The Squid's Ear Magazine

Harding, Paul R / Michael Bisio / Juma Sultan: They Tried to Kill Me Yesterday (ESP)

An album of jazz poetry between long-time collaborator, bassist Michael Bisio and poet Paul r. Harding, with former Jimi Hendrix percussionist Juma Sultan joining on half of the tracks, for thirteen narrative poems and utterance that provide incisive observation on ourselves and our country, the bass and percussion weaving around expression that slams, swings, and pulls no punches.

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"Paul r. Harding-poetry, small percussion

Michael Bisio-bass

Juma Sultan-percussion

Click an artist name above to see in-stock items for that artist.

UPC: 825481508322

Label: ESP
Catalog ID: ESPDISK 5083CD
Squidco Product Code: 34132

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2023
Country: USA
Packaging: Cardboard Gatefold
Recorded at Lone Pine Road Studio in Kingston, New York, on July 6th, and August 10th, 2022, by Eli Winograd.

Descriptions, Reviews, &c.

"ESP-Disk presents They Tried To Kill Me Yesterday. Frequently lyrical, sometimes hard-hitting, nostalgic for jazz and RNB, proud of African-American heroes, Paul r. Harding has been around, has seen and heard things he reflects on and refracts to us with vivid words. Based in upstate New York, he's joined by bassist Michael Bisio (Matthew Shipp Trio) and, on half the tracks, by percussionist Juma Sultan (who played with Jimi Hendrix)."-ESP-Disk

"What is jazz poetry? What is a jazz poet? Is there such a thing? I don't know the answer to any of those questions, but I do know that the CD you hold in your hands is a testament to the synergy of a true synthesis of word and musical vibration with the rhythmic and tone quality between spoken word and jazz pulse unfolding in an expanding universe where the components flow in ever-spiraling patterns of lyricism and pulse. With art this mature there is a long genesis of it finding its way onto a CD. In art this pure, there is zero pretense-it is pure presentation.

Paul r. Harding was born in New York and attended college in Buffalo, NY, where he was tutored by saxophonists Archie Shepp and Charles Gayle. He moved to the West Coast, where he got to know bassist Michael Bisio in the mid-1980s. They did many performances in galleries, bars, and performance spaces. Paul thinks of Michael as having something that very few other bass players have in that he is both completely free and lyrical at the same time-he marvels at how Mike is "on it in an organic fucking explosion"-and how Mike "is always there."

Michael Bisio thinks of Paul in the very highest of terms. He refers to him as an extremely intelligent sentient being-he thinks in terms of playing with Paul as playing with a great horn player. He refers to Paul's work as having the message of love-solidarity and equality in a no-nonsense manner.

The percussionist Juma Sultan is a neighbor of Michael Bisio. He was present at a get-together with Paul and Michael at their apartment complex, and the idea to add Juma to the mix came about. He plays with exquisite taste and falls right into the intuitive dialogue between Paul and Michael. Of course, Juma is most known for having played with Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock.

Paul r. Harding is a pure expression of a linguistic analog to jazz. He has deep, deep knowledge of the music-of a lot of musics, for that matter-and he has worked long and hard to make words swing and sing in a pure vocal inflection. Paul has told me that Amiri Baraka called for poets to do with written language what musicians do with notes, and that was very important to him. Paul also considers the writer Jayne Cortez to be a mentor.

To me, Paul has achieved an extremely high level with the phrasing, syntax, and images (a lot lifted from the jazz tradition) but never used in a superficial way. Paul is deep. The images taken from jazz history are melted down to the rhythmic impetus and an elastic language is created. The words seem to swing on the page (I have actually never seen his written text)-and his delivery, timbre, and projection are that of a great articulate musician. It is deep and enjoyable. His work is extremely humane. There is a message also. There is hope. Michael Bisio believes that "if people listen to Paul it would solve a lot of the world's problems."-Matthew Shipp

Artist Biographies

"Paul r. Harding was born in New York and attended college in Buffalo, NY, where he was tutored by saxophonists Archie Shepp and Charles Gayle. He moved to the West Coast, where he got to know bassist Michael Bisio in the mid-1980s. They did many performances in galleries, bars, and performance spaces."


Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

"Michael Bisio, bassist/composer, has eighty five recordings in his discography, twenty four of these are split evenly between leader/co-leader, ten of them document his extraordinary association with modern piano icon Matthew Shipp. Michael has been called a poet, a wonder and one of the most virtuosic and imaginative performers on the double bass. Nate Chinen in the New York Times writes : "The physicality of Mr. Bisio's bass playing puts him in touch with numerous predecessors in the avant-garde, but his expressive touch is distinctive;..."

As a composer Michael has been awarded nine grants and an Artist Trust Fellowship

Collaborators include Matthew Shipp, Joe McPhee, Charles Gayle, Connie Crothers, Whit Dickey, Ivo Perelman, Barbara Donald, Newman Taylor Baker, Rob Brown, Sonny Simmons and Sabir Mateen."

-Michael Bisio Website (

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

"Juma Sultan (born April 13, 1942) is a jazz musician, most often recording as a percussionist or bass player. He may be best known for his appearance at the Woodstock festival of 1969 at Bethel, New York, playing with Jimi Hendrix. He currently plays in the African performance group Sankofa, the band Sons of Thunder, and with the Juma Sultan Band.

Sultan was born in Monrovia, California on April 13, 1942. In 1969, he performed at the Woodstock festival in Hendrix's band, Gypsy Sun and Rainbows and on The Dick Cavett Show and at a special show in Harlem, New York several weeks later. He was interviewed extensively for the documentary films, Jimi Hendrix and Jimi Hendrix: Live at Woodstock. He appears on approximately 12 of Jimi Hendrix' posthumous releases.

Juma Sultan's musical talents span jazz, rock, blues and spirituals throughout decades of performing, producing and recording. In 2006, Clarkson University, in conjunction with Sultan, received a grant from the National Endowment of the Arts to preserve Sultan's audio and video documentation of avant garde jazz during the 1960s and 1970s. The collection may be viewed at

Sultan appeared at the National Rock Con from July 30, 2010 - August 1, 2010.

Sultan also joined Vince Martell, Spanky & Our Gang, and Bleu Ocean at B.B. Kings on August 2, 2010, for the encore of "California Dreaming".

Juma also recorded with Archie Shepp, Noah Howard, Kalaparusha Maurice McIntyre, Sonny Simmons, Daoud Haroon, Asha Nan, Emmeretta Marks, Don Moore Band, and Sankofa.

A conga player listed as Juma Santos is credited on Miles Davis's Bitches Brew. He toured and recorded with Miles Davis, Nina Simone, David Sanborn and Taj Mahal, among others. Juma Santos was an entirely different individual, and not the same person who is the subject of this article."

-Wikipedia (

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

Track Listing:

1. Forgive, Forgive, Forgive 2:55

2. Accordion Dream 2:43

3. New World Gypsy Dawn 5:57

4. They Tried to Kill Me Yesterday 3:46

5. On a Train Through Oregon 3:12

6. Hair Eyes Lips 3:19

7. Hard to Watch 1:08

8. If She Cried 6:14

9. Heart Asks For / Prison Break 4:27

10. Unheard Lady 3:08

11. Let's Get Use To 6:08

12. Quietly 3:26

13. Overseas 1:43

Related Categories of Interest:

Improvised Music
Free Improvisation
Spoken Word
Stringed Instruments
Percussion & Drums
Duo Recordings
Trio Recordings
NY Downtown & Metropolitan Jazz/Improv
New in Improvised Music

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