Short Fiction Contest winning story #45 — “Last Stop with Louis Armstrong,” by Laura Hawbaker

            Wade missed the sweat. The sticky air that hugged you like a fat friend. The languid, dirty stench of swampy gutters. Of Bourbon street piss and puke. Of Dat Dogs at three in the morning, and the street mutts that cawed at the Mississippi. The rats and cockroaches scuttling around your shoes. The humidity. The heat.           

            He missed all of it.

            New York was cold. Not just the weather, but the people, too. Hardened pedestrians crushed the MTA platforms like stone statues, eyes glazed onto their phones or the wall or the floor. No smiles. No inward space given away to strangers. They hugged into their

...

Short Fiction Contest winning story #42 — “Playing for Tips,” by Kevin Bennett

It was a persistent and gentle nudge—always was. He knew who was prodding him and what she would say without turning, so he continued to run his fingers up and down the keys—there was a major seventh followed by a fifth interval; repeat several times, arpeggiate, transpose—

“Sir? I’m sorry sir—”

The nudging again. He spoke as if distracted—which he was: “Yes?”

“Some of the people are trying to work,” she said.

“Have them come and talk to me,” he replied, and continued to play.

The barista was put-off for a moment, but she jostled him again. “If you could just play a little quieter—”

The words were like daggers. They weren’t new, they weren’t original, and they brought hate like bile to his mind and body; coursing in and throughout him like a thousand

...

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.

...

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.

...

Short Fiction Contest-winning story #62 — “Mr. P.C.” by Jacob Schrodt

A saxophonist and his teenage daughter – a drummer –bond over their club performance of John Coltrane’s “Mr. P.C,” but it doesn’t come without its parental challenges, and the father’s warm remembrance of her childhood.

...

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?

...

Short Fiction Contest-winning story #58 — “Mouth Organ” by Emily Jon Tobias

Three times a year, we award a writer who submits, in our opinion, the best original, previously unpublished work. Emily Jon Tobias of Dana Point, California is the winner of the 58th Jerry Jazz Musician New Short Fiction Award. In “Mouth Organ,” Monk is a young musician who comes of age within his family domain, first by falling in love with girlfriend Gloria, and then having to face an unreconciled past with his mother, Bunny.

...

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.

...

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.

...

Short Fiction Contest-winning story #55 — “Chromesthesia” by Shannon Brady

He still has his father’s old records.

 That single cardboard box is all that Ken has left of the man. That and memories. He remembers those swirling blue winter nights: sitting on the living room rug, right between the full-blast radiator and Dad’s battered old armchair, watching the record turn around and around and fill the room with Duke Ellington’s piano. The summer Sundays, where the warm breeze came in through the window, and the cleaning of their apartment turned into a game backed by Dizzy Gillespie’s big band, deep orange-pink like strawberry lemonade.

...

Short Fiction Contest-winning story #54 — “A Failed Artist’s Paradise” by Nathaniel Neil Whelan

He’s here again, his mossy hair visible at the back of the crowd. I’ve seen him a few times before and it’s always the same: he leans against a pillar, arms crossed, a hungry look in his eyes. There’s a bit of rebel in him. I don’t know if it’s the cigarette or the rimless sunglasses perched on the edge of his nose, but he doesn’t fit in with the polished and the proper.

...

Short Fiction Contest-winning story #53 — “Market & Fifth, San Francisco, 1986,” by Paul Perilli

You walk on the rose-colored strip of concrete that starts on the sidewalk, goes under the big black awning with the street light shining on it, and stops at the two heavy wood doors inviting in all of Central Ave. You pause long enough for Walt, the bouncer you should never irritate to the degree of getting his exclusive attention, to nod you inside even though he knows you.

...

Short Fiction Contest-winning story #52 — “Random Blonde,” by Zandra Renwick

I’ve been bitter a long time. It’s like sucking a wedge of lemon on and on and on, pulp disintegrating, everything dissolving until the flavor turns mellow and mild, almost sweet. I’ve been bitter so long it’s hard to know anymore how anything should feel, or which part of me navigating the world each day is tainted with bitterness and which part is how I always was, even before Ty Greggor smashed through my life.

...

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.

...

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?”

...

Short Fiction Contest-winning story #49 — “Will You Play For Me?” by Hannah Draper

     The first time I saw her, she was puffing softly on a cigarette in the girls’ bathroom. She looked all too much the devil incarnate, with tattered jeans and a band shirt that left no doubt at all that their songs would consist of guitar smashing and angsty screaming. She had dyed her hair this brilliant shade of blue that was almost black it was so dark. Upon her exhale, a long strand of smoke twirled from her ruby stained lips and curled around a nose ring that

...

Short Fiction Contest-winning story #48: “The Wailing Wall” by Justin Short

     When they came to build the wall, I played Mingus.

     I stood in the blistering sun, watched them arrive, and did my best to blow my lungs clean out.  They climbed down from hissing dew-sprinkled trucks, adjusted their hard hats, and went to work setting up the barricades.  They ignored me completely.

     They didn’t ignore me long.  I was off-key, and I was loud.  Ain’t always about hitting all the right notes, man.  A clarinet’s gotta be raw.  Real.  None of that philharmonic fast food commercial stuff.

     I could almost hear Tony taking the high notes right beside me.  He would have, too.  He always loved a good

...

Short Fiction Contest-winning story 47: “The Happy Thing of Bayou de Manque” by Erin Larson

     “Repeat after me: I will not hunt alligators while Désirée runs deliveries.”

     Léon blinks at me, rich hickory eyes peering up from a face darker than any glancing touch of the sun could produce. He wriggles in a barely-perceptible fashion, bare heels grinding ringlets into the muddy deck, a creature of obstinacy and faux innocence whose smile mystically exiles all suspicion from my mind.

     “’course, Dezzy,” he says. “There aren’t any alligators around right now, you know—they ain’t come out ‘til nighttime.”

      “They don’t come out ‘til nighttime,” I correct him, swiping a hand over the top of his

...

Short Fiction Contest-winning story #46 — “Cotton Candy on Alto Sax,” by Julie Parks

At first, I simply sit on the front steps of my building, letting the summer sun bake my knees while I’m planning my getaway, trying to decide which subway to take to get to Caroline’s place faster. I know nobody will miss me. Nobody will even notice. Not like the first time I ran away.

The first time I ran away – OK, maybe I didn’t exactly run away, as the only thing I did was leave my house in the morning to go down to New Utrecht Avenue to sit in a subway station. But I didn’t come back. I wasn’t going to. I sat there all day, until it got late and dark, and eventually even darker and so late that it was time for my mom to come home. And when she did and saw that I’m gone, she called the cops and they found me instantly. Picture a pink haired girl sitting on a bench in an all Hasidic neighborhood. Not a rocket science to spot my cotton candy stack of hair even in the middle of a dark subway station. So I was brought home that same night, safe and sound, and feeling like an

...

Short Fiction Contest-winning story #44 — “Da Capo al Fine” by J. Lee Strickland

     I wake up when the door opens. Instant-awake, alert. I’m staring at the ceiling, at the ornate medallion in its center. Late-night city glow from the windows casts awkward shadows on the plaster. The light clicks on, and I hear a gasp. I feel a sympathetic shot of adrenaline hit my chest. I look toward the door, and there’s a woman there, a stranger. A beauty, too, dressed in a black pants-suit, purse slung over a shoulder, the jacket cut and fitted to her slim waist matador-style. Beneath the jacket, she’s wearing a white blouse with an enormous collar that flares out over her shoulders and breast, like gull wings. Her hair is loose, brown, shoulder-length, streaked with bits of blonde, her face around her dark eyes a mix of fear and puzzlement.

     “Who are you?” she says, her hand still on the light switch. “What are you doing here?” Her voice quivers.

     I look around. The ceiling looks like my

...

Short Fiction Contest-winning story #43 — “Pandora’s Sax” by Robert Glover

In the back of a closet, on top of a shelf, under two empty shoeboxes, and behind a small, carry-on bag lurked a humped, black, plastic case. Years of knocking about in the backs of vans and offstage in smoky clubs had etched lines into its surface. Every song had scuffed another memory: Dewey Redman’s “Imagination” or Clifford Brown’s “Night in Tunisia”. An accidental kick from a ska fan had left a dent even after the shell had popped back into place. For twenty years, it had remained closed, a relic of temptation, while inside a saxophone slumbered, waiting for its silent call to beckon again. It was patient. It had time.

Nathan Gold heard the call. It was a Saturday morning in mid-spring as he returned from racing his mountain bike along the Long Beach boardwalk. Pumping the pedals, he glided up the

...

Short Fiction Contest-winning story #41 — “You Blows What You Is,” by Ruth Knafo Setton

The port of Casablanca was crammed with Vichy officers, soldiers, cops, thieves and criminals. Each night I slept behind sand dunes, and each morning, washed in the freezing sea and shook myself dry in the winter wind. My shirt and trousers were stiff with salt and stuck to my chest, arms and legs. I figured it would be easy to steal a sweater or coat, grab it off a café chair while its owner ate and drank. But each time I stuck my head inside a restaurant and started weaving between tables, the owner threatened to call the cops.

No cops, no officers, no father whipping me, never again. I’d lie low, steal what I needed, and owe no one a damned thing.

Ten days after I arrived in Casablanca, a shipload of

...

Short Fiction Contest-winning story #40 — “The Blues Museum,” by Jay Franzel

Camp looked through glass doors and across the shoulderless highway. A patch of grass across the road was covered with white trailers washed clean by the rain. He stared out a side window at the brown back of a gas station. A red and yellow sign, mounted so high he had to twist his neck to see it, seemed like it should have been turning but sat still against a gray sky.

What do you find in a bus station? Long waits under dirty fluorescents, grimy floor and seats, gloom on scattered faces. Soup, coffee and candy vending machines. If someone could gather it up, all the pieces a bus station’s handed down through the years, you could start a museum. You could cover the walls with

...

Short Fiction Contest-winning story #39: “The Lot,” by John Hyde Barnard

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

John Hyde Barnard of Los Angeles, California is the winner of the 39th Jerry Jazz Musician New Short Fiction Award, announced and published for the first time on July 3, 2015.

*

“The Lot”

by John Hyde Barnard


He brought the cigarette up to his lips. As he took a hit the orange
glow briefly lit his face and faded back into shadow as he slowly exhaled
a cloud of blue smoke. He crushed the butt on the windowsill, sparks and
dying embers leaving a trail that quickly became black and cold. As he
flicked the butt into the night air he glanced over the rooftops. It
seemed the horizon was a shade lighter. Had he been sitting there that
long?

Unable to sleep since arriving at the apartment some hours earlier,
he sat at the open window: musing, arguing, longing and laughing with his
thoughts. He had not discovered an epiphany or revelation, only a comfort
with the warm night. It was the first warm night of the season; the
unmistakable promise of

...

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.

...

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

...

Short Fiction Contest-winning story #36 — “Fever” by Yvonne McBride

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

Yvonne McBride of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is the winner of the thirty-sixth Jerry Jazz Musician New Short Fiction Award, announced and published for the first time on July 12, 2014.




Fever


by

Yvonne McBride

_______________________________




Royal had studied her from the bandstand each and every night since their first gig. Such a little thing she was. Nicely curved, tightly packaged — but such a small little thing he had a notion she would break if even his fingertips glazed her. And he had tried. To touch her. Had been trying to get close to her for the past two and all night long.

...

Short Fiction Contest-winning story #35: “The Usefulness of the Blues,” by Sam Lieberman

I’m lonely most nights. It’s part of my job. You can’t be happy if you want to play the blues. But there were some nights that made my misery worth it, where I felt light for once and everything fit together. I’m sure it was the absence of thought that did it. When I think about things, I realize how awful they are. But when I float out of my chains, having known what they were like, the freedom is all the sweeter.

January 8th was such a night.

...

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.

...

Short Fiction Contest-winning story #33: “The Lighthouse,” by Gabriella Costa

“Fine,” she says. “Give me your hand.”

Look up.

Empty spaces, open and promising for my skin to slip into, lie between the pale fingers that wag impatiently in my direction. I want to either kiss those milky tips or break the digits one by one. But my hand has no conflict and longs for nothing more than to fill those gaps left by her fingers. It knows where it belongs, and I watch as it begins to reach out, a thin layer of cold sweat over the palm.

...

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.

...

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,

...

Short Fiction Contest-winning story #30: “So What,” by Arya Jenkins

Whenever I’m pissed off, I escape to the pit. Out the kitchen door, fists deep in the pockets of my tight ass jeans, I head towards the woods back of the house.

I cross the backyard, past Moreno, the poor chained up son-of-a-bitch boxer. Rosa clinches his leash, pulling him close like a kid. The poor son-of-a-bitch tenses as I go by, his spindly legs and stubby tail shivering at my wrath, ears perked, head cocked – Was up girl, grounded again?

...

Short Fiction Contest-winning story #29: “Inspiration,” by Gabriella Costa

The garden by the sea is just beginning to grow into itself. Its green has started to spill out over the fence and tumble onto the walk that lines the side of the shore house. The weather is warming, and combined with the rich soil of the ground, the plants reap the favor of the earth, led to grow lush and vibrant across the expanse. The tendrils of the cucumbers have travelled far up their trellises, continuing to curl out into the air, while the bushes of basil nearby explode into a happy, bright leafed green.

...

Short Fiction Contest-winning story #28: “Resolution,” by N. Barry Carver

It’s a shame that, in the 21st century, there are still men of my age who do not know who fathered them. Setting aside the moral issues, I need to know about my family medical history and bloodlines. What if, through twisted fate, my one true love were revealed to be my half sister? Or find out, while facing an ill-informed press, that I am the progeny of some great hero, or desperate criminal, and under the presumption of similar habits. At forty-eight, I still don’t know if I should be honoring the birth of a savior, celebrating the miracle of lights or dancing naked in the woods on the dark of the moon.

...

Short Fiction Contest-winning story #27: “The Open Marriage,” by Ben Murray

ten minutes into sound and I have begun to lean, to lean forward in these shared chairs towards glissando, towards pluck and sizzle and crash. Ellen is a grace note, a cello curve beside me in this dark, lovely, smitten club of jazz.
that I know it’s Ellen’s thigh and hip accompanying mine is a testament to the radii of our ring fingers, the shiny bands there that play so seriously at patience and time.

...

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.

...

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.

...

Short Fiction Contest-winning story #21: “Parker’s Mood,” by Leland Thoburn

In the fall of 1991 I believed I would be the next Charlie Parker. Few of the bands on campus had even heard of Bird, and the few that had did not want a flute player. This did not deter me. I was out on the commons at UCLA riffing on “Confirmation” when Nadine found me.

“That makes my nipples hard.” She smiled.

I lowered my flute and stared. She was wearing a man’s dress shirt, as if she’d spent the night away. The shirt did little to hide the truth of her statement. But that wasn’t what got my attention. It was her face. She had the knack of smiling with her whole face – eyes, cheeks, lips, nose. Everything got into the act.

...

Short Fiction Contest-winning story #20: “Maybe Marrying Margaret,” by Jocelyn Crawley

There’s this painting she keeps staring at.

She imbibes it, absorbs everything it has to offer. A lilting shade of lavender, it features fourteen flawless flowers arranged with a meandering dissonance that flies in the face of the frame’s four square corners. They make its math seem maddening, symmetry superfluous.

“I like it,” she says quietly, tucking long brown strands of slightly curly hair behind her ears. She turns towards me slowly then, notes the slight adversarial something in my eyes. Intimately familiar with my proclivity for irreverent mocking, she now offers a slight smirk that seems just one shade shy of sly. Aware of my antagonism,

...

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.

...

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.

...

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.

...

Short Fiction Contest-winning story #15: “The Prayer For Swift and University,” by Joanne Seiff

Stories burst out of her as a magician’s trick pulls out scarves; multi-colored patterns, solids and conservative checks spilled out of her mouth and hands when she least expected it. In the end, of course, she recognized it as it was. These were the stories of all our lives, every human soul’s experience could produce that knotted, impossibly long scarf string that sprung out of the local magician.

Yet, most people did not have a new story to tell very often at all. At first, this was a wonder to her — why did all the interesting things happen only to her? But of course, this was self-centered, she realized. These things do happen to all of us on this earth. It was just that few people noticed the stories as they blossomed. It’s in the observation of it, she discovered, that one finds a good story.

...

Short Fiction Contest-winning story #14: “The Red Underwear,” by Ellis J. Biderson

I have a problem, Father.

No, no “Bless me, Father, for I have sinned,” and the rest. Not this time.

And that’s it, really: I’m here again, in confession with you, as I have been for a long time, but I don’t think I’ve sinned.

Yes, of course, Father, I understand about confession. Penance, really, because that’s a sacrament, that’s how a person gets forgiveness of sins. There is absolution by a priest, but you – I, because I am sitting here now – have to have true sorrow and confess your sins, and do something about your behavior. You really have to mean it, not just want a pass for what you’ve done – and may do again, unless you’re genuine in your confession and really want to change.

...

Short Fiction Contest-winning story #13: “Mystery in C Minor,” by Bruce Golden

January 30, 1946 — Allied Headquarters, Paris, France

“What is it, Captain? I’m very busy.”

“Sorry to disturb you, Colonel, but you said you wanted a report as soon as I completed my investigation.”

Colonel Washburn searched his desk muttering, “Yes, yes. I’ll read your report as soon as you’ve filed it.”

...

Short Fiction Contest-winning story #12: “Mute,” by Mary Jo Marcellus Wyse

Megan Watson pushes open the front door of the old house, escaping the cold. On the left, a welcome mat, wet from snow, rests before the entrance to a vegetarian restaurant. She’s not hungry. Turning to the dry stairwell with the faded violin painted on the wall, she begins her ascent to the shop upstairs.

Paper taped at the top stair reads, “Press Doorbell.” When the door draws open, an older gentleman with a full, white mustache, smiles down at her. Running his palm over the top of his head, he looks tired, but curious.

...

Short Fiction Contest-winning story #8: “Natural Selection,” Jackson Lassiter

The rigid wooden slats of the park bench press relentlessly against the length of my goose-pimpled back. A stocking cap rides low over my ears and most of my forehead, and a wool blanket — cocooned around my prone body — laps over my chin and tucks snugly around the sides of my face. Only my eyes, nose, and weather-cracked lips brave the raw chill. I gaze skyward as the frozen minutes slowly pass. I wouldn’t normally choose to rest here in the dead of winter, but tonight I didn’t have a choice. In life you are either a have or a have-not. Mike and I are have-not’s.

...

Short Fiction Contest-winning story #7: “Inheritance,” Diana Spechler

The workers at Jackson’s favorite record store wear bumble-bee striped tights, black plastic glasses, leather boots that lace straight up their thighs. Jackson’s wearing the purple beret he always wears, with his blond hair sticking out in back, and his cords, and his corduroy jacket that smells like him. It’s April, too warm for corduroy, but Jackson always wears corduroy, along with T-shirts that tell the world he’s been to every blues concert and jazz festival you could think of.

To me, it all sounds the same — jazz, the blues, whatever — it’s all horns, but Jackson’s got two hundred seventeen records — vinyl, he calls them — and a saxophone, too. Clearly, he’s got music in his blood. His dad also plays the saxophone, at bars in Harvard Square, and they kind of look alike, only Jackson’s dad has eyes like power drills that would tear your clothes clean-open if you didn’t look away in time.

...

Short Fiction Contest-winning story #6: “The Place Where Colored Notes Play,” by Rebecca Marshall-Courtois

Today, Celina is going tolive up to the promise she made to him fifteen years ago, that November dayin the neurologist’s parking lot, when he told her, “When my voice goes,I go.”

Ray can still hear the pitter-patter of raindrops onthe umbrella they’d shared that day, drumming out the minutes that passedas they stood, emotionally and physically immobile, terrified at the thoughtof taking another step. And he can still recall the wet wool smell of hersweater when he tucked his face into the hollow of her neck to hide his tears.But he thought Celina had chosen to forget that day and her vow, until twomonths ago when she asked him if he’d changed his mind. “Squeeze my arm ifyou still want to,” she’d told him.

...

Short Fiction Contest-winning story #5: “Traveling Magic,” by Kay Sexton

There are coyote in The Balcones Canyonlands Preserve in West Travis County, Texas. One family; with three cubs. As always, the alpha female is the only one to breed, her two sisters will help her rear the cubs to maturity. She is a young female, less than two years old, and her sisters are her littermates: this family, barely more than striplings themselves, have fought hard to establish themselves in this reserve, managed for deer and birds, but not for coyote. Most Texans still shoot first, and ask themselves only afterwards if the beautiful golden corpse in front of them could possibly have posed a risk to livestock or pets.

...

Short Fiction Contest-winning story #4: “Anacostia,” by Qevin Oji

One. Anacostia lay there. Two. Three. Counting gunshots. Four. Five. He imagined the bullets cutting the sky, wondered how this tradition had begun. Six. The first time he held a gun, fired his first shot, he was six years old. It was on this same night — New Year’s Eve — thirteen years ago, just after midnight. Seven.

* * *

His father’s yellowy, roach-burnt fingertips stretched and folded his hand, his small fingers, barely skilled using a pencil, around the handle and trigger. I’m gonna make you a man. A chill shook his small body. He had never felt anything so cold, not a popsicle fresh from the ice cream truck, not the cold air gushing from inside the fridge onto his face in summer. Not even snow was this cold. When he had finished molding the boy’s hand to the gun, he let go. It fell immediately to Anacostia’s knees. A flat, open palm, smacked the back of his head. You ain’t no bitch. Lift that gun up, boy!

...

Short Fiction Contest-winning story #3: “Dancing Universe” by Kate Robinson

Though she sat alone, Mira wasn’t lonely. Woman, chair, patio, trees and sky merged in her nightly meditation. Mira finished her prayer, touching the crown of her head, forehead and heart center with folded hands, crossed herself, and opened her eyes to the East, observing in one smooth movement her indigenous heritage, Catholic upbringing, and conversion to Buddhism.

Gathering and tossing her long raven-wing hair over one shoulder, Mira shifted her weight from one hip to the other, rubbing her ample belly. She turned over mental stones from the last few months, examining the process of shock, resignation, and acceptance that marked this pregnancy. The youngest of five daughters, she ruefully watched her older sisters succumb one by one to the entanglements of family life. She vowed while still a teenager to never clip her wings.

...

Short Fiction Contest-winning story #2: “Tin Soldiers,” by Kirk Bjornsgaard

Donna walked into the student union on the evening of the Kent State shootings while thunderheads roiled over the Toledo River. They invoked little-girl notions that God brought storms until she checked herself with the atheism sweeping the Milestone College campus that semester. In the foyer mirror she stroked long chestnut hair and nodded terse approval of her denim mini-skirt, leotards, and khaki jacket.

Descending the circular staircase to the basement, Donna replayed the scene in the dining commons–Chris, flanked by his entourage, requesting that she report after dinner; how girl friends had flashed wide-eyed grins that heightened her excitement–“God, Donna! No freshman poly-sci’s ever been invited to work with him before!”

...

Short Fiction Contest-winning story #1: “Coloring Outside the Lines,” by Debora Ewing

I like the jazz because it plays in different colors: deep green and blue, translucent purple, ivory black; city storefronts, magenta sunsets; watercolor splashes here and there like a yellow crocus on snow or an orange goldfish tail — sudden, surprising, but always carefully placed.

…Like the way people come in different colors — they just don’t know it. People walk along in darkness daily, ignorant of the color that’s surrounding them or the beat their music plays. That’s what I’m lying here thinking about, in my dark bedroom between the folds of cotton sheets. Africans, Asians, Seminoles…they all come in different colors — not their skins, but their insides.

...

Excerpts from David Rife’s Jazz Fiction: Take Two – Vol. 2: “Fathers in Jazz Fiction”

In this edition, Rife writes about four novels/short stories that include stories involving relationships between fathers and children.

...

“I Married a Socialist” – a story by J. B. Cohen

.He answered my personal ad: “Classy rebel wishes to meet man of principle.” In the 80’s, it wasn’t normal to find love through advertisements, so I kept my effort a secret. At our first encounter in an Indian restaurant, he said. “I’m not sure if my principles are the right ones. You’re likely to find me at socialist meetings in church basements.” Though I was just a run of the mill, east coast liberal, I was over forty, so I decided to give him a chance. In fact, his commitment to left wing causes intrigued me; I wanted to hear more.

...

“An Un-played Instrument” – a story by Terry Sanville

Floyd grabbed his cane and stepped out of his air-conditioned car into the late August heat. The afternoon sun warmed his stiff joints. It felt good. From the Honda’s back seat he pulled a battered guitar case, locked the car and shambled down Monterey Street to Premier Music Store. Its front door stood closed against blasts of hot Santa Ana winds.

...

“Sayir” – a short story by Ron Perovich

It was the first Friday in months that we didn’t both have our own gigs lined up, so my friend Paul invited me out to one of his favorite haunts on 8th Avenue. He promised me the food was good, but told me that the real draw was the live music. Honestly, I tried not to roll my eyes when he dropped that detail on me in the cab. I mean, I love music and all–I’d have to if I was going to work this hard at it–but I kind of was looking forward to giving my ears the night off.

...

“The Winslows Take New Orleans” a short story by Mary Liza Hartong

This story, a finalist in the recently concluded 64th Jerry Jazz Musician Short Fiction Contest, tells the tell of Uncle Cheapskate and Aunt Whiner, those pesky relatives you love to hate and hate to love.

...

“A Single Furtive Tear” – a short story by Dora Emma Esze

A short-listed entry in the recently concluded 64th Jerry Jazz Musician Short Fiction Contest, the story is a heartfelt, grateful monologue to one Italian composer, dead and immortal of course, whose oeuvre means so much to so many of us.

...

“Bashert” – a short story by Diane Lederman

This story, a finalist in the 63rd Jerry Jazz Musician Short Fiction Contest, looks at the hopes one man has that a woman he meets the night before he leaves for Camp Devens will keep him alive during World War I so he can return and take her out for dinner.

...

“A Song and Dance Proposition” – a short story by Richard Moore

Because of his childhood experiences, the story’s narrator loses his singing voice and as an adult neither sings nor dances. But when his marriage falls apart he meets a ‘song and dance man’ who turns out to be Iris, a woman with multiple sclerosis. With her help, he comes to grip with his inhibitions.

...

“The Sound Barrier” – a short story by Bex Hansen

When a marketing writer gets a new neighbor, she finds herself dreading the 2:00 practice sessions of The Musician. In Rear Window fashion, The Writer is kept apprised of The Musician’s life happenings through a combination of watching out the window and listening to the story told through her music. When a crisis entangles the two women, they form a bond that penetrates the wall that stands between them – despite never having met.

...

“Not Just Another Damn Song on the Radio” – a short story by Craig Fishbane

Neil Young stumbled off the stage more exhausted than usual. It had been a trying gig, watching Danny Whitten teeter from chord to chord on a heroin-fueled high-wire act that just seemed to get more perilous as the night wore on. It was fine that Danny blew some chords—everyone blew chords in this band. That was what made Crazy Horse special in the first place. If Neil wanted every note pure and perfect, he could have stuck with Crosby, Stills, and Nash. But what would have been the point of that? It was like playing a benediction for your own immaculate coffin.

...

“Improvised: A life in 7ths, 9ths and Suspended 4ths” – a short story by Vikki C.

A man once asked me about ambition, not in a typical sense of family and lifetime accomplishments, more of a rhetorical artistic conversation. To me, it wasn’t a topic which warranted a structured answer let alone a real plan, God forbid life would be linear and predictable. Now, over two decades later, I am found in Notting Hill’s Rooftop Cafe, writing a story which could possibly address the subject unintentionally.

...

“Partial Memories of Music and Love” – a short story by Lindsay Flock

What if you love music…but you can no longer hear? Ms. Flock’s story contemplates the paralleled loss of the protagonist’s hearing and her husband, where music fits into her life now, and attempts to forge a new relationship being deaf.

...

“Guy Ryan” – a short story by Alice Sherman Simpson

. . “Guy Ryan,” a short story by Alice Sherman Simpson, was a short-listed entry in our recently concluded 62nd Short Fiction Contest, and is published with the consent of the author. . This story is a chapter from author’s book-in-progress,  One For Sorrow. . . ___ . . photo by Lalesh Aldarwish/via Pexels   … Continue reading ““Guy Ryan” – a short story by Alice Sherman Simpson”

...

“The Occasional Girl” – a short story by Mark Bruce

. . “The Occasional Girl,” a short story by Mark Bruce, was a short-listed entry in our recently concluded 62nd Short Fiction Contest, and is published with the consent of the author. . . ___ . . Photo: Kubat Sydykov / World Bank/CC By-NC-ND-2.0 .   The Occasional Girl by Mark Bruce .     … Continue reading ““The Occasional Girl” – a short story by Mark Bruce”

...

“Sketch in ‘D’ Minor” – a short story by Estelle Phillips

My mother used to take me here. It’s different in the dark; the metal frames lurk like gallows and the railings remind me of prison bars. I don’t remember her pushing me in the bucket seat, but I believe she did. I do remember the big girls’ swing: hours and hours we spent. She took the seat beside me; we leant and pulled together, stretched pointed toes, forwards and backwards, rising and falling, higher and higher, hands gripped on chains and our bottoms lifting as we peaked. I pick at the paint on a rusted spear and nick my finger. Blood trickles onto my palm. I lick it off and the taste is metallic, as if my flesh is made from city. Perhaps the city took over, where my mother left off.

...

“Blue Boy and the Flattened Third” — a short story by Carsten ten Brink

The wind sandpapered John’s cheeks the instant he opened the swing door. By the time he’d stepped down from Bill’s Billiards into the street he was shivering.
He hadn’t been good on stage: every second tune had reminded him of Riley, the turd.

There was no traffic and even the pizza place had closed, and he missed its earlier smells of warm mozzarella and meat. The chill air did, however, carry the hint of something, a snatch of melody from a passing car or a distant open window, and he listened, seeking its source.

...

“Thunder” — a short story by Robert Knox

The voice comes down from the bedroom, winding down the stairs, crankily.
It does not at once compel in the manner of one of my “favorite singers” on the radio. I am a person, to use the word loosely, who does not own record albums, or a record player. What I hear from upstairs at her house, wailing down from the steps in that unassimilable voice, is the whine of the prairie. A rusty gate. A barroom complaint…

...

“Opus One” — a short story by Amadea Tanner

. . “Opus One,” a story by Amadea Tanner, was a short-listed entry in our recently concluded 59th Short Fiction Contest, and is published with the consent of the author . . ___ . .   photo by Gordon Parks/Library of Congress . Opus One By Amadea Tanner . …..The Dempsey Quintet pulsed eight to … Continue reading ““Opus One” — a short story by Amadea Tanner”

...

“Cottonmouth Stomp” – a short story by Greg S. Johnson

Now when I start telling you about John Jones Sr., I don’t want you to go and get the wrong idea on me. And I don’t want anyone else to hear about it because I’ll deny it sure as I blow hella on this old harp. There are things that he knows about me that only your Pop can know. For that I got to love him. Even though times are when he gives it to me good.

...

“Old Man Hands” — a short story by Terry Sanville

Gordon sat in the corner of the Red Sky Café and stared at his fingers as they slid across the fretboard of his Fender Stratocaster. They seemed disconnected from the rest of his body but hardwired to his brain. When he thought blue, they moved to his favorite notes. When he thought joy, a new series of chords and major scales opened up. He thought, played, listened, and watched.

...

“Lydia” — a short story by Allene Nichols

It was a summer of jazz leaking out through shuttered windows; of breaking glass and rage from the anonymous facades of brick apartments; of winged girls trying to fly from atop the Cathedral of St. Louis; of women trying to take back the night from jugglers and mimes and the men who lurked and looked too long. And through all of this, we walked hand in hand, visitors from a planet where soybean fields bookmarked the horizon and the sweet smell of corn danced across the dusk.

...

“Intersection” — a short story by Sal Difalco

Dressed in a tight-fitting black suit, Rosario Cino, flanked by his son Mario and his nephew Charlie, also in black suits, exited the cool of All Souls Church and stepped into a rank wall of unseasonably warm and humid air. They and a handful of friends and relatives had just sat through the funeral of Guido Tutolo, a former bookie, loan shark, and paisan—and last of the old gang, as Rosario had said repeatedly to his son and nephew, neither of whom seemed torn up about the death, their connection to Guido limited, their youthfulness of course looking forward.

...

“A Girl You Couldn’t Hurt” — a short story by Con Chapman

It was probably Dean who was responsible for him being where he was right now, he thought as he sat across the table from his fiancée listening to her talk about the wedding and the gifts they were registered for and the reception.  He had discovered an album he didn’t approve of – Barbra Streisand – among Dean’s records when he went to stay with him shortly after he got married to a woman from Cleveland.

...

“Committee Room” — a short story by J.W. Wood

“What I have to say now stays between us.”

The Chairman’s face flushed a little. I sensed one of his rants was coming, and I was not disappointed:

“In my opinion, Jakub Hoch is a pseudo-liberal loudmouth of minimal talent who has no place as Musical Director of this orchestra.”

...

“Queen Mabelle’s Blues,” a short story by David Rudd

Maebelle had been surprised when, in 1934, a scout for the American Record Corporation invited her to come and sing at the General Store, “for our field recordings.”

“Field recordings?” she’d joked. “They wanna hear the Boll Weevil, close up?” She was recalling the Charley Patton song.

...

“Catbelly Heat on My Knees” — a story by Ewing Eugene Baldwin

. . “Catbelly Heat On My Knees,” a story by Ewing Eugene Baldwin, was a short-listed entry in our recently concluded 57th Short Fiction Contest. It is published with the permission of the author. . .   photo via hippopx/CC0 1.0 Universal . Catbelly Heat on My Knees by Ewing Eugene Baldwin . ___ . … Continue reading ““Catbelly Heat on My Knees” — a story by Ewing Eugene Baldwin”

...

“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.

...

“Christmas, Stockings” — a story by Peter Newall

Prague, Christmas Eve, 1994. Midwinter. Snow. Anna and I have a room in the Grand Hotel Europa, which is not grand in the least but run-down and cramped, still bearing the stamp of its Warsaw Pact years. The floral wallpaper is worn and the carpet threadbare; the room is mostly taken up with the big double bed.

...

“The Battle Scars of One Vinyl Record” — a short story by Anita Overcash

Brent didn’t really go to Japan as a tourist. He went to Japan as a record hunter. The “Land of the Rising Sun” was known to house some of the best record stores for free jazz and that, my friends, was more important than any shrine, temple or giant Buddha statue.

...

“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”

...

“Charm” — a short story by Gargi Mehra

Grandma’s mother had gifted her the bracelet on her tenth birthday. It hung upon her forearm every hour of the day, until her wedding. When the vermillion filled the parting in her scalp, she lost the permission to wear it. Her new husband adored the drink, and loathed the ornaments she carried from her mother’s house.

...

“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.

...

“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”

...

“St. Anthony, St. Jude, & Deborah Walk into a Bar…” — a short story by L. Shapley Bassen

Deborah lost her wallet. Most of us have at one time or another. It’s one of the awful feelings, TMW you know you don’t know. Or the last time you knew … anything. It swallows you, that feeling. Utter loss. Utter failure. All the work it will take to regain lost ground. All the effort. If.

...

“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.

...

A collection of Short Fiction — May, 2019

We had many excellent entrants in our recently concluded 50th Short Fiction Contest.  In addition to publishing the winning story on March 11, with the consent of the authors, we have published several of the short-listed stories…

...

“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.

...

Jerry Jazz Musician Short Fiction Contest — Winning Author Profiles, Group 9

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 45 – 49

...

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

...

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

...

Jerry Jazz Musician Short Fiction Contest — Winning Author Profiles, Group 6

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 29 – 34

...

Jerry Jazz Musician Short Fiction Contest — Winning Author Profiles, Group 5

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 24 – 28

...

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

...

Jerry Jazz Musician Short Fiction Contest — Winning Author Profiles, Group 3

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 12 – 16

...

Jerry Jazz Musician Short Fiction Contest — Winning Author Profiles, Group 2

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 7 – 11

...

Jerry Jazz Musician Short Fiction Contest — Winning Author Profiles, Group 1

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 1 – 6

...

“Lay Out” — a short story by Barnaby Hazen

            You’ve played this gig at the Tennyson Lodge at least a hundred times by now you figure—three years times twice a week, Wednesdays and Thursdays. You just took a solo and now The Kid is thumping on his oversized instrument, oversized by comparison to his body. He’s a five-foot-nothing of a chubby student bassist having joined the quartet two weeks prior. His dark, stylishly teased hair is stuck in place by product, his eyes just barely open and he rocks left to right in a manner offensive to you for some reason.

            You don’t need a reason. You’ve been doing this long enough to call it like you see it and The Kid is nothing more than a vaguely promising hack. You might want to talk to him on break, get a better idea where his head is at, but meanwhile he’s wiggling around and you kind of hope he gets caught under a

...

“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

...

“Silent Soundtrack” — a short story by Bari Lynn Hein

Chris Chisholm’s suit jacket landed beside his foot in a black pinstriped heap. He studied his fragmented reflection in a mosaic of mirrors, raised his eyebrows and his glass and said, “A toast!”

            There was only one other person within view, within earshot. Phil the bartender stood beneath a clock whose hands were both pointed to the number one. “What’re we toasting, Chi Chi?”

            Chris opened his mouth to say, “To Reggie!” But what came out were the lyrics of a Led Zeppelin song: “The cup is raised, the toast is made again…” He trailed off, humming, as if he’d forgotten the rest. He hadn’t.

            Phil smirked and reinserted a rag into the glass he’d been drying. “Thanks a lot. Now I’ll have that love song stuck in my

...

“Plainsong” — a short story by Joyce Becker Lee

     Tansy steps up to the microphone, and the world shifts into slow motion. Behind her, the band pulsates, big brass, booming beat, and howling saxophones like foreplay. Before her, the shadowy movement of caliginous figures, backlit to opacity, a murky mob breathing as though one, daring her to entertain with the melodies stored in her throat and heart, perversely seeking the pleasure to be derived from her anticipated failure to enthrall.

            The mike’s silver orb becomes her focus, its aura a tight dome that pulls at her breath, sucking the notes from her depths, the rushing air inverting her

...

“Speakeasy” — a short story by Matt Hayes

     I was recently at a speakeasy in Tbilisi, drinking wine and tapping my foot in time with a jazz quartet, when I noticed a dishevelled French magician approach the mysterious black-haired girl I’d had my eye on for the past ten minutes. This irked me less than it might have, because the Frenchman was clearly a drunkard of dubious repute, and the girl was plainly uninterested in him, not deigning to respond to his advances with so much as a word. He performed endless coin tricks and card tricks for her, and loudly complimented her exotic

...

“Coloring Outside the Lines” — a short story by Debora Ewing

     I like the jazz because it plays in different colors: deep green and blue, translucent purple, ivory black; city storefronts, magenta sunsets; watercolor splashes here and there like a yellow crocus on snow or an orange goldfish tail — sudden, surprising, but always carefully placed.

     …Like the way people come in different colors — they just don’t know it. People walk along in darkness daily, ignorant of the color that’s surrounding them or the beat their music plays. That’s what I’m lying here thinking about, in my dark bedroom between the folds of cotton sheets. Africans, Asians, Seminoles…they all come in different colors — not their skins, but their insides. Each person glows from deep within, from a well that springs out of

...

“One Suitcase” — a short story by Wayne Cresser

     Henry Bell wished the actress on the TV interview show wouldn’t smile so much. Most show folk, he thought, were not memorable. They were things, as he had written in one of his songs, made on the cheap from neon and crepe. Sometimes he believed it too. Then he’d remind himself that human beings wrote all kinds of wonderful tunes, like “The Wind” — the number that had made his mind reel when he was very young and made him think he could write songs.

     “The Wind” was eight, maybe nine, minutes of continuous jamming colored in with jazzy chords, an understated vocal and poetry. As a kid, listening to Dick Summer’s Subway show late at night on his transistor radio, stuck under the pillow to muzzle its volume, he thought he could trek into “The Wind” and the journey through its changes would be endless.

     Now, nearly forty, he wasn’t a kid anymore, and jazz-inflected rock music wasn’t his thing. At some point too, he’d decided that Circus Maximus was a pretty dumb name for a

...

“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

...

“Born With It” — a story by Rod Martinez

Do you remember growing up and always running into that one kid that just could do it all? Or at least did something better than you that you just wished you could do? It could have been art, sports, holding his breath under water – whatever it was it seemed it was a natural gift for him, like he was born with it. Who didn’t wish he or she was “born with it”?

During my childhood, I was always told I was special. Sure we all hear that growing up, and each one of us believes it. No one could make a bed as well as you, no one could

...

“Dizzy Moods” — a short story by Daniel Alvarado

Three cars honked almost in union. Then successively, each a blare in order, one two three, then two three one three four with the line through, beat ripitum boom, ba, riptum boom, now hear it a little faster, just a little faster, lips to instrument, trumpet, three valves, infinite notes to jot to sing to blow, perched lips, fat cheeks, cosmic energy of the union, the intertwined with keys of ivory.

Marcus Breck was recalling stepping on stage the first time. Nervousness rising from toes to a tingling head. Dry mouth, the initial silence of the room that precedes the beginning of

...

“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

...

“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

...

“Silent City” — a short story by Adam Murray

Although only one story wins our thrice yearly Short Fiction Contest, since we typically receive well over 100 entrants, often times there are several worthy of publication. Our last competition, our 37th, was won by Kenneth Levine. His short story “Homage” — about the effect Chet Baker’s drug addiction had on a father and son relationship — was published on November 4.

A finalist in the competition was Adam Murray’s “Silent City,” an excellent story about “how we can’t have the things we can no longer have because they no longer exist.” In this case, what we can’t have again is the 1940’s jazz laboratory known as Minton’s Playhouse. When I sent an email to Murray requesting his permission to allow me to publish “Silent City,” he wrote back and agreed, informing me that he had written this story specifically for Jerry Jazz Musician and “from there just kinda’ crossed my fingers.” In that same email, Murray wrote; “I’m currently homeless in Australia and penned this piece with my back to the brickwork behind a little jazz joint here called Ellington’s, digging on the swing, the night and the street, so your acceptance is a fitting coda for me. I’d be honoured to appear in your publication with like minded souls and voices.”

Murray’s email is an extraordinary reminder

...

“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

...

“Epistrophy” – a short story by Arya Jenkins

The publication of Arya Jenkins’ “Epistrophy” is the third 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.”

__________

Disenchanted leaves fell early through the trees the summer I left my life for an ashram. The path to the ashram snaked into the woods not far from Tanglewood and reminded me less of where I had been than where I was going with its rotund emphasis on kindness and formality-Within a year I would be studying Buddhism in a monastery and teaching English at Cornell in Ithaca.

I was attempting to put a punto finale to the moneyed nonsense in which I’d lived too long in Fairfield County, and wanted to quell my fulminating instinct, my destructive fires and find some kind of peace and stability, even at the expense of boredom–which may have been expecting too much.

...

“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

...

Connecting Fiction with Music

While in the midst of reviewing the stories from the over 100 entrants in our current Short Fiction Contest, I have been impressed by the spirit of creativity that shines through in virtually every submission. No matter the story theme, the creative energy and spontaneity is as frequently evident in the writer’s turn of a phrase as it is in a jazz musician’s harmonic progression.

The other day I got into a conversation about how jazz musicians of the 1950’s and the Beat era writers shared an artistic language and had similar creative values that showed up in a variety of examples. The one that came to mind first was in Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road,” where Kerouac is inspired by a jazz performance in Chicago…This is what he writes:

...

A Letter from the Publisher/Introducing Jazz Fiction writer Arya Jenkins

For 11 years, Jerry Jazz Musician has sponsored 33 Short Fiction Contests resulting in 30 different contest winners. During that time, I estimate that I have read and considered over 3,000 short stories.

The stories vary in content and quality, of course, and it has been my goal to publish the best story regardless of its theme. This has at times led to confusion by some writers over the years who believe that, since Jerry Jazz Musician’s focus is on jazz history – and in particular within the confines and culture of mid-20th Century America – the winning story should always be about jazz or a character within that setting.

...

Short Fiction Contest Details

Three times a year, Jerry Jazz Musician awards a writer who submits, in ouropinion, the best original, previously unpublished work of approximatelyone – five thousand words. The winner will be announced via a specialmailing of our Jerry Jazz Musician newsletter. Publishers, artists,musicians and interested readers are among those who subscribe to the newsletter.Addit ionally, the work will be published on the home page of JerryJazz Musician and featured there for at least four weeks.

...

Short Story Contest-winning story #11: “Stalking Bella,” by Hope Payson

The whole stalking thing started with the footprints. They were so large that his size twelve’s fit easily into the indents in the snow, and the space between them was so wide that following them forced him into an awkward little step-jump. Large paw prints ran parallel to the human prints. He assumed that they belonged to a dog. What else could they be? Yet, what did he know about the customs or recreational habits of these Northern Maine people? For all he knew they strutted through the pines chatting with bears.

...

Short Story Contest-winning story #10: “Uncle Evil Eye,” by Carole Bugge

My father died quickly and cleanly in the waning days of autumn, just two months before the arrival of the millennium. A massive neural hemorrhage took him — his brain, drowned in blood, was gone within hours. It was ironic that his own blood finally accomplished what years of alcoholism had not: heavy as his drinking was, he remained utterly lucid and sharp until the early morning hours of a late October Tuesday, when a tiny blood vessel in his head gave way, loosening the flood of fluid that killed him. Until then, his memory, both short and long-term, remained unimpaired. True, his body was falling apart; his liver and heart were bad, he suffered from diabetes, gout, macular degeneration — you name it, he had it — but his mind remained as sharp as the day he graduated with a PhD from Harvard.

...

Short Story Contest-winning story #9: “The Sound of Dreaming,” by Mary Burns

(One)

She has begun to daydream about having an affair.

She imagines herself with the men she sits next to at dinner parties, their wives across the table pulling down their mouths as she engages their husbands intensely in conversation, as she lays her hand on their arms and smiles over her wine glass. Then she looks away, smiles at her own husband seated two or three or four people away from her, nods and smiles, raises an eyebrow.

...

An excerpt from Emily Jon Tobias’ MONARCH: Stories, and a reflection on our friendship

An excerpt from the author’s debut MONARCH: Stories, which has been described by Kirkus as “a gutsy, grungy collection centering troubled souls,” and “more than a collection of stories, Tobias’ debut is a selection of gritty, emotional character studies…brimming with pure Americana.” 

...

The Sunday Poem: “Fast Girl” – by Allison Whittenberg

Entertain us, entertain us all
Give, give, give with your sassy voice, your young body
Despite the migraines…

At 11, on a North Philly street, gang raped
By three creeps
It starts there, the cracks
The headache

...

The Sunday Poem: “You Never Forget Your First” – by Brian Kates

My high school girlfriend’s older brother
lived in a garret in the Village, like something
out of La Boheme, and she said maybe if we
went there, he’d leave us alone and we could
well, you know

...

The Sunday Poem: “The Divine Comedy as a Jazz Piece” by Matthew Johnson

I was preparing to make my exit from Heaven back to Earth,
And it was late March, so the lounge had transitioned
To their hot jazz band after playing the cool for months.

...

“Thinking of Herbie” – a poem by Daniel W. Brown

. . The cover of the 1987 Mosaic Records collection of The Complete Blue Note Recordings of Herbie Nichols   . . Thinking of Herbie I was thinking about jazz masters who died too young– private accolades for America’s unknown legion, perished by addiction, illness or accident— Herbie Nichols I didn’t forget you. Dead of … Continue reading ““Thinking of Herbie” – a poem by Daniel W. Brown”

...

The Sunday Poem: “A Mountain Pass (In memory of Joe Pass)” by Bhuwan Thapaliya

A woman sits in a window frame
of old carved birds, listening to her
grandson in his jeans playing fig leaf music
in her home in Koshidekha,
a village in Nepal.

...

Trading Fours, with Douglas Cole, No. 20: “Notes on Genius”

Trading Fours with Douglas Cole is an occasional series of the writer’s poetic interpretations of jazz recordings and film.  This edition is written in response to the music of Wayne Shorter. 

...

The Sunday Poem: “Lady Day and Prez” by Henry Wolstat

At the bar of the
Towne Tavern, once
Toronto’s finest jazz club,
stage facing me,
sipping my one beer,
knowing even then
in my twenty-third year
I was witness to
a never forgotten gig.

...

The Sunday Poem: “Front Row Seat For A Head-Bebopping Allergy Sufferer” by Francis Fernandes

The pollen is flying like mad –
frantic, crazy, amorphously Daliesque –
sort of like our trio the other day,
rollicking and lollygagging through Monk’s
Brilliant Corners, losing it so completely
that when Marty flung a stick at my head

...

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.

...

“Black Coffee Blues” – a poem by Mary K O’Melveny

Even if you never drank black coffee, that won’t stop you from drinking in the feelings that filter across a room whenever Sarah Vaughan sings Black Coffee. One could drown in that bottomless, inky liquid, that heartache-laden brew,

...

“The Poetry Gods Want to Know” – Emmett Wheatfall on the impact of climate change on poets

The Portland, Oregon poet Emmet Wheatfall – whose jazz poetry has been published on Jerry Jazz Musician – talks about the connection between poetry and the environment, and the impact of climate change on poets and other artists, and the rest of humanity.

...

Six poems, six poets new to Jerry Jazz Musician

These poems are new submissions by five poets relatively new to Jerry Jazz Musician, and are an example of the writing I have the privilege of encountering on a regular basis.

...

Proceeding From Behind: A collection of poems grounded in the rhythmic, relating to the remarkable, by Terrance Underwood

A relaxed, familiar comfort emerges from the poet Terrance Underwood’s language of intellectual acuity, wit, and space – a feeling similar to one gets while listening to Monk, or Jamal, or Miles. I have long wanted to share his gifts as a poet on an expanded platform, and this 33-poem collection – woven among his audio readings, music he considers significant to his story, and brief personal comments – fulfills my desire to do so.

...

“Latin Tinges in Modern Jazz” – a playlist by Bob Hecht

A nine-hour long Spotify playlist featuring songs by the likes of Horace Silver, Lee Morgan, Miles Davis, Wayne Shorter, Ahmad Jamal, and Dizzy Gillespie that demonstrates how the Latin music influence on jazz has been present since the music’s beginnings.

...

Trading Fours, with Douglas Cole, No. 19: “The Universal Tone”

Trading Fours with Douglas Cole is an occasional series of the writer’s poetic interpretations of jazz recordings and film. This edition is influenced by Stillpoint, the 2021 album by Zen practitioner Barrett Martin

...

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.

...

“After The Death of Margaret: A True Novella” by S. Stephanie

This story — a finalist in the recently concluded 64th Short Fiction Contest — harkens back to Richard Brautigan’s fiction of the ’70s, and explores modern day co-worker relationships/friendship and the politics of for profit “Universities”

...

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.

...

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

...

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.

...

Interview with Stephanie Stein Crease, author of Rhythm Man: Chick Webb and the Beat That Changed America

The author talks about her book and Chick Webb, once at the center of America’s popular music, and among the most influential musicians in jazz history.

...

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.

...

“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.

...

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.

...

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.

...

A Collection of Jazz Poetry — Spring, 2022 Edition

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

...

Interview with Wayne Enstice, co-author of The Lady Swings: Memoirs of a Jazz Drummer

The book’s co-author in conversation about the little-known life story of the pioneering Ms. Dodgion, who defied the odds to become a world-class jazz drummer in a world – and on an instrument – dominated by men.

...

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.

...

A Collection of Jazz Poetry — Summer, 2021 Edition

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

-Herbie Hancock

.

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

...

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.

...

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.

...

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…

...

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.

...

On a challenging summer in Portland, the passing of Stanley Crouch, and upcoming opportunities for writers

I have to admit, Portland has kicked my ass this summer.

Two fires continue to rage here.  I’m sure you’ve heard about this city’s Black Lives Matter demonstrations that have also sparked pesky vandalism by dozens of mostly White activists.  While their activities seem banal enough – a dumpster fire here, a picnic table on fire there – this behavior shamefully threatens to commandeer BLM’s objectives and gives life to a cynical and evergreen pre-election message stoking White suburban fear.  The vandalism tests the patience of even the most tolerant and hopeful of local citizens.

Now mix in the fires of climate change – hot, powerful winds fanning flames on a drought-laden state – and the result is living in, for now, the epicenter of the world’s worst air quality.

...

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”

...

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.

...

2018 Pushcart Prize nominees

Jerry Jazz Musician is fortunate to have had hundreds of accomplished writers and poets submit their work for consideration of publication during this calendar year.  Many thanks to everyone who thinks enough of this website to desire sharing their creative vision with our readers.  The works published are outstanding examples of the connections that exist between jazz music, its culture, and the literary arts.

I am proud to report that I have nominated six exceptional published pieces for the prestigious

...

About

About Jerry Jazz Musician   Founded and published in Portland, Oregon since 1997, Jerry Jazz Musician is a non-commercial site whose mission is to explore the culture of America with, as noted jazz critic Nat Hentoff wrote, “jazz as the centerpiece.” We focus on publishing content geared toward readers with interests in jazz music, its … Continue reading “About”

...

News about Jerry Jazz Musician contributing writer Arya Jenkins

          In July of 2012, Arya Jenkins’ short story “So What”—a story about an adolescent girl who attempts to connect to her absent father through his record collection – was chosen as the 30th winner of the Jerry Jazz Musician Short Fiction Contest.  When that outstanding work was soon followed up with another quality entry with jazz music at its core, I invited her to contribute her fiction to this website on a more regular basis.  We agreed to a commission of three stories per year, and tomorrow’s publication of “The Piano Whisperer” is her 15th story to appear on Jerry Jazz Musician.

         I recently received word from Ms. Jenkins that Fomite Press, a small, independent publisher out of Vermont whose focus is on exposing high level literary work, will be publishing these stories in a collection titled Blue Songs in an Open Key.  Publication date is

...

2017 Pushcart Prize nominees

Jerry Jazz Musician is fortunate to have had hundreds of accomplished writers and poets submit their work for consideration of publication during this calendar year. Thanks to everyone who thinks enough of this website to desire sharing their creative vision with our readers.  The works published are outstanding examples of the connections that exist between jazz music, its culture, and the literary arts.

I am proud to report that I have nominated six exceptional published pieces for the prestigious Pushcart Prize, and they are

...

Karl Marlantes, author of Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War

Intense, powerful, and compelling, Matterhorn is an epic war novel in the tradition of Norman Mailer’s The Naked and the Dead and James Jones’s The Thin Red Line. It is the timeless story of a young Marine lieutenant, Waino Mellas, and his comrades in Bravo Company, who are dropped into the mountain jungle of Vietnam as boys and forced to fight their way into manhood. Standing in their way are not merely the North Vietnamese but also monsoon rain and mud, leeches and tigers, disease and malnutrition. Almost as daunting, it turns out, are the obstacles they discover between each other: racial tension, competing ambitions, and duplicitous superior officers. But when the company finds itself surrounded and outnumbered by a massive enemy regiment, the Marines are thrust into the raw and all-consuming terror of combat. The experience will change them forever.

...

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.

...

In This Issue

"Nina" by Marsha Hammel
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 the pages of this website. (Featuring the art of Marsha Hammel)

The Sunday Poem

photo by Bekzat Tasmagambetov/via Pexels
"The Lady Sings" - by Michael Keshigian

Click here to read previous editions of The Sunday Poem

Poetry

Proceeding From Behind: A collection of poems grounded in the rhythmic, relating to the remarkable, by Terrance Underwood...A relaxed, familiar comfort emerges from the poet Terrance Underwood’s language of intellectual acuity, wit, and space – a feeling similar to one gets while listening to Monk, or Jamal, or Miles. I have long wanted to share his gifts as a poet on an expanded platform, and this 33-poem collection – woven among his audio readings, music he considers significant to his story, and brief personal comments – fulfills my desire to do so.

Interview

The Marvelettes/via Wikimedia Commons
Interview with Laura Flam and Emily Sieu Liebowitz, authors of But Will You Love Me Tomorrow?: An Oral History of the 60’s Girl Groups...Little is known of the lives and challenges many of the young Black women who made up the Girl Groups of the ‘60’s faced while performing during an era rife with racism, sexism, and music industry corruption. The authors discuss their book’s mission to provide the artists an opportunity to voice their experiences so crucial to the evolution of popular music.

Book Excerpt

An excerpt from Emily Jon Tobias’ MONARCH: Stories, and a reflection on our friendship

Art

photo of Archie Shepp by Giovanni Piesco
The Photographs of Giovanni Piesco: Archie Shepp...photos of the legendary saxophonist (and his rhythm section for the evening), taken at Amsterdam's Bimhuis on May 13, 2001.

Poetry

The cover to Joni Mitchell's 1976 album Hejira [Asylum]; photo by Norman Seeff
“Fort Macleod, Alberta, Canada” – a poem (for Joni Mitchell) by Juan Mobili

Click here to read more poetry published in Jerry Jazz Musician

Calling All Poets!

News about a Jerry Jazz Musician printed jazz poetry anthology, and information about submitting your poetry for consideration

Short Fiction

pickpik.com
Short Fiction Contest-winning story #65 — “Ballad” by Lúcia Leão...The author’s award-winning story is about the power of connections – between father and child, music and art, and the past, present and future.

Click here to read more short fiction published on Jerry Jazz Musician

Interview

photo of Louis Jordan by William Gottlieb/Library of Congress
Interview with Tad Richards, author of Jazz With a Beat: Small Group Swing, 1940 – 1960...Richards makes the case that small group swing players like Illinois Jacquet, Louis Jordan (pictured) and Big Jay McNeely played a legitimate jazz that was a more pleasing listening experience to the Black community than the bebop of Parker, Dizzy, and Monk. It is a fascinating era, filled with major figures and events, and centered on a rigorous debate that continues to this day – is small group swing “real jazz?”

Playlist

Sonny Rollins' 1957 pianoless trio recording "Way Out West"
“The Pianoless Tradition in Modern Jazz” – a playlist by Bob Hecht...an extensive playlist built around examples of prominent pianoless modern jazz.

Feature

Excerpts from David Rife’s Jazz Fiction: Take Two – (Vol. 1)...A substantial number of novels and stories with jazz music as a component of the story have been published over the years, and the scholar David J. Rife has written short essay/reviews of them.  In this initial edition featuring his story essays/reviews, Rife writes about three novels that explore challenges of the mother/daughter relationship.

Trading Fours with Douglas Cole

The cover of Wayne Shorter's 2018 Blue Note album "Emanon"
Trading Fours, with Douglas Cole, No. 20: “Notes on Genius...This edition of the writer’s poetic interpretations of jazz recordings and film is written in response to the music of Wayne Shorter.

Click here to read previous editions of Trading Fours with Douglas Cole

In Memoriam

Hans Bernhard (Schnobby), CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
“Remembering Joe Pass: Versatile Jazz Guitar Virtuoso” – by Kenneth Parsons...On the 30th anniversary of the guitarist Joe Pass’ death, Kenneth Parsons reminds readers of his brilliant career

Book Excerpt

Book excerpt from Jazz with a Beat: Small Group Swing 1940 – 1960, by Tad Richards

Click here to read more book excerpts published on Jerry Jazz Musician

Poetry

painting by Vaino Kunnas
Jazz…in eight poems...A myriad of styles and experiences displayed in eight thoughtful, provocative poems…

Jazz History Quiz #172

photo of Teddy Wilson by William Gottlieb
Teddy Wilson once said this about a fellow jazz pianist:

“That man had the most phenomenal musical gifts I’ve ever heard. He was miraculous. It’s like someone hitting a home run every time he picks up a bat. We became such fast friends that I was allowed to interrupt him anytime he was playing at the house parties in Toledo we used to make every night. When I asked him, he would stop and replay a passage very slowly, showing me the fingering on some of those runs of his. You just couldn’t figure them out by ear at the tempo he played them.”

Who is the pianist he is describing?

Community

photo via Picryl.com
.“Community Bookshelf, #2"...a twice-yearly space where writers who have been published on Jerry Jazz Musician can share news about their recently authored books. This edition includes information about books published within the last six months or so…

Contributing Wr