Praise be! poejazzi.com has gone live. We’re so happy to say that we made it through the technological fire with nothing valuable singed and we have a shiny new website to show for it.
We really hope we’ve created a super functional and smile inducing experience for you all. We made the move from WordPress to website so we could build somewhere people who love poetry and music can explore both in a more fulfilling and interactive way. We hope that people who love these mediums will feel like they have found the home they’ve always wanted. So without further ado and for a lack of bugles or something ceremonial and creepy come and explore our Blog network (watch out for several new authors such as Midlands poetry critic and poet Gary Longden and editorial extraordinaire Kevin Pocock) and read Poejazzi directly here. We also recommend a peruse through our ever expanding Visuals section of filmed interviews and performances of our favourite artists such as The Insomniax, Alex Gwyther, Shakka and Scrimshire. You can also keep up with info on our upcoming events, our upcoming poetry app that we have just commissioned (yay!) and learn more about us as an organisation and who is on our team and how to contact us.
Make sure to change your bookmark links if we’re lucky enough to be included in there and to subscribe to the new blog at the bottom of any of our blog posts. You can sign up to our mailing list and get a little round up of the most important stories and recommendations on where to go/who to listen to/major lifestyle decisions on the homepage and throughout the Poejazzi blog. Our Twitter and Facebook accounts remain the same, so if you’re already a fan on Facebook, or a follower on Twitter, there’s nothing more you have to do apart from keeping following and reading!
This current site will remain up for some time if you’re feeling nostalgic. Just don’t hang here for too long and miss out on what we hope is not only a new chapter for Poejazzi but for the scene we love being part of.
Here’s to the future and all that great stuff.
Thank you all so much for reading Poejazzi for the last 2 years
Kate Tempest’s Brand New Ancients was a mixture of the two components I feel are important when it comes to the one man/woman show format. Connecting personally with the audience in a universal way and capturing the little idiosyncrasies of the basis of your story. Tempest’s exploration of two families unravelling is relatable modern tragedy, crafted out of the difficulties in being the everyman. Throughout the play she reminded us directly and indirectly of our relation to “the gods”. Our connection to them symbolising the epic nature of everyday humanity and the loss and triumph inherent in each journey:
“The gods are in the betting shops, the gods are in the cafe,
The gods can’t afford the deposit on their flat…
Winged sandals tearing up the pavement,
Me, you, everyone, brand new ancients” – Brand New Ancients
The effect could easily be sentimental in the worst way. However, Tempest’s blistering delivery, her self awareness conveyed by both charmingly nervous asides and assured segways in and out of the main narrative, and her fully committing to the more idealistic aspects of the play stave off any risk of over-simplifying the complexities of being human. Her conviction literally convinces us of the power of being supposedly average and it is a joy to experience. The Brand New Ancient’s focus on the perfection at the heart of our fallibilities is a positive and rich experience. We left elevated not just by Tempest’s words but by the overall impact of the words with the music (composed by Nell Catchpole and played masterfully by Kwake Bass, Raven Bush, Natasha Zielazinski and Jo Gibson) transporting us from scene to scene.
In my opinion things tend to turn out better if you can access your own experiences in life, your Oprah “inner child” so to speak, when writing a one man/woman show. An audience can sense if it comes from your gut or if you lifted it out of a newspaper story but the tenets of the tale have nothing to do with your experiences. We can tell if the story your telling has no aspects in common with who you are because the quirks are missing. For me, recent solo works such as Brand New Ancient, Polarbear’s Old Me and Inua Ellams’ Black T Shirt Collection have all managed to achieve this sense of connecting the concerns/experiences that shape these artists with the stories they write outside of themselves.
Poejazzi Founder Joshua Idehen has hooked up with producer Andy Highmore, vocalist Holly Bestic to create new group Maze Hill. Maze Hill make gorgeous music that sounds kind of like Grizzly Bear/Beach House had a baby with someone with a lot of soul music stashed in their collection and they sort of rubbed off on each other. Like the bands such as those mentioned above Maze Hill’s music takes you somewhere “else”. It shows an attention to the microscopic in terms of capturing feelings and life scenarios but it evokes a picture that is more landscape than portrait as its sounds transport your imagination somewhere different every time. The result is something clearly unique and intriguing but more importantly instantly loveable and universally relatable. I’m going to have to quote music blog Put Me On It to fully capture the feeling of newness Maze Hill represents:
By rights the likes of Josephine and Tinashé (and many others you can find on this blog such as Tawiah, Tanya Auclair, Joshua Idehen, L.A. Salaami, Rahel, Ghostpoet and ESKA), are a new generation of homegrown singer-songwriters who probably grew up with The Smiths and Joni Mitchell as much as King Sunny Ade or Michael Jackson” - Put Me On It
XLR8R are helping to launch their first single by offering a free Download of the LV (Hyperdub) remix of first single Long Haul. Long Haul comes out Oct 29th.
We’re clapping-and-jumping-up-and-down happy to see emerging household name George the Poet star in the trailer for the new Virgin Records/Naughtyboy Music concept album Hotel Cabana feat Emeli Sande, Tinie Tempah, Professor Green, Gabrielle, and more. No, I am not setting you up to expect a revision of Barry Manilow’s dirtiest secret, I am setting you up to expect the unexpected because the promotional drive behind this album is uber mysterious, non explanatory, and very presumptious about the level of interest you are going to dedicate to working it all out as only a major label can afford to be! This is all I know about the album
“Hotel Cabana is a place that’s as much a metaphor as it is a geographical location, as much a state of mind as a tangible space filled with people creating and sharing the experience. Yet not everything here is always as it seems. The doorway’s the same, but the entrance can exist anywhere. Every doorway leads you back to the same place, this place, The Hotel Cabana – with some invisible force pulling the strings in this tarnished paradise.”
It has successfully managed to make me feel as if everyone else is in on Hotel Cabana and Poejazzi was off at a dentist appointment when it all happened. They are very firm about the fact that you really should all “make your reservation” but I’m always a little wary of doing what I’m told when it involves my email address and possibly my soul (are we joining a religion here? Emeli Sande is singing very beautifully about being full of “wonder” and there are very earnest levels of chanting occurring in the background.) Until I’ve read a comprehensive interview with Naughty Boy the internet suspect in me is scared he is not a real person and Virgin have created a music-bot and a very large campaign to detract from this. Basically I need to see more than some mantra soundbites to be fully checked into this hotel but from what we have seen thus far everything from the visuals to the music itself is super well produced and has us intrigued. We can’t wait to see what part the talented and promising George the Poet plays on this album and can be nothing but happy about poetry being included in a campaign with Kanye-like conceptual ambitions.
Poet Lemn Sissay MBE (Associate Artist at The Southbank Centre) has been invited to feature on Baaba Maal’s tour in the US in 2013. After a wondrous performance with Baaba at this summer’s Africa Utopia event Word Sound Power it’s all enough to make us want to cobble together collective resources and cross the atlantic to get in on all the fun. Sadly, selling your granny for plane tickets or something similarly inappropriate deters us from doing so but we wholeheartedly encourage our American readers, anyone on a US holiday, and all their culture vulture friends to not miss out on this slice of collaboration heaven. Keep checking each respective website for info on the tour.
How can one possibly hate on this? Okay, so the fact that they’d label themselves Gospel Rap is a good enough reason as any to not-listen-to-anything-they-ever-do-ever, but when they’re this amazing I don’t care if Souk Souk Death Metal is their preferred genre. Two rappers. One singer. One hell of a wardrobe between them. A hefty dose of melancholia. 3000 Miles of Youth (below) was made for the repeat button. This is the kind of Hip Hop, Gospel or not, we should all be getting into.
Luke ‘Skywalker’ Wright, the hardest man in poetry, has made an ode to classic cheesy sci-fi/horror movies. Set in Brentwood and written almost entirely with the alliterative ‘B’ syllable, this is the cleverest three minute piece of entertainment you’ll watch today. Enjoy:
Chill Pill dun done it now. They’ve only gone and booked one of my favourite saxophonist-rappers of all time. OF ALL TIME. If you like jazz/hip hop/poetry/life and you do not know Soweto Kinch, slap yourself.
Soweto is like that one night that Smooth, Classy, Grown Up Jazz met Thoughtful, Clever Hip Hop, and Hip Hop was off to uni and Jazz was buying drinks so they had a one night stand because that’s how they did things back in the day and BLAM! Kinch. His album The New Emancipation is… why am I telling you about his album? Haven’t you already bought it already? Slap yourself. The New Emancipation is the stuff that makes me scared to keep writing, like I have to compete with that?? Like you should have heard in 2010, when it bloody came out.
Supporting Soweto is Poejazzi fave Sabrina Mafouz, who dark urban tales are a thing. It is just a thing. Not just anything, a thing.
Jive Poetical rounds up the line up, with hosting duties by the embarrassingly awesome Raymond Antrobus.
It’s £7 online. Open mics arrive early to sign on.
Check out Benin City’s new single (released this week) Accelerate – a whirring, brass heavy, poetic tour de force dedicated to speed (the natural variety but of course) Also have a read of this funny, insightful interview by Urban Nerds with Benin City on intergalactic label bosses, Amon Tobin and the Dan le Sac tour.
The sweet falsetto behind The Tears of a Clown is staging his first poetry show in Los Angeles this weekend and we’re hoping if enough people fawn over the prospect of seeing Smokey Robinson as a performance poet we could a) be in for a very magic surreal experience if it tours internationally or b) be witnessing the beginning of a new trend in autobiography: the sell out one man show as opposed to the hard back Christmas present. It is being described as a “spoken-word programme built around several long-form poems”
The 72-year-old is not new to poetry. “I have been [writing poems] all of my life,” he told the LA Sentinel. “A song has to have some uniformity. Something that familiarises people with it because you’re trying to sell it … but poetry is freedom and you can write however and whatever you want.” This weekend’s show will be directed by Robinson’s wife, Linda Cevallos-Smith. He is apparently considering taking the production on tour, and may release a DVD. “[Smokey] talks about growing up in Detroit, his musical background, his love for women, his love for God, his love for humanity,” French explained. “He sings a little bit, a cappella, and takes people on a walk through his history.” (The Guardian)
Keep up to date with the progress and reviews of Smokey’s poetic movements via Twitter