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[ M√A√P√L√ ]Released Friday, February 16, 2024

FILE UNDER: Spoken Word, Jazz, Poetry Jazz, Avant Garde Jazz

SOUNDS LIKE: No one we can think of, please send your ideas. 

FOR FANS OF: Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Jim Morrison, Patti Smith, Laurie Anderson, David Byrne, Langston Hughes, Amiri Baraka, Gil Scott-Heron, Lillian Allen, Sonia Sanchez, Jayne Cortez, Daniel Lanois.

“This poet is truly a singer and musician.”- Mark Rheaume, CBC



Sunday, February 18th, 4 PM - 6 PM, Doors at 3:30 PM

Opening Set from Taylor Abrahamse



(All songs pre-cleared, one stop, all in)

1 - I Believe [3:21] CANFN2300012
2 – People Like You and Me [5:38] CANFN2300013
3 - When We Make Love [2:29] CANFN2300014
4 - Apple [2:07] CANFN2300015
5 - On Star Divination [1:18] CANFN2300016
6 - Outer Peace [2:22] CANFN2300017
7 - Between a Tender and a Tender Place [1:41] CANFN2300018
8 - The Great Canadian Oath of Silence [2:25] CANFN2300019
9 - Progressions of Buts [2:51] CANFN2300020
10 - Many Gendered Thing [0:09] CANFN2300021
11 - Thought Inventory [3:16] CANFN2300022
12 - You and I and Far Away [6:56] CANFN2300023


Musicians on tracks 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 11, 12 *except where noted:

All Vocals and Lyrics: Robert Priest, trumpet on track 9

Kevin Breit: Guitar, Additional Keys

George Koller: Acoustic and Electric Bass

Great Bob Scott: Drums

Alison Young: Saxophone

Al Booth: Keys (on tracks 5, 7, and 12)

*Track 3 "When We Make Love": All music composed and mixed by Drew Jurecka

*Track 6 "Outer Peace": All music composed and mixed by Robert G. Scott

Recorded by: Vezi Tayyeb at Kensington Sound, Toronto, 2023

Assistant Engineer Will Schollar

Mastered by: Mariana Hutten

Produced by: Jaymz Bee

Photography: Al Booth

© (P) 2023 Robert Priest under exclusive license to Vesuvius Music Inc. / Distributed by IDLA


Outer Peace

Lyric Video by Robert G. Scott


Drawing inspiration from rock poets like Jim Morrison, John Lennon, and Patti Smith, Robert Priest has combined poetry with music throughout his career. Since 1980, he has created six albums featuring a mix of poetry and rock, with at least one poem set to music on each. Priest's spoken word/music video "Congo Toronto" (1988) first gained national attention on MuchMusic and CFNY.

The fusion of poetry and music is essential to Priest's work. In both rock venues and literary festivals, he blends songs with poems. His poetry books often include songs with musical notation, reflecting Priest's belief in the importance of this union. His earlier work primarily involved rock music, but his latest album, "Love is Hard" (2017), produced by Bob Wiseman, included avant-garde and jazz influences.

Priest's foray into jazz began with his involvement in Jaymz Bee's social circle, leading to performances of poetry with jazz musicians, sometimes improvising alongside their music. This new realm opened up fresh poetic possibilities for him, and he eagerly recorded this material, thanks to an Ontario Arts Council grant and collaboration with notable jazz instrumentalists.

The album includes both improvised pieces and pre-written lyrics set to music. Kevin Breit, George Koller, Alison Young, and co-writer Allen Booth contributed significantly, helping to shape the album's musical landscape. Breit's compositions, "People Like You and Me" and "A Series of Buts," showcase Priest's poetry in new rhythmic and harmonic contexts. Booth's arrangements for two English sonnets brought a traditional form into a contemporary musical setting. The recording process at Kensington Sound was a collaborative and inspired session, with all musicians contributing to a cohesive and dynamic sound.

In addition to the tracks recorded at Kensington Sound, "Outer Peace," produced and performed by Robert G. Scott, features a reggae groove, while Drew Jurecka's "When We Make Love" is an erotic history poem set to Jurecka's multi-instrumental accompaniment.

This album represents a milestone for Priest, blending poetry and music in a way that he hopes is both enjoyable and engaging for listeners. It's a testament to the enduring power and relevance of this artistic crossroads.



1. I Believe

(3:21) free jazz (Robert Priest/Kevin Breit/Alison Young/Great Bob Scott/George Koller)

Robert Priest began writing poetry in his teenage years as a love poet, so it’s fitting that the album kicks off with a track from that tradition. The mics had only just been set up, and what followed was supposed to be a full band sound check, but Priest got inspired and began to recite, not knowing the record button had been pressed. He and the band collectively and unknowingly composed I Believe. This was the beginning of a great day of music.


2. People Like You and Me

(5:38) modern cowboy jazz (Robert Priest/Kevin Breit)

The title track of the album, underscored by the great guitarist Kevin Breit’s composition (Norah Jones/Cassandra Wilson), creates a reflective and loving landscape. Priest is not a fan of the "great man theory" of history. He knows true power comes from the collective actions of whole populaces. This poem does its best to celebrate and revel in that fact. Once again, the unreeling of the vocal within the musical milieu takes on a life of its own so that as the band settled into high gear, Priest, as befits his name, declaims away in what can only be called secular preacher style.


3. When We Make Love

(2:29), modern strings, cinematic soundtrack (Robert Priest/Drew Jurecka)

An erotic history poem, the music for “When We Make Love” was composed, produced, and played by Grammy-nominated string arranger and multi-instrumentalist Drew Jurecka.  The poem asks the question: without coitus, where would we be? In answer, it celebrates the ancient improvisatory ritual solace and good fun of fucking and all that comes to pass because of it. For radio play potential, Jaymz and Priest tried to get the word fuck out of the poem, but it just wouldn't work without it. It's kind of like human civilization in that way. Where would we be without fuck energy?


4. Apple

(2:07) modern jazz, uptempo (Robert Priest/Alison Young)

Literally about an apple, this poem comes from a long tradition of odes to objects pioneered by poets like Pablo Neruda and DH Lawrence.  Priest hadn't even previewed the music that Alison Young had created to back the track, but was immediately entranced and enticed when she finally brought her composition to the fruit bowl. He quickly found a place for his vocal in the groove that felt like home. Along with every other piece on the album, this track is one of Priest's favorites.


5. On Star Divination

(1:18) abstract soundtrack (Robert Priest/Allen Booth)

When Priest writes in the traditional form known as a sonnet, he goes all out, including the five-beat iambic pentameter line and the familiar Shakespearean rhyming scheme. It's a good challenge, and he has always loved successful sonnets. This one imagines a culture of stars who look down on us the same way we look up to them to prefigure our astrological destinies. Though he tends to avoid all aspects of awards culture, Priest confesses he was a little chuffed when its publication received the nod for a national magazine award nomination. Now it finds a home in its own musical universe. 


6. Outer Peace (2:22)

dub reggae, spoken word (Robert Priest/Robert G. Scott)

Pithy, deep, inspiring, and sometimes even hilarious Robert Priest wastes no time serving up a smorgasbord of micro poems in this spacey reggae groove by composer Robert G. Scott (Micheal Bublé).


7. Between a Tender and a Tender Place

(1:41) jazzy rock ballad (Robert Priest/Allen Booth)

One sonnet is not enough, so once again, the singer in Priest gets engaged in the ambience of co-writer Allen Booth's music and finds his way into a delivery totally suited to the poem’s erotic content. Reciting it he got about as blushing as he ever gets with, let's call it, sexually-oriented material.


8. The Great Canadian Oath of Silence

(2:25) drone jazz (Robert Priest/George Koller)

Given the animation of the preceding tracks, the presence here of George Koller's bass drone is particularly apt. A sarcastic, bitter poem about Canada's treatment of its native people, The Great Canadian Oath of Silence is not a work where any suggestion of frivolity or insincerity would be appropriate. As well as the poem works, a cappella, in a literary milieu, the chastening drone of George's bass gives it an even greater authority and gravity.


9. Progression of Buts

(2:51) funky jazz (Robert Priest/Kevin Breit)

Within the well-worn track of call and response that jazz has made one of its signature moves, Robert is always on the lookout for new ways to activate and involve the audience. The momentum that Kevin Breit’s cutting guitar gives this “but” poem perfectly supplies that. To supply it with even more punch Robert marched in later and added some brutalist trumpet left over from his drum and bugle corps days.


10. Many Gendered Thing

(0:09) a capella (Robert Priest)

Totally eponymous, man. 


11. Thought Inventory

(3:16) free jazz (Robert Priest/Kevin Breit/Alison Young/Great Bob Scott/George Koller)

Improvised on the spot with the band, this is an in-the-moment diary of the kinds of thoughts that regularly run through people’s brains. It is illuminating to hear his voice's increasing sense of urgency as the ensemble dynamically reaches its peak and subsides.


12. You and I and Faraway

(6:56) late-night modern jazz,  vocal ballad, adult contemporary (Robert Priest/Allen Booth)

To close out the record, Priest sings an outright torchy jazz song. Composed by long-time co-writer Allen Booth, it is a heartfelt ballad featuring Alison Young’s sexy saxophone. Fans of Priest's music from the late 80s will love this Brian Ferry-esque performance, showcasing his raw authentic singing style. 

rosanne baker shot kensington 2.jpeg


Photo by Rosanne Baker Thornley

In a realm where poetry's potency meets the reverberations of jazz-infused soundscapes, Robert Priest stands as a singular figure. With a career that traces back to the late 1980s, Priest has been a quiet force within the corridors of spoken word and music, a niche he's not so much carved as fluidly inhabited as a poet and songwriter. 

The emergence of Robert Priest into the cultural radar occurred in 1988, with his fusion of poetry and music in the MuchMusic video "Congo Toronto" which garnered him a CASBY award nomination for Best new Artist.” 

Priest's career defies binary classifications. His versatile pen has brought forth seventeen volumes of poetry, four novels, and a litany of musical compositions. His words have been quoted in the Farmer's Almanac, debated in the Ontario Legislature, sung on Sesame Street, posted in Toronto's transit system, broadcast on MuchMusic, released on numerous CDs, quoted by politicians, and widely published in textbooks and anthologies.

The Sonic Fraternity:  While Priest's lyrical prowess extends to his own compositions, he's also earned distinction as a collaborative spirit. His co-authored work "Song Instead of a Kiss" with Alannah Myles ascended to the pinnacle of the Canadian charts, a resounding testament to his lyrical finesse and melodic sensibility. He also cowrote Julian Taylor’s recent CBC hit Seeds (They Tried to Bury Us). Such crossovers punctuate Priest's career, intertwining his words with the resonances of celebrated musicians.


The Jazz Affair: Priest's recent foray into the realm of jazz might be seen as an expected progression in his artistic trajectory. Yet, it's the unexpected that truly captivates. His 2021 album, "Love is Hard," produced by Bob Wiseman, swayed to the avant-garde breeze. This ethereal journey into soundscape marked Priest's willingness to navigate uncharted waters, proving that his creative compass remains unwavering.

A Prelude to "People Like You and Me": The crescendo of Priest's journey finds its expression in the forthcoming “People Like You and Me." Under the aegis of producer Jaymz Bee, the album weaves Priest's voice, poetry, and songs into a symphony of jazz enchantment. Collaborations with luminaries like Kevin Breit, George Koller and Alison Young evoke a cadence that's more than the sum of its parts. Avant-garde jazz, spoken word, and a dash of the unpredictable — "People Like You and Me" is a glimpse into Priest's immersive realm of artistry.

The Ongoing Expression: As Robert Priest's journey unfolds, the intersections of poetry and music reverberate with renewed vibrancy. He stands as a trailblazer, undeterred by the boundaries of genre, resonating with echoes of Langston Hughes' jazz-infused verses and the socio-politics of Amiri Baraka. Priest's legacy is one of pushing the envelope and defying norms, carving an indelible path that continues to captivate and inspire.

In a world where words often remain confined to ink and melodies to notes, Robert Priest's artistry transcends these limitations. His is an embodiment of the ineffable fusion where verse and melody meet, giving rise to something altogether extraordinary.

band at kensington rosanne baker shot 1.jpeg

Photo by Rosanne Baker Thornley


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