Frank Messina; spoken word
David Amram; French horn, Piano, Irish double D Whistle, penny whistles, double Bass Ocarina, Lakota Courting flute, Shanai, Dumbek, Moroccan clay drums, congas, cowbell. claves, maracas and shakers. Vocals on Track 1 and 16.
Engineered by Mark Egan
Mixed, Mastered and Edited by Michael Callaghan
Recorded live on August 24, 2004 at Electric Fields Studio, Warwick, NY
STATEMENT ABOUT ALBUM BY DAVID AMRAM
When I called Frank Messina on my cell phone, while passing a herd of cows, en route to the recording studio and he asked exactly where I was. I responded: "Where I have been most of my life...On the long lonely road to Nowheresville". Rather than being negative, this was said to celebrate a lifetime of traveling. This sense and search for adventure and self-expression came naturally to me and many of my generation. This endless energy and a zest for life remains, for those of us still blessed to be here, the hallmark of all of us who were brought up during the Great Depression. We saw World War II culminate in the defeat of true evil and then set high goals for ourselves and our families, dreaming of a new America that we felt we could help to create by all working together. This idealism and desire for adventure and change is the atmosphere which surrounded me when I collaborated with Jack Kerouac in the first jazz/poetry readings ever given in New York in 1957. It just happened. No one planned it.
Working with Jack was always unrehearsed and natural, just as my work with Charles Mingus, Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk and the hundreds of poets, musicians, ballet dancers, playwrights and other musicians I have collaborated with over the past 50 years.
The road was and remains uncharted. When I first created music on the spot, at 3:30 a.m. in New Orleans for a Poetry/music Marathon called Insomniacathon, to accompany Frank Messina's writings, I didn't know that over an ensuing period of the next ten years that we would perform together in festivals in London, the Netherlands, Louisville, New York City, Kerouac's home town of Lowell Mass and many other places large and small around the World.
I did know that working with him was always a joy, and that his poetry touched the hearts of listeners everywhere we went, just as it has continued to touch mine. In the same that I recently recorded with poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti in San Francisco, Frank Messina and I made the whole CD in one afternoon. We had no problem doing it this way because we both knew that if people who collaborate pay attention to one another and have respect for what and with whom they are doing it for, as well as who they are doing it for and give 100% of one's self, you can't go wrong, In my symphonies, I write every single note, dynamic, tempo and phrasing down on paper.
With Frank, as with Kerouac and Ferlinghetti, everything was done on the spot at the moment, with nothing written down. I let the poetry itself tell me what to do. Anyone can do this, especially if you keep an open mind and an open heart wherever you are, so that life inspires you to keep on searching, instead of giving up your own creativity and becoming a couch potato. Dealing with the blessings as well as the constant challenge of work is much more rewarding when you rejoice in the knowledge that traveling that long lonely road to Nowheresville places you on the Super Highway to Enlightenment because that is the path that we all must take, each in our own way and at our own pace, as we drive on down that highway of Life. towards the valley our dreams, which is always just a little ways over the next hill.
I hope what Frank and I have done gives inspiration as well as a few gallons of spiritual Ethanol to all who hear this new CD, and that you can use the good feelings which Frank and I hope our work engenders, to make you be even more creative on your own journey.
Look forward to seeing you down the Road
September 19th in the airport, the day after playing FarmAid with Willie Nelson
The Boston Globe has described David Amram as "the Renaissance man of American music.". He has composed over 100 orchestral and chamber works, written two operas, and early in his career, wrote many scores for theater and films, including Splendor in the Grass and The Manchurian Candidate. He plays French horn, piano, guitar, numerous flutes and whistles, percussion, and a variety of folkloric instruments from 25 countries.
He has conducted and performed as a soloist with symphony orchestras around the world, participated in major music festivals, and traveled from Brazil to Cuba and from Kenya to Egypt. While actively assimilating the musical cultures of the countries he has visited, he has kept up a remarkable pace of composing, incorporating his experiences in the worlds of jazz, folk and ethnic music as inspiration and basic material for his formal compositions.
He has collaborated with such notables as Leonard Bernstein, Dizzy Gillespie, Lionel Hampton, Charles Mingus, Dustin Hoffman, Thelonious Monk, Willie Nelson, Jack Kerouac, Betty Carter, Odetta, Elia Kazan, Arthur Miller, and Tito Puente.
Since being appointed first composer-in-residence with the New York Philharmonic in 1966-67, he has become one of the most acclaimed composers of his generation, listed by BMI as one of the Twenty Most Performed Composers of Concert Music in the United States since 1974. For twenty-nine seasons, Amram was the music director of Young People's, Family, and Free Summer concert programs for the Brooklyn Philharmonic at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. As conductor, narrator, and soloist on instruments from all over the world, he combines jazz, Latin American, Middle Eastern, Native American, and folk musics of the world, in conjunction with the European classics. In the Spring of 1995, the Brooklyn Academy of Music honored his quarter of a century as a pioneer of multicultural symphonic programming. He appears as guest conductor and soloist with major orchestras around the world, as well as touring internationally with his quartet, while continuing to produce a remarkable output of new compositions.
On September 14, 2002, David Amram's new flute concerto "Giants of the Night" was premiered by James Galway, to critical acclaim.
Other recent commissions include A Little Rebellion: Thomas Jefferson premiered at the Kennedy Center with E.G. Marshall narrating and Amram conducting members of the National Symphony Orchestra.
Kokopelli: A Symphony on Three Movements, received its world premiere with Amram conducting the Nashville Symphony Orchestra and has been recorded.
Amram and author Frank McCourt are currently collaborating on a new work, Missa Manhattan, for narrator, chorus and orchestra, celebrating the rich tapestry of cultures that have immigrated to New York City over the past three hundred years, including the Native Americans who were there to greet them.
Amram wrote the score for the documentary feature Boys of Winter by Mark Reese concerning the life of his father Peewee Reese and his teammate Carl Erskine of the Brooklyn Dodgers. The film won "Best Documentary Film" award at the New York Independent Film Festival in Sept. of 2001.
Reese is now doing a documentary film about Amram. An author in his own right, David Amram's new book Offbeat: Collaborating With Kerouac (Thunders Mouth Press) was released in early 2002 to critical acclaim. It describes their work together from 1956 until Kerouac's deathin 1969. Amram also details the work he is doing today with a new generation of musicians, composers, authors, poets and film makers. The paperback version of Offbeat was released January of 2003. His autobiography Vibrations has also been reissued in paperback by Thundersmouth Press. This new edition includes a forward by historian Douglas Brinkley.
David Amram has appeared on national TV seven times with Willie Nelson for Farm Aid, many times with the late Dizzy Gillespie, as well for as numerous interviews, including David Letterman, The Today Show, Good Morning America, Charles Karalt, and CBS Sunday Morning. His video, ORIGINS OF SYMPHONIC INSTRUMENTS, released by Educational Video, is in over 6,000 schools throughout the US and Canada. The award-winning documentary "Amram Jam" will be nationally televised and released as a home video in 2005. By the end of 2004 there will be fourteen CD's of David Amram's music commercially available, ranging from his popular Triple Concerto for woodwind, brass and jazz quintets, other symphonic works such as Three Concertos, and David Amram: An American Original, to his classic film score The Manchurian Candidate. Naxos Records is issuing an all-Amram CD July of 2004, sponsored by the Mllken Foundation, of Amram's symphony Songs of the Soul, excerpts from his Holocaust opera, The Final Ingredient and choral work Sacred Service. His live jazz recording, Kerouac and Amram: Pull My Daisy, celebrates Kerouac and Amram's collaboration in the first ever jazz poetry reading in New York City in 1957, and the subsequent 1959 film which combined Amram's chamber music and jazz with Jack Kerouac's narration.
Long acknowledged as a pioneer of World Music, virtuoso, performer, brilliant conductor and composer of uncompromising originality since the 1950s, David Amram's compositions and his unique approach to music are now finding a worldwide audience.
Amram is writing a new book, recounting his continuous adventures around the World. The book celebrates his dual abilities to constantly discipline himself when creating highly structured compositions, while still being able to improvise whenever necessary in music and in daily life, showing the reader how all people can overcome most obstacles and setbacks by utilizing hard work, daring and always remaining positive.
Paul Maher, Jr., author and American Studies Scholar, is writing the authorized biography of David Amram, tracing the creation of his formal compositions with interviews of the soloists, conductors who premiered them and in-depth research of all the events that inspired their creation.
Currently guest conducting orchestras around the World, David Amram creates unique programs combining classical and popular favorites, jazz and world music designed especially for each orchestra's Pops, Young Adult, Family and Children's concerts. He also tours internationally with his quartet, narrating in five languages, and continues composing new works at home on his family farm in upstate New York.
From the reviews:
"Galway inspired in "Giants of the Night".... New Work is exceptional..... Throughout, Amram's genius was apparent, in his blend of musical styles and in the breadth of conception. "Giants of the Night" is an exceptional composition with great potential for becoming part of the flute repertoire.
From The Times-Picayune (New Orleans) Sept. 16, 2002
"David Amram is one of the most versatile and skilled musicians America has ever produced ..."
-- Washington Post Sept 1995
"Amram was multicultural before multiculturalism existed."
-- New York Times, Sept. 28, 1993
"...Orchestra audience; On feet for Amram. The audience repeated this tribute twice for Amram and the Philadelphia Orchestra."
-- Philadelphia Inquirer
"If you have not yet encountered this extraordinary man of music, you will probably be as fascinated as the children ... and will marvel at his multiple gifts as a Composer conductor and solo instrumentalist."
-- New York Times
"Amram may be able to play more types of music than any other man. He is a relentless pied-piper of pan cultural persuasiveness, leading listeners into a global circle that brings all peoples together."
-- Milwaukee Journal
"Members of the orchestra love him as much as the children In the audience ... a beautiful, memorable experience, but then Amram Is a most memorable man."
-- The Montreal Gazette
"David Amram ... a musical catalyst and leader on a par with Leonard Bernstein, Pete Seeger and Dizzy Gillespie ..."
-- Minneapolis Star & Tribune
"Amram dazzled with his versatility ... one could be but awed by his range. .. Amram was constantly enlightening."
-- The London Times
"He is a composer of major stature a conductor of winning authority and a jazz musician of noble intent and entertaining brilliance."
-- Newhouse Papers
"Amram's American music is joyous, great, beautiful ..."
-- The Kansas City Times
"A perfect pops Concert."
-- The Edmonton Journal
"A symphonic delight; an Amram crown. It would be difficult to imagine a lovelier display, or one better designed to show off the excellence of the National Symphony, Amram, the conductor, gave a stunning performance."
-- Washington Evening Star
Frank Messina is "one of the most widely recognized young poets living in America today." (Playboy Magazine).
Frank gained notoriety as the founder of the chart-busting band, Spoken Motion, whose signature ability to fuse bold, lyrical content with eclectic jazz and experimental rock music helped catapult the fledgling 'Spoken Word' genre of the 1990's to commercial success. Author of the acclaimed book of poems, Disorderly Conduct, Frank's work tackles subjects relating to human nature including themes of love, struggle, war, civic responsibility, sports fanaticism and salvation through music and verse. He's been an integral figure on the international Spoken Word circuit since the late 1980's. As a widely published poet, his work appears in several books, journals and magazines including Ground Zero: New Yorkers Respond, the 9/11 Peace Poetry Project, Beloit Poetry Journal, Long Shot Magazine, New York Press, Oxford Magazine, Published in Heaven Poster Series, Oxalis, Footwork: The Paterson Literary Review, Frank of Paris, Newark Writer's Journal, Promethean Press and many international daily newspapers.
Frank is a recipient of the Woolrich Poetry Award and Fellowship of Columbia University and was nominated for the 1995 Allen Ginsberg Poetry Award. Frank has recorded over 100 spoken word & music compositions including the Frank Messina & Spoken Motion albums; Biting the Tongue (1998); Absorb (1999); Rage (1999) and the recent live album Somewhere in New York City, all released on Spokeface Records. Biting the Tongue includes special guest appearances by Beat generation legend and composer David Amram, jazz violinist Billy Bang of the Sun Ra Arkestra and Scott Murawksi and Mark Mercier of Max Creek. The album made the Top 20 Spoken Word Chart immediately after its July, '98 release date and remained for 16 weeks. In addition, track 1 off the album, I Want to Hear Poetry, is included on the 1998 College Radio's Best of The Indies compilation CD. The same track hit #1 on the mp3.com Spoken Word Charts in April, 1999.
Blending the genres of Spoken Word, Jazz and Rock music, Frank Messina often performs with his eclectic group, Spoken Motion. Regarded as a prolific 'jam band' with roots in Jazz and experimental Rock music, the band features percussionist Larry McDonald of Gil Scott-Heron's Amnesia Express, Elliott Levin of Cecil Taylor's Phthongas on sax and flute, Bob Susko on guitar, Wes Jensen on drums and bassist Joe Isgro.
Frank Messina founded the all-star "Spoke n' Roll" band, OCTOPOET, in 1999. The experimental group which has featured members of the Spin Doctors, Max Creek, Sun Ra, Gil Scott-Heron Band and Spoken Motion plus Mark Egan, saxophonist Erik Lawrence and vocalists Lucy Woodward, Dawn Lorentz and Chanda Rule. Frank Messina performs 50-60 shows a year and has appeared at Newark Symphony Hall, Madison Square Garden, The NYU Beat Celebration, The Bowery Poetry Club, The Lollapalooza Festival, Woodstock `94, Lowell Celebrates Kerouac Festival, Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, Great American Music Hall in San Francisco, The Knitting Factory, Wetlands, SOB's, Nuyorican Poets' Cafe', Howlin' Wolf Club in New Orleans and several in-store performances at Tower Records and Borders Books and Music. Frank has appeared on National Public Radio and the British Broadcasting Network, Sports Net New York, WBAI's Liquid Sound Lounge, WSPN's Poet's Corner and WKCR's Jazz Profiles. Since 1995, he has performed extensively in Europe, including the 2001 London International Poetry and Song Festival, 1998 and 1999 Crossing Border Festivals in the Netherlands and in Ghent, Belgium, The 1995 and 1996 Meer Dan Woorden Festival in Goes, Netherlands. Frank has also performed in Dublin, Ireland; Copenhagen, Denmark; Berlin, Germany; Reykjavik, Iceland; Newcastle on Tyne, UK; Edinburgh, Scotland; Prague, Czechoslovakia among other cities.
Frank Messina has shared the stage with David Amram, Reg E. Gaines, Mark Egan, Buddy Cage, The Spin Doctors, Angus Calder, Billy Bang, Miguel Algarin, Levon Helm, Rick Danko, Leo Kottke, Max Creek, Vince Welnick and Tom Constanten (Grateful Dead), Stir Fried, Lucy Woodward, Melvin Seals, Mike Gordon (Phish), Leo Nocentelli (The Meters), Allen Ginsberg, Merle Saunders, Lee Ranaldo (Sonic Youth), Bernie Worrell, Gil Scott-Heron, Melvin Sparks, The Last Poets, Moe, Jeff Pevar, Hal Sirowitz, Courtney Love, Ron Whitehead, Arnie Lawrence, Erik Lawrence, Vic Juris, John S. Hall, Paul Winter, Buzzy Linhart, Sonny Sharrock and many others. Frank has appeared in several feature films including Big Kahuna with Kevin Spacey and Danny DeVito, The Hurricane, Freedom: A Poem for America and Shampoo Horns.