Ginsberg Recordings to Reissue Allen Ginsberg’s Recorded Works
Last Tuesday night at the Gagosian Gallery in New York City, Ginsberg Recordingsāa new collaboration of the Allen Ginsberg Estate and music management company Esther Creative Groupāannounced its plan to release Ginsbergās entire recorded library over the next two years. With the reissue of the famed collection to which Bob Dylan contributed, Holy Soul Jelly Roll, set to drop in mid-September, Ginsberg Recordings intends to put out a digital release accompanied by the original liner notesĀ every few months.
Additionally, says Peter Hale of the Allen Ginsberg Estate (and now Ginsberg Recordings), the group intends to sell limited edition vinyl releases in runs of 2,000 copies. (Vinyl heads rejoice!) And classics like Holy Soul Jelly Roll are just the beginning: Ginsberg Recordings will be, for the first time, digitizing and distributing Ginsbergās commercially released work from the ā60s and ā70s, previously confined to the original records and cassettes, as well as unreleased tracks from the archives.
Before the event got under way, guests milled about the gallery to take in the exquisite Richard Avedon exhibit Murals and Portraits, which features aĀ number of photographs of Ginsberg (and runs until this Friday, July 27āif you’re in New York, donāt miss it). I chatted with Bill Morgan, devoted Ginsberg archivist and biographer, whoĀ joked about being āin the Ginsberg businessā and recalled Ginsbergās obsessive saving of everythingāincluding receipts dating back to the 1950sāand the 4,000 boxes shipped to Stanford when they purchased the Ginsberg archive in 1994.
After Peter Hale and Nina Kossoff, of Esther Creative Group, addressed the crowd to officially announce the formation of Ginsberg Recordings (check out the Allen Ginsberg Project blog for more info), a few of Ginsbergās friends and colleagues came forward to perform and reminisce about the Beat legend.
To begin, Ginsbergās longtime secretary Bob Rosenthal delivered a rousing reading of the poem āTodayā from Planet News, followed by music great David Amram, who offered a charmingly non-chronological account of his and Ginsbergās first night collaborating with Bob Dylan. Intermittently tinkering on a few of the instruments heād introduced to Ginsberg, Amram also recalled his friendās generous encouragement of other artists and urged the āyoung peopleā in attendance to follow their example and make art with their peers.
Next, Ginsbergās friend and producer Hal Willner (to whom Amram credited the success of Holy Soul Jelly Roll) took the floor. Referring to the small notebook he carried, Willner laughed that heād come with a bunch of lies, but, looking around at the many other people who’d known Ginsberg personally, knew heād get caught. He wondered aloud if Ginsberg would enjoy the various recent film depictions of him, but was certain heād appreciate the Allen Ginsberg bobblehead dollāwhich, to my delight, Willner then produced from his bag.
Poet Hettie Jones spoke last, sharing how sheād first met Ginsberg shortly after marrying Amiri Baraka (then LeRoi Jones) when heād called up her husband and said he needed to see her. They walked all the way to Ginsbergās apartment on the east side (a running theme in the eveningās recollections), where she discovered Ginsberg needed someone who knew how to sing the Kaddish for a poem he was working onāa poem that would, of course, prove to be among his most famous. In closing, she read a passage from her memoir How I Became Hettie Jones about Ginsberg and lover Peter Orlovskyās good company at partiesāand their fondness for stripping naked at them.
Check out some photos from the event below, and be sure to be on the lookout for the Ginsberg Recordings re-release of Holy Soul Jelly Roll this fall.
Photos by Jacques Servin.