Spoken-word work gets right to the point

18 February 2010 at 9:00 am (Music, News, Press, Recordings, Releases, Shows, Spoken Word) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

CD review: Spoken-word work
gets right to the point

By John Ziegler, Duluth News Tribune

He can come on like a freight train. Words are his medium. He will make you laugh. He will make you cry. He will make you think.

His name is E.G. Bailey and his brand-new release “American Afrikan” combines spoken word, poetry and music to explore what it is to be an Afrikan in America today. It doesn’t just skim along the surface in that exploration, it heaves from below like a bulldozer churning up slabs of concrete, tree roots and old asphalt in its quest — Bailey leading the narrative charge.

Using language like John Coltrane used the tenor or soprano saxophone, Bailey — together with friends such as Aimee Bryant, Katrah Quey, Sha Cage, Hipgnosis, D.J.Limbs, plus African poets Ibe Kaba and Sankaradjeki; Dubai jazz ensemble Abstrakt Collision, and Mankwe Ndosi, the singer from Atmosphere — uses bits of pre-recorded sound, field recordings (including Liberian work songs from the Mano Tribe) and jazz. He rails, he whispers, he implores, he exhorts and subtly weaves his spell.

“K Street Blues: The Bailout Plan” sounds like it could have been Sonny Rollins captured on the Williamsburg Bridge in 1952 talking to the skyline with his horn.

“America” is Bailey (with Abstrakt Collision giving an eerie, angular backdrop) holding a mirror up to our own country with all its actions and how they have morphed over time. “America with your varicose veins and Catholic guilt, I fear you and I love you … America, it’s getting harder to defend you.”

Aimee Bryant’s stirring multi-tracked version of “Motherless Child” is a riveting take on this black spiritual.

“Afrikan is the New American” has an almost Prince-like groove smothered in chicken grease.

Bailey is the real deal. He has created spoken word dynamics in film, theater and recordings during his travels through this country as well as England, South Africa, France and Serbia. He is the founder of the MN Spoken Word Association, Tru Ruts Endeavors and the Spoken Word and Hip Hop Institute at the University of Minnesota. He’s been inducted into the Television Hall of Fame in the New York Modern Museum of Art.

“American Afrikan” is not just a journey but an adventure that, during February’s Black History Month, explores identity, history, culture and what it means to be black in America today.

The CD release of this wonderful piece of art takes place Saturday evening at the Bedlam Theatre in Minneapolis and should not be missed.

E.G. Bailey / “American Afrikan”
Genre: Spoken word/Poetry/Jazz/Hip Hop/Electronica
Label: Tru Ruts/Speakeasy Records
Web site: http://www.egbailey.com, myspace.com/egbailey
Produced by: E.G. Bailey and Ben Durant

Upcoming show: Saturday at 9:30 p.m., the CD release party at the Bedlam Theatre, Minneapolis. Cost $5. Ages 18 and older. Includes special guests Guante, Sha Cage, Mankwe Ndosi, Ibe Kaba and more.

John Ziegler has worked in the music industry for the past 35 years as a radio host, interviewer, record producer and professional musician.

Originally posted on Duluth News Tribune blog on 18 February 2010.

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village blues

23 February 1999 at 7:00 pm (Film, Music, Poems, Spoken Word, Videos) (, , )

village blues

village blues is an improvisational exploration into a discovery between spoken word and film.  Even with the proliferation of music videos, and videos made of poems, which has brought an intense visual element to our interpretation of music and lyrics, or poetry, there is still another, deeper, relationship between spoken word and film.  village blues is an attempt to define this process and relationship.

It is also an attempt to explore the possibilities, and perhaps test the limits, of improvisation within the filmmaking process.  Therefore, we wanted to make  this work an improvisational process, where all artists involved were inspired by a common element from which they were able to create their part of the whole.  All these parts would then be brought together to simulate, or actuate, an improvisation.  We do not know if this has been attempted before, but we were  interested in collaborating with other artists to make this process work.  Often, in improvisation, there is a common structure or theme, or a musical line, upon which artists  improvise.  Therefore, the goal was to bring this method to filmmaking and explore its possibilities.

The subject matter of village blues deals with the disintegration of interpersonal and social relationships within the Black community.  It is based on three poems written by e. g. bailey.  These pieces served as the common elements that unified the work of the artists.

The inspiration of the poems have created two larger elements––the film and the soundtrack.  The poems were given to each individual involved in the process––including the filmmaker, the actors, the musicians, the vocalists and producers.  Each artist then completed their part of the work.  And they were brought together and presented as a whole for the first time on opening night.

the title is a reference to a work by john coltrane of the same name…i take the title literally (and metaphorically).  it speaks to a problem, concern or crisis in the village.  and i take village to mean home, city, state, nation, world, planet.  if we continually reference the proverb that it takes a village to raise a child, then i want to speak to that understanding.  our village is in crisis.  and our children are dying…this story is not linear.  nor is life and living.  so i am not so much concerned that it is linear.  however, it is connected and relates.  it is essentially a movement.  from self to community.  from the relationship of two to the circle of many.  and the links that lie therein.  it is about a crisis within an individual/personal relationship.  to a crisis within an outer/familial (i.e. brother to brother, black man to black man) relationship.  to a crisis within a universal/communal (i.e. village, planetary) relationship. – e.g. bailey

In with working on village blues, I was able to completely free my mind of everyday conventions of filmmaking and concentrate more on evoking emotions strictly with images.  When I edited the piece I had to use a different kind of music to set the pace because as an experimental part of this project the Visual Director––myself––and the Musical Director––e.g. bailey––decided to make a film where neither of us could see or hear what the other was doing.  We were just going to bring the elements together and see what we came up with…I like what happened quite a bit because it gave me a different way to see my job as a director and allowed the kind of freedom artistically that isn’t really passionately present today…My images came from a very personal part of me. a very passionate deeply felt place.  It’s the first time out of everything I’ve ever done that completely encapsulates my emotions of the moment love, freedom and vulnerability. – Ayesha Adu

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