typing right now.

“Sparkplug” is my edit of a tribute to guitarist Melvin Sparks recorded with a trombone player & pianist I can remember only as Mike and my pals Clay Windham on bass and Jack Dempsey on drums at a 2006 session in the Next Edition Studio in the north of Amsterdam.

“Criss Cross” was written for my wife Penny in January 2005 and recorded in Amsterdam three days later with producer & keyboardist Jan van Weirengen at his studio in De Pijp where LangeFrans took me to contribute to Jan’s album project. I don’t know if the album was  ever released but the hopeful prophecy of the verse was not to be realized and my wife & I split up a few months later.

“monk’s dream” was recorded by Don Was circa 2008 in a little studio in Ferndale MI for his internet television channel called Wasmopolitan with Luis Resto on piano and ________ on bass. The ode to Tyree Guyton’s massive public artwork called The Heidelberg Project was commissioned by the artist and first delivered at Ty’s formal dedication of the Project site on the east side of Detroit in May 1988.

“like a blessed baby lamb” is a poem from 1965 written after an Archie Shepp performance on Savoy Records and recorded with the great Philadelphia reedman Elliott Levin—one of my most favorite collaborators—in the recording studio at Touro College in Manhattan in 2007 as part of a student producer’s class project.

“but beautiful” is a  duet with bassist Clay Windham on a poem to Billie Holiday recorded just outside of Amsterdam at Clay’s make-shift Easter Hill studio in an anti-squat office building in Holendrecht while Mark Ritsema & I were recording our album criss cross in January 2005.

“when you dance” > “dance of the infidels” are two poems set at the Berkeley Poetry Conference in 1965 and recorded in Paris with guitarist Gilles Riberolles experimenting with tape loops on a Sunday afternoon in June 2008 at the Starski Studios.

“double dealing” is a poem from my early courtship of my wife Penny written in 1982 and recorded early in 2011 with the North Mississippi Hill Country guitarist David Kimbrough and his drummer Artemis at a little studio called East Hill outside of Fayetteville Arkansas.

If poems were 45s “when will the blues leave”—inspired by an Ornette Coleman performance on Contemporary Records—would be the B side of “double dealing.” This elaborate recording that sets the poem against their number called “Minnie Minnoux” was made circa 2009 by the Dutch band called Alquin at an Amsterdam studio near Vondelpark for their album Sailors & Sinners at the request of the composer & lead singer, Michel Van Dyck, whom I know through our mutual friend, the poet & painter Ted Jackson. Let me offer my enduring thanks to both of these gentlemen for putting me up at their respective pads in a couple of tight situations.

“Sweet & Lovely” is an ode to my sweetheart Soul Lucille written in Amsterdam in 2010 and recorded in the fall of 2011 at an imprompte session with Carlo Ditta and reedman Steve Allen at Carlo’s Orleans Records studio across the lake from New Orleans in Covington, Louisiana

—420 Café
November 14, 2012

© 2012 John Sinclair. All Rights Reserved.

John Sinclair

[01] Ain't Nobody's Bizness John Sinclair & Youth    London: Beatnik Youth (3:36)

[02] Friday the 13th/A Doleful Tear John Sinclair & Ed Moss Society Jazz Orchestra
Cincinnati: If I Could Be With You (4:40)

[03] It's All Good John Sinclair with LangeFrans & Baas B
Amsterdam: KnockOut (4:39)

[04] Sparkplug John Sinclair with Michael & The Cats   
Amsterdam Noord: Next Episode Studio (2:38)

[05] criss cross John Sinclair & Jan van Weirengen
    Amsterdam Pijp: Jan van Weirengen Studio (2:57)
[06] monk's dream John Sinclair & Luis Resto   
Ferndale MI: Wasmopolian Session (4:11)

[07] like a blessed baby lamb John Sinclair & Clay Windham   
Amsterdam ZuidOost: Easter Hill Studiios (1:25)

[08] but beautiful John Sinclair & Elliot Levin   
New York City: Touro College Studios (1:17)

[09] when you dance > dance of the infidels John Sinclair & Gilles Riberolles
Paris: Starski Studios (3:53)   

[10] double dealing John Sinclair & David Kimbrough    Fayetteville AR: East Hill Studios (3:14)

[11] when will the blues leave/Minnie Minnoux John Sinclair & Alquin   
Amsterdam: Sailors And Sinners (2:41)

[12] Sweet & Lovely John Sinclair & Carlo Ditta   
Covington LA: Orleans Records Studio (2:38)

[13] Lock & Key John Sinclair & Dirty Strangers    London: Track Records Single (3:53)

[14] The Shadow Knows John Sinclair & His Blues Scholars   
New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival (3:15)

[15] in walked bud John Sinclair & Mark Ritsema    Utrecht: Crime Jazz @ Vrije Vloer (7:50)

[16] pannonica John Sinclair & His Vipers   
Amsterdam: EI Complex (2:27)

[17] Fulani Journey John Sinclair & Afrissippi    Clarksdale MS: Fulani Journey (9:12)

[18] Jelly Roll Blues John Sinclair & Jon Milan   
Dearborn MI: The Brakemen (1:57)

[19] Goodbye John Sinclair & Howard Glazer   
Ferndale MI: Wired For Sound  (3:26)   



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