We are pleased to present a collaborative work by jazz musician James Hall and poet Emily Ruth Hazel.  James created a musical reaction to Emily’s poem, “Of Blood and Water” which is based on the account of Jesus changing water into wine in John 2:1-11:

Listen to “Of Blood And Water” 

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James, on the Composition: After hearing Hermeto Pascoal’s “Tres Coisas,” I was motivated to experiment with the musical qualities of human speech.  Emily Ruth Hazel’s poem “Of Blood and Water” had caught my eye, and her recitation, with its subtle glissandi and rhythm, seemed a natural fit for use as a melody.

Emily’s poem plays with a subtle transformation from blue to red, and from water to wine. The musical setting similarly toys with the transformation from stasis to motion, and with various shades of synchronization. At times it sounds like the band is reacting to Emily’s speech. Other times, it sounds as though we’re anticipating it. I did a 2-track room recording with my Zoom and mixed Emily’s vocals in, synchronized with how it was being played in the room where we recorded. This gets the spirit of the thing: it dances on the fence between in-time and free, on-pitch and just spoken, while preserving Emily’s original poem in her voice.

Personnel: Jacob Teichroew, tenor sax; Evan Mazunik, keyboard; Adam Hopkins, bass; Ziv Ravitz, drums

James Hall, by Ilya Popenko

James Hall is a trombonist, composer, and writer based in New York City. A versatile musician, his current projects span jazz, classical, Latin, and popular music. His trombone playing has earned recognition in the Antti Rissanen International Jazz Trombone Competition, and in the J.J. Johnson International Jazz Trombone Competition.

As a composer, James writes contemporary jazz with a focus on instrumental counterpoint. Recent projects feature interpretations of text by Shusaku EndoRobert Siegel, and Emily Ruth Hazel. He is a two-time winner of the ASCAPlus Award for composition, and was a featured composer at the 2012 Chelsea Music Festival.

Hear more from James at www.jameshallmusic.com, and find out more about poet Emily Ruth Hazel with her epic poem, commissioned by Spark and Echo Arts, “Word of Mouth.”

(Photos by Ilya Popenko)


This composition is copyrighted by the artists and is featured here by their permission. “Of Blood and Water” originally appeared in Body & Soul, a collection of poems by Emily Ruth Hazel, published by Finishing Line Press.

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