Paul r. Harding - They Tried to Kill Me Yesterday

2023 CD release

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Matthew Shipp  - "What is jazz poetry? What is a jazz poet? Is there such a thing? I don’t know the answer to any of those questions, but I do know that the CD you hold in your hands is a testament to the synergy of a true synthesis of word and musical vibration with the rhythmic and tone quality between spoken word and jazz pulse unfolding in an expanding universe where the components flow in ever-spiraling patterns of lyricism and pulse. With art this mature there is a long genesis of it finding its way onto a CD. In art this pure, there is zero pretense—it is pure presentation.

Paul r. Harding was born in New York and attended college in Buffalo, NY, where he was tutored by saxophonists Archie Shepp and Charles Gayle. He moved to the West Coast, where he got to know bassist Michael Bisio in the mid-1980s. They did many performances in galleries, bars, and performance spaces. Paul thinks of Michael as having something that very few other bass players have in that he is both completely free and lyrical at the same time—he marvels at how Mike is “on it in an organic fucking explosion”—and how Mike “is always there.”

Michael Bisio thinks of Paul in the very highest of terms. He refers to him as an extremely intelligent sentient being—he thinks in terms of playing with Paul as playing with a great horn player. He refers to Paul’s work as having the message of love—solidarity and equality in a no-nonsense manner.
The percussionist Juma Sultan is a neighbor of Michael Bisio. He was present at a get-together with Paul and Michael at their apartment complex, and the idea to add Juma to the mix came about. He plays with exquisite taste and falls right into the intuitive dialogue between Paul and Michael. Of course, Juma is most known for having played with Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock.

Paul r. Harding is a pure expression of a linguistic analog to jazz. He has deep, deep knowledge of the music—of a lot of musics, for that matter—and he has worked long and hard to make words swing and sing in a pure vocal inflection. Paul has told me that Amiri Baraka called for poets to do with written language what musicians do with notes, and that was very important to him. Paul also considers the writer Jayne Cortez to be a mentor.

To me, Paul has achieved an extremely high level with the phrasing, syntax, and images (a lot lifted from the jazz tradition) but never used in a superficial way. Paul is deep. The images taken from jazz history are melted down to the rhythmic impetus and an elastic language is created. The words seem to swing on the page (I have actually never seen his written text)—and his delivery, timbre, and projection are that of a great articulate musician. It is deep and enjoyable. His work is extremely humane. There is a message also. There is hope. Michael Bisio believes that “if people listen to Paul it would solve a lot of the world’s problems.”


SKU 825481508322
Barcode # 825481508322
Brand ESP Disk

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