May/29/2012 Filed in: spoken word
In the spring of 1958, just a few weeks after cutting Poetry for the Beat Generation, producer Bob Thiele suggested making a second album -- quite a daring notion, considering that the first album would prove so controversial that it wouldn't reach the public for a year -- and Jack Kerouac agreed. Instead of pianist Steve Allen, however, Kerouac insisted that he be accompanied this time by two good friends, tenor saxmen Al Cohn and Zoot Sims. With Cohn doubling on piano, the resulting Blues and Haikus is a stunning duet between speaker and saxmen, working spontaneously in this peculiar mix of jazz and voice, in which the saxmen do get their solo spots around Kerouac's work. There's much more of a sense on this album of a conscious interaction here between Kerouac and his accompanists, and the album is more arch but also more intense and more imposing than its predecessor.