(from the very scarce 1990 cassette version)
by Langston Hughes, originally released in 1968 on MGM (later a Verve reissue).
Well, if you want to find out more about black male sensibility in the first half of the 20th century, this is an excellent place to start. Poet Langston Hughes, best known for his short rhyming poems on black experience teamed forces with arrangers Leonard Feather and the great Charles Mingus to deliver this sublime artifact. Brass, bass, piano and drums backed Hughes reading selections from his work in the black blues tradition. Words and music capture the existential life of black American males coping with loneliness, discrimination, relationship issues (some political incorrectness here btw) and a range of topics from ‘curbing your dog’ to violence to dreams.
The words and music are coolly and artistically interwoven in the improvisational style of jazz. The session ends with a Monk jam as his musicians break free where Hughes’ words leave off. The music is well-chosen, moving, and complements Hughes’ poems perfectly. This scarce CD is well-worth the search for anyone interested in this ’50s era just before civil rights came to the fore for blacks. And there is no shortage of soulfully-felt blues offered in this extremely unique cool album.