Zerx / 004
Mark Weber / spoken word, melodica, percussion, Patti Littlefield / voice, Tom Guralnick / tenor sax, Tim Zannes / tenor sax, Bill Plake / tenor sax, Stefan Dill / guitar, Lou Morales / percussion, Justine Flynn / French horn, Jon Baldwin / cornet, percussion, Jefferson Voorhees / percussion, Mark Weaver / tuba, J A Deane / trombone, steel guitar, electronics, Lisa Polisar / flute, Alicia Ultan / viola, Courtney Smith / celtic harp, Craig Ochikubo / keys, Anders Swanson / bass, violin, Chris Garcia / drums, Eileen Sullivan / violin, Bonnie Renfro / violin, Pam Morden / violin, Lewis Winn / guitar, Chris Allen / vibes.
Time Zone Differential
Zerx / 007
Mark Weber / spoken word, Michael Vlatkovich / trombone, percussion, Bill Plake / tenor sax, Alex Cline / percussion, Nels Cline / guitar, William Roper / tuba, percussion, Chris Garcia / percussion, Vinny Golia / baritone sax, clarinet, David Parlato / bass, Craig Ochikubo / keys, Anders Swanson / bass, violin, Rob Blakeslee / trumpet, flugelhorn, Ken Filiano / bass, Billy Mintz / drums, Gerald Locklin / spoken word, one track only, Wayne Peet / organ, one track only, Gretchen Parlato / voice, one track only.
Mark Weber does “Poetry & Jazz”, and if you’re still reading this then you probably have a tendency to give rather freely of the benefit of the doubt. Yes, this is real, 1967, Haight-Ashbury JAZZ POETRY, pseudo-Ginsbergisms recoiling into either Romanticism or everyday chat, accompanied by growling tenor saxophones signifying New York, freedom and dangerous ideas.
There’s a reason why you haven’t heard of Weber as a writer. Actually, to be fair to him there are two reasons, the other being that poets find it extremely hard to get any kind of exposure even when they’re extremely good. Well, Weber isn’t particulary, and doesn’t really even pretend to be. He has two, simple techniques; a naive style which is almost an anti-style, and a symbolist process which lists fractured images in the way beloved of lovestruck undergraduates.
The first style is most prevalent on “Time Zone Differential”, where the pieces often descend into a kind of naturalistic doggerel:
I’ve been on the pancakes lately
which is not a whole lot different from being on the wine
but I don’t drink wine any more
I do pancakes
It’s extremely hard to get plain writing like this right, and the results here are not it. Poetry is not just prose broken up into bits; William Carlos Williams, arguably the century’s greatest poet and certainly the one responsible for the proliferation of this kind of thing, was able to create highly-wrought works of art from apparently simple materials, but he didn’t do it by shoving them down on the page anyhow. “Time Zone Differential” seems pretty unlistenable as a result, but of course that’s largely a matter of taste. Weber’s voice is grainy and easy to listen to, and if you like your poetry down-home rather than cutting-edge then it isn’t going to be too upsetting.
Perhaps it’s just that; Weber is a sort of cuddly, meet-your-mum version of Charles Bukowski. Well, about 99 per cent of the attraction of Bukowski was that he didn’t tell stories about his friend’s cat or going to the laundrette, and if he had then they wouldn’t have been so suitable for publication in the parish newsletter as most of these are. At the end of the day, most of what Weber has to say on “Time Zone Differential”, in terms of actual content, isn’t terribly interesting, and where other poets make mundane subject-matter interesting by virtue of poetic technique, Weber is too macho or too anti-intellectual for that sort of nonsense. Definitly one to get only if you know you like this sort of thing, especially since the words are so important and the music pretty much takes a back seat.
“Beautemeous Everlasting”, on the other hand, uses the fragmented technique, and is all the less irritating for it:
thunder sparked ocean
cascading tide, watery, irridescent
green, blue and orange sheen
quick ozone expanding circled wide
sun moon circled long
feline night and shadows
cucumbers dangling cliffside
It’s hard to see that anyone would rush out and buy this for the poems themselves, which sound very much like something we all wrote some time or another, the difference being that we didn’t show it to anyone because we knew it wasn’t especially interesting. But they’re hardly terrible crimes against the genre either, and where the words detract too strongly from “Time Zone Differential”, “Beautemeous Everlasting” lets the music come through by using a lyrical style which often blends into the accompaniment.
The musicianship here is of a high standard, with some very nice individual contributions dotted throughout, but because the focus is on Weber it’s an ensemble sound which makes the overall impression. Some of these arrangements are lovely, some very atmospheric, and Weber’s skills as an arranger and composer clearly outstrip his verbal talents. It would be nice to hear an all-instrumental album in the future, because while his preference in poetry is going to alienate a lot of potential listeners, his jazzy soundtracks could reach a much larger audience. Weber is doing something you either like or you don’t, and if you think you might fall into the former camp then don’t listen to me but seek out the Zerx website for more info. In any event, “Beautemeous Everlasting” is probably the one to go for. Richard Cochrane
Mark Weber | Time Zone Differential | Zerx 007
During the mid-90s whenever I visited back home to Southern California rather than hang with my old friends on some street corner we’d book studio time and hang out there instead, and make music. They’d make the music and I’d tell stories. This is sorta like Volume 2 of my CD on the 9Winds label called OBBLIGATOS FOR TERPSICHOREAN DIPSOMANIACS which translates : Musical Ditties for Dancing Drunks.
click on the covers for bigger image sizes please !
listen to Mark Weber | Aspects of Pancake Preparation
Mark Weber | Beautemous Everlasting | Zerx 004
After 20 years of writing narrative poetry I veered off into a style I call atmospheric/landscape poetry and this is the first examples of that. Too many musicians to mention all their names. Justine Flynn even wrote a complex chart for one of the numbers. ( Mostly everything else is purely freeform spontaneous glorious intuition.)
click on the covers for bigger image sizes please !
listen to Mark Weber | It was not calm