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Darn It!

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Album Review

Paul Haines is the poet best known for his lyric contributions to two of Carla Bley's most successful recordings, Escalator Over the Hill and Tropic Appetites, in which his surreal but earthy language, elaborate puns, and trenchant aphorisms were a vital element. Darn It! is an extremely wide-ranging celebration of his work, recorded over six years, corralling dozens of musicians from disparate genres, each of whom pays idiosyncratic homage to this unique wordsmith. Sometimes the words aren't even used, but the musician(s) improvise around a poem (as do John Tchicai and Andrew Cyrille) or only on a title (as in Paul Bley's gorgeous solo ruminations). The musical styles range from Derek Bailey's wiry, cranky strumming to funk bands led by Melvin Gibbs or Greg Tate to the music-box overlays of plunderphonicist John Oswald. There are the inevitable clunkers in any project of this size, but the highlights make this a must-have for all fans of Haines' work. When Roswell Rudd growls out "C'Etait Dans la Nuit," one is quick to forgive the occasional weak track. Where else but Haines' world does one come across lines like "Just when I thought/Bicycles no longer/Existed/I saw a woman on one"?


Born: 1932 in Vassar, MI

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s

Canadian-born "jazz poet" Paul Haines is best known to jazz fans for his work as a lyricist with composer Carla Bley, specifically the hugely ambitious concept album Escalator Over the Hill (1971) and its follow-up, Tropic Appetites (1973). Haines' librettos for those works reflected his penchant for surrealism and clever wordplay. Prior to those engagements, Haines had spent some time on the Greenwich Village scene during the '60s, where he made connections on the jazz circuit and occasionally penned...
Full bio
Darn It!, Paul Haines
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  • $17.99
  • Genres: Jazz, Music, Alternative
  • Released: Jan 24, 1994
  • Parental Advisory

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