Welcome back John Sinclair to the Book Beat for a poetry reading and presentation on Thursday, October 13th at 7 PM. Sinclair will present his newest collection “Song of Praise: Homage to John Coltrane”. This year marks the 40th anniversary of the legendary “Free John Now” concert held Dec 10th, 1971 in Ann Arbor, Michigan and October 2nd marks John Sinclair’s 70th birthday. Come and celebrate these milestones with one of our areas most distinguished poets.
Collected for the first time are Sinclair’s poetry, reviews and writings on the musical genius of John Coltrane. A companion CD is also being issued by the publisher Trembling Press in New Orleans.
[John Sinclair is] … deep inside a tradition beginning with Whitman, Williams, and Ezra Pound, and continuing through Charles Olson and Ginsberg.
—Dennis Formento, from the afterword
John Sinclair’s writing about “The Music” has always been well informed and inspiring, from his early Detroit-hip days. So it’s important to gather this writing to show where he and we have been, and the great period of American Classical Music we lived through and particularly the marvelous revelation that John Coltrane provided everybody who could hear.
Poet, activist, major jazz head, John Sinclair’s SONG OF PRAISE is a wild outward/ inward ride through time like any of Trane’s great solos. It’s a surge of time travel from the ‘60s breakthroughs & breakdowns as reflected in the revolutionary free jazz awakening as well as in the political uprisings of that time that changed the world.
About the CD:
Finally, John Sinclair’s legendary performances and tributes to John Coltrane are available together in this collection; Sinclair has long been on the scene recording the history and extolling the beauties of these life changing moments in music. The entire suite HOMAGE TO JOHN COLTRANE was first performed by John Sinclair’s newly-formed Blues Scholars—Michael Ray, trumpet; Richard Theodore (Harry Lenz), alto sax & bass clarinet; Nick Sanzenbach, tenor sax; Phil deVille, guitar; Lucky Joe Drake, bass; Michael Voelker, drums—at Kaldi’s Coffeehouse in September 1994 in conjunction with John Coltrane’s Sept 23 birthday. The moon was full that night and the DAT recording by Keith Keller became Sinclair’s first album, FULL MOON NIGHT, on Alive/Total Energy Records in Los Angeles. The first version of “I Talk with the Spirits” is from Sinclair’s second Alive album, FULL CIRCLE, recorded in Los Angeles in 1996 with Wayne Kramer, guitar; Charles Moore, trumpet; Ralph “Buzzy” Jones, tenor & alto sax; Craig Stewart, alto sax; Paul Ill, bass; Brock Avery, drums, and the shortened suite HOMAGE TO JOHN COLTRANE—spiritual, consequences, blues to you, i talk with the spirits—is from a live broadcast on KXLU-FM in Los Angeles in August 1997 with the same band less Craig Stewart and with Michael Voelker in place of Brock Avery, issued on Sinclair’s 2000 album UNDERGROUND ISSUES. The opening reading of “spiritual” is a duet with Marion Brown, alto sax, recorded by Mark Bingham at the Louisiana Music Factory in February 1993, first issued on the 2nd number of the WWOZ ON CD series in 1994.
Author, poet and activist John Sinclair (born October 2, 1941, in Flint, Michigan) mutated from small-town rock’n’roll fanatic and teenage disc jockey to cultural revolutionary, pioneer of marijuana activism, radical leader and political prisoner by the end of the 1960s.
In 1966-67 the jazz poet, downbeat correspondent, founder of the Detroit Artists Workshop and underground journalist joined the front ranks of the hippie revolution, managing the “avant-rock” MC5 and organizing countless free concerts in the parks, White Panther rallies and radical benefits. In 1969 Sinclair was railroaded off to prison on a 9½ to ten year sentence for giving away two joints to an undercover policewoman. While he was in prison, Sinclair wrote the books Guitar Army: Street Writings/Prison Writings, a collection of his writings for the underground press between 1968-71, and Music & Politics, co-written with Robert Levin. Sinclair was released from Jackson Prison when the twenty nine month campaign to gain his freedom climaxed in the mammoth “John Sinclair Freedom Rally” in Ann Arbor, Michigan on December 10, 1971, where John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Stevie Wonder, Allen Ginsberg, Phil Ochs, Bobby Seale and others performed and spoke at the eight-hour long event in front of 15,000 people. Lennon wrote and performed his song, “John Sinclair,” later released on his Some Time in New York City album. Three days after the concert, the Michigan Supreme Court released Sinclair, and later overturned his conviction.
Following his release from prison, Sinclair got back into music management and promotion and hosted popular radio shows on WNRZ and WCBN, founded the People’s Ballroom, the Free Concerts in the Park program, and the Ann Arbor Tribal Council, and played a leading role in the success of the local Human Rights Party that resulted in the election of two City Council members and the institution of the legendary $5 fine for marijuana possession in Ann Arbor. For the next fifteen years he raised his family in Detroit and worked as editor of the Detroit Sun newspaper, founder and director of the Detroit Jazz Center, adjunct professor of popular music history at Wayne State University, artists manager and concert producer, WDET-FM program host, director of the City Arts Gallery for the Detroit Councilof the Arts and editor of City Arts Quarterly.