Dan Morgenstern and Christian Sands discuss the legacy of Erroll Garner

In a July 27, 2020 conversation with Jerry Jazz Musician editor/publisher Joe Maita, the historian and most eminent jazz writer of his generation Dan Morgenstern and pianist Christian Sands – the Creative Ambassador of the Erroll Garner Jazz Project – discuss Garner’s historic legacy.

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“Brown Bear” — a short story by Bailey Bridgewater

The shimmering bulb of the brown Long Island sunset was barely enough to illuminate the silently flailing figure in the water.  The flaming ball stared down at the commotion from beneath its skin of smog, but the girl simply picked the loose sand up in her hands, running the granules through her stubby fingers, fascinated by the way it felt on her palms, but irritated by how it stuck under her bitten nails.

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“The Best Dancer at St. Bernadette’s and Me” — a short story by Tricia Lowther

     Nothing can spoil today, not even our Sue. It’s the third Saturday in September, 1978. I’m 11 years old and like every other girl in our street, (and some of the boys), I’ve waited months for this. I know all the singles off by heart, I’ve watched the videos on Top of the Pops, posters of John Travolta have replaced Starsky and Hutch on my bedroom wall, and finally, FINALLY, after hearing the songs all Summer, the people of England can go to the cinema and watch Grease.

     All the Brook Street lot are going; kids from six different families with four of their mums; The Thompsons, the Maguires, the Connollys, the Yips, the Browns and us. I’m as excited as the rest of them, but the difference is, I can’t tell anyone who the flutters in my stomach are for.

     We all get the bus together. It’s packed and we have to stand in the aisle, fingers slippery on the

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Short Fiction Contest-winning story #25: “Fahrenheit,” by Danny C. Knestaut

A trumpet squealed in the hospital halls. The note, like a brass rabbit, zipped past room 334. Moments later Mr. Fahrenheit watched two orderlies jog past the open door: not too fast, not real slow. It appeared to be the speed of indicated hurry. A few more notes from the trumpet whizzed down the hall before they too slowed to a jog, and then drew themselves out into expressions of gold, blue, green – then stopped before Mr. Fahrenheit could call the name of the song to mind. The next few notes he tapped out on the back of the hand he held in his own. His wife did not respond. Even he had begun to forget to expect a response. She inhaled. She exhaled. The eyes beneath her blue lids quivered and shimmered.

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Jazz historian Dan Morgenstern, author of Living with Jazz

Buying a vinyl long playing jazz album in the format’s heyday — from the 1950s through the 1980s — was a three-step sensual process that stirred an almost irrational enthusiasm for the entire culture the music ignited. The record industry’s flair for creating passionate cover art seduced the imagination, the sounds etched into the grooves promised diversion and surprise, and the densely-typed liner notes on the back cover fired up an eagerness for enlightenment. The process continued at the turntable, where the cut of a stylus transformed the listener into an aural witness to the performer’s character and improvisational skills. It was, quite simply, a bonding experience.

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True Jazz Stories: A remembrance of jazz aficionado Al Summ

Friends remember Al Summ, whose love and appreciation of jazz showed up in a variety of ways.  His artwork was found (and rescued) by his friends Dan Brown, Dave Watson, Bob Crimi and “Andy” – a.k.a. “The Gang of Four”.

This remembrance is a reminder of how jazz and its culture can touch the soul of an enthusiast, and a demonstration of a longtime, devoted friendship.  I am proud to assist the “Gang” in sharing their heartfelt connection to their departed friend.

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Jazz Haiku – a sampler

In anticipation of a collection of jazz haiku — to be published sometime in August, 2023 — a small sampling of the jazz haiku received so far is published here.

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A Collection of Jazz Poetry — Spring, 2023 Edition

This is the 14th extensive collection of jazz poetry published on Jerry Jazz Musician since the fall of 2019, when the concept was initiated. Like all previous volumes, the beauty of this edition is not solely evident in the general excellence of the published works; it also rests in the hearts of the individuals from diverse backgrounds who possess a mutual desire to reveal their life experiences and interactions with the music, its character, and its culture.

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A collection of short jazz poems – Vol. 1

A collection in which over 30 poets communicate their appreciation for jazz music in poems no longer than seven lines.

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A Collection of Jazz Poetry — Fall/Winter, 2022-23 Edition

.This collection of jazz poetry – the largest yet assembled on Jerry Jazz Musician – demonstrates how poets who are also listeners of jazz music experience and interact with the spontaneous art that arises from jazz improvisation, which often shows up in the soul and rhythm of their poetic language.

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A Collection of Jazz Poetry — Summer, 2022 Edition

A broad collection of jazz poetry authored by an impressive assemblage of regular contributors and established poets new to this publication – all of whom open their imagination and hearts to the abundant creative experience they derive from this art.

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A Collection of Jazz Poetry — Spring, 2022 Edition

Over 60 poets from all over the world celebrate their love of jazz…in poetry.

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A Collection of Jazz Poetry — Fall/Winter, 2021-22 Edition

Molly Larson Cook’s abstract-expressionist paintings accompany the 50 poets contributing to this collection. Her art has much in common with the poetry and music found within it; all three art forms can be described as “landscapes of the imagination,” created by artists from all over the world who are inspired in a meaningful way by jazz music, and whose work can be uniquely interpreted and appreciated (or not!) by those who consume it.

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A Collection of Jazz Poetry — Summer, 2021 Edition

“It’s not exclusive, but inclusive, which is the whole spirit of jazz.”

-Herbie Hancock

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And…this spirit is not limited to the musicians, because celebrating jazz is rich in creative opportunity for writers and visual artists as well.  The 54 poets who contribute to this poetry collection are living proof of that.

As always, thanks to the poets, and I hope you enjoy…

Joe

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From the Interview Archive: Jazz Producer, Discographer, and Entrepreneur Michael Cuscuna

Few music industry executives have had as meaningful an impact on jazz music as Michael Cuscuna, who passed away on April 20 at the age of 75.  He dedicated his life to music – particularly to the concept of mining and marketing the music recorded a generation ago by essential and under-appreciated jazz musicians buried deep in record label catalogs. 

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Community Bookshelf #2

“Community Bookshelf” is a twice-yearly space where writers who have been published on Jerry Jazz Musician can share information about their recently authored books.

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A Black History Month Profile: The Harlem Globetrotters

in this 2005 interview, Ben Green, author of Spinning the Globe: The Rise, Fall, and Return to Greatness of the Harlem Globetrotters, discusses the complex history of the celebrated Black touring basketball team.

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A collection of jazz haiku, Vol. 2

The 19 poets included in this collection effectively share their reverence for jazz music and its culture with passion and brevity.

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A Black History Month Profile: Zora Neale Hurston

In a 2002 interview, Carla Kaplan, editor of Zora Neale Hurston: A Life in Letters, talks about the novelist, anthropologist, playwright, folklorist, essayist and poet whose work is is taught in American, African American, and Women’s Studies courses in high schools and universities from coast to coast.

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A Collection of Jazz Poetry — Winter, 2024 Edition

One-third of the Winter, 2024 collection of jazz poetry is made up of poets who have only come to my attention since the publication of the Summer, 2023 collection. What this says about jazz music and jazz poetry – and this community – is that the connection between the two art forms is inspirational and enduring, and that poets are finding a place for their voice within these virtual pages.

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From the Interview Archive: A 2011 conversation with Alyn Shipton, author of Hi-De-Ho: The Life of Cab Calloway

In this interview, Alyn Shipton discusses Cab Calloway, whose vocal theatrics and flamboyant stage presence made him one of the country’s most beloved entertainers.

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Short Fiction Contest-winning story #64 — “The Old Casino” by J.B. Marlow

A story that takes place over the course of a young man’s life, looking specifically at all the women he’s loved and how the presence of a derelict building informs those relationships.

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Interview with Judith Tick, author of Becoming Ella Fitzgerald: The Jazz Singer Who Transformed American Song

In Becoming Ella Fitzgerald: The Jazz Singer Who Transformed American Song, the book’s author Judith Tick writes that Ella “fearlessly explored many different styles of American song through the lens of African American jazz, [and] treated jazz as a process, not confined to this idiom or that genre,” and who “changed the trajectory of American vocal jazz in this century.” Ms. Tick. who is professor emerita of music history at Northeastern University, talks with about Ella – and her book – in this wide-ranging October 23, 2023 interview.

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True Jazz Stories: “Well You Needn’t: My Life as a Jazz Fan” by Joel Lewis

The journalist and poet Joel Lewis shares his immensely colorful story of falling in love with jazz, and living with it and reporting on it during his younger days in New Jersey and New York

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In Memoriam: Carla Bley, 1936 – 2023

An account that the photographer Veryl Oakland shared of his time spent with Carla Bley and her then-husband Michael Mantler during her visit to the San Francisco Bay area in 1979.  This encounter is an example of how she’d find inspiration for her music; in this case within the  “the marvelous inner workings of mechanical music boxes.”

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In a Place of Dreams: Connie Johnson’s album of jazz poetry, music, and life stories

A collection of Connie Johnson’s poetry is woven among her audio readings, a personal narrative of her journey and music she considers significant to it, providing readers the chance to experience the full value of her gifts.

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A collection of jazz haiku

Earlier this year I invited poets to submit jazz-themed poetry that didn’t need to strictly follow the 5-7-5 syllabic structure of formal haiku, but had to at least be faithful to the spirit of it (i.e. no more than three lines, brief, expressive, emotionally insightful).

This collection, featuring 22 poets, is a good example of how much love, humor, sentimentality, reverence, joy and sorrow poets can fit into their haiku devoted to jazz.

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Community Bookshelf, # 1

“Community Bookshelf” is a twice-yearly space where writers who have been published on Jerry Jazz Musician can share information about their recently authored books.

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A Collection of Jazz Poetry — Summer, 2023 Edition

This edition features poetry chosen from hundreds of recent submissions, and from a wide range of voices known – and unknown – to readers of these collections.  The work is unified by the poets’ ability to capture the abundance of jazz music, and their experience with consuming it.

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Trading Fours, with Douglas Cole, No. 15: “Roots and Threads”

Vivaldi, especially “The Four Seasons,”
keeps showing up in forms of jazz:
a hint, a structure—but try unraveling
any musical DNA you go straight back
to singing and to drum, voice and poetry—

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Short Fiction Contest-winning story #63 — “Company” by Anastasia Jill

20-year-old Priscilla Habel lives with her wannabe flapper mother who remains stuck in the jazz age 40 years later. Life is monotonous and sad until Cil meets Willie Flasterstain, a beatnik lesbian who offers an escape from her mother’s ever-imposing shadow.

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From the Interview Archive: a 2014 interview with Stanley Crouch, author of Kansas City Lightning: The Life and Times of Charlie Parker

In a 2014 Jerry Jazz Musician interview, the late jazz writer and cultural critic Stanley Crouch shares his thoughts on Charlie Parker, a great genius of modern music…

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“What Is This Thing Called Something Else?” – a playlist by Bob Hecht

Contrafacts, as such reworkings are called, are the product of writing a new melodic line over an existing set of chord changes, thereby disguising or sometimes completely obscuring the identity of the original piece.

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Interview Archive: Donzaleigh Abernathy, author of Partners to History: Martin Luther King, Jr., Ralph David Abernathy, and the Civil Rights Movement

The daughter of Reverend Ralph Abernathy talks about her life as a child of the civil rights movement, and to remember the two visionaries who changed the course of American history

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“Why We Write” – a conversation with three Jerry Jazz Musician contributing writers

Writers talk about influential life experiences with writing, literary figures who inspired their work, overcoming creative and economic challenges, and where they fit in today’s publishing model.

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Interview with Glenn Mott, editor of Victory is Assured: The Uncollected Writings of Stanley Crouch

Mr. Mott discusses this posthumous anthology of extraordinary, thought-provoking  uncollected essays by Stanley Crouch.

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A Black History Month Profile: An interview with Ralph Ellison biographer Arnold Rampersad

Ralph Ellison biographer Arnold Rampersad talks about the complex life of the author of Invisible Man, the celebrated work that focuses on racial and economic issues of mid-20th century America

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“Black Sufferance / Insufferable Whites – A conversation with Reverend Dr. James Henry Harris,” by John Hawkins

A conversation about race with the author of “N: My Encounter with Racism and the Forbidden Word in an American Classic”

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Book excerpt from The Real Ambassadors: Dave and Iola Brubeck and Louis Armstrong Challenge Segregation, by Keith Hatschek

In the book’s prologue, published here in its entirety, the author writes about some of “The Real Ambassador’s” challenges getting to the stage.

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“Sittin’ In: Jazz Clubs of the 1940s and 1950s” Vol. 6 — Harlem’s The Apollo Theater and Club Baby Grand

In this edition, Jeff Gold writes about two  Harlem night spots – The Apollo Theater and Club Baby Grand – and shares photographs and memorabilia from his collection.

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Five poetic landscapes by Sean Howard

Inspired by the essays collected in the jazz and cultural critic Nat Hentoff’s 2010 book At the Jazz Band Ball: Sixty Years on the Jazz Scene, in this series of poems Sean Howard uncovers new relationships and resonances in the author’s writing – reusing, recycling, and remixing text from the book as poetry – while allowing him the opportunity to pay a personal tribute to a writer he reveres.

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Short Fiction Contest-winning story #59 — “His Second Instrument” by Dave Wakely

Gail’s days on the bandstand are behind her now, London nights swapped for the life of a farmer’s wife back in Devon. But if an intriguing young man with a love of Billy Strayhorn wants sax lessons, who is she to deny him the chance to experience what she has given up?

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A Black History Month Profile: Louis Armstrong

In a November 16, 2020 interview with Jerry Jazz Musician, Ricky Riccardi, author of Heart Full of Rhythm: The Big Band Years of Louis Armstrong,  discusses his vital book and Armstrong’s enormous and underappreciated achievements during the era he led his big band.

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Book Excerpt: Soundtrack to a Movement: African American Islam, Jazz, and Black Internationalism, by Richard Brent Turner

In an excerpt from his book Soundtrack to a Movement: African American Islam, Jazz, and Black Internationalism, Richard Brent Turner writes about Max Roach and his wife, the singer Abbey Lincoln, and the contributions they made to social justice, constructed in the intersecting worlds of African American Islam and jazz.

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“False Memories That May Be Traced to Bourbon Street, Toronto, Ontario, June 14, 1983” — a poem by Stefán Sigurðsson

Dim dusk breaks down
the receding light and one after another
strands of the passing hour unravel
leaving behind an existence beyond time
that opens the doors to another world:
It’s late in the evening in a foreign metropolis

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“Ways to Look at Blind Lemon Jefferson” — a story by Larry Smith

One of the best things about my life is that in the course of it I had the chance to see the great Blind Lemon Jefferson on eleven different occasions. This was especially gratifying because for me he was the finest blues singer who ever lived, even better than Robert Johnson or Charlie Patton or Bessie Smith.

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Short Fiction Contest-winning story #57 — “Constant At The 3 Deuces” by Jon Zelazny

In the closing weeks of 1949, the consensus of New York’s cognoscenti was unanimous: the American debut of London’s Sadler’s Wells Ballet was the triumph of the post-war era. The praise and attention lavished upon the visiting artists was unrelenting; the Yanks’ sudden passion for tutus, Tchaikovsky, and entrechat quatres bordered on obsession. And yet, three weeks into their engagement, with four performances at The Met remaining, their company’s esteemed music director and conductor Constant Lambert was bored to tears.

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“Sittin’ In: Jazz Clubs of the 1940s and 1950s” Vol. 2 — Birdland

In this edition, Gold writes about New York’s Midtown Manhattan club Birdland, and shares photographs and memorabilia from his collection.

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A Poetry Collection — inspired by Miles Davis

Few artists inspire creativity like Miles Davis. This collection of poetry by 50 poets from all over the world is evidence of that.

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Interview with Alyn Shipton, author of The Art of Jazz

An interview with The Art of Jazz author Alyn Shipton, whose book is an exploration of how jazz influenced sheet music art, album art, posters, photography, and individual works of fine art.

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Interview with Jeff Gold, author of Sittin’ In: Jazz Clubs of the 1940s and 1950s

The author talks about his book and the rare collection of 200 full-color and black-and-white souvenir photos and memorabilia that bring life to the renowned jazz nightclubs of 1940’s and 1950’s.

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Two of a Mind: Conversations on Creative Collaboration, Vol 1: featuring Bill Charlap and Sandy Stewart

An intimate portrait of Bill Charlap and mother Sandy Steward, who explore the art of musical collaboration and accompanying singers.

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Short Fiction Contest-winning story #56 — “Celestial Vagabonds” by Max Talley

He drove uptown on Riverside Drive, the motor noise magnificent. Traffic increased as he approached Harlem. Other drivers jostling to get ahead noticed the car first. A red Ferrari was not subtle in gray Manhattan, and the engine roared money and power and European elegance. Then neighbors would study the man in outsized sunglasses. Some recognized him, smiling or shaking their heads in disbelief. Others looked aggrieved, even outraged that a person like him could be driving a vehicle like that. Ferrari only built three-hundred of their 275 GTB.

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A Collection of Jazz Poetry — Winter, 2021 Edition

In this winter collection of diverse themes and poetic styles, 55 poets wander the musical landscape to explore their spirit and enthusiasm for jazz music, its historic figures, and the passion, sadness, humor and joy it arouses.

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A Black History Month Profile: Thelonious Monk, a founding father of modern jazz

. . In a 2009 Jerry Jazz Musician interview, Robin D. G. Kelley, author of Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original, talks about  the legendary composer/pianist who was a founding father of modern jazz. . .   .Robin D. G. Kelley, author of Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an … Continue reading “A Black History Month Profile: Thelonious Monk, a founding father of modern jazz”

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“An Archaeologically Authenticated, Gastro-Musicological Historical Artifact: The Menu For The Jazz Brunch At Jack’s Tea Garden” – humor by Lee Shamberg & Mark Shamberg

“An Archaeologically Authenticated, Gastro-Musicological Historical Artifact: The Menu For The Jazz Brunch At Jack’s Tea Garden” is excerpted from a work-in-progress entitled “The Hip Man Letters, vol. 2: Dear Morty.”

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Book Excerpt: Life In E Flat: The Autobiography of Phil Woods

This excerpt from the just released Life In E Flat: The Autobiography of Phil Woods(written with Ted Panken) covers Woods’ post-high school life as a budding musician from Springfield, Massachusetts. He recalls early memories of work in local jazz clubs, as well as trips to New York to take lessons with the pianist Lennie Tristano, who introduces him to none other than Charlie Parker.

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Poetry in the era of COVID, Black Lives Matter, and a heated political season, Vol. 5

In this fifth collection of poetry reflecting these times,  33 poets offer their perspectives…

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“I Can’t Breathe” — a story by Leke Adefioye

All of a sudden, I began to experience an unusual perspiration.  A perspiration that altered the rhythm of my heartbeat. The more the rhythm was thrown off, the more rapid my heartbeat pounded. I listened with displeasure as my heartbeat produced discordant tunes. The tunes were unpleasant to the ears.

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Interview with Ricky Riccardi, author of Heart Full of Rhythm: The Big Band Years of Louis Armstrong

In a November 16, 2020 interview with Jerry Jazz Musician, Riccardi discusses his vital book and Armstrong’s enormous and underappreciated achievements during the era he led his big band.

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A Collection of Jazz Poetry — Autumn, 2020 Edition

Jazz and poetry have always had a symbiotic relationship.  Their creative languages share the common soil of imagination and improvisation, from which their audiences discover inspiration and spirit, and perhaps even a renewed faith in life itself.

This collection features 50 gifted poets from places as disparate as Ohio and Nepal, Estonia and Boston, Guyana and Pittsburgh, each publicly sharing their inner world reverence for the culture of jazz music.

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“Sphinx” — a short story by Brian Greene

. . “Sphinx,” a story by Brian Greene, was a short-listed entry in our recently concluded 55th Short Fiction Contest. It is published with the permission of the author .  . .   “Lucy XV,” by Vakseen . Sphinx by Brian Greene . 1. …..I met Leonor when I was 23 and she was 51. … Continue reading ““Sphinx” — a short story by Brian Greene”

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Book Excerpt: Heart Full of Rhythm: The Big Band Years of Louis Armstrong, by Ricky Riccardi

In the book’s prologue, “Bigger Than Jazz”– a portion of which is published here with the consent of the publisher, Oxford University Press – Riccardi writes about Armstrong’s Apollo Theater performances of 1935 (marking his comeback from an 18 month stay in Europe), his final big band performance of 1947, and subsequent appearances there with his integrated small group, the All Stars.

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Poetry reflecting the era of COVID, Black Lives Matter, and a heated political season — Vol. 4

On the cusp of an election of consequence the likes of which America hasn’t experienced for 150 years, and in the midst of continued Black Lives Matter protests and an indisputable surge of COVID, 29 poets sharing perspectives from all over the world contribute to this volume of poetry reflecting our tumultuous, unsettling era…

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“All the Things That I Can’t Tell” — a short story by Blythe Asta

I methodically walk along. Stepping in tune to the pulsing soundtrack spilling out of the passing nightclub, littering the sidewalk. The electric guitar wailing something menacingly slow and strong. Almost soulful but still all the while punk at its core and insisting itself to be anything but a love song. I wouldn’t be surprised to catch a glimpse of Lux dancing inside as I pass. Lux, used to be Grace, and I almost miss the days when she was.

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“Bella by Barlight” — a short story by Steve Young

. . “Bella by Barlight,” a story by Steve Young, was a short-listed entry in our recently concluded 54th Short Fiction Contest. It is published with the permission of the author . . photo by-crosspraha- / CC BY-SA .   Bella by Barlight by Steve Young . ___ , …..The Pocono Lounge, in the basement … Continue reading ““Bella by Barlight” — a short story by Steve Young”

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Poetry reflecting the era of COVID, Black Lives Matter, and a heated political season — Vol. 3

An invitation was extended recently to poets to submit work that reflects this time of COVID, Black Lives Matter, and a heated political season.  In this third volume, 33 poets contribute…

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A Collection of Jazz Poetry — Summer, 2020 Edition

. .   “Clifford Brown” is a painting by Warren Goodson, a Saxapahaw, North Carolina artist whose work is driven by his appreciation for Black culture.  With his gracious consent, Mr. Goodson’s art is featured throughout this collection. . . _____ . . “Poetry is eternal graffiti written in the heart of everyone.” -Lawrence Ferlinghetti … Continue reading “A Collection of Jazz Poetry — Summer, 2020 Edition”

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Poetry reflecting the era of COVID, Black Lives Matter, and a heated political season — Vol. 2

23 poets contribute 26 poems that speak to the era of COVID, Black Lives Matter, and a heated political season

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“Charles Ingham’s Jazz Narratives” – Vol. 9

“Charles Ingham’s Jazz Narratives” connect time, place, and subject in a way that ultimately allows the viewer a unique way of experiencing jazz history. This edition’s narratives are “Nat King Cole: The Shadow of the Word,” “Slain in Cold Blood” and “Local 767: The Black Musicians’ Union”

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“Charles Ingham’s Jazz Narratives” — Vol. 8

“Charles Ingham’s Jazz Narratives” connect time, place, and subject in a way that ultimately allows the viewer a unique way of experiencing jazz history. This edition’s narratives are “The Entrance of Bessie Smith into San Diego”, “Lionel Hampton Is Coming to Dinner at Dr. Gordon’s House”, and
“Lionel Hampton: Central Avenue Breakdown”

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“Roads Crossing, Crisscrossing” — a short story by Susandale

“One ticket please,” David said aloud to Gladys.

 Studying him with eyes peering over her glasses, the ticket seller, Gladys, squinted with disbelief at the sense of disproportion standing before her; David’s battered face and tortured eyes, so contradictory to his features of lapidary refinement.

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“One August Morning”– a short story by Jeanine DeHoney

No one knew why he did it. Why early one August morning, the day after I turned eleven, when stores were just pulling up their metal gates, and delivery trucks were double parked in front of them, when as Mama said the sun was so oppressive you could fry an egg on the sidewalk, Mr. Carmichael left his seventh-floor apartment right above ours in The Bridgeton Apartments…

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A Collection of Jazz Poetry — Spring, 2020 Edition

33 poets from all over the globe contribute 47 poems.  Expect to read of love, loss, memoir, worship, freedom, heartbreak and hope – all collected here, in the heart of this unsettling spring.

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“Searching Alex” — a short story by Robert Knox

. .   “Searching Alex,” a story by Robert Knox, was a short-listed entry in our recently concluded 53rd Short Fiction Contest. It is published with the permission of the author . . .   © User:Colin / Wikimedia Commons/Flicker/CC BY-SA 4.0 .  . . “Searching Alex” by Robert Knox .     …..He remembered a happy … Continue reading ““Searching Alex” — a short story by Robert Knox”

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“An Interview with Lee Konitz” — by Bob Hecht and Grover Sales

Bob Hecht hosts a previously unpublished 1985 interview with the late, great jazz saxophonist Lee Konitz, featuring photography and music

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Book Excerpt: The Music of Time: Poetry in the Twentieth Century, by John Burnside

In the introduction to The Music of Time: Poetry in the Twentieth Century, the T.S. Eliot prize-winning poet, novelist and memoirist John Burnside writes; “Can poetry save the world, as [poet Lawrence] Ferlinghetti suggests?  This will sound quixotic, but I have to say, not only that it can, but that it does.” The introduction to the book – excerpted here in its entirety – is Burnside’s fascinating conversation concerning the idea of how poets respond to what the Russian poet Osip Mandelstam called “the noise of time,” weaving it into a kind of music.

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Interview with Richard Crawford, author of Summertime: George Gershwin’s Life in Music

Richard Crawford’s Summertime: George Gershwin’s Life in Music is a rich and detailed musical biography that describes Gershwin’s work throughout every stage of his career. In a Jerry Jazz Musician interview, Crawford discusses his book and the man he has described as a “fresh voice of the Jazz Age” who “challenged Americans to rethink their assumptions about composition and performance, nationalism, cultural hierarchy, and the racial divide.”

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A Collection of Jazz Poetry — Winter, 2020 Edition

The winter collection of poetry offers readers a look at the culture of jazz music through the imaginative writings of its 32 contributors.  Within these 41 poems, writers express their deep connection to the music – and those who play it – in their own inventive and often philosophical language that communicates much, but especially love, sentiment, struggle, loss, and joy.

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Interview with Con Chapman, author of Rabbit’s Blues: The Life and Music of Johnny Hodges

In a Jerry Jazz Musician interview, Con Chapman, author of Rabbit’s Blues: The Life and Music of Johnny Hodges – the first-ever biography of the immortal musician – talks about the enigmatic man and his unforgettable sound.

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Book Excerpt — Jazz and Justice: Racism and the Political Economy of the Music, by Gerald Horne

Jazz music — complex, ground breaking and brilliant from its early 20th century beginnings — would eventually become America’s popular music.  That it did so in the face of the severe obstacles of blatant racism and sexism, organized crime and corrupt labor exploitation so prevalent in America at the time is at the heart of historian Gerald Horne’s new book,  Jazz and Justice:  Racism and the Political Economy of the Music.

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“Piano Girl” — a short story by Shannon Brady

Arlena Sawyer’s mother had spent all seventeen years of her life warning her against what seemed like every last thing under God’s creation. With her thin, trilling voice she had done her best to hammer fear and caution into her only daughter’s head like the beak of a woodpecker into a tree.

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“A Jazz Thanksgiving of a Sort” — a poem by Michael L. Newell

It was a rainy Thanksgiving when
everyone I was related to
or knew even somewhat
were out of town.

I found some semi-edible
turkey at Hughes Market, along
with frozen stuffing that proved
reasonably tasty, adequate

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A Collection of Jazz Poetry — Fall, 2019 Edition

Twenty-eight poets contribute 37 poems to the Jerry Jazz Musician Fall Poetry Collection, living proof that the energy and spirit of jazz is alive — and quite well.
(Featuring the art of Russell Dupont)

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“Sonata” — a short story by Kirk Loftin

Jonathan was only eight years old the first time he fell. It was the first winter in the new house, and he wasn’t used to the biting cold yet. It was a large, Gothic structure that scared him at first, but he had grown accustomed to the imposing house on the hill.

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Interview with renowned jazz photographer Carol Friedman

. . Carol Friedman . ___ . …..During a career now spanning over three decades, the esteemed New York portrait photographer Carol Friedman’s iconic images have appeared on hundreds of album and CD covers.  Her poignant, often spontaneous work – a generous sampling of which is on display within and following the interview – includes … Continue reading “Interview with renowned jazz photographer Carol Friedman”

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Interview with jazz photographer William Gottlieb

. . William Gottlieb, c. 1940 . . ___ . …..The first interview I ever hosted for .Jerry Jazz Musician was in 1997 with William Gottlieb, best known as a jazz photographer but who only came into that field when the Washington Post — for whom he wrote a jazz column — determined they could … Continue reading “Interview with jazz photographer William Gottlieb”

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Michael Cuscuna announces the release of Francis Wolff’s Blue Note session photographs

Mosaic Records co-founder Michael Cuscuna shares news concerning the availability of previously unreleased photographs of Blue Note Records sessions taken by Francis Wolff

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A collection of jazz poetry — Summer, 2019 edition

Seventeen poets contribute to a collection of jazz poetry reflecting an array of energy, emotion and improvisation

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Short Fiction Contest-winning story #51 — “Crossing the Ribbon,” by Linnea Kellar

Do you ever have a time in your life when you feel like you’re about to step off a cliff?

 I don’t normally have those moments. If I could organize my entire life playing by the rules, I think I could mosey along and get through living just fine. I am the student my teachers wish me to be. I am the daughter my parents desire. I am the perfect best friend to the girls in my class. According to choirmaster, I am one of the best sopranos in the church choir.

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Veryl Oakland’s “Jazz in Available Light” — photos (and stories) of Art Pepper, Joe Williams, and Pat Martino

Jerry Jazz Musician regularly publishes a series of posts featuring excerpts of the photography and stories/captions found in Jazz in Available Light by Veryl Oakland. In this edition, Mr. Oakland’s photographs and stories feature Art Pepper, Pat Martino and Joe Williams.

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Reminiscing in Tempo: “What are 4 or 5 of your all-time favorite Blue Note albums?”

. . Speak No Evil, a 1964 recording session by saxophonist Wayne Shorter (released in 1966), was among those listed by noted critics, authors and musicians as their all-time favorite Blue Note albums . __________ . “Reminiscing in Tempo” is part of a continuing effort to provide Jerry Jazz Musician readers with unique forms of … Continue reading “Reminiscing in Tempo: “What are 4 or 5 of your all-time favorite Blue Note albums?””

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A collection of jazz poetry — June, 2019 edition

In this month’s collection, with great jazz artists at the core of their work, 16 poets remember, revere, ponder, laugh, dream, and listen

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A special collection of poetry devoted to mothers and fathers

This month, in a special collection of poetry, eight poets contribute seventeen poems focused on stories about family, and honoring mothers and fathers

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Two poems by John Jack Jackie (Edward) Cooper

. .   . . Trajet Introspeculative — to Sun Ra, Saturday night: on one (actually, Sun Da morning) — terrible swift disin- clination to forgive the equally terrible tyranny of time signa- ture, attesting to what can, which must not — that, that ken abundant wherever choi- ces be told: rs, joints, and drums, … Continue reading “Two poems by John Jack Jackie (Edward) Cooper”

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A collection of jazz poetry — April, 2019 edition

Seventeen poets contribute 21 poems in this month’s edition…

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“Before the Sky Was Blue” — a short story by J. Lee Strickland

It is tempting to say that this story took place a long time ago, but that would not be accurate. The place where this story unfolds did not suffer Time as we know it—the linear time of beginnings and endings, of what once was, of what might never be.

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Jazz History Quiz #125

Upon replacing Cootie Williams (pictured), this trumpeter’s very first night with Duke Ellington’s Orchestra was fully documented during the band’s famous November 7, 1940 Fargo, North Dakota concert.  Who is he?

Ray Nance

Rex Stewart

Cat Anderson

Lawrence Brown

Shorty Baker

Johnny Coles

Go to the next page for the answer!

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Reminiscing in Tempo: “What are some of your all-time favorite record album covers?”

Gary Giddins, Jimmy Heath, Fred Hersch, Joe Hagan, Maxine Gordon, Tim Page, Veronica Swift and Marcus Strickland are among the 25 writers, musicians, poets, educators, and photographers who responded to our question, “What are some of your favorite record album covers of all time?”

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Short Fiction Contest-winning story #50 — “And so we left for Paris,” by Sophie Jonas-Hill

And so we left for Paris, you in the green jacket I’d made you with the picture collar and turned back cuffs, and I in my blue pinstripe, which made me look like a handsome young man.
“You look like a boy,” you said, laughing as we stumbled to our carriage on the train.
“I suppose it would be easier if I were.”
“Not at all, darling,” you said, and pulled the window shade down so you could kiss me. “Anyway, who wants it to be easy?”

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A collection of jazz poetry — March, 2019 edition

18 poets contribute 20 poems to the March collection

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Jerry Jazz Musician Short Fiction Contest — Winning Author Profiles, Group 8

On March 11, 2019, .Jerry Jazz Musician.will publish the 50th.winning story in our thrice-yearly Short Fiction Contest. To celebrate this landmark event, we have asked all the previous winners (dating to 2002) to reflect on their own winning story, and how their lives have since unfolded.

This week’s edition covers authors of winning stories #’s 39 – 44

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A Black History Month Profile: Jack Johnson

In an interview originally published on Jerry Jazz Musician in 2004, Jack Johnson  biographer Geoffrey Ward talks about the first black heavyweight champion in history, the celebrated — and most reviled — African American of his age. 

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Jerry Jazz Musician Short Fiction Contest — Winning Author Profiles, Group 7

On March 11, 2019, .Jerry Jazz Musician.will publish the 50th.winning story in our thrice-yearly Short Fiction Contest. To celebrate this landmark event, we have asked all the previous winners (dating to 2002) to reflect on their own winning story, and how their lives have since unfolded.

This week’s edition covers authors of winning stories #’s 35 – 38

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Jerry Jazz Musician Short Fiction Contest — Winning Author Profiles, Group 4

On March 11, 2019, .Jerry Jazz Musician.will publish the 50th.winning story in our thrice-yearly Short Fiction Contest. To celebrate this landmark event, we have asked all the previous winners (dating to 2002) to reflect on their own winning story, and how their lives have since unfolded.

This week’s edition covers authors of winning stories #’s 17- 23

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A collection of poetry celebrating the culture of jazz — January, 2019

  . . In this collection, nine poets contribute ten poems celebrating jazz in poems as unique as the music itself . . . .   I Am Jazz . I Am Jazz. It is my nature to evolve, to change and adapt. I’m restless. I move towards a future I cannot see or predict. … Continue reading “A collection of poetry celebrating the culture of jazz — January, 2019”

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“All Blues: The Story of a Lost Friendship” — a true jazz story by Bob Hecht

…..I have to wonder how many friendships have been forged over mutual love of Miles Davis’ album, Kind of Blue. The one I want to tell you about came to pass in an unlikely setting back during the winter of 1963…

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Reminiscing in Tempo: “What are 3 or 4 of your favorite jazz recordings of the 1940’s?”

. .   Photo William Gottlieb/Library of Congress Charlie Parker is frequently found on the lists of noted critics and musicians answering the question, “What are 3 or 4 of your favorite jazz record recordings of the 1940’s?”  This photograph by William Gottlieb was taken at Carnegie Hall in New York, c. 1947 . __________ … Continue reading “Reminiscing in Tempo: “What are 3 or 4 of your favorite jazz recordings of the 1940’s?””

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“High Notes” — a short story by Shan Richardson

     I drifted off into the best sleep I’ve had in weeks. In months even. It’s been a while since I’ve been able to get into Fat Daddy’s as a regular. It’s the hottest – no, it’s the coolest jazz club there is. On any given night you’d find the club cradled with sweet melodies and rocked by spoken word poetry. And on Friday nights, you used to be able to catch us…

     Thing is, my band and I got banned last year. But before then, we had lines out the door with folks wanting to hear us play. The whites, the blacks, the browns and those that fell in between because their parents had jungle fever. The attention can become quite addicting. There wasn’t any fortune though, it’s a small town.

     Fast forward to now – a year later. I managed to befriend

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Interview with Bing Crosby biographer Gary Giddins

Gary Giddins, his generation’s most eminent jazz writer and author of the award winning biography Bing Crosby: A Pocketful of Dreams: The Early Years, 1903 – 1940, talks with us about his brilliant second book on Crosby, Swinging on a Star: The War Years, 1940 – 1946. The interview is a fascinating read — a virtual history of Crosby’s life and his impact on America during its most consequential decade. Featuring photos, music and film clips, and information about Giddins’ experience studying Crosby for 25 years.

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“Whistlin’ the Bird” — Two True Jazz Stories by Bob Hecht

Part 1: Confirmation (1969)

 

     It wouldn’t be the first time my penchant for whistling jazz tunes got me in trouble…nor the last.

     I’d been crazy about whistling from my boyhood. Perhaps I inherited my obsession from my late father. He wasn’t a jazz fan like I am, and I barely even remember him whistling—he wasn’t around much when I was a boy and he died when I was twelve—but my mom later told me he was an outstanding whistler. “He could do triple tonguing and everything,” she said.

     So maybe it was in my DNA. But at any rate, after his death I determinedly taught myself to whistle. I have a good ear and decent sense of pitch, so I found I could easily get in sync with whatever music I was hearing. And then I practiced and practiced, whistling along with jazz compositions and solos for years until I got

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“Listening to Charlie Parker, Play Jazz, In the Dark” — a poem by Alan Yount

charlie parker
sits on the end
of my bed
holding his alto sax.

and for pete’s sake!  mr. traps:
buddy rich was also there,  
getting his drum kit ready
by the end of the bed.

then ray brown’s there
and making a

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“Umbrella: A Play in One Act” — by Emilia Getzinger

Baltimore, Maryland. 1960. DAVID, a white boy in his late teens, is standing in the rain under an umbrella, waiting for the morning school bus. There is a bench behind him. Enter CLARE, a black girl his age.

 

CLARE

It’s so cold.

 

Long pause. DAVID is uncomfortable.

 

CLARE

Would you mind sharing your umbrella?

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“The Piano Whisperer” — a short story by Arya Jenkins

     In the underground of how it used to be, in days long ago when things were quite good, when the only bad thing, if you want to call it bad, was poverty, which was longstanding, a dull ache of years that traveled with you through good times and bad and sometimes sang you to sleep like a sad horn, bwa la la la (high note) bwa la la la (high note) bwa la la, in that time, the song of poverty that belonged to everyone belonged also to Noname.

       Noname, pronounced Noh-nameh,  ran the bleak streets then 60 years ago when the world was kinder, a better place, where murder was just, well, murder, and horror, ordinary, conceivable, and every person, regardless of how they appeared, who they were, part of a diverse evolving unique American gyroscopic system. Even the most jaded soul understood being different was natural, even if your difference was made of so many facets, no one thing stood alone and nothing alone could capture it–save poverty herself, true interpreter of shades and depths of differences, which we celebrated on saxophone streets, in piano bars and when looking to the heavens for inspiration in the form of

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“Blue Venus” — a short story by Rhonda Zimlich

            Gas lamps lined the street lifting their warmth out into the world to stave off the night.  Their flickering orange reflected in the puddles along the curb and the cobble still shiny with rain long gone.  A storm had passed.  Leaves now settled in clumps along the gutters and at the feet of a slumped musician folded forward on a stoop.  The curve of his instrument’s dark case towered above him, concealing an elegant bass within.

            Brownstones framed the scene extending stoops from hidden entryways.  A newspaper fat with rain hung over a wrought-iron rail, the upside-down words “Congress Overrides Veto of Taft-Hartley” visible even in the obscurity of predawn.  A five-and-dime, closed for business until morning, hosted a shadowy window display advertising dry shampoo and

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“No Hiding Place” — a short story by Chris LaMay-West

     Seen from above, the motion probably exhibited some coherence. Like how the particles on the surface of a liquid jiggled around each other. What did they call it? Brownian motion. Seen from a distance, the mass of people no doubt also swirled in patterns that had a great deal of regularity. Was there perhaps even a meaning in the group activity, a secret swaying cadence that couldn’t be discerned just from watching the constituent parts? 

     Carl found how he engaged in metaphysical speculations when in these situations distressing.

     But God, you had to do something.

     Or else this dance club, The Edge of The World, the apotheosis of all that he had come to hate during this year and a half spent in

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A collection of poetry celebrating love and jazz

In anticipation of Valentine’s Day, I recently invited many of our contributing poets to submit work that combines the themes of jazz music and love, with the result being a collection of voices expressing their own contributions to the language of love… 

Dozens of writers submitted over 100 poems, and the best of the submissions — 29 poems by 18 poets — are found on the following 12 pages. Advance through the selections by utilizing the page monitor at the bottom of each page. 

Many thanks to everyone who submitted their work.

 

JJM

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“The Passing of a Poet” — an appreciation for Mike Faran

Poetry is a courageous art form.  No poet can possibly succeed without the willingness to create a completely transparent window into his or her soul.  A poet rarely achieves by faking it.

A successful poet’s thoughts are naked to the world, and this full-on exposure — because it is so often blunt and painful for the poet — leaves the reader with a reasonable understanding of lives led and footsteps taken (or not).  These revelations build a rewarding and intimate connection.

I have never met or spoken to Mike Faran, whose poetry I occasionally publish on Jerry Jazz Musician.  I only outwardly know him by the short biography he sent me — retired lobster trap builder from Ventura who has had some work published in journals around the country.  That’s it, really.  I don’t even have a photo of him. 

He has periodically sent me emails with a poem or two attached to them, seeking my interest in publishing them.  (“Here is another poem that I hope will meet with your approval.”) Although I haven’t published them all, they almost always

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“Bird Lives” — a memory of Charlie Parker’s Kansas City, by Robert Hecht

     The night I truly ‘got’ the shining genius of Charlie Parker I was in my girlfriend’s apartment on the Lower East Side. The year was 1961. I was nineteen, she was much older and hipper, and had turned me on not only to some great music but to getting high as well. She had all the essential jazz records, including the one on the turntable that night. It was The Fabulous Bird, on the old Jazztone label, consisting of reissues of some of Bird’s phenomenal 1947 Dial sessions. She had a very low-fi stereo—I can still see the nickel she had scotch-taped to the tone arm to keep it in the grooves. But the fidelity didn’t matter, in part at least because this evening I had just smoked a

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“Icarus” — a short story by Ian MacAgy

     Near the end of high school I thought myself sophisticated, a fan of Pink Floyd and King Crimson and Kevin Ayers, but at a Weather Report Concert in 1972 I had a nearly religious conversion.  It was as though a stranger had run up to me and said, “hold this for minute” and ran off. Then the music exploded. I had never heard anything like this. Everything changed. 

      It was as though I grew hair in secret places and a new appendage.  I became a different creature.  After that night few of my suburban DC white friends’ guitar and lyrics-oriented ears could hear what mine could; the joy and heartbreak in this unfamiliar and ebonic timbre, this canvas painted in horn, acoustic bass, and polyrhythm; this blues, this brokenness, this homesickness.   

     There it was, though, for anyone who had ears for it—there, in the absence of verse, in the uncertainty and unpredictability of lengthy solos, in the timelessness of power beyond the moment from which

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“As good as it will ever get” — a short story by Julie Parks

Swoosh! Shhh. Shhhhh! I hear the ear numbing screech and the train finally stops moving. Nine seconds and the loud beep will announce the door opening. Heels clack against the icy early morning pavement. The mass of cigarette smoke hazes my sense of direction until we finally reach the end of the Binario 12 and my ears welcome the familiar sound of strings.

It’s distant and quite mellow but I can still make out the song. It’s a new one. He’s only played it a few times. I know it. Everyone loves it because it’s from that movie. The one with

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“Foolish Love” — a short story by Arya Jenkins

     That winter we lived among mice in the Berkshires, in a little cabin set not far from a large white clapboard house that belonged to the owner Betty, who was a widow. Two steps up to the cabin did nothing to keep the mice away. Their constant tweaking and bustle made me feel I was living in an indoor forest. Betty, who was a nice old lady, warned us. “You’ll never be able to keep the mice out. If you can stand them, the place is yours.”

 

      We had come up to the Berkshires figuring we might have to rough it, but had no idea. Van and I had been together about two years then. The summer before we had been married on a beach in

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Ella is 100

2017 is the 100th birthday year of several jazz immortals – among them Thelonious Monk, Dizzy Gillespie, Buddy Rich, and, today, Ella Fitzgerald.

As a young and naïve jazz fan in the 1960’s, like Louis Armstrong, Ella seemed “square” to me – her voice too sweet and happy for my ears, especially when compared to the singer who most moved my soul to discover more of the music, Billie Holiday.   Plus, the Songbook series she became internationally famous for seemed too smartly packaged, slick in a Madison-Avenue-way that tore me away from the bins that stocked her record albums.

Over the years, however, I eventually came to appreciate and cherish her, especially as I learned the courageous and inspirational nature of her biography, and played her recordings with Chick Webb, and dug the collaborations with the Ink Spots, Louis Jordan, and eventually, of course,

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“All Aboard” — a short story by Susandale

    The dank and chilly hall echoed with a Marksmen rehearsal taking place. Lea and her spanking-new group rehearsed their music on a stage bordered by tables holding overturned chairs. And as David sat unnoticed in the dark hall, Lea’s caramel voice melted to run down the walls, and warm the empty pockets in his heart.                             

                                *Daydreams, I’ve got daydreams galore.

                                Cigarette ashes, there they go on the floor.”

     Scooting around, he wrestled with the chair’s wooden slats and wobbly legs versus his long limbs.    

     And while Lea was singing the third stanza, *”Let them laugh, let them frown … “ David was plotting his exit from the trailer. He was so engrossed with his plans that he didn’t notice the

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“Like a Pigeon in the Park” — a short story by Arya Jenkins

“What a shame,” people always said whenever they saw the two of them, Jeremy and Jade. What a shame the beauty of the boy had escaped the girl, who had her mother’s small oval face and father’s prominent nose and small dark eyes that were filled with a peculiar, almost unnatural intensity. “Such a shame,” relatives observed unabashedly at family gatherings. The remaining phrase that hung in air unspoken was, ”that she isn’t the beautiful one. “

To herself in the mirror, Jade’s own face and visage seemed fine, just a part of her, not even all that consequential. Didn’t brains and character matter more? She was striking much in the way Zelda Fitzgerald had been—a beauty you could not capture in photographs, more in movement, gesture, articulation. Somewhere, not far from the small, provincial town where Jade lived, where people stared at you if you did not fit a mold, there were people like her who were different and proud of their differences and she looked forward to meeting them one day. In the meantime, she would have to deal with challenges.

Growing up, many of them had to do with her brother, who was two years older. Although Jade garnered high marks in school, not much was made of it so

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“Requiem For Ishmael” — a short story by Jeanine DeHoney

There had to be hundreds of people standing in the rain, waiting to get into Misty’s Supper Club on Lenox Avenue for my brother Ishmael’s memorial. I swallowed the lump of grief in the back of my throat and surveyed the crowd, fans and protégé’s of his music, as varied as a pot of jambalaya.

Some people recognized me from seeing

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Two poems by Michael L. Newell

Rikki spun, spun
and leaped, twirled
and dipped,
                 James Brown
on the jukebox, the small
bar filled with smoke, clinking
glasses, Filipinas in short dresses,
and a couple dozen G.I.’s profane,
obscene, and three-quarters in the bag;

Rikki, half-black, half-
Filipino, ten, living
in alleys and under bars, danced

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“Louisiana Pearl” — a short story by Bokerah Brumley

The faraway trumpet’s trill drifted into the home we shared. The tune stirred the heavy air. It should have been spring weather, but a heatwave had taken over our parish. It made the air heavy and made us languid during the days.

Mama hummed along with the hand-me-down song while she worked, stirring the wash or cooking supper or mixing herbs. Her mama taught her to hear it, same as she taught me. It was as constant as the wind.

Mama’s gray strands peeked from beneath a dark blue kerchief, the majority braided then twirled in an age-thinned bun. She didn’t know how old she was. Best she could figure, she was

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“Looking for Charlie Parker” and other poems by Matthew Johnson

I wonder if it will take another body to stream into the Infinite….

For this was the odd idea that stirred me eerie

Like a push into the wild past from my future spirit to relive my final day,
Or a siren calling me to steal the virtuose of fire.

I was looking for Charlie Parker that night,
Improvising my footsteps under porch lights which spotted

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Two poems for Billy Strayhorn and Stephane Grappelli — by Larsen Bowker

Grabbing the blue basket of bottles I’d promised
to take to a recycle plant and then forgotten,

I drove too fast down a twisting mountain road,
safe in a young man’s faith that death is abstract

truth until a radio voice — speaking over Johnny Hodges’
sweet tenor on his “Take the A Train” — intones,

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“Liner Notes for ‘Stardust’ — In Seven Choruses,” a cycle of short poems by Doug Fowler

“Liner Notes for ‘Stardust’ — In Seven Choruses” is a cycle of short poems framed as imaginary liner notes and prompted by poet Doug Fowler’s favorite musical covers of Hoagy Carmichael’s “Stardust.” In essence, according to Fowler, they are “imaginary liner notes for a real song about an imaginary song about love.”

The cycle is also partially a tribute to Chu Berry, who died as the result of a car accident in Conneaut, Ohio, in 1941, not far from where Fowler lives.

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“Songs for Sometime Losers: A Bebop Suite” — by Beth Spencer

Slow slow slooooooooooooooow; the river was practically dry, a river in name only, a few puddles on the mudflats where standing water reflected the cottony clouds that moved perpetually east, dropping nothing anymore but empty promises. Unsettling in the most literal sense. Many people sold their houses or just abandoned them, heading north, and those who stayed finally got serious about

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A Moment in Time — Ella Fitzgerald and Dizzy Gillespie, 1947

In November, 1946, at the height of his popularity, Dizzy Gillespie took his big band out on the road, and in 1947 hired Ella Fitzgerald to tour the South. According to Ella’s biographer Stuart Nicholson, she had been added to this tour in response to Gillespie’s Hepsations tour in 1945, whose groundbreaking sound “had confused and confounded the southerners,” and because Ella could “create balance after the unrelieved diet of bop…The Gillespie band saw Ella as a former swing era star, light-years removed from what they were doing, a palliative to help their music go down with the public.”

Even with Ella, however, things could be challenging. The audience would “listen, stand around and applaud,” band member Howard Johnson said,” and try and pretend they dug it. I think they appreciated the artistry of Dizzy because

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“Charlie Parker’s Yardbird” — the opera

In what is described by New York Times classical music writer Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim as the company’s “wider shift toward more new music,” on June 5, Opera Philadelphia will present the premier of composer Daniel Schnyder’s “Charlie Parker’s Yardbird,” which stars Lawrence Brownlee as the bebop legend.

According to Fonseca-Wollheim, Opera Philadelphia has “a general willingness to take risks on unorthodox subjects and genres. Philadelphia’s last season featured the American premiere of Ana Sokolovic’s ‘Svadba,’ a raucous Balkan wedding ritual; October will bring a ‘Popera’ about Andy Warhol, mixing elements of cabaret and opera.”

“The mix of musical styles is especially risky in ‘Yardbird,’” Fonseca-Wollheim writes, “since it offers

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Short Fiction Contest-winning story #38 — “Till’s Piano Lesson,” by Don Dewey

New Short Fiction Award

Three times a year, we award a writer who submits, in our opinion, the best original, previously unpublished work.


Don Dewey of Jamaica, New York is the winner of the 38th Jerry Jazz Musician New Short Fiction Award, announced and published for the first time on March 5, 2015.


Till’s Piano Lesson

by

Don Dewey


_______________________________

“You’re early, Till. I told you never come early.”

“Sorry. I guess my watch is off.”

“Buy a new one.”

Klein refit the crutches under his armpits and swung his crabbed legs back toward the studio, leaving Till to enter the living room for himself. Till didn’t like living rooms. He thought them banal in their predictable assembly of tables, chairs, lamps, and rugs. What he wanted to see someday was a living room with people who dropped dead as soon as they put a foot outside it. Living rooms should have been what they claimed to be.

Klein’s pupil in the studio seemed to be trying to erase his presence through sheer aggression. Had Mozart started that way? Till didn’t think so.

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“A Man’s Hands En Clave” — a short story by Arya Jenkins

Club Havana was known for hosting decent Afro-Cuban jazz bands. There was dancing Thursdays through Sundays, and Sunday afternoons, the management handed out free cigars. Hector became close to the house band, whose rhythm section inspired him. He thought the drummer Manny was off the charts. Completely bald, he wore leather bands that cinched his pump wrists as if to keep his hands from flying off his body whenever he played fast and furious. A skinny, short guy played bongos, and a drunk worked the tumbadoras. Jorge, Carlos and Javier, all dapper guys, played horns. As if to distinguish themselves, one wore a mustache; another, a hat; and the other, wire rimmed glasses. Additionally, there was a young Julliard graduate on piano, a white-haired Cubano on flute, and a sax player who looked exactly like Lester Young. One afternoon, before their gig, Manny and Hector got to talking, and Hector started messing around on the tumbadoras, imitating what he had so often seen and heard. Manny raised his eyebrows and cocked his head. He liked this kid, and his sound was good.

“Why don’t you come hang with us this weekend. A few of us like to jam at Columbus Circle. Come along and let’s see how you work those congas in a group.”

Over the course of the summer, Hector hung out in the park. It was there he met

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“In a Blue Moon, Once” — a short story by Richard Herring

“Night of the living dead,” a voice screamed in Tom’s head. A softer voice pointed out it was still late afternoon. It sure wasn’t life as he wanted to know it. In reality, it was just another long Thursday afternoon of monthly staff meetings, with new mandates and standards flowing downhill from the top. All the nodding mannequins around the conference room would take it all in, shoot a few inane, brown nose comments back at the presenter, then go back to do their jobs tomorrow the same as always.

Sylvia’s attention was on the crochet hoop in her lap. Jack’s eyes had been closed for the better part of 45 minutes. Tom’s life support system came through the cord fed neatly up beneath the lapel, to the headphones partially obscured by thick sideburns and abundant head of hair. A collection of earpieces was present among these old codgers, but his was connected to the brand new cassette player in his suit coat pocket.

The tape Mikki turned him on to seemed to emanate from a place beyond his routine, tired existence. It was as if the music offered a

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Short Fiction Contest-winning story #37: “Homage,” by Kenneth Levine

New Short Fiction Award

Three times a year, we award a writer who submits, in our opinion, the best original, previously unpublished work.


Kenneth Levine of Wethersfield, Connecticut is the winner of the thirty-seventh Jerry Jazz Musician New Short Fiction Award, announced and published for the first time on November 5, 2014.


Homage

by

Kenneth Levine


_______________________________

I deplaned in Amsterdam to confront my father. In 1990, the year I was born, after the likes of Stan Getz and Freddie Hubbard dubbed him “the reincarnation of Chet Baker,” he quit his part-time job repairing cars in Gilbert, Iowa to go on a worldwide tour from which he never returned.

From the airport I boarded a train to Centraal Station, across from which the Prins Hendrik hotel is situated at the Northern end of Zeedijk Straat, and by early evening I had navigated through the designated lanes over which walkers, bicyclists, and motorists coursed to stand before a bronze tablet on the hotel’s brick front that featured a haggard Chet Baker playing the trumpet over an inscription that read: “Trumpet player and singer Chet Baker died here on May 13th, 1988. He will live on in his music for anyone

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Gary Giddins on underrated trumpet players

Fans of the trumpet may enjoy reading an interview I did with critic Gary Giddins on underrated jazz musicians. (This was part of my 15 part series of interviews with him called “Conversations with Gary Giddins.”) In this snippet from the interview, Giddins talks about Fats Navarro, Kenny Dorham, Booker Little, and a few others who never quite received their “due.”

*

GG: Another trumpet player that I never actually did a whole column on — and it sort of spooks me that I didn’t because he’s one of my favorites — is Fats Navarro, one of the very pivotal players of the late forties. I wrote a number of times about Clifford Brown, who in some ways arrived as Navarro’s heir apparent, but he’s another musician I feel I never did justice to because

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Hampton Hawes writes about the “dependability” of the piano

I am in the early stages of reading pianist Hampton Hawes’ 1972 autobiography (written with Don Asher) Raise Up Off Me, which Gary Giddins called, in his introduction, “the first book to give an insider’s view of the most provocative and misunderstood movement in jazz — the modernism of the ’40s, bebop.” It is incredibly entertaining and a witty, lucid, and smart read.

In a paragraph representative of the book’s quality, Hawes writes about his respect for and appreciation of his instrument’s dependability:

The piano was the only sure friend I had because it was the only thing that was consistent, always made sense and responded directly to what I did. Pianos don’t ever change. Sittin’ there every day. You wanna play me, here I am. The D is still here, the A flats still here, they’re always going to be there and it don’t matter whether it’s Sunday, Ash Wednesday or the Fourth of July. Play it right and it comes

...

“What are 3 or 4 of your favorite jazz record albums of the 1970’s?”

In this edition of “Reminiscing in Tempo: Memories and Opinion,” noted critics and musicians list their favorite jazz record albums of the 1970’s.

...

“Broad Street” — a short story by Arya Jenkins

The publication of Arya Jenkins’ “Broad Street” is the fourth in a series of short stories she has been commissioned to write for Jerry Jazz Musician. For information about her column, please see our September 12 “Letter From the Publisher.”

For Ms. Jenkins’ introduction to her work, read “Coming to Jazz.”

__________

The day I moved into Broad Street, the roiling waters of the Long Island Sound burst over sea walls along the Connecticut coast from New Haven to Greenwich, flooding Bridgeport so badly, a poor, emotionally disturbed man actually drowned in a sewer. At Seaside Park, water rushed across two parking lots, swirled around a few skimpy trees and headed straight for the historic set of row houses that included my basement apartment. It was early December as I arrived, two knapsacks in tow, only to find my new landlady Rosie and my neighbor Alice knee-deep in galoshes in muck, hauling out my furniture.

A week earlier, Alice had lured me with, “There’s a vacancy next door and it’s yours. Everybody’s an artist here. You belong.” I had felt that the studio with its cozy rooms

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Jazz: Through the Life and Lens of Milt Hinton — A Photo Exhibit

As a jazz musician for seven decades, and as a chronicler of its intellectual and spiritual development through his fascinating, award-winning photography, Milt Hinton acts as an essential connecting point for the music and its associated culture. Hinton played bass alongside iconic figures like Cab Calloway, Dizzy Gillespie, and Louis Armstrong, and, as a photographer, brought these men and a host of others into focus as musicians, artists, and vital contributors to twentieth-century American life.

With the generous consent of David G. Berger and Holly Maxson, who along with Milt Hinton co-authored Playing the Changes: Milt Hinton’s Life in Stories and Photographs, Jerry Jazz Musician presents a photo exhibit, “Jazz: Through the Life and Lens of Milt Hinton.”

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Reminiscing in Tempo: Memories and Opinion, Volume 15: What are 3 or 4 of your favorite jazz record albums of the 1960’s?

“Reminiscing in Tempo” is part of a continuing effort to provide Jerry Jazz Musician readers with unique forms of “edu-tainment.” As often as possible, Jerry Jazz Musician poses one question via e mail to a small number of prominent and diverse people. The question is designed to provoke a lively response that will potentially include the memories and/or opinion of those solicited.

This edition asks the question “What are 3 or 4 of your favorite jazz record albums of the 1960’s?” Respondents include the musicians John McLaughlin, Vijay Iyer, Warren Wolf, Jane Ira Bloom, Don Byron, Robin Eubanks, and journalists Gary Giddins, Dan Morgenstern, Terry Teachout, Neil Tesser, John Goodman and lots more…

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Interview with Marc Myers, author of Why Jazz Happened

Marc Myers is a busy guy…In addition to being a frequent contributor to the Wall Street Journal (where he writes about jazz, rock, and other culture), he also posts daily on his award-winning blog Jazz Wax and travels around the world promoting his pursuits. Perhaps his most important contribution is his book Why Jazz Happened, described by his publisher (University of California Press) as “the first comprehensive social history of jazz.” Myers’ perspective is fresh and thorough and wonderfully entertaining. For those who love the history of this music, it should be on your night table.

I recently interviewed Myers about his book, which he took the time to converse in great detail about — topics like how the G.I. Bill altered the direction of jazz; the advent of the extended jazz solo that came with the introduction of the LP; and how the suburbanization of Southern California ushered in a new harmony-rich jazz style in contrast to the music played in urban markets. It is a great read!

What follows is part conversation/part history class about Myers’ fascinating cultural study of why, in his opinion, “jazz happened.”

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Interview with Stanley Crouch, author of Kansas City Lightning: The Life and Times of Charlie Parker

Described by the New York Times as a “bebop Beowulf,” Stanley Crouch’s Kansas City Lightning: The Life and Times of Charlie Parker is a love song to the life and times of Bird, one of jazz music’s most critically important figures. Mr. Crouch, himself an essential participant in both contemporary criticism and in the delivery of live performance (through his work with Jazz at Lincoln Center), discusses his long-anticipated biography with Jerry Jazz Musician in a recently conducted interview.

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“The Bluest Train,” a short story by Arya Jenkins

My friend Carl lived in a house full of ghosts with an evil sonofabitch brother who stole his shit, I mean all of it. But Carl himself, man, Carl was good as gold. He would give you the shirt off his back–everything, and did.

I moved in with my ex-old lady across the street from him in the late 80s when I was drying out and desperate for change. Marcy took me in, even after I had been such a dick. She knew it was the booze made me sleep around, and even though she kicked my drunken ass out on the curb, she took me in once she saw I was sober and clean. By then, she was already shacked up with a polite, fat, slob who was everything I wasn’t or would ever be.

Homestead Avenue, where we lived, was a pleasant street in a nice section of Fairfield called Black Rock, near the water. At the time, people were starting to navigate to the hood, although since then real estate prices have dropped due to the many storms–there have been too many storms in the area, man. But because of Black Rock’s proximity to the sound, which is like the sea, artists and strange people gravitate there.

I noticed Carl right off the bat. You couldn’t help but see him sitting on his porch with his supersized feet, head and limbs, a Franken monster. So I crossed the street one day to meet my neighbor, who looked a sorry sight–blackish long hair

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The “Underrated” Kenny Dorham

December 5th marks the 41st anniversary of the bebop trumpeter Kenny Dorham’s death. Only 48 years old at the time of his passing from kidney disease, Dorham’s professional life enjoyed a great measure of respect from his fellow musicians, but, as Nat Hentoff pointed out in the liner notes to Dorham’s 1963 Blue Note recording Una Mas, “he has yet to break through to the kind of wide public acceptance which has occasionally seemed imminent.” His recordings are timeless – each and every one packed with delicious passion and brilliant playing that still sounds fresh — but Dorham never did “break through” in his lifetime, and continues to be classified by important jazz historians as “underrated.” In a Jerry Jazz Musician-hosted conversation on underrated jazz musicians, the most eminent jazz writer Gary Giddins said “when anybody wrote about [Dorham]

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Short Fiction Contest-winning story #34: “Alto Saxophone,” by Joe DiBuduo

In a little town in Illinois, in a bar near the Wisconsin border, one man blew honey-dripping sounds from his saxophone. A woman’s body swayed in time with the sweetness emitting from that horn. She kept time with the beat and moved like melodic notes going up and down the scale. I imagined blowing musical sounds into her ear.

I crossed the wooden dance floor where she whirled, grabbed her hand and began to spin. Like musical notes, one black, one white, we danced all night. I softly sang into her ear, “Imagine how we’d dance in bed.”

She laughed in a low contralto voice, and changed it to a soprano when the high notes flowed.

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Fats Navarro’s 90th Birthday

“As an influence, Navarro was important almost immediately after he first made his presence felt in the mid-1940s Billy Eckstine band. Kenny Dorham was affected early in his career and you could hear Fats in Red Rodney too. Then, of course, came Clifford Brown and through him Navarro has indirectly influenced so many of the young trumpeters playing today.”

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Book Excerpt from “Mingus Speaks,” by John Goodman

Charles Mingus is among jazz’s greatest composers and perhaps its most talented bass player. He was blunt and outspoken about the place of jazz in music history and American culture, about which performers were the real thing (or not), and much more. These in-depth interviews, conducted several years before Mingus died, capture the composer’s spirit and voice, revealing how he saw himself as composer and performer, how he viewed his peers and predecessors, how he created his extraordinary music, and how he looked at race.

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Kansas City Jazz: A Pictorial Tour

In cooperation with Frank Driggs and Chuck Haddix, authors of Kansas City Jazz: From Ragtime to Bebop — a look at the fascinating historyof Kansas City’s golden age through book excerpts, photos and music

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Robin D.G. Kelley, author of Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original

“The piano ain’t got no wrong notes!” So ranted Thelonious Sphere Monk, who proved his point every time he sat down at the keyboard. His angular melodies and dissonant harmonies shook the jazz world to its foundations, ushering in the birth of “bebop” and establishing Monk as one of America’s greatest composers. Yet throughout much of his life, his musical contribution took a backseat to tales of his reputed behavior. Writers tended to obsess over Monk’s hats or his proclivity to dance on stage. To his fans, he was the ultimate hipster; to his detractors, he was temperamental, eccentric, taciturn, or childlike. But these labels tell us little about the man or his music.

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Historic Harlem Tour

Although it only encompasses about six square miles, the New York City neighborhood of Harlem has played a central role in the development of American culture. Originally rural farmland, then an affluent suburb, since 1911 Harlemhas been predominantly an African American community. Its residents havehad a disproportionately large impact on all aspects of American culture,leaving their mark on literature, art, comedy, dance, theater, music, sports, religion and politics.

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New Short Fiction Contest-winning story #32: “The Valley of Ashes,” by Anna Dallara

She didn’t dance to the music; she danced with it. The melody wrapped his arms around her and the chords ran ivory fingers through her curls. Harmony whispered in her ear and she laughed at all his jokes. She twirled up and down scales with him, the hem of her skirt swirling a single syncopated beat behind her. Her form in her red dress was as curvaceous as the treble clef, and her quick smile flashed staccato at the other dancers and drinkers, lingering largo in the hearts of those who were gifted with the lively beats.

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Doug Ramsey, author of Take Five: The Public and Private Lives of Paul Desmond

Take Five: The Public and Private Lives of Paul Desmond is the story of a jazz artist who transcended genres to establish one of the most immediately recognizable sounds in all of music. Long before his success as the alto saxophonist with the Dave Brubeck Quartet, decades before he wrote “Take Five ,” Desmond determined that he would be himself, never a disciple or an imitator, whatever the cost.

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New Short Fiction Contest-winning story #31: “Night Cafe,” by Joe DiBuduo

When my doctor released me from the asylum in Saint-Remy, he warned me to stay away from absinthe or my hallucinations would worsen. I didn’t tell him I had no need for absinthe to hallucinate. I often had company, even when there wasn’t anyone with me.

I’d spent some of my time in the asylum playing billiards. Everyone assured me that I was a natural, the best player they’d ever seen. Maybe, instead of painting, I’d play billiards for a living. As soon as I walked past the gates of the asylum,

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Alyn Shipton, author of Hi-De-Ho: The Life of Cab Calloway

Clad in white tie and tails, dancing and scatting his way through the “Hi-de-ho” chorus of “Minnie the Moocher,” Cab Calloway exuded a sly charm and sophistication that endeared him to legions of fans.

In Hi-de-ho, author Alyn Shipton offers the first full-length biography of Cab Calloway, whose vocal theatrics and flamboyant stage presence made him one of the highest-earning African American bandleaders. Shipton sheds new light on Calloway’s life and career, explaining how he traversed racial and social boundaries to become one of the country’s most beloved entertainers.

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Short Fiction Contest-winning story #26: “The Improvisational Distance,” by J. A. Reynolds

Everyone is afraid to knock on the door when they hear the trumpet behind it. A closed door is like an On Air sign or a red light outside a dark room. Still, they have to talk to him. Sonny is nowhere to be found. And Thibodeau is too busy eye-fucking the women at the hotel bar to practice. And Baldwin is just tired.

They wait for a lull, a break. Three minutes waiting outside the door, and it comes. They knock soft, one of those we didn’t want to have to bother you but didn’t see any other recourse knocks; a musician has a way of using sound, its timbre, its breadth, to say everything. Knocking is no different.

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Short Fiction Contest-winner #24: “Alone: A Love Story,” by Abby Cummins

When I was ten, I was in a movie. It was a very famous movie. It ran in theaters for over a month, bringing in more and more revenue for the production company. When it finally came out on VHS (it was old enough that it was a tape, with reels inside it), the film grossed in the millions. The director was hailed as “visionary”, the actors as “superb”. The film itself became famous for having been one of the best horror movies of the year (1992). Critics said that it had “truly ushered in a new era of horror, one in which the innocent and benign murder recklessly”. The review that held these words was taped to my wall, for I’d been mentioned by name, praised, and it was a very well known newspaper, indeed. “Sharon Ellis, a real child actor who will no doubt amount to something great, gives a phenomenal debut performance. Her emotion and sensual expression are truly remarkable for such a young girl so new to the scene.” I used to read those words, over and over again, and imagine the critic who had written them watching me on the big screen before them.

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Short Fiction Contest-winner #23: “Bumps Out Then Bumps Back,” by Trudy Carpenter

One black leather pump hides under the sofa; the other skidded behind the front door, keeled over in shock. Stockings lie limp on the carpet, slim legs broken, and shrunken feet awry at the heels, pale rungs shred up the thigh, as jagged and useless as fear. A gold chain lies coiled like a snake, broken beyond repair, not sparkling, just stunned.

In the bathroom, water gushes wild and wide from the metal spigot, creeps up the sides of steep white porcelain an inch at a time, swirls with thick steam and current from the source, a dank basement room, a mystery pumping system, a light hum in the pipes and a bill at the end of the month. She squeezes her lashes then twists the tap shut. Leg poised, she dips a foot

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Graham Lock and David Murray, editors of Thriving on a Riff: Jazz & Blues Influences in African American Literature and Film

The widespread presence of jazz and blues in African American visual art has long been overlooked. The Hearing Eye makes the case for recognizing the music’s importance, both as formal template and as explicit subject matter. Moving on from the use of iconic musical figures and motifs in Harlem Renaissance art, this groundbreaking collection explores the more allusive — and elusive — references to jazz and blues in a wide range of mostly contemporary visual artists.

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Short Fiction Contest-winning story #19: “Offkey” by Kate Robinson

If Mom and Dad had heard about my friend Benny and all that jazz from me, they’d have handled it. But when my fifth grade teacher ratted on us, it became a big, fat deal. Mom had to meet me in the front office after school and we silently trudged back to my classroom, both taking refuge in our own mental world.

Mrs. Drake motioned us to identical chairs in front of her desk. “I don’t want to alarm you. This isn’t an emergency, Mrs. McKenzie.” She forced her goosy face into a sympathetic mask. “Cathy’s not a problem child by any means.”

Mom’s shoulders relaxed under her starched cotton housedress, but her hands clutched the white gloves and tooled leather pocketbook positioned mid-lap.

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Short Fiction Contest-winning story #18: “The Notes,” by Brian Greene

The first of my notes read I’M IN A STATE OF DISBELIEF. I left this one on top of a counter at a place where many of the thousands of people who worked in the same building as I did went to get their coffees and pastries in the morning.

The second note went AN ANGEL GOT IN BED WITH ME LAST NIGHT — OR MAYBE IT WASN’T AN ANGEL. I taped this one to the inside of the door of one of the stalls in the public bathroom of the same building.

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Reminiscing in Tempo: Memories and Opinion/Volume Eleven: What were five of your favorite record albums (or CD’s) when you were twenty years old, and what are five of your favorite CD’s today?

“Reminiscing in Tempo” is part of a continuing effort to provide Jerry Jazz Musician readers with unique forms of “edu-tainment.” As often as possible, we pose one question via e mail to a small number of prominent and diverse people. The question is designed to provoke a lively response that will potentially include the memories and/or opinion of those solicited.

What were five of your favorite record albums (or CD’s) when you were twenty years old, and what are five of your favorite CD’s today?

Featuring Peter Erskine, Rufus Reid, Terri Lynne Carrington, Ben Ratliff, Steve Khan and others…

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“Accent on Youth,” by Zach Ferguson

Zach Ferguson, a junior at Battleground High School in Battleground, WA, was the winner of the 2007 Accent on Youth Essay Contest. His passion for jazz and the challenges he faces as a youthful fan of it is the focus of the column.

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Short Fiction Contest-winning story #16: “Cipher,” by Colleen Anderson

It had been warm all day, the type of day where the heavy air presses into you and makes it hard to move. It didn’t help that her shift had been spent calling customers and listening to endless streams of why they couldn’t make their hydro payments. And they would yell, swear at her as if she had caused their loss of job, their alcoholism, their way of life. She absorbed it all, the words sinking through the membrane in her ear and resonating within the membrane of her mind long after the calls had stopped.

If there’d been a breeze, or a slight coolness to the air, then those words could have lifted from her. They heated her, churning and boiling within so that by the time she got the apartment door open her flesh looked glossy with the sweat.

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