The concept of a jazz musician improvising riffs while a writer earnestly reads her poetry may seem like a boho cliche, but when that poet happens to be the charismatic force of nature known as Wanda Coleman, such a collaboration suddenly has the potential to transform the sometimes-stodgy world of spoken-word performance into a whole new experience. Coleman, of course, is the veteran Southland icon who came straight out of Watts with a series of alternately earthy, playful, confrontational and vibrant poetry collections on Black Sparrow Books, starting with Mad Dog Black Lady in 1979. Musical rhythms have always pulsed through Coleman's work, whether she's trading verbal licks with punk singer Exene Cervenka on their 1985 spoken-word album, Twin Sisters, or plunging deeper into the mystic blue of the music in her most recent book, Jazz and Twelve O'Clock Tales. "We rebelled against the southwestern wind/We got so naturally ripped, we sprouted wings/crashed parties on the moon, and howled at the earth," as she once confessed/bragged. The esteemed upright bassist John B. Williams, who studied under none other than Ron Carter and has played with such greats as Horace Silver, Dizzy Gillespie, Hugh Masekela and Count Basie, opens with a set of his own music before teaming up with La Coleman.
Thu., Dec. 10, 8 p.m., 2009