Double Take: Jazz- Poetry Conversations


Michael Harper, poet

Paul Austerlitz, composer and bass clarinetist


This CD brings together the talents poet Michael Harper and composer / bass-clarinetist Paul Austerlitz in a unique blend of word and music.   These artists, who both teach at Brown University, have developed an innovative collaborative mode highlighting the musicality of Harper’s poetry, which has been acclaimed world-wide, and Austerlitz’s improvisatory compositions, which comment on the spoken word.   These brilliant poems are dedicated to jazz artists such as John Coltrane, Charlie Parker, and Elvin Jones, the prophet-seers of our age.  Harper’s words commune with Austerlitz’s original bass-clarinet playing: word and music fuse together, in dialogue.    This CD is a “Double Take” in the sense that it presents two live performances of the same material whose variegated cadences illustrate the improvisatory and collaborational  nature of jazz-poetry conversation. 


Michael Harper is University Professor at Brown University.  His poetry specializes in jazz -related themes; he has written Dear John, Dear Coltrane and Debridement, among other books of poetry, and edited The Vintage Book of African American Poetry.   Harper is the first State Poet of Rhode Island, a New York Library Literary Lion, a Phi Beta Kappa scholar and an American  Academy of Arts and Sciences fellow. He is recipient of many distinctions, including the Robert Hayden Poetry Award from the United Negro College Fund, the Melville-Cane Award and the Black Academy of Arts and Letters Award.   


Bass-clarinetist, composer, and ethnomusicologist Paul Austerlitz is Assistant Professor of Music at Brown University, where he teaches and conducts research on jazz.  He has performed with Doc Cheatham, David Murray, and Gonzalo Rubalcaba, among others, and leads his own group which has recorded two CDs:  A Bass Clarinet in Santo Domingo and Detroit (X-Dot 25), and Dominican Dreams / American Dreams (Engine 030). Austerlitz has also authored two books bearing the fruit of his ethnomusicological research: Merengue: Dominican Music and Dominican Identity, and Essays in Jazz Consciousness.



Tracks and information


1. Brother John                                                                                               

2. We Assume: On the Death of Our Son, Reuben Masai Harper                               

3. Here where Coltrane Is                                                                   

4. “Bird Lives:” Charles Parker in St. Louis                                      

5. High Modes: Vision as Ritual: Confirmation                                              

6. Elvin’s Blues                                                                                              

7. Last Affair: Bessie’s Blues Song                                                    

8. Audio  for Julius Hempill                                                              

9. If You Don’t Force It, inspired by Ray Brown                                                                 

10. Copenhagen, dedicated to Dexter Gordon                                                                    

11. 4-29-99 for E.K.E                                                                        

12. The Latin American Poem for Anane Dzidienyo            

13.  Release: Kind of Blue                             


14. Interlude


15.  Brother John                               

16. We Assume: On the Death of Our Son, Reuben Masai Harper                            

17. Here where Coltrane Is    

18. “Bird Lives:” Charles Parker in St. Louis                                   

19. High Modes: Vision as Ritual: Confirmation                                           

20. Elvin’s Blues                               

21. Last Affair: Bessie’s Blues Song                         

22.  Audio       for Julius Hempill                             

23.  If You Don’t Force It, inspired by Ray Brown 

24.  Copenhagen, dedicated to Dexter Gordon       

25.   4-29-99 for E.K.E                                 

26.   The Latin American Poem for Anane Dzidienyo

27.  Release: Kind of Blue                             


All music composed by Paul Austerlitz (BMI), except tracks 11 and 25 (Ellington, Parish, Mills ASCAP). 


Tracks 1-13 were recorded on May 25, 2003 in Rites and Reason Theater, Brown University, by ATM Treehouse, mastered by Viscount Studios and innova.


Track 14 was recorded on October 31, 2003 in Steinert Recording Studio, Brown University, by Eileen Koven and Paul Austerlitz, mastered by innova.


Tracks 15- 27 were recorded live, April 1, 2003 in Grant Recital Hall, Brown University, by Stephen Schwartz, mastered by innova.  


Thanks to Steve & Anani.