Liner notes on “Jazz Heaven”
by Richard James
I’ve known Tomas for quite a long time, but have only gotten to know him and appreciate his work within the last several years. He has shared other books of his poetry with me, but his new book, “Jazz Heaven, ” just really grabbed my imagination. As I started getting more involved with the book, he invited me to create music I thought would enhance and add dimension to the experience of his poetry. As it turned out, the first time I recorded him, I only recorded one poem, a longer work entitled “Cubanismo.” Since I felt that there was really some spark and sizzle going on there, I started recording other readings and ultimately, we came up with ten poems that especially got to me. We hope you feel that way too.
So I decided to create an audio CD of these poems, set to the music that I created, and, of course, I call it “Jazz Heaven.” We cover some latin, some jazz and some blues. I had the pleasure of playing with a few of my friends on occasion in my recording studio, namely Daniel Jackson, and Joe Marillo and recorded these efforts. Likewise, Miles was well represented, on two cuts, by local trumpet player Ron King. Now, as I sit back and listen, and absorb, I can see them all, the great ones in the great beyond, sharing and exploring that music landscape forever after… That is “Jazz Heaven.”
Tomas Gayton was born and raised in Seattle, Washington. His father Leonard was a former virtuoso jazz drummer, crooner, and band leader and he exposed young Tom to the greats in jazz and blues in America, e.g. Duke Ellington and Count Basie, Billie and Ella, not to mention Bird, Miles, Coltrane, Brubeck and Oscar Peterson’s trio, with Ray Brown and Ed Thigpen, etc.
Skipping across the decades, what’s happening now is that Tomas has just produced a new book of poetry called “Jazz Heaven.” The first poem that he wrote was a jazz poem dedicated to John Coltrane, “whose sax flew me above the weeping grey clouds in Seattle, my hometown.” And of course the writing continued.
I, he says, like the “original Jazz Poet,” Langston Hughes, have traveled the world, wedding my poems with Jazz Music..
He invites you to read the Word made Music and Dig.