City of Asylum moves annual celebration to Alphabet City

Updated 2 hours ago

City of Asylum’s jazz poetry celebration is getting smaller by getting bigger.

The event of music, writing and socially conscious thinking has grown into a Jazz Poetry Month from the one-evening event in Sampsonia Way in 2005.

This year it has moved into Alphabet City, the new restaurant-concert-site-apartment complex on North Avenue and has a month-long string of free events. The first concert is Sept. 7 with the Tom Rainey Trio featuring guitarist Mary Halverson.

But that growth also will return the event into a more intimate nature, says Henry Reese, founder and CEO of the group that provides shelter to politically persecuted writers.

From its start, the event has grown to include readings throughout the North Side and concerts at the New Hazlett Theater or outside near the National Aviary.

But Reese wanted to bring the event back to more intimate settings and is doing that at Alphabet City. There will be more concerts, more poets, but fewer seats.

The events all are free, but with seating of only about 150, reservations are a must.

Reese says the organization wants to “celebrate all forms of creative expression” and this event gives a chance to make sure “all voices are heard.”

Music ranges from that of Oliver Lake, the avant-garde saxophonist who is a founder of the World Saxophone Quartet, to the minimalist jazz of Poland’s Waclaw Zimpel.

Besides poetry readings at the concerts, the annual freedom to write lecture will be Sept. 8, featuring Zineb El Rhazoui, a Moroccan writer who worked at the French satiric journal, Charlie Hebdo.

Tracy K. Smith, a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet who is the incoming national Poet Laureate, will appear Sept. 30.

Each event will open with a jazz set, then poetry and finally poetry and jazz combined.

Lake, who has participated in the event from the beginning, will perform with his Jump Up band that could be called…

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