Sunday, January 16, 2011

Beat Poet Robert Briggs at Corvallis Art Center

Robert Briggs answers questions from the audience after his wonderful and moving reading from his work "Opus One: The Beat Goes On"

This session was one of many in the "Between the Cracks" series and took place at the Corvallis Art Center on a warm and rainy Saturday, January 15 at 7pm.  The acoustics in the room were wonderful.

Dana Reason played piano (superbly of course!) and herded us cats together for this event, graciously hosting an initial rehearsal at her home so we could get to know each other musically and explore the material a bit.

Ryan Biesack, played the drums...awesomely I might add!  I added my trumpet and flugelhorn sounds. Michael Coolen served as the master of ceremonies, stunt pianist, and spontaneous sound and lighting designer! 

It was a very in-the-moment experience - blending Robert Briggs' live poetry reading with our interpretive musical musings.  Jazz- absolutely.  Although at times, for me at least, it felt just like we were painting "sonic colors" - at any given time they might be some combination of sharp, blue, edgy, melodious, ethereal...

Mr. Briggs read from his script (deviating now and then to add a little bit more here and there) and we were all transported through time by his poetry, with all its imagery, historical references, commentary, insights, and observations.  His script was peppered with cues for suggested music since he performs with a variety of musicians - and as with any suggestion, the moment rules.  So a request for a Charlie Parker riff might have yielded something altogether different musically.  That seemed to be okay though!

What a fun night and an honor to be involved - Robert Briggs is an inspiration!  His wife/partner, Diana Saltoon, was so friendly and supportive.  We'd hardly even met and she hugs me after our pre-show warm-up!  That said a great deal and made me feel that we were at least close to being on the right track!  And of course thanks to all our partners and friends who came out to support our work and hear the performance.

photos by Christel Birdwell