MC5 guitarist Wayne Kramer recently released his first new album in 14 years, and it’s an entirely different animal than the hard rock numbers he created back in the day. The new album is all about jazz, and it features some of America’s premium jazz musicians, including trombonist Phil Ranelin (The Tribe), Armenian piano prodigy Tigran Hamasyan and multi-instrumentalist Ralph “Buzzy” Jones (Yusef Lateef). Percussionists Brock Avery and Eric Gardner also contribute, along with bassist Doug Lunn.
Lexington, which debuted at No. 6 on the Billboard Jazz Chart, gets its name from the Lexington Federal Prison in Kentucky, a place Kramer spent some time for drug-related charges 40 years ago.
“I had buried my penitentiary experience in my psyche, but after a few years of sobriety I started looking inward into how I became who I am and found that this was a turning point in my life where almost everything that I had experienced intersected — being a musician, politics, crime, ambition, art — and the effects were profound,” Kramer said of the album title.
“Almost at the same time, I was hired to score a film for PBS on the very institution I served my sentence in. So this brought everything to the surface,e and it occurred to me that this could be more than a film score. That this could actually be a musical narrative of the second half of my adult life.”