Trio Pamplemousse, my words sung by others, continuous peasant

Trio Pamplemousse

George Muscatello: Guitar
Nicole Peyrafitte: Voice
Danny Whelchel: Percussions

Trio Pamplemousse investigates musical genres such as
Jazz standards & French cabaret, as well as contemporary poetry.

Thinking back to last Thursday and Trio Pamplemousse’s gig at the Stockade Inn in Schenectady. I first went to Miles’ Little League game (he pitched an excellent 2 relief innings), & thus got to the gig only for the second set, walking into a pleasantly cool hotel lounge with comfortable armchairs & sofas. Glass of wine in hand, I started to listen — & couldn’t place the first lines I heard Nicole sing, couldn’t make out what song it was until the refrain came in & I realized to my astonishment that it was a poem of mine. I much enjoyed that failure to recognize my “own” lines — and it made me think about the relationship poets/writers have with their texts. We are no longer in the habit of hearing others speak, recite, or sing our lines, even as we accumulate poetry readings and performances of our own works — often using various technological means, Verfremdungs- effects, added sounds &/or images, but always the poet’s own voice reading/speaking his/her poems.

This is a somewhat paradoxical situation: in an age when so much theorizing has involved the demotion of the “author,” and the displacement of notions of authenticity and truth away from the poet and onto language, that author-poet has found him/herself more and more in the spotlight, en scène, as the “authorized” interpretant of the work. And this has been the case as much for the post-avant than for the School of Quietude / confessional poets who are obviously much more invested in such self-voicings. Seems like you can try to kick “human nature” (read “the personal lyric”) out the front door, it will only climb back in through the side window.

But the enjoyment was not at all an ego-trip, i.e. “them’s my words” — but lay clearly in the difference the other’s voice brought to words once put together with a specific, local & time-bound pitch & aim, and now here estranged from any root-attachment of that order, and taken elsewhere. Translation, in fact, is, I guess what I am coming at, again and again, as core experience: just as all writing is translation, so the life of the poem (which is always an after-life) is simply the sum of translations it gives rise to.

Or something to that effect was what I was thinking Thursday night while listening to Trio Pamplemousse. And maybe more important than my enjoyment of the above paradox was the enjoyment provided by what felt like a Gleichschaltung, a making or becoming equivalent, a democratisation, one could say, of a wide range of texts in the process of integrating themselves into complex musical settings — not only via the singer’s voice, but also with the accompaniment of guitar and percussion. So that texts as different as the lyrics of “Nature Boy” and “Autumn Leaves,” or Edith Piaf songs such as “La Vie en Rose” or “L’accordéoniste” lived in fascinating harmony and counterpoint with texts by Nicole Peyrafitte herself — such as her recent “Walking across Brooklyn Bridge” — or “Dragon Land Bakery,” for instance, or with poems by Gerrit Lansing (the link is to an earlier version with Diallo House on bass) and myself (here an earlier version of “Altars of Light” not part of the Trio Pamplemousse repertoire).

What I had to miss that night was a gig by my ex-student yet still-friend Chris Stroffolino whose band continuous peasant was playing in Albany. The next morning the one music critic I totally trust, Don Byrd, told me the show had been great, the music tight, Chris performing superbly malgré the pain in the butt the pain in the leg must be. We met up for brunch at Sam Truitt’s & it was very good to sit around the table with that particular set of compañeros, if only for an hour before they had to load up the van & head for the next gig (ah, slight tinges of envy for the nomadicity of that life on the road!) continuous peasant has a new cd out, called intentional grounding and you can listen to one of the song on their site. Seems to me Don Byrd was right.

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Comment on “Trio Pamplemousse, my words sung by others, continuous peasant”

  1. Nicolle …. wow.

    isn’t the technology to make these events so widely available absolutely Schrodinger’s cat’s last whiskers?

    the poem of Gerrit’s is going in bialy/s right now!

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