...it's apparent we're hearing an entirely new kind of poetic conversation, and it's thrilling.
The Last Word Quintet came into existence after pianist Bob Long and singer/songwriter Al Day appeared as guests at the Green Mill's Uptown Poetry Slam in Chicago. On the spur of the moment, Marc Kelly Smith, originator of the International Poetry Slam movement and host of the show, inserted a poem into one of their songs, and then another. The improvisational leap was momentous and an immediate success. It spurred Bob, Al, and Marc to begin working on more tunes together, adding bassist Doug Lofstrom and saxophonist Brian Gephart to the collaboration. In an intense and amazingly short period of time they wove their poetry, music, and lyrics together into a collection of compositions they debuted at Evanston's prestigious Studio5 in 2017.
The skill and talents of the group run deep with decades of gigs, songwriting, composing, and poetry creation and performance to their credit. Al Day, once hailed "Most Promising Songwriter" by Chicago Magazine, has appeared throughout the United States and on WFMT's "Midnight Special" and WTTW's "Sound Stage." Bob Long has performed as a pianist and composer at the Chicago Jazz Festival, New York's JVC Jazz Festival, the Montreux Jazz Festival, and the North Sea Jazz Festival. Brian Gephart leads his own jazz sextet, the Brian Gephart Group - with their own release on Origin. He has performed his work at the Chicago Jazz Festival, Taste of Chicago and the Monterey Jazz Festival. Sarah Allen has drummed her way through jazz, pop, classical, folk and theatrical music situations, including Blue Man Group, the Aretha Franklin Orchestra, the Chicago Jazz Philharmonic, Bobby Conn, and Chicago Shakespeare, Goodman and Steppenwolf Theaters.
Beyond performing with several groups in different genres, Doug Lofstrom is also a prolific composer whose works have been performed by the St. Louis, Atlanta and Oregon Symphony Orchestras. He has released two albums of original music on Origin Classical, Music for Strings and Concertino. Headlining more than 3000 performances in clubs, concert halls, and festivals around the world, Marc Kelly Smith was recently awarded the rank of Officer of the Order of Arts and Letters (Knighthood) by the French Ministry of Culture along with the Key to the City of Tours. He carries on as host of the Green Mill Uptown Poetry Slam, now in its 38th year.
For more information about Last Word Quintet, please visit: https://www.lastwordquintet.com/.
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