">and jazz can be heard on the clarinetist Don Byron's debut session as a
leader, Tuskegee Experiments ( 1992). The title refers to the horrors that
took place at the Tuskegee Institute in which, for the sake of scientific
study, hundreds of African-American men were intentionally not treated
for syphilis. Byron's title track incorporates a poem written and read by
the poet Sadiq, and the combination of the two shocks the listener into
awareness: Where many jazz poetry performances from the fifties and sixties failed to synthesize the two forms of expression or suffered from poor
musicianship, the players on this recording ( Byron in particular) respond
with mature and passionate musicality. As the tone in the poem changes
(from shock, to despair, to anger and anguish), so do the musical phrases
uncurl and jettison their varied lines against the verse:
bring them to autopsy
with ulcerated limbs,
with howling wives,
bring them in, one coon corpse at a time.
With music, the lines gain rhythm that they might lose on the page, and
by the end of the performance Byron plays faster, his thoughts unfolding
with remarkable speed. Sadiq begins his chant -- "No treatment! No treatment!" -- his voice strained until, in a startling moment of silence, the entire band stops playing. Only the poet now, "No treatment."
Patrick James Brown thesis, Jazz Poetry," suggests a still more massive7
gap from the mid-thirties through the mid-sixties, "and the major reason," he
explains, "is the popularity of swing, a big-band ensemble type of jazz, with less
emphasis upon solo improvisation. Evidently, the types of jazz music that inspire
poets to write [are] those that are improvisationally-based, and this type of jazz is
more apt to be heard in small groups" (107-108).
John Edgar Tidwell's continuing work on Davis helps to substantiate his
importance as a poet. Although his influence cannot accurately be compared to
the careers of Langston Hughes and Sterling Brown, he may very well deserve
more attention than I have offered in this book.
In 1940 Charles O. Harvey edited an anthology of jazz-related fiction, unfortunately titled Jazz Parody. It is to my knowledge the first significant anthology
exclusively about jazz-related literature.
The visual arts also reflected a growing interest in jazz. In December 1946, the
Samuel Kootz Gallery in New York displayed a show titled "Homage to Jazz"
featuring work by William Baziotes, Romare Bearden, Byron Browne, Adolph
Gottlieb, Carl Holty, and Robert Motherwell. The exhibition pamphlet included
a brief but engaging essay by Barry Ulanov on painting and jazz.
The line in the canto reads, "Y TSONG his son brought a jazz age HITSONG" (The Cantos, 292).
Alexander Schmitz article, Ideogram-Audiogram,"