1. A Poet Who Died Young 2:41
[Parran: transverse bamboo flute]
2. The Man Who Looked Into Coltrane’s Horn 16:57
[Parran: tenor saxophone]
3. The Creed of the Seed 2:17
[Parran: seed pods & transverse bamboo flute]
4. The Kokopilau Cycle 26:11
[Parran: metallic sprinkles, bamboo
whiffle flutes, kalimba, ocarina
and triple water ocarina both Mexican,
South Asian finger cymbals, woven straw
shaker, bamboo double transverse flute,
terra cotta double flutes
Castro: Mexican clay flute]
Total Time 48:08
Words by Michael Castro. (C) 2008
Music by J D Parran (P) 2008
The Kokopilau Cycle recorded at the Anubis Studio,
St. Louis, USA, November 17, 1991.
The Creed of the Seed and A Poet Who Died Young
were recorded live in performance on KDHX Radio’s
“Poetry Beat” program, June 25, 2003, St. Louis, USA.
The Man Who Looked Into Coltrane’s Horn recorded by
Brad Sarno of Blue Jade Audio Mastering, January 3, 2005.
Additional mastering by Jay Zelenka, 2007
Cover Art: Michael Franklin
Design: Tony Patti
Produced by JZ/Freedonia Music
Kokopilau collects works resulting from my friendship of more than thirty years with wind magician J.D. Parran, whose work I've always found inspirational & poetic. We met through the interwoven network of artists associated with BAG and The Human Arts Ensemble, with whom we each performed, living in St. Louis in the 1970's. Separated now by 1000 miles of space, we've continued to engage in creative collaborations whenever the opportunity has arisen.
A Poet Who Died Young commemorates our friend Arthur Brown (1948-1982), who J.D. had known from childhood, and who died suddenly of a heart attack at the age of 34, less than a year after being named the recipient of the Missouri Biennial Award for Poetry. Phrasings and imagery woven into the poem echo those in Arthur's work -- e.g. as the poem says, "It was nothing but love, nothing but love."
The Man Who Looked Into Coltrane's Horn recounts a true incident I witnessed at one of Trane's last concerts, shortly before his death in 1967. After meditating on the image for twenty-five years I fleshed it out as poem in 1992. We first performed the piece at Tajine's in New York in 2003. It's our tribute to John Coltrane and "his healing horn."
The Creed of the Seed is from a series of "seed poems" written as text for an exhibit of photographs by my wife & muse Adelia Parker. The images & poems documented a project in which first graders at a city elementary school planted, nurtured, & harvested seeds into pumpkins, & learned about the renewing & transforming qualities of life in the process.
The Kokopilau Cycle is based on Native American myths associated with the Hopi & other Pueblo tribes. Its central figure, popularly known as the humped back flute player, Kokopelli, elaborates the album's seed motif, as he scatters them from his humped back to revive the earth and create a new world. We first performed the piece at the Ear Inn in New York in 1982.--Michael Castro
First of all I’d like to say thank you to Michael Castro who has given so much to everyone in the St. Louis community. His work with the publishing and performances at River Styx alone represent a huge body of work. With the radio broadcasting work on both ends of Double Helix (KDNA 1969-73, KDHX 1989-2003) we have four decades of service filled in by all the various performances, projects and a full-time teaching career.
With Kokopilau, Michael provided me with the inspiration to do performances using all instruments of non-tempered tuning, handmade with no pads and keywork. This was a breakthrough for me, conceptually.
I collected many such instruments starting in the BAG-AACM era that were referred to and listed on programs and recordings as “little instruments”. Made up mostly by wooden flutes, various whistles and noise percussion they expanded the sound pallet of individuals and groups giving the music that “vibe”…..pushing it toward celebration and ceremony but away from dry formality.
Eventually, Douglas Ewart provided me with an arsenal of bamboo flutes and percussion providing an open-throated, non-tempered, multi-instrumental voice appropriate to the earthy spirituality of Kokopilau. I use a few of them here along with a Rich O’Donnell creation that I call “metallic sprinkles”.--J.D. Parrran