scene from the play

He Would Have Wanted It This Way

Kerouac, the Essence of Jack: A Jazz Play
Written and performed by Vincent Balestri
The Vancouver Fringe Festival
September 5-14, 1996

Review by Gary 'pigboy' Swartz
Photography by Suzanne Goodwin


A jazz writer a jazz play. But seminal Jack said everything comes in threes he said without commas ever or often sentences or paragraphs or even sometimes without synapses. But scene from the play writer and play are only two and two are not three so it therefore follows that to complete the trinity there must needs be a jazz review with its skewed skewed view expressed in spontaneous prose prose prose as Jack would have us bop bop bop it. A review about how the essence of Jack's riff still faithfully echoes echoes in brief spasms at irregular intervals in intense out-look altering skeleton-closet rattling thought-provoking performances on scattered stages for 15 years in this hybrid play/concert/one-man paean scene from the play to the Jack Kerouac who was. Jack who should be honoured and is by the playwright/actor who before and after the show is Vincent Balestri and even during and who when he isn't mostly alter egoing Jack or sometimes being Vincent is also icons Allan or Lawrence or William F. who are Ginsberg and Ferlinghetti and Buckley and maybe even you and me and me and you when we are being hip and cool and weird because it was Jack who planted the seeds of what we have become. And somehow Vincent who is makes it work makes it work well and truly in a way you may probably have never seen before but open-minded and receptive you should see it should see it because in the end while you don't necessarily understand completely the why of Jack who was a candle burning at all ends scene from the play you more better appreciate the where and what and how of the jazz he wrote while in his heart and soul he heard a saxophone bleeding Charlie Parker riffs that took his writing to places no one had ever blown before scaring a lot of conventional people as it always has always will and did even tonight. Wail saxophone for the one or three slipped early from the venue taking less of Jack with them than Vincent who is Jack offers troubled perhaps by the deliberately random jazz saxophone accompaniment of Campbell Ryga and P.J. Perry that is commas and sentences and paragraphs blowing chinook-like from off/back/around stage warmly reminding us that this is jazz theatre. Jazz acting. Jazz music. Jazz writing. Jazz! And there aren't always synapses but always there is passion and humour and often there is mystery and sometimes there is hope. Hope. Hope. And Jack Kerouac who was would be glad there is a Vincent alter ego who is a vessel for the essence of Jack because because it keeps Buddist Jack on the wheel turning turning turning and because there is dharma in it you bums.

First published in Drop-D Magazine on September 13, 1996

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