There seem to have been a lot of very hip things going on in Detroit lately, though from my (disad-)vantage point I can only read about them or hear of them on the radio. I heard very beautiful things about the Archie Shepp et al. concert last month—anyone who missed the happenings in Ann Arbor should be locked up here in my place. Archie brought trombonist Roswell Rudd, the strongest man on his instrument today, from New York City; bassist Charlie ** Haden, now living in San Francisco after getting straight at Synanon; and drummer Beaver Harris, of NYC, with him for the big Ann Arbor affair, and all reports indicate that they all got into some very moving music. After the concert proper a mammoth session took place under Ron Brooks’ auspices—participating were some of the strongest voices in the country—Rudd & Harris of NY; Haden of SF; altoist Joseph Jarmon, tenor saxophonist Fred Anderson, trumpeter Bill Brimfield, bassist Charles Clark, and drummer Steve McCall, all of Chicago (they had played, under Jarmon’s name, for the WSU Artists’ Society the night before); and cornetist Charles Moore and drummer Danny Spencer of Detroit. These men worked in a lot of combinations, including 2 bass-2 drums teams (Moore’s setting), and enough music was made (as I hear it) to fill the whole midwest.
This past weekend (April 16-17) brought the first Detroit Jazz Conference, including speakers Martin Williams and Don Heckman from New York and lots of concerts, lectures, panels, etc. Of interest to me were the discussion on “jazz composition” with musicians Lyman Woodard and Jim Semark, of the Artists’ Workshop, and academicians Ruth Wylie, Ph.d., and Robert Lawton, both of Wayne’s Music School; Charles Moore’s “Lecture” on Black Music; and the Sunday evening “3rd Stream and New Thing” concert with Jack Brokensha’s collaboration with the Detroit Arts Woodwind Quintet and the Ensembles Of Lyman Woodard and Charles Moore (whose Contemporary group included himself and Ed Hood, cornets; Charles Miles, Alto saxophone; David Squires, tenor saxophone; Stanley Cowell, piano; John and Jay Dana, basses; and Ronald Johnson and Danny Spencer, drums). I wish to god I could have been there to hear (and see) the slaughter—”greater Detroit” is just now getting hip to the power of these men.
That’s finally the biggest drag about being locked up here—things I’ve been working for over an almost 2-year period finally came about and I Can’t even witness them myself, let alone share in the emotional profits the music affords. Let this do for all of you in the “free” world—you have the opportunity to experience (take in and use) some of the most powerful ART being unleashed in the world, and so few of you avail yourselves of it that it literally makes me sick to think about it. Artists are starving (literally starving) everywhere, especially in Detroit, offering their work to you freely for only the smallest token gesture of appreciation (your presence) and most of you would rather see them disappear before your eyes than stir a finger to help them. What a drag.
OK—these things are in the past. Coming up May 1 is a reading by poet Reb Barker, an old San Francisco friend, at the Artists’ Workshop—Reb’s travelling around the country lining up places for poets to read. The big happenings will be the 5th of May, though, when a huge reading will be heard at WSU—-poets John Weiners (The Hotel Wentley Poems, Ace of Pentacles), Bobby Hogg (The Connections), Victor Coleman (Notes from the Music of Erik Satie), Robin Eichele and Ron Caplan (of the Artists’ Workshop).
Artists’ Workshop Press has its third number of WORK / A Journal Of New Writing, now available at $1 the copy—includes work by many great Detroit poets, a story by Bill Hutton, and a whole section on the contemporary poet Rainer Maria Gerhardt (committed suicide in 1954 after struggling to publish real post-war poetry in Germany against what proved to be insurmountable odds), including translations of two of his poems by Magdalene Sinclair and Anselm Hollo, two poems for Gerhardt by Charles Olsen, writes on him by Robert Creeley, Hollo, and Jonathan Williams, and some remarkable 1953 photographs of Rainer, his wife Renate, their two sons, Bob and Ann Creeley, and Williams. Pick up your copy Sunday afternoon at the Workshop, or subscribe (at three dollars for four big issues) to WORK, Artists’ Workshop Press, 4825-27 John Lodge Detroit, 48201.
Soon to be released are Jim Semark’s second book, THE NIGHT-VISION EXPRESS, and my own second book, FIRE MUSIC: a record, both from the AWP. Now available is the second volume of FREE POEMS/AMONG FRIENDS, collected by Magdalene Sinclair from the poems handed out on campus by the WSU Artists’ Society last quarter. Included are poems by Eichele, Caplan, my brother Dave, myself, George Tysh, and other Detroit people, plus photographs of all concerned. Recently done was THE PROTEST PAPERS, collected by Dr. Betty Chmaj (professor of American Studies) for the spring conference of the Michigan Academy of Arts, Science, and Letters. The collection has some very interesting things to it, plus a lovely cover by Ann Katzen.
Richard Zeff left Detroit for England (London Film School) last week and thus brought to a close what was by far the hippiest jazz show on the radio—his “The New Things” on WQRS. Bebop has rushed back in to stop the gap. Anyone who has good FM reception can pick up the best show now going, Bud Spangler’s JAZZ HORIZONS on WKAR-FM, East Lansing (somewhere around 90 MC on FM), on Thursday nights from 9 to 12 midnight. Bud also does 2 Saturday afternoon shows—”New Jazz in Review” featuring guitarist-poet Ron English and Bud talking about records of much worth (Miles Davis, Archie Shepp, Herbie Hancock, et al.); and his “Album Jazz program, featuring the most tasteful jazz programming I’ve ever heard. The first show runs from 2:30 to 3:00; the second from 3:00 to 5:30 PM every Saturday. If you won’t buy records, at least turn on the radio.
That’s all for now—keep your eyes open for me—I can’t.