Wow! I just heard the news about Louis Reyes Rivera. I first discovered him at African Voices Rhythn, Rhyme, and Ritual event in 2004. He was reciting his Spoken Word with a band called the Jazzoets. He so inspired me to do the same. A year later, I was asked to recite my poetry with the band Hudson Hope. Without seeing Mr. Rivera perform, I don't think I could have done it. I wrote this poem after I saw him perform in 2004. My only regret is that I didn't take his poetry class at Sista's Place. I know I would have learned a lot more. RIP Mr. Rivera.
August 22, 2004: A Sunday Afternoon
August 22, 2004, on a Sunday afternoon,
I was in Empire FultonFerry State Park
taking a break from my volunteer work
for African Voice’s Rhymes, Rhythms, and Rituals event.
I walked across the tamed green blades of grass
and stood three feet away from the flat-black stage; waiting
in anticipation for Louis Reyes Rivera and The Jazzoets.
The emcee suggested that Louis introduce the band.
Louis Reyes Rivera, decked in a pinstriped
turquoise black dashiki and baggy white dockers
(I, myself was dressed in a white cotton jersey and
turquoise over-all skirt).
Louis clutched the mic and introduced the multi-
talented performers of The Jazzoets
In his raspy voice that did not seem to fit his petite physique,
Louis said, “Almed Abdullah, the bandleader/composer, is on trumpet.
Atiba Kwabena Wilson, the storyteller, is on flute and percussion.
Ngoma, the poet, is on violin.
And Radu, the composer, is on bass.”
The warm breeze rolled down my body rippling my skirt as I squatted
listening to the progressive silky sounds flourish and flirt
from the instruments of The Jazzoets.
Louis took command of the mic.
He was slow and precise with the timing of the music.
Louis Reyes Rivera and The Jazzoets were
Louis Reyes Rivera and The Jazzoets
awakened the drowsy artist in me.
(August 22, 2004: A Sunday Afternoon appears in my book Wrapped Up In Life With Omniscient Eyes)