Mondriaan String Quartet – September on Jessore Road

Recording session for “September on Jessore Road” at Melkweg, Amsterdam, January 2, 1983, Allen Ginsberg, center, Steven Taylor to his immediate left, far left (in profile), producer, Benn Posset – and, with instruments, the Mondriaan String Quartet (Edvard Van Regteren Altena, Jan Erik Van Regteren Altena, Annette Bergman, & Edwin Blankenstijn) – plus, (with scarf, reclining) in front row, poet, Simon Vinkenoog) – photo by Cor Van Keuk

Steven Taylor‘s 1983 setting for string quartet (the Mondriaan String Quartet) of Allen’s 1971 master-work, “September On Jessore Road” (see here for dissenting word on that and more on the 1971 recording) appeared both as a small limited-edition CD on producer Benn Posset‘s own Soyo Records, and also on Holy Soul, Jelly Roll- Poems and Songs 1949-1993.

Here’s Allen’s brief note from the booklet-note accompanying the latter:
“In 1971, I opened a “Free John Sinclair” rally in Detroit, organized by John Lennon and Yoko Ono, playing the entire “Jessore Road” with guitarist Gary Getz. Lennon was in his dressing room so he missed it. When the group got together in his hotel afterwards, Gary and I played it for him, and his comment was, “you ought to treat it like “Eleanor Rigby with a string quartet”…. In 1982 impresario Benn Posset offered Steven and me musicians and recording facilities in Amsterdam for a One World Poetry record [One World Poetry, Benn Posset’s production company, promoters of a series of international poetry festivals]. Steven wrote out parts for string quartet and guitar, and we recorded at the Milky Way Theater…”

Allen was able to follow-up on Lennon’s suggestion – Steven was able to rise to a compositional challenge. It’s an extraordinarily beautiful piece.

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