John Coltrane Rhythm Ballad for All by James Semark

The John Coltrane Rhythm Ballad for All recorded Nov. 22, 1964 at the Artists Workshop: James Semark voice, John Dana: bass, Danny Spencer : percussion, Charles Moore: horn.

James pioneered a type of early proto-rap form that he called the rhythm ballads. These late 50s and early 60s compositions were “investigative verse” works; tripped-out epic poems set to music that undertook the study and description of jazz legends John Coltrane, Charlie Parker and even a judgment day “jazz-poem in heaven” of Edmund Zwingy, an imaginary be-bop star. He began to put the ballads to syncopated sound beats around 1964, inspired by jazz drummer Danny Spencer practicing in a basement room next to his own, in the John Lodge Artist Workshop “Castle”.

This recording was released on the “Detroit Artists Workshop Reunion Poetry CD” in the booklet John Sinclair and the Culture of the Sixties, Bentley Historical Library, 2004.

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