I am now back
from Jolly Aulde England , after five sleepless days of nonstop activity. It was
so much fun that it was like a vacation, especially hosting recent U.S.A bilingual
concerts in Denver in both English and Spanish (which included audience participation
in Swahili, Lakota, Arabic, Hebrew and Mandarin) While in London, I had the chance
to "brush up my Shakespeare," (to paraphrase the lyrics to the song)
during my mini-marathon of events in England. The variety of speech styles in
London is staggering. And really fun to listen to, even when not understanding
what is often said. Sometimes, I wished that there were subtitles when people
were rapping away in various accents.
reminded me of the great story, back in the Sixties, when Miles Davis, while touring
England, was invited to an upscale dinner party given in his honor. He sat quietly
during the entire evening, not saying a word.
as dessert was being served, the hostess said. "Miles, we are so delighted
that you could join us for dinner. How do you like being back in London again,
where you are so adored by the public?"
don't dig it" said Miles.
why is that Miles?" asked the hostess.
the people talk funny," said Miles.
years later, he would have felt even more that way. The variety of accents here
in London, w now includes new styles of speaking English, created by people from
almost every country in the world, which now have been added to the more than
forty distinct regional English accents within London itself. Waking down the
streets or listening while having a drink in a pub, is like hearing some great
crazy patchwork quilt of sounds.
was told while in visiting that the forty traditional accents within London (often
derived from various parts of England over the past century) are even difficult
to understand by some Londoners themselves. but that the English treasure these
different ways of speaking the language.
a series of performances, I also hosted a screening of Kerouac's silent documentary
film, "Pull My Daisy" the opening night of the festival, for the Society
of British Filmmakers. They roared with laughter at Kerouac's spontaneous narration,
where he made up the voices of all the different characters, and told me that
they appreciated the vvariety of musical styles which I used when composing the
score, combining jazz and Elizabethan style chamber music, The latter more traditional
classical style was used for some of the scenes where a bishop and his wife are
trying to have a serious conversation with a bunch of hyperactive nutcases played
in the film by poets Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso, painters Larry Rivers and
Alice Neal, and myself in the role of Mezz McGilluddy, the deranged French hornist.
the members of the Society of British Filmmakers also liked photographer Robert
Frank's camera work, they were not impressed by the non-performances of the cast
(since none of us were actors, which we proved by our non-performances).
was a great way to open the London International Poetry and Song Festival, of
which I was the headliner (which meant being a guest artist with almost every
musical group as well as spontaneously accompanying a series of poets,playwrights
and rappers as well as giving a concert each night myself).
I didn't have time to get into trouble!!
got back to JFK airport in NY late Wednesday night from London, and got back to
the farm about 3 a.m. I didn't have any time to get jet lag , because a few hpurs
later, that night I drove back to NYC, after some sleep, and I did a reading from
my new book, Upbeat: Nine Lives of a Musical Cat, as well as performing some music,
on a panel with John Leland, the young New York Times reporter who has written
a wonderful new book Why Kerouac Matters, and Ashley Kahn, author of Kinda Blue,
which describes the making of the Miles Davis classic recording of the same name.
They are both brilliant young men, and it was a treat to be with them.
evening was a discussion, with music, about the influence of jazz, (culturally
and linguistically) on the work of Kerouac as well as other authors, poets, painters,
actors, playwrights, dancers and classical composers of the 50s and how all that
influences the arts today. It was fun.
Now, after the birthday bash is
over, I'll go back to working round the clock on the new piano concerto i am composing,
and revamping the end of Offbeat: Collaborating with Kerouac which is being reissued
this Spring in paperback by Paradigm Publishers in a new edition.
send my best!!
New & Of Note - Jack's Last Call: Say
Goodbye to Kerouac - A AudioPlay adaptation of Kerouac's
Last Call has been produced by award winning audio dramatist
Sue Zizza and playwright Patrick Fenton specially for audio and
the public radio audience. Directed by Sue Zizza the AudioPlay stars Tony
Award winning actor, Len Cariou as The Reporter (The voice of the narrator)
Drew Keil as Jack Kerouac and features music by Jazz composer, original
Playing on PRX!
New & Of Note! - "Jack's Last Call:
Say Goodbye to Kerouac" premieres on PRX -
The AudioPlay adaptation of the Patrick Fenton StagePlay, "Kerouac's
Last Call" premiered April 2, 2008 on PRX
- the Public Radio Exchange.
Here To Learn More and Listen to Jack's
Last Call: Say Goodbye to Kerouac."