Reviews

WELCOME HOME (2017)

CD Reviews

As promised, I will now give you my impressions of "Welcome Home"

Conceptually, this is a cohesive work. Following the young man's life after his service in the Korean War sets a fitting tableau for the pieces included, and I feel you set the stage nicely. One gets a clear picture of the boy-turned-man coming home.

The recurring narrative helps to tie the pieces together well. I highly enjoyed "Cleophus" and found him to be a character I wish I knew more about--perhaps he could be fleshed-out more fully in a future piece. (His vibe somewhat reminded me of Jim Croce's "Bad Bad, Leroy Brown"--a real scoundrel). I wish there had been a bit more conflict in his interaction with our protagonist, but it also showed that the young ex-military man was not to be trifled with by a seedy never-do-well like Cleophus Sims.

"Mr. Piano Man" is a fun turn that paints a picture of the young man looking to impress Dara Denard. The developing romance keeps an appropriate pace with the time period, which I found to be a refreshing change from the slap-dash relationships that are portrayed in movies and TV shows these days. (romance works best in low-gear).

I felt that the drama of Dara's sudden death in childbirth seemed a bit rushed--there wasn't much prelude and it was basically dropped in our laps. It also seemed that our hero lacked a sort of rage and denial that one would expect from a person in that situation (i.e. there should have been the 5-Step progression typical when dealing with death: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance).

I appreciate the nods you gave not only to Pablo Neruda, but to your own works in "To the Memories"--a nice touch for fans of your work.

"Brown People Were Here" was a fun in conclusion--I have to give kudos to the pianist James Blackburn for this cut, as well as his other work. I really liked how he took the innate syncopation of "I Dream at Night" and turned it into a musical phrase to match.

All in all, this definitely one of your best works. Its theme is solid and comprehensive, taking the listener on a personal journey in the young man's life.

I must also mention the progression I've seen your "brand" as an artist. The new logo gives you that "professional" feel, and I hope you'll continue to include it in your future works.

It has been my pleasure to both assist and read/hear your poetry over the years. I hope my input and opinions have been helpful to you. I recognize in you the true shoul of a poet, and I'm looking forward to many more years of experiencing the works you shall produce.

Eric Alder
Poetry Editor

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Brol Emmett, I cannot begin to tell you how much this CD has affected me. Brother, the opening poem "Welcome Home" had me crying like a baby!!! I was overwhelmed with emotion.

Lofton A. Emenari
WHPK 88.5 FM Chicago

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Hi Emmett, I wanted to share with you the response I've [been] getting from the KHMD interview--ALL good! And, I 'm surprised at how many people heard it!...The most common comment [about Welcome Home] was how interesting and new this "genre" is! I totally agree! I think you could be a pioneer, Emmett!

James (Jim) Blackburn
Pianist and Composer

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THEM POETRY BLUES (2013)

Peterson Entertainment – (No#)

Emmett Wheatfall is a published poet from Portland, Oregon, with five books of poetry in print. This is his fourth CD and the third collaboration with producer/saxophonist Noah Peterson in putting a selection of Wheatfall’s poems to music.

As the title suggests, the backing has a touch of the blues this time out, albeit a suave and sophisticated blues with Peterson’s sax and Nathan Olsen’s piano to the fore on most tracks. For the most part, Wheatfall’s vocalizing is more akin to recital than a song, and while comparisons can be made to Omar Sharif, Oscar Brown Jr., Mose Allison and Amiri Baraka and the dub poet Linton Kwesi Johnson, listening to this disc is a distinctive experience. Thematically, the material ranges from Black Eyed Peas to Sunday Morning to Big Women to what used to be called “protest songs” to, of course, poems of love and loss. Barbara Harris adds vocal support to one tract, and pianist Janice Scroggins, who died this May at age 58, is showcased on Mr. Janice Scroggins & Her 88 Keys. Elsewhere, the band is rounded out by guitarist Peter Dammann, organist Lous Pain, the late bassist James Miller and drummer Carlton Jackson, who along with Peterson and Olsen, sound equally at ease with the seductive cress of Come Away with Me and Tramp-inspired riff that drives That’s What I’m Gonna Do.

What really makes this album special, though, is that Wheatfall tells stories that are both personal and local, so that the listener gets to know something about the artist and his world. In that respect, it recalls the work of earlier blues poets such as Sleepy John Estes and Lightning Hopkins, and stand in welcome contrast to the usual blues clichés.

--Jim Dekoster

Page 56 Living Blues August 2013 Issue 232 Vol. 45, #4

THEM POETRY BLUES (2013)

English Translation

Renown poet, Emmett Wheatfall lives in Portland (Oregon).
In addition to 4 publications, he performs his poetry on stage, records albums to feature his work. The title of his most recent CD is pleasantly misleading.  One will discover the musical landscape to be a lot closer to jazz than blues. The musicians are perfect, from the pianist to the saxophonist without forgetting the guitarist. Wheatfall’s baritone timber matches very well his writing even when he weaves in some touches of humor (That’s What I’m Gonna Do, Black Eyed Peas, and Big Women, the only real blues tunes with the piece titled eponyme). As one would expect of poetry, the author recites more often than he sings. This creates a sensation of repetition on top of slower beats despite a remarkable lyrical content: Miles to Go talks about civic duties, Alfie touches on the topic of Serendipity, Mississippi Mixed Girl deals with cross racial relationships, all, topics that Mighty Mo Rodgers would enjoy, read our article on page 16…On the edge of our spectrum, this is a piece of work essentially for lovers of beautiful lyrical content painted on the canvas of black music. DANIEL LÉON (Translated by PARFAIT BASSALÉ)

French Translation

Poète reconnu, Emmett Wheatfall vit à Portland (Oregon).
Outre quatre recueils publiés, il se produit sur scène et enregistre des disques pour des lectures de ses œuvres. Le titre du présent CD s’avère toutefois trompeur car l’environnement musical est bien plus proche du jazz que du blues. Les musiciens sont excellents, du pianiste au saxophoniste en passant par le guitariste, alors que la voix de baryton de Wheatfall s’adapte bien à ses écrits même quand ils se teintent d’humour (That’s why I’m gonna do, Black eyed peas et Big woman, seul véritable blues avec le titre éponyme). Mais, versification propre à la poésie oblige, l’auteur récite plus souvent qu’il ne chante, ce qui crée une sensation de répétition sur des tempos lents malgré des textes souvent remarquables : Miles to go sur les droits civiques, Alfie sur la sérendipité, Mississippi mixed girl sur le métissage, des thèmes qui plairaient à Mighty Mo Rodgers, lire notre article page 16... Un peu en marge de notre spectre, essentiellement pour amateurs de beaux textes sur fond de musiques noires. DANIEL LÉON

SOUL BAG
BP 34
93130 Noisy-le-Sec
France

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On this recording Emmett Wheatfall’s poetry is generally presented as spoken word vocals, using many rhetorical and performance characteristics of traditional black preaching, backed by a stellar blues band. He occasionally sings and is joined on several numbers by vocalist Barbara Harris. Mr. Wheatfall has recorded several albums, and I found “Them Poetry Blues” to be his most enjoyable and interesting so far.

-Stephen Blackman, Oregon Music News http://tinyurl.com/m8n7vqt

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He's back and this time the music is better than ever. Emmett Wheatfall has scored once again with tremendous support from producer Noah Peterson providing an all-star blues cast of Pacific NW musicians: Peter Dammann, James Miller, Nathan Olsen, Janice Scroggins, Louis Pain, Carlton Jackson and Noah Peterson.

Making the leap from jazz to poetry the newest lyrical poetry release from Emmett, "Them Poetry Blues" features stellar compositions, great performances and down home good vibes for everyone to enjoy. 

- Music Industry News Network (mi2n)

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Just received a new release by a guy out of Portland, Oregon named Emmett Wheatfall. He's a poet and the CD is spoken word backed by music. It's called "Them Poetry Blues." Some interesting stuff on this new release including a tribute to 1960's civil rights leaders called "Miles To Go." One cut is called "Big Women" (As in, "I like big women.")...

Jazz NotesSDPB Radio South Dakota

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Emmett Wheatfall is a “Blues Poet” of the first order. His brand new CD release “Them Poetry Blues” (Peterson Entertainment) speaks the blues from beginning to end. Starting with the plaintive acknowledgement of our ancestors and life “Never Forget” to the soulful righteousness of “Sunday Morning” to the raw raucous “Big Women” (which should become an instant blues hit) Wheatfall backed by an in synch rhythm section (of keys, bass and drums) is an in the tradition of those big city sophisticated moaners yet nails the educated mannerisms of academia. A journey in blues, jazz, r&b and above all a tasted of life in today’s America.

- Loften EmenariWPHK 88.5 FM (Chicago)

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Nice original tunes that are easy to listen to. Good variety of mood. I like the instrument combination.

- Charlie PerkinsonJazz Music Director, WVTF Radio (Virginia)

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Great musicianship mixed with entertaining lyrics/poems, sometimes humorous, sometimes deep and personal, always ear-catching."

- Charles HussonOperations Director – Hawaii Public Radio
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The late Jim Miller, a fine bassist, had recommended me for a spoken word project produced by saxophonist Noah Peterson, accompanying a poet named Emmett Wheatfall. When I arrived at the recording studio, the first track I was asked to play on had been recorded the day before; Emmett wanted me to overdub organ on it. When I head the track, I was concerned: it was an extremely powerful, gospel-soaked piece, and I had brought my 34-lb Nord organ—not a Hammond B-3. But the track was finished in no time and Emmett was very pleased, later posting on Facebook, “The magic on this track is the MASTERFUL work of Louis Pain on the Hammond B-3 Organ.” I guess I fooled him! But seriously: The magic on this track is Emmett Wheatfall; the rest of us (Nathan Olsen, Carlton Jackson, & Jim Miller) just hopped aboard his “gospel train.”

-Louis Pain, (aka King Louie) Hammond B-3 Organist – Album: Them Poetry Blues (2013)
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 Email letter addressed to Noah Peterson of Peterson Entertainment LLC.

I am the publisher of Wine and Jazz magazine. For many years I have enjoyed poetry. Your company sent me Emmett Wheatfall’s CD “When I Was Young” earlier this year. It is a very unique record that I like tremendously. Because of this 
I featured this record in my just-released November (2010) issue of Wine and Jazz magazine as a pairing with a wine. If you would like a few copies of Wine and Jazz magazine, please advise where to send.

I am not kidding when I say I tremendously like “When I Was Young.” I thought perhaps you would mail another CD to one of my writers who resides in the state of Washington, Baldwin “Smitty” Smith. Smitty wrote the cover interview of Esperanza Spalding in my November magazine. If so, please advise and I will email you his mailing address. Thank you,

- Mike NordskogPublisher Wine and Jazz Magazine
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Emmett Wheatfall has the unusual distinction of performing poetry at Jimmy Mak’s, a club known for bringing in top-notch jazz musicians – not poets. His appearance with this collection of musicians proves that the distinction may be irrelevant. He speaks with the phrasing similar to a saxophone player, savoring each note and syllable. His poetry explores cultural themes of separation and community relationships...

Oregon Music News
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Emmett Wheatfall, Jay Stapleton

[SPOKEN WORD] Portland's own Emmett Wheatfall has quite a voice—rich and deep, half-jiving and half-poetic, fatherly and stern—and that voice is the focus of his new disc
When I Was Young. Sometimes he's touching ("When I Was Young"), sometimes funny ("Dance With Me," where he goes South of the Border...geographically and, if Wheatfall's plotting works out, perhaps sexually) and sometimes street-smart (the entirely un-P.C. "I Know You Tough and All That"). It's unpretentious street poetry, sometimes acapella and sometimes backed by Andre St. James and his trio. Tonight's CD release is a split with Jay Stapleton's group, which releases its funky organ-and-guitar-fueled debut, Upshot, tonight. CASEY JARMAN. 8 pm. Jimmy Mak's, 221 NW 10th Ave., 295-6542. $10. All ages. Map

- Willamette Week (Online Periodical wweek.com)
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Hello, Ivories Fans. And especially hi to the newcomers--many first-time Ivories visitors, especially from Emmett Wheatfall's Poetry/Blues event, with the Noah Peterson Quartet. What a night! This guy Emmett, he couldn't wait to get to the stage to start the poem--but came from the far end of the bar, wandering amongst the tables, his voice resonating clearly to all corners of the room. Somewhere in between a speech and a song, but with rhyming. He brings with him a feeling of authentic life experience, a charisma reminiscent of something between Louis Armstrong and Martin Luther King Jr. And he didn't sing a note. But Noah's band provided the bluesy and funky background, never overpowering, but oh so potent! We're getting them back in the spring.

-  Jim Templeton, Ivories Jazz Lounge and Restaurant Portland, Oregon
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I Loved You Once, Emmett Wheatfall

In all honesty, I'm not usually a fan of poetry read to jazz. It either comes off as hackneyed beat poetry or New Age-y treacle. But this disc by Portland poet Wheatfall has captured my attention. His deep voice is expressive and powerful, and his delivery is just plain cool. Using pianist Ramsey Embick as a backdrop for his phrasing, Wheatfall recites 
in styles ranging from walking swing ("The Wild Woods") to gospel-ish preaching ("I Understand You") to Latin ballads. All the while, his earnest delivery keeps things interesting and his words engaging. Embick is a perfect choice, due to his versatility and expert playing. Saxophonist Noah Peterson provides the backing on a couple of tunes, adding an urban honk to Wheatfall's punchy poetry. The one that goes nearly over the sappy line is "I Loved You Once," with both Embick and Peterson playing soft and pretty behind a love poem. Luckily, Wheatfall's words are smart enough to keep metaphors above the basal love meanings. I wish they had included the poetry in the sparse liner notes, but for fans of poetry and jazz, this is one of the better combos I've heard.
2011, Peterson Entertainment, 18 minutes

- Jazz Society of Oregon, (Kyle O'Brien)
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Emmett Wheatfall's "I Too Am a Slave" is a poem crafted from the depths of despair, from the discovery that he shared a last name with an ancestor's slave-master... and yet within that despair are sown the seeds of redemption. An emotional tour-de-force that evokes Walt Whitman and Langston Hughes, that marks - to my mind - the emergence of a new, unique and authentic voice.

- Samuel PeraltaAn Award Winning Canadian Poet
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May 17, 2011

An Open Letter from BaseRoots Theatre Company

Hey Emmett,

...My Soul Grown Deep celebrates the breathing heart within these poems. We want to open them up, play, delve, re-envision and put them back together again. We rejoice that these poems reveal specific aspects of humanity in order to communicate and commiserate with all humanity. By the way, Emmett, we're closing with "Change". Ladies and Gentlemen, My Soul Grown Deep. See you there.

- Bobby Bermea, Artistic Director BaseRoots Theatre Company
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As a teacher, I read and teach English poetry and appreciate it but my favorite poetry mirrors my experiences. Lastly, I really like Emmett Wheatfall’s poetry. When one thinks of his or favorite poets, it is natural to reflect upon persons whom one discovers in textbooks; but I am drawn to Wheatfall’s work. Of the modern-day poets, he is among my favorite and I model some of my poetry after his work. I want to capture the essence of a moment in word. Wheatfall is a master at making the mundane loving and unforgettable. He is also a tireless student of poetry. It is because of him that I want to devote more time writing in poetic form.

- Michelle Hudson, Team Poetry Interview February 14, 2011
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Book Reviews for "We Think We Know"

Emmett Wheatfall’s philosophical curiosity reflects the openness of a true seeker. Unquestionably rooted in the tangible, his poems invite us to consider the meaning hidden in everyday objects and occurrences. His sense of wonder encourages us to take another look at the world around us, to wander further into the mystery.

The natural world becomes the stage upon which this universal drama plays out. With Emmett’s guidance, we may rediscover our place among 
the “butterfly and marigold.” Though the path can seem beset by “death and dying and sorrow,” with hope, the poet’s humble reminders will show us the way home.

- Christopher Luna, Poet, author, and editor
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I enjoy reading your poetry.  I like your introspective nature.  I like that you employ a variety of styles, not always the same thing.  I like that you're (apparently) unafraid to try a different approach.  I appreciate your voice, both figuratively and literally.  Your viewpoints show me another side of the world, one strange yet familiar.  You tackle tough, sometimes uncomfortable topics, seeking to get to the truth of the matter - or at least your truth of it.  I admire your righteous passions as well as the examinations of your more self-indulgent inclinations.  I can easily imagine you working on your poems, rearranging words, striking out one word for the sake of a better one.  You see the beauty around you as well as the beauty of words, and they meld together richly in your verse.  I like to think that we are much the same, you and I, but that we are also quite different.  We love life, despite it's many flaws.  And that's just how I am, emmett.  When I find something I like, I stick with it.  :)

Eric AlderA Poetry Fan
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Thank you so much for your beautiful poetry Sat. night. It was amazing being behind you at the soundboard and seeing the faces of all those people in the room as they responded to your words. Was a moving experience. One that will be on the minds of many folks for many moons to come…You made the night extra meaningful. With gratitude,

- Chance Wooley, Relay for Life American Cancer Society
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I first encountered emmett 
wheatfall amongst the poetry set on Twitter©. The poems he shared were so different from the herd, so unique, that I became an instant fan of his work. From that, somewhat random, introduction I became a regular follower of his blog as well as his spoken word recordings. With each piece, my respect for the man and his art grew exponentially. The diversity and life experience in his work is like nothing else I have read. His ability to stylistically shift from a smooth jazz voice to a preachers fire is truly original. His verse can be lyrical or staccato and you can see influences from Tupac to Shakespeare, but it is always unmistakably emmett.

If you are a lover of good original poetry, of the masterful use of language and imagery, then I suggest you get to know emmett wheatfall for yourself. His writing is musical, spiritual, classic and yet always contemporary. Be it romantic or philosophical, humorous or reminiscent, the words roll off your tongue and the themes will make you smile and nod your head in agreement. His poetic voice is a seamless bridge from “back in the day” to the day after tomorrow and his words could only have been written by a man who has lived.

- Steven M Grant, Poet
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emmett wheatfall’s talent brings out a perfect combination of anger, tears and joy. His poetry stirs up every emotion and encourages us to dig deep into our own thoughts and ideas about love, life and humanity.

- Becky Due, Author

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“I write to appease the creative hunger raging in my soul.” –emmett wheatfall

"A poem written by me must stand on its own merit. If not, let it fall and I will erect another one until it stands, then another, and another..." –emmett wheatfall

“It's way too late in life for me to master the mastery of the great poets who precede me; therefore, I must unmask my own.” –emmett wheatfall