Trane and Baraka

tumblr_n4b3zrFOxh1s6uwsfo1_500One of the things that I liked about this African-American Literature class was that the things I learned in class almost always became relevant and useful afterwards.  It was uncanny.  One of these uncanny moments was when, a day after learning about the poet Amiri Baraka, born LeRoi Jones.  I was reading a book about jazz and there, in black and white (well, off-white.  It was an old book), was Amiri Baraka.  I knew he was an ardent supporter of jazz, but I didn’t realize just how close he was to jazz.  My curiosity piqued, I did some research and discovered that not only was Baraka a jazz advocate, but he wrote numerous poems dedicated not only to the jazz idiom, but to specific players.  John Coltrane was one such musician.  I learned that Baraka wrote a book entitled ‘Black Music‘, a collection of essays on modern jazz written by Baraka spanning the years 1959 through 1967 and published under his real name LeRoi Jones.  He describes Coltrane’s music beautifully, writing “Not only does one seem to hear each note and sub-tone of a chord being played, but also each one of those notes shattered into half and quarter tones.”  I’m definitely going to have to get that book.  From the bits and pieces that I did read, Baraka wrote about Coltrane often, including writing liner notes for some of Coltrane’s albums.  Amiri Baraka’s prestige went up a couple thousand notches in my book.  He may even be my new favorite poet.

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