Unleashed: Chezia Thompson Cager Meets Kre-The Kev[CD]
UNLEASHED as Sankofa by Lawrence W. Young Jr. CD Liner Notes The 13 poems of UNLEASHED are an exercise in Sankofa. Sankofa, looking backward to go forward is an athletic feat that is difficult to accomplish. Looking backward suggests that your eyes are focused on images that are behind you; while your body blindly moves forward on a path unseen. However, the Sankofa bird drawing only shows one eye, following the ancient Egyptian Canon of the Human Form in painting. Nevertheless, you can not assume looking at either kind of work of art that the entities portrayed can only see in one direction, using a western analysis of 2 dimensional art. But you say, â€œWhat of the other eye?â€ â€œHere is a thought of darknessâ€ Chezia Thompson Cager says at the beginning of â€œEgungunâ€ referencing the legacy of ancestral praise and worship by the Yoruba in Nigeria and the ability to see in and through dark acts, dark times, dark places, dark people, dark words because she is the essence of darkness: made from the same Dark Matter expelled from Black Holes eons ago. She enacts Sankofa here as a mnemonic device to call our attention to what has happened in preparation to deal with what is about to happen. But you say,â€ To whom is she speaking?â€ I say she is speaking to anyone, everyone, humans, extraterrestrials, animals and the Dead: Other poets, people who hate poetry, people in schools, the bourgeoisie, people who are struggling, the President and her child, Chezia Jr. can all find a word there just for them. She needs to be translated into other languages â€" Native American languages, Chinese, French, Yoruba etc. The acappella(?) range jumps in â€Labyrinthâ€ (from the book When Divas Dance) which opens the Prologue beginning of the recording, describes the writer as the result of â€œa ring of fireâ€ meeting â€œa ring of hope.â€ She understands the personal is the universal; so her examples are specific, taunting, live to the screaming bone. Kevin Robinsonâ€™s mournful piano on â€œEntering Into the Beginning of Myselfâ€ (from When Divas Dance) and Brandi Brenerâ€™s defining bass on â€œWhen You Stand In Middleâ€ create two different kinds of love stories or two different stages of coming to consciousness in flesh â€" it just depends on where you are standing in life. You see or hear from where you sit. â€œEgungunâ€ with Chris Taylorâ€™s amazing percussion and â€œUnder Flowerâ€ (from When Divas Laugh) make the personal political and â€œ Sculpture Danceâ€ (from The Presence of Things Unseen: Giant Talk) and â€œWhen Sound Met Matterâ€ (from When Divas Dance) provide examples of how the political invades the personal; forcing one to stand up in support of life. To coin a clichÃ©, I would say the poetry is powerful but combined with the music written for each piece the sound experience is truly remarkable and unlike many poetry recordings with back up bands. The work here is clearly an equal collaboration: a dialogue between members of the same family helping each other toward clarity and power â€" inspiration For instance â€ When Sound Met Matterâ€ is easily a SUN RAâ€" like creation. The poem outlines the cosmic experience complimenting KREâ€™s professional experience as an experimental JAZZ Band in ways that do not reveal that this union between KRE and Cager is a recent one. Kevin Robinson then transfers the JAZZ sound in separate instruments into other poem genres. In their rendition of Cagerâ€™s Blues Song â€œIâ€™m Gonna Take Your Place Bluesâ€ (from The Presence of Things Unseen: Giant Talk) he places Paris Davenportâ€™s Milesâ€™ Davis â€" like trumpet and Kevin Everett Robinsonâ€™s dancing Skip James guitar and transmutes the poemâ€™s tribute to Bobby Bland into a new kind of irresistible Blues song altogether. Adding Brandi Brenerâ€™s bass to Davis and Robinson you get echoes of Leadbelly and Blind Lemon Jefferson in â€œBroke Bitch Bluesâ€ and â€œMomma Dancing Shoesâ€™ Bluesâ€ and interestingly enough Cager sings it with same sound intelligence as she sings the Negro Spiritual â€œSweet Little Jesus Boyâ€ played on the piano by Marsha Washington Upchurch in â€œSavant.â€ At the core of her personal and political text is the phenomenological idea that the body controls us more that we would like to believe. That love is an idea, a construct that often operates above logic metaphorically as it manipulates flesh. The unpublished â€œ Hammer Songâ€ and â€œRain Songâ€ features Cager on the Rain Stick as her way of saying coitus is both natural, holy and phenomenological â€" under the â€œrightâ€ circumstances, she warns. That to be in the moment with a like mind with all senses activated to their highest capacity is to know the joy of both the flesh and what made it â€" the divine. How sexy is that! Sankofa, looking back to go forward is quite an athletic feat in that it requires seeing in two directions at once. To do that you have to use more than just one eye. UNLEASHED is Sankofa. Listen to â€œthe flesh conversation.â€ Lawrence W. Young Jr. Cultural Architect of the Paul Robeson Cultural Center at The Pennsylvania State University & Newspaper Columnist and Lecturer.
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