Hatfield takes the relationship between jazz and poetry to a different
level. For Langston (Arthur Circle Music, 2012) by the Ken
Hatfield Sextet pays tribute to American poet Langston Hughes.
Poetry readings are often accompanied by jazz, whether as a soundtrack
in the background or paired as separate parts of an evening program.
Hatfield, a guitarist and composer who has a deep love for literature,
is always on the lookout for text that’s ripe for musical
Released on February 1, the anniversary of Hughes’ birth, For
Langston has a lineup of Hatfield on guitar, Hilary Gardner on
vocals, Jamie Baum on alto flute, Hans Glawischnig on bass, Jeff
Hirshfield on drums and Steven Kroon on percussion.
Gardner lends her sultry, soothing voice to “Dream Boogie,” inspired by
three “Boogie” poems. The pace picks up during the instrumental break,
when the flute and the guitar take turns expressing freely.
“I Don’t Believe in Titles” is Hatfield’s reimagining of Hughes’ “Poem
for an Intellectual on the Way Up to Submit to His Lady.” Gardner’s
earthy soprano carries the piece. The slow, bluesy groove adds a nice
touch. Glawischnig contributes by putting a bow to his bass.
The collection is pleasant,
unpretentious and a fitting tribute to Hughes.