Jake Marmer

The Music Of ‘Spoken Word’

For Jake Marmer, poetry is an outgrowth of song.

Special To The Jewish Week

The stage at the Cornelia Street Café isn’t spacious. With a baby grand piano in place it is downright cramped. So it’s not surprising that poet Jake Marmer is bouncing in place as he chants, exhorts and declaims his verse while Greg Wall, Frank London and Uri Sharlin lay down a deep-pile sonic carpet to cushion his words. “It’s been a long way to get here,” Marmer says at the outset of the performance, “and I’m grateful to be in the moment.”

Marmer, in mid-linguistic riff: Improvising like a jazz man. Photo courtesy Jake Marmer/Andy Ingall

Rabbinic Jazz

Poet Jake Marmer teams up with Rabbi Greg Wall and trumpeter Frank London.

Special to the Jewish Week

From the first, poetry was linked to music. Torah has always been chanted. The Greek bards accompanied themselves on instruments. The distinction between verse and song probably was an elastic one until the coming of the printing press. Whenever the disconnect took place, whatever its cause, poetry and music have continued to run alongside one another, two long railroad tracks that intersect frequently, if not constantly.

Just ask Jake Marmer.

“All poetry began as song, and jazz-and-poetry has always existed,” the Ukraine-born poet says with a grin.

Jake Marmer, who wants to complicate the distinction between poetry and music, is a newcomer to the jazz-and-poetry scene.
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