"Lexington" features such jazz greats as:
Phil Ranelin- trombone
Dr. Charlie Moore- partner and collaborator
Tigran Hamasyan- piano
Buzzy Moore-tenor sax and oboe
Bob Hurst- upright bass
Doug Lun- bass
- Chasing A Fire Engine
- 13th Hour
- Burning Freeze
- The Wayne in Spain
- Elvin’s Blues
- Taking the Cure
- Spectrum Suite
"Lexington" was released in a limited edition vinyl format on April 19, Record Store Day. The album will be released digitally on April 29.
When asked about the album title, Kramer stated:
“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.
"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 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.”
Kramer was the leader of the MC5, widely recognized as the prototype for punk rock and heavy metal. The group had great commercial and critical success, but life came crashing down for the revered guitarist when he did time in at Lexington Federal Penitentiary in the late 1970s. While incarcerated, he was tutored by fellow inmate Red Rodney-- a trumpeter who played with the late jazz saxophonist Charlie Parker. It was Red who taught Kramer how to read music, and the two formed a prison band.
Upon release, the musician spent many years wondering, “Why did this happen to me?” During some of those years, he medicated his pain with drugs and alcohol, eventually realizing that these substances got in the way of answering the question that plagued him. Now, he has been sober for years, has a successful career scoring music for film and television, and is able to face some of the demons he encountered at a low point in his life-- namely his incarceration at Lexington Federal Penitentiary.
Kramer has often stated that “prison doesn’t change anyone’s life for the better,” yet he acknowledges that he did go to prison at a time when correctional institutions cared more about rehabilitation. He mentioned that when he played music in prison, he felt liberated from the confines of his reality.
In 2009, Kramer co-founded Jail Guitar Doors USA with his wife, Margaret Saadi Kramer, and British singer-songwriter Billy Bragg. The organization provides musical instruments to inmates as a form of rehabilitation. To date, the organization has visited more than 40 prisons, and donated more then 400 guitars.