Cookin' at the jam –
E.J. Antonio - poetry & vocals: all tracks
Christopher Dean Sullivan (BMI) - acoustic bass: tracks 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 & 12
acoustic bass left channel: track 1 top-side bass percussion right channel: track 2
Joe Giardullo (ASCAP) - reeds: tracks 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 9, 10 & 11; reeds & shaker shells: track 8
Michael T.A. Thompson (ASCAP) - soundrhythium: tracks 2, 3, 5, 9, 10, 11 & 12
African tree drum: track 8; brushes: track 7
Mark Taylor (ASCAP) - french horn: tracks 2, 6, 8; mellophone: tracks 3, 5, 11 & 12
Tyehimba Jess - harmonica: tracks 3, 9 & 11
Saco Yasuma (ASCAP) - bamboo sax: tracks 1 & 8
Eddie Allen - muted trumpet left channel & plunger trumpet right channel: track 7; trumpet track: 11
Christian McBride - acoustic bass right channel: track 1; acoustic bass: track 3
This in the moment jam session recording is a unique blend of spoken words that dance with the sonic diversity of
instruments as they wind their way through the genres of jazz, blues, gospel, r&b, and Afro-Latin rhythms. “I grew up in Spanish and Central Harlem listening to these rhythms. Now, I often go to live jazz performances,” spoke Antonio, “and write down the images that come to me from listening to the music and watching the musicians’ physical reactions to the music. These genres of music and this gift of words have influenced me my entire life. My bones have absorbed these sounds, move to these sounds, and
rest in these sounds."
The musicians on this project were chosen because of their creative improvisational skills and extraordinary
ability to “listen”. Antonio’s concept was to keep an element of surprise and risk, so all the tracks
are live collaborations with no rehearsals. On the first track, renowned jazz artist Christian McBride along with
Christopher Dean Sullivan (acoustic bass), Saco Yasuma (bamboo sax), and Joe Giardullo (reeds) resonate
together to form the tension egg of sound necessary to make the birthing of the poem “foreign monkey”
possible. Trumpet player Eddie Allen becomes the foil in “bluesman/truth be told,” while Tyehimba Jess on
harmonica is the “in-your-face” gospel sound bolstering the voice in “Pullman porter.” “Sound rhythium” musician
Michael T.A. Thompson (drums) and Joe Giardullo (flute) are complimented by Sullivan who uses his acoustic
bass as a percussion instrument bringing home the Afro-Latin sound in the danceable “ballad mambo.” Track
number eight was inspired by the music of June Kuramoto and the sounds of the koto instrument. The bamboo
sax of Saco Yasuma with the French horn treatment by Mark Taylor add the perfect touch of serenity and
introspective to “koto suite.” Every track, with words that drip like honey from Antonio’s mouth, is clearly live
improvisation at its best.
“I use my work to bring attention to the commonalities we share as human beings, and to shed a light on the
idea that there needs to be a place for a different kind of spoken word; that the collaboration of music and poetry
is still a viable art form. Some call this jazzoetry, others call it pojazz, and others call it poemusic or spoken
word. Whatever the title, it is clearly not just jazz or poetry, but something that resonates in the heart, something
that causes a person to slow down and listen.”
"and now, somebody
will sing you a praise song
a revival song
buoyant / full of the blues and the jazz and the hymn
of struggle fraught from one continent to another and back
to the beginning
where the ocean carves
skeletons to gauze / unraveling
praises to your dead
while you push
on and on and on and on and on...
writing new choruses to Amazing Grace
how sweet the sound…
(from “pullman porter” by E.J. Antonio)
TRACK INFORMATION FOR E.J. Antonio - Rituals in the marrow: Recipe for a jam session:
Track 1 - "foreign monkey" was inspired by a stone sculpture of the same title by Daisy Youngblood. This poem
represents the struggle of birthing self and sound, and the struggle of survival once the birth has occurred.
Track 2 – "ballad mambo" was inspired by a composition by musician Warren Smith entitled Marion’s Mambo.
This is a poem about the bygone days of youth. The dance we all danced with abandon, and how memory can
keep you moving.
Track 3 – "shade of the cedar tree" was inspired by Christian McBride’s big band composition of the same title.
The music always brings to mind a child playing and growing under the protective shade of the cedar tree, i.e.,
the family, the root that keeps you grounded and safe.
Track 4 – "tangerine moon" is the endless wait for the return of a loved one from a dangerous situation. And all
the while you wait, life keeps happening, keeps wrapping you in the endless loose ends of living.
Track 5 – "every old ny jazz club" is the feeling I had sitting in my second or third NY jazz club. There was no
mistaking where I was or how the set would change personnel.
Track 6 – "see-line woman" was inspired by Nina Simone’s “Sea Lion Woman” and a doll someone gave me as
a gift. We often forget to look behind the mask to see the person. I tried to see the person behind the lore.
Track 7 – "bluesman/truth be told" really adds up to the A and B side of a 45rpm record. One minute you’re
abundantly happy; the next you’re burning down the house.
Track 8 – "koto suite" was inspired by the music of June Kuramoto. The sound of the koto instrument so
intrigued me that I researched it and found it is likened to a flightless dragon. The poem is one of inner journey,
of finding the peace within self.
Track 9 – "pullman porter" was inspired by a NY Times article dated April 4, 2009 on the life of the Pullman
Porter. The poem attempts to show the sacrifices those men made to make it better for future generations.
Track 10 – "witness" is the intersection of social injustices, civil rights and jazz. It’s the updated version of the
1970s, 1980s on-the-corner soapbox activist.
Track 11 – "duchess" was inspired by Mark Taylor’s composition “Duchess”. The first time I heard the music;
Mark asked what we thought about it. Someone said, “It sounds like a woman walking down the street.” I said,
“No. It sounds like a hussy walking down the street in a yellow hat.” And the poem took off from there.
Track 12 – "rituals in the marrow: recipe for a jam session" talks about the blues. The cadence of the voice
in collaboration with the music moves like a New Orleans second line.