Dec 10, 2017
The use of poetry by jazz artists as inspiration or collaboration is one of the most welcome trends of the past few years. There is often a great link between the poet and the musician, as they play with shaded tones and meanings, textures and allusions, following or breaking rules as suits their artistic goals. Jane Ira Bloom’s Wild Lines: Improvising Emily Dickinson matches one of our great soprano sax players with the timeless poetry of one of America’s greatest – and most enigmatic – poets, with great success.
Ms. Bloom has found inspiration of her music in the visual arts and dance before, and the written word suits her as a leaping off point for composition and performance. Backed by her long-time band - Dawn Clement on piano; Mark Helias on bass; and Bobby Previte on drums – the new music has much of the bouncing sounds we have come to expect from Jane, sometimes playful and at other times with a sense of meditation. Her rhythm section steps it up on tracks like “Big Bill” and “Mind Gray River.” It all comes together perfectly with “Hymn: You Wish You Had Eyes in Your Pages,” with each instrumentalist “preaching” their say to great effect.
Wild Lines wisely comes as a double CD set, with actress Deborah Rush providing narration over the tracks to make a different listening experience, one that enhances the music and brings home the thematic elements perfectly. For me, this is one of the best releases of the year.
Podcast 604 is my conversation with Jane Ira Bloom, as we discuss the project, her life-long connection with the soprano sax, and she tells the story of the time the band performed this music in Emily Dickinson’s home, with moving results. Musical selections from Wild Lines: Improvising Emily Dickinson include “Hymn: You Wish You Had Eyes in Your Pages,” ”One Note for One Bird,” and with Deborah Rush, “A Star Not Far Enough.”