Reads on the Road

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as of 11/29/2020 (Details)

This collection scrapes the bottom of the Jack Kerouac barrel, unearthing Kerouac documents both worthy of public scrutiny and ones that are not. The title to this CD is a tad misleading, as it begins with a late-1950s session of Kerouac singing, to jazz accompaniment, a song written for him by Sammy Kahn. There are several jump jazz tunes with Kerouac's scat-flavored vocalizings; they will be of interest solely to fans. Hipster music is added to several works, by avant-funk keyboardist John Medeski and the jazz musician David Amram, who'd collaborated with Kerouac on Robert Frank's magnificent beat-era film Pull My Daisy. The meat of the collection is the 28-plus-minute previously unreleased reading of On the Road, a section that depicts the novel's two central protagonists in the jazz haunts of San Francisco. Kerouac's enthused (if affected) and likable jive-bop poesy really comes alive on this cleaned-up acetate recording; thankfully there is no '90s hipster music added to it. The other work of interest is a fragmentary song called "On the Road," which appears in a pseudo-original state (with Medeski organ added) and in a bluesy, ballsy interpretation by Tom Waits backed by Ralph Carney and Primus. --Mike McGonigal

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