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Mingus, Eric/David Amram/Larry Simon: Langston Hughes The Dream Keeper

Langston Hughes was an American poet/playwright/activist who led the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s. His jazz poetry is still noteworthy today and he is recognized as one of the true innovators of the spoken word used in jazz music.

The Langston Hughes Project is led by Eric Mingus (voice), David Amram (piano) and directed by Larry Simon (guitar). The intent of the project is to honour the life and contributions of Langston Hughes.

Usually I am not overly enamored with spoken word vocals, especially when its used throughout the entire album but in this case it somehow works. Mingus has an ideal voice, rich and deep, to carry out such a task. Seven of the tracks feature only piano and voice and all are fine jazz pieces. On 'The Dream Keeper" the full band lends support with the flute, soprano sax and contra-alto clarinet giving the music an ethereal and atmospheric quality. With "Railroad Avenue" Mingus spins a tale supported only by Hammond organ which is quite exquisitely played by Scip Gallant whereas "Border Lines" features only Mingus and Larry Simon's imaginative guitar chords. On "Daybreak in Alabama" the improvised sax gives the piece an experimental edge. The album ends with the emotively beautiful "Life is Fine" where Mingus quite possibly puts forth his best performance against a backdrop of Amram's sentimental piano.

Mingus, Amram and Simon have kept alive Langston Hughes' poetry with The Dream Keeper. It is one of the more unique jazz albums I have heard this year.

Track Listing:
1. Weary Blues
2. The Dream Keeper
3. Neighbor
4. Daybreak in Alabama
5. Sylvester's Dying Bed
6. Border Line
7. Reverie on the Harlem River
8. In Time of Silver Rain
9. Bound No'th Blues
10. Democracy
11. Ma Lord
12. Railroad Avenue
13. Life is Fine

Added: June 27th 2017
Reviewer: Jon Neudorf
Related Link: Label's Official Site
Hits: 1382
Language: english

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