The Sunday Poem: “Dorothy Donegan: Queen of the Keys” – by Connie Johnson

Sensational
Largely unsung
Dorothy Donegan
Known by jazz insiders as
The female Art Tatum
His protégé
The one who made him say:
“She is the only woman who can
Make me practice.”

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The Sunday Poem: “Not Shelling Fava Beans With Alice Waters” by John Briscoe

I jammed
with the Afro-American Jazz Band
in the old Off Plaza on McAllister,
and with the blind Black pianist whose name I can’t remember
in the club we knew as The Question Mark
whose sign on Haight Street was just a neon ?,
when the club was straight and featured jazz

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The Sunday Poem: “How I Achieved Levitation” by Bryan Franco

. .   The Sunday Poem  is published weekly, and strives to include the poet reading their work. Bryan Franco reads his poem at its conclusion. . . ___ . . . . How I Achieved Levitation They all lived in the Walnut Building. Satchmo blew the roof off the house. Fats Waller tickled ivories. … Continue readingThe Sunday Poem: “How I Achieved Levitation” by Bryan Franco”

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The Sunday Poem: “Behind the Smile (for Satchmo)” by Antoinette F. Winstead

The Young Turk disregarded the old trumpeter
labeled him a vaudevillian minstrel
because he shucked and grinned,
having no privy to old man’s roiling anger within
fueled by slights and shames endured for years
despite his lauded, storied career.

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The Sunday Poem: “I Blame Chet Baker” by Lauren Loya

I blame Chet Baker
For opening a window into my past
Sensing that phantom trumpet in my capable hands
The smooth curves of the hard brass, the cold
Mouthpiece against my buzzing lips
Bright melodies blaring
From carefree days of my youth

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The Sunday Poem: “Fledging” by John L. Stanizzi

The woodshed was the hunting ground for wings of notes.
Black suits and ties, hipster hats and smoke rings of notes.

Was Robert Johnson alone, hellhound on his trail?
Was a deal made? Was Bird Satan’s plaything of notes.

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The Sunday Poem: “Musical Invocation” by Kathryn MacDonald

Strains of Charlie Parker’s alto sax fill
the empty apartment song-after-song –
“Dancing in the Dark,” “Loverman,”
“Embraceable You.”
Between every note I wish.

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The Sunday Poem: “The Church of St. John Coltrane” by Mark Fogarty

Coltrane said a prayer to his musical God
Straight through the horn of his saxophone.
Not a metaphor; he spoke the words
Through the reed and the music into the air.

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The Sunday Poem “Po’ Monkey’s Juke Joint: Merigold, Mississippi” by Marianne Peel

Shrouded in smoke and cigarette spheres
Jazzy speakeasy on a summer slog of a night

Where hips ramble in tandem,
Slide and slip in an out of rhythm

Juke Joint shifting with an uneven floor
Naked feet shuffling and colliding

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The Sunday Poem: “Being Smooth, Jazz, and Chill” by Christopher D. Sims

Smooth. Jazz. Chill.
Write. Think. Build.
Listen. Vibe. Poetically
design.

Spend time with jazzy
sounds elevating the
mind. Jazz is smooth.
Jazz is chill.

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The Sunday Poem: “Duke Ellington’s Big-Band Orchestra: Live at Basin Street East, New York City. Summer 1964” – by Alan and Arlan Yount

The poet Alan Yount and son Arlan write about a live 1964 performance by Duke Ellington and His Orchestra

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The Sunday Poem: “Jazz Within Me” by Jerrice Baptiste

. . The Sunday Poem  is published weekly, and strives to include the poet reading their work. Ms. Baptiste reads her poem at its conclusion. . . ___ . . David Dellepiane, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons . . Jazz Within Me I like Jazz playing within me. ……………….Record that never skips. Since age sixteen, … Continue readingThe Sunday Poem: “Jazz Within Me” by Jerrice Baptiste”

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The Sunday Poem: “Nina As In Nina Simone” by Arya F. Jenkins

This narrative poem is informed by quotes and stories in What Happened, Miss Simone? the 2015 Netflix biographical documentary about the singer/artist’s life and art

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The Sunday Poem: “Wood Ticks on Fire: Cecil Taylor and the Forests of Sound that Plant Themselves in Us” – by George Kalamaras

The poet writes about the complexity of pianist Cecil Taylor’s music, and the liberation he feels from listening to it

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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.

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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.

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“Compared to What?” – a poem by James Higgins

. . photo by Brian Mcmillen, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons Les McCann at San Francisco’s Keystone Korner, 1980 . ___ . Compared To What? It’s Les McCann & Eddie Harris heard it back in ’69, heard it now not once but twice, so nice, but sadness got me tonight, hit me hard, Compared … Continue reading ““Compared to What?” – a poem by James Higgins”

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“Green Street” – a poem by George Kalamaras

How can somebody so blue, Grant, be named
Green? How can the ocean current

and its waves? Simple. Immediate. Each note comes
from you slow as underwater speech. Say

a fish tank and pufferfish hugging the glass. Imagine
being trapped. Gravel pumped through the gills

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“Four Sides Live” – a poem by Justin Hare

It tickles my fancy the way
francophone announcers
ornately say the names
of jazzmen in those live recordings
put to reel in Montreux.
Jack DeJohnette in particular
tickles me, perhaps because
it is a french-like sort of name.

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“Song of the Poplar Tree” – a poem by Jerrice Baptiste

. . “Tree”(1924) photo by Alfred Stieglitz/via Raw Pixel/CC0 1.0 Deed . .   Song of the Poplar Tree The song playing always catches me off guard. My trembling fingers quicken to remove the old vinyl record. I must stop her voice from singing. Even the wispy quality carries the heavy weight. I weep. Not … Continue reading ““Song of the Poplar Tree” – a poem by Jerrice Baptiste”

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“Thelonious Monk and Mama” – a poem by Erren Kelly

. . photo by Bernard Gotfryd/Library of Congress/PDM 1.0 Thelonious Monk, 1968 . ___ .   Thelonious Monk and Mama Thelonious Monk paints a picture of Mama with his piano, the way Monet or Matisse would, with paint: loud, bright colorful notes that are a Rorschach test, screaming on the page. Perhaps, Mama would’ve modeled … Continue reading ““Thelonious Monk and Mama” – a poem by Erren Kelly”

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“Wolfman and The Righteous Brothers” – a poem by John Briscoe

Barstow to Boron, bound for Bakersfield
we fly across the Mojave Desert, will wind
through and over the Tehachapis
only to come to rest in another desert
on the rim of the sink of California.

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Ella Fitzgerald, in poems by Claire Andreani and Michael L. Newell

Ella Fitzgerald is whispering
to me: “sit here and enjoy your dinner with my
sweet honey voice,” eternal bloom of time,
filling the corner of the street where I eat
with a Golden Age long gone but that remains
like an idea, lingering, like the steam of a
hot bath leaving
traces of fingers on the mirror

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“Tony Bennett, In Memoriam” – a poem by Erren Kelly

. . David Becker, CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons “‘Benedetto’ means the ‘blessed one’ and I feel that I have truly been blessed.” -Tony Bennett . . ___ . .     Tony Bennett, In Memoriam Lightning strikes as your voice makes magic on a summer night i think of a tall girl … Continue reading ““Tony Bennett, In Memoriam” – a poem by Erren Kelly”

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“Solace” – a poem by Terrance Underwood

. . Lester Young,  1946 . . Solace I relish the cultivation of my Lester afternoons an endeavor still absorbing at my age captive in that garden of ambient sound …………………that Young tenor breath ………………………….a zephyr expulsion stirring atmosphere rare these days for this climate caressing time & movement with a tone to stream still … Continue reading ““Solace” – a poem by Terrance Underwood”

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“Old J.S.— Running Through the Changes” — a poem by Joel Glickman

So long ago, before Ornette Coleman,
Coleman Hawkins, John Coltrane—
all those free spirits running up and down
the alphabet of jazz, there was old
J.S. Bach, running through the changes.
I always picture him, and hear him,
at the pipe organ in Tomas Kirsche
all by himself,

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Paying homage to vinyl record albums — in three poems

One of my greatest joys for decades
was exploring unknown record shops.
I once walked into a newly opened used
shop around the corner from my university
and discovered a used album, apparently
the improvisatory result of a session
set up by Norman Granz that included

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“Alabama: Jack DeJohnette, Ravi Coltrane, Matthew Garrison” — a poem by John McCluskey

                Yes, it is hot,
     night sweats beneath
     Spanish moss and the terror in trees
     now knowing no cover of darkness
     to greet a Sunday morning

     10:22 a.m.
                      under the stairs
                                     16th Street Baptist Church.

     “Three minutes”
     and the siren wails

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

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

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

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“As Long As You Living Yours (For Keith Jarrett)” — a poem by Erren Kelly

not even schroeder from the peanuts
comic strip
is as dedicated to the piano
and he has a bust of beethoven
gracing his steinway!
you pull sounds out of the air
making something out of nothing

you call it improvisation:

i say, god’s just using you as
a transmitter for his thoughts…

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A Black History Month Profile: Miles Davis

In a 2003 Jerry Jazz Musician interview, John Szwed, author of So What: The Life of Miles Davis, reveals a brilliant, inventive, intensely driven musician who was plagued by a host of internal conflicts and contradictions.  “Miles’ life as a whole is not easy to grasp,” Szwed reflects, “and the meaning of it, with or without his help, is resistant to quick interpretations.”

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“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.

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A Black History Month Profile: The Harlem Globetrotters

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

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A collection of jazz haiku, Vol. 2

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

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A Black History Month Profile: Zora Neale Hurston

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

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“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.

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A Black History Month Profile – Pianist and composer Eubie Blake

In this 2021 Jerry Jazz Musician interview,  Eubie Blake biographers Ken Bloom and Richard Carlin discuss the legendary composer of American popular song and jazz during the 20th century

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“Jazz and American Poetry” – an essay by Tad Richards

Tad Richards is a prolific visual artist, poet, novelist, and nonfiction writer who has been active for over four decades. ..He frequently writes about poetry, and the following piece about the history of the connection of jazz and American poetry first appeared in the Greenwood Encyclopedia of American Poetry (2005). It is published with the permission of the author.

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A Black History Month Profile: Civil Rights Leader Bayard Rustin

In a 2003  Jerry Jazz Musician interview, John D’Emilio, author of Lost Prophet: The Life and Times of Bayard Rustin, talks about one of the most important figures of the American civil rights movement, and a mentor of Dr. Martin Luther King.

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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

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The Photographs of Giovanni Piesco: Mal Waldron

Beginning in 1990, the noted photographer Giovanni Piesco began taking backstage photographs of many of the great musicians who played in Amsterdam’s Bimhuis, that city’s main jazz venue which is considered one of the finest in the world. Jerry Jazz Musician will occasionally publish portraits of jazz musicians that Giovanni has taken over the years. This edition is of the pianist/composer Mal Waldron, taken on three separate appearances at Bimhuis (1996, 2000 and 2001).

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“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.

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Interview with Gary Carner, author of Pepper Adams: Saxophone Trailblazer

The author speaks with Bob Hecht about his book and his decades-long dedication to the genius of Pepper Adams, the stellar baritone saxophonist whose hard-swinging bebop style inspired many of the top-tier modern baritone players.

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On the Turntable — The “Best Of the ‘Best Of’” in 2023 jazz recordings

A year-end compilation of jazz albums oft mentioned by a wide range of critics as being the best of 2023

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

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

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

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

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Book Excerpt from Becoming Ella Fitzgerald: The Jazz Singer Who Transformed American Song, by Judith Tick

In this excerpt from the Introduction to her book Becoming Ella: The Jazz Singer Who Transformed American Song, Judith Tick writes about highlights of Ella’s career, and how the significance of her Song Book recordings is an example of her “becoming” Ella.

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Trading Fours, with Douglas Cole, No. 18: “The Sermon”

Hammers in a construction site
sound like a band warming up,
weird solos by a bunch of drummers.
Jimmy Smith comes down draped in groove,
sermonizing your stride,
clouds chest-out like they know something.
A man standing in front of a house,
shouting, I got nothing from you!

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From the Interview Archive: A 2013 conversation with Guthrie Ramsey, author of The Amazing Bud Powell: Black Genius, Jazz History, and the Challenge of Bebop

In a 2013 Jerry Jazz Musician interview,  Guthrie Ramsey talks about Bud Powell, one of the greatest pianist’s in jazz history, and the collision of two vibrant political economies: the discourses of art and the practice of Blackness.

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The Photographs of Giovanni Piesco: Anthony Braxton

Beginning in 1990, the noted photographer Giovanni Piesco began taking backstage photographs of many of the great musicians who played in Amsterdam’s Bimhuis, that city’s main jazz venue which is considered one of the finest in the world. Jerry Jazz Musician will occasionally publish portraits of jazz musicians that Giovanni has taken over the years. This edition is of the saxophonist Anthony Braxton, taken in January, 2015.

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Interview Archive: Gary Giddins on Thelonious Monk

The former Village Voice writer Gary Giddins, who was prominently featured in Ken Burns’ documentary Jazz, and who is the country’s preeminent jazz critic, joins us in a December 23, 2002 conversation about jazz legend Thelonious Monk.

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Trading Fours, with Douglas Cole, No. 17: “All I know about music is not many people ever really hear it”

I don’t know where it starts, he said, but can you imagine
watching  They Cloned Tyrone  and the music playing,
almost the whole dance club version of  Love Hangover,
I can’t even watch anything, my mind looks through the settings,
the dialogue is like a crowd talking in a club and I want to listen in,
go into that Diana Ross whisper singing love voice

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

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

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

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

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The Photographs of Giovanni Piesco: Arthur Blythe

Beginning in 1990, the noted photographer Giovanni Piesco began taking backstage photographs of many of the great musicians who played in Amsterdam’s Bimhuis, that city’s main jazz venue which is considered one of the finest in the world. Jerry Jazz Musician will occasionally publish portraits of jazz musicians that Giovanni has taken over the years. This edition is of the saxophonist Arthur Blythe and his trio, taken on the evening of June 24, 1999.

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Trading Fours, with Douglas Cole, No. 16: “Little Waltz” and “Summertime”

Trading Fours with Douglas Cole is an occasional series of the writer’s poetic interpretations of jazz recordings and film. In this edition, the poet connects the recordings of Jessica Williams’ “Little Waltz” and Gene Harris’ “Summertime.”

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Community Bookshelf, # 1

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

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

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

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A thought or two about Tony Bennett

. . Fotograaf Onbekend / Anefo, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons Tony Bennett, 1966 . ___ .   …..We’ve lost a ton of iconic celebrities lately – stars of all ages and from many creative worlds.  Among them: Tina Turner, David Crosby, Cormac McCarthy, Alan Arkin, David Bowie, Ahmad Jamal, Wayne Shorter, Sidney Poitier, Gordon Lightfoot, … Continue reading “A thought or two about Tony Bennett”

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Jazz Haiku – a sampler

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

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Trading Fours, with Douglas Cole, No. 13: “What We Talk About When We Talk About Kind of Blue

The poet writes about the significance of Miles Davis’s “Kind of Blue”, and why it is the “it” jazz recording…

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“Riff ‘n’ Tiff” – humor by Dig Wayne

. . “Modus Dualis,” by Martel Chapman . . Riff ‘n’ Tiff There was no time signature to save Louis Armstrong from the shivery brine. Monk volunteered to heave his piano overboard to give the lifeboat more zest but it wouldn’t budge or stay in tune for that matter. Moisture had initiated a rift between … Continue reading ““Riff ‘n’ Tiff” – humor by Dig Wayne”

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Interview with Guthrie Ramsey, author of The Amazing Bud Powell: Black Genius, Jazz History, and the Challenge of Bebop

Bud Powell was not only one of the greatest bebop pianists of all time, he stands as one of the twentieth century’s most dynamic and fiercely adventurous musical minds. His expansive musicianship, riveting performances, and inventive compositions expanded the bebop idiom and pushed jazz musicians of all stripes to higher standards of performance. Yet Powell remains one of American music’s most misunderstood figures, and the story of his exceptional talent is often overshadowed by his history of alcohol abuse, mental instability, and brutalization at the hands of white authorities.

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

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

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

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Ben Green, author of Spinning the Globe: The Rise, Fall, and Return to Greatness of the Harlem Globetrotters

Before Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell, Julius Erving, or Michael Jordan — before Magic Johnson and Showtime — the Harlem Globetrotters revolutionized basketball and spread the game around the world. In Spinning the Globe: The Rise, Fall, and Return to Greatness of the Harlem Globetrotters, author Ben Green tells the story of this extraordinary franchise and iconic American institution.

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John Szwed, author of So What: The Life of Miles Davis

More than half a century after his bebop debut, and more than eleven years after his death, Miles Davis lives on. His music is used to pitch jeans, shape films, and personify an era. To this day, he is revered as the archetype of cool.

While several books have been written about Davis, including his own autobiography, due to his passion for reinvention and his extreme reticence the real story of Miles Davis has been obscured by the legend and widely misunderstood.

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A Collection of Jazz Poetry — Winter, 2024 Edition

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

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In Memoriam: Carla Bley, 1936 – 2023

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

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A collection of jazz haiku

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

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

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A Collection of Jazz Poetry — Summer, 2023 Edition

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

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“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.

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A Collection of Jazz Poetry — Spring, 2023 Edition

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

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Interview with Richard Koloda, author of Holy Ghost: The Life & Death of Free Jazz Pioneer Albert Ayler

An impeccably researched biography of an influential figure in American music, the goal of which is “to draw attention away from the circumstances surrounding Ayler’s death and bring it sharply back to the legacy he left behind.”

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A Collection of Jazz Poetry — Summer, 2022 Edition

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

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A Collection of Jazz Poetry — Spring, 2022 Edition

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

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Three poets inspired by jazz divas

My mouth hungry
ravenous lips slathered
with Radiant Ruby gloss
I dine on the very edges
of the celestial universe.
Ingest illumination
until my voice box
awakens antiquities,
beguiling even the moon.

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A Poetry Collection — inspired by Miles Davis

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

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A Collection of Jazz Poetry — Autumn, 2020 Edition

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

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

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

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

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A Collection of Jazz Poetry — Summer, 2020 Edition

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

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A Collection of Jazz Poetry — Spring, 2020 Edition

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

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A Collection of Jazz Poetry — Winter, 2020 Edition

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

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A Collection of Jazz Poetry — Fall, 2019 Edition

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

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A collection of jazz poetry — April, 2019 edition

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

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

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

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“Should I sacrifice my life to live half American?”

While the civil rights movement may not have officially begun until the December, 1955 day that Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white man on a Montgomery, Alabama bus, the stage for it was set years before that.  Religious leaders and institutions, jazz and athletics all famously played important roles in building a foundation for the movement,

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“Lulu and Me” — a short story by Arya Jenkins

     The winter I ran away, I moved into a garret in Provincetown, where I wrote poetry under the light of a candle far into the wee hours. Out my window, two stories up, I could see snow glistening on slanted rooftops that led like an uneven staircase to the bay. Below me, a twisted narrow path led to Commercial Street, peaceful and stark as an unwritten page. It was 1973 and I had run to the end of the world as I knew it to find freedom.

       I knew Provincetown from spending summers with my dad and Grandma Tess in her cottage in Truro. It seemed she’d lived most of her life since Grandpa’s passing as a beachcomber. I liked following behind her when we collected

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“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

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“Don’t Threaten Me with Love, Baby” — a short story by Arya Jenkins

Chantal Doolittle wasn’t like anybody else she knew. Who else, for example, would stand transfixed before a record player or stereo, still as stone while listening to music — not merely attending to it — her very cells taking in the song, calculating and absorbing. “That girl is special,” Nana Esther always said.

When she was a kid and Motown was the thing, Chan would sing Marvin Gaye’s tunes to her grandmother in their high ceilinged apartment, where, more often than not it was soul music, the harmonizing voices of The Four Tops, The Temptations, The Supremes, drifting in from the surrounding windows and disappearing into the sky that was perennially a washed out gray, as if there was an invisible flag always at half mast, hanging outside heaven. From the time she was five or six, all Chan had to do was hear a song once and she would know it. She knew all the Motown tunes word for word, and sang them right on key, perfectly, which is why Nana Esther dubbed her, “my little songbird.”

Of course, there was nothing little about Chantal, but, being her grandmother’s one and only, she was “a little one” to her. Chantal was tall, big for her age, and when she developed as a young woman, busty too. She stood out even before she opened her mouth, due to her attitude. Her nana had taught her to be “confident as a man,” and she had seemingly

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“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.”

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

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

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“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.”

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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.

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

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

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

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Reminiscing in Tempo: Memories and Opinion/Volume Five: What are five books that mean a lot to you?

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

What are five books that mean a lot to you?

Featuring Ben Ratliff, David Maraniss, Diane McWhorter, Don Byron, Gary Giddins, James Gavin, Kevin Boyle and others…

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The Ralph Ellison Project: interview with Lawrence Jackson, author of Ralph Ellison: Emergence of Genius

Author, intellectual and social critic, Ralph Ellison was a pivotal figure in American literature and history, and arguably the father of African-American modernism. Universally acclaimed for Invisible Man, a masterpiece of modern fiction, and more recently for the posthumously edited and published Juneteenth, Ellison was recognized with a succession of honors, including the 1953 National Book Award.

Lawrence Jackson’s Ralph Ellison: Emergence of Genius is the first thoroughly researched biography of Ellison.

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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 via Pickpic
“Footprints to Infinity” by Michael Amitin

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.

Black History

The Harlem Globetrotters/photo via Wikimedia Commons
A Black History Month Profile: The Harlem Globetrotters...In this 2005 interview, Ben Green, author of Spinning the Globe: The Rise, Fall, and Return to Greatness of the Harlem Globetrotters, discusses the complex history of the celebrated Black touring basketball team.

Black History

photo of Zora Neale Hurston by Carl Van Vechten/Library of Congress
A Black History Month Profile: Zora Neale Hurston...In a 2002 interview, Carla Kaplan, editor of Zora Neale Hurston: A Life in Letters, talks about the novelist, anthropologist, playwright, folklorist, essayist and poet

Black History

Eubie Blake
A Black History Month Profile – Pianist and composer Eubie Blake...In this 2021 Jerry Jazz Musician interview, Eubie Blake biographers Ken Bloom and Richard Carlin discuss the legendary composer of American popular song and jazz during the 20th century

Feature

Jamie Branch's 2023 album "Fly or Die Fly or Die Fly or Die ((world war))"
On the Turntable— The “Best Of the ‘Best Of’” in 2023 jazz recordings...A year-end compilation of jazz albums oft mentioned by a wide range of critics as being the best of 2023 - including the late trumpeter Jamie Branch's Fly or Die Fly or Die Fly or Die ((world war))

Essay

"Lester Leaps In" by Tad Richards
"Jazz and American Poetry," an essay by Tad Richards...In an essay that first appeared in the Greenwood Encyclopedia of American Poetry in 2005, Tad Richards - a prolific visual artist, poet, novelist, and nonfiction writer who has been active for over four decades – writes about the history of the connection of jazz and American poetry.

Interview

photo of Pepper Adams/courtesy of Pepper Adams Estate
Interview with Gary Carner, author of Pepper Adams: Saxophone Trailblazer...The author speaks with Bob Hecht about his book and his decades-long dedication to the genius of Pepper Adams, the stellar baritone saxophonist whose hard-swinging bebop style inspired many of the top-tier modern baritone players.

Interview

IISG, CC BY-SA 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
Interview with Judith Tick, author of Becoming Ella Fitzgerald: The Jazz Singer Who Transformed American Song...The author discusses her book, a rich, emotionally stirring, exceptional work that explores every element of Ella’s legacy in great depth, reminding readers that she was not only a great singing artist, but also a musical visionary and social activist.

Poetry

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

Playlist

“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.

Poetry

[Columbia Legacy]
“On Becoming A Jazz Fanatic In The Early 1970’s” – 20 linked short poems by Daniel Brown

Short Fiction

Christerajet, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Short Fiction Contest-winning story #64 — “The Old Casino” by J.B. Marlow...The author's award-winning story takes place over the course of a young man's life, looking at all the women he's loved and how the presence of a derelict building informs those relationships.

Feature

George Shearing/Associated Booking Corporation/James Kriegsmann, New York, via Wikimedia Commons
True Jazz Stories: “An Evening With George,” by Terry Sanville...The writer tells his story of playing guitar with a symphony orchestra, backing up jazz legend George Shearing.

Short Fiction

Defense Visual Information Distribution Service/via Picryl.com
“Afloat” – a finalist in the 64th Jerry Jazz Musician Short Fiction Contest – is about a troubled man in his 40s who lessens his worries by envisioning himself and loved ones on a boat that provides safety and ease for all of them.

Poetry

The poet Connie Johnson in 1981
In a Place of Dreams: Connie Johnson’s album of jazz poetry, music, and life stories...A collection of the remarkable poet's work is woven among her audio readings, a personal narrative of her journey and music she considers significant to it, providing readers the chance to experience the full value of her gifts.

Book Excerpt

Book Excerpt from Becoming Ella Fitzgerald: The Jazz Singer Who Transformed American Song, by Judith Tick...The author writes about highlights of Ella’s career, and how the significance of her Song Book recordings is an example of her “becoming” Ella.

Community

Nominations for the Pushcart Prize XLVIII

Interview

photo courtesy of Henry Threadgill
Interview with Brent Hayes Edwards, co-author (with Henry Threadgill) of Easily Slip Into Another World: A Life in Music...The author discusses his work co-written with Threadgill, the composer and multi-instrumentalist widely recognized as one of the most original and innovative voices in contemporary music, and the winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Music.

Poetry

art by Russell duPont
Three jazz poets…three jazz poems...Takes on love and loss, and memories of Lady Day, Prez, Ella, Louis, Dolphy and others…

Playlist

photo by William Gottlieb/Library of Congress
“A Baker’s Dozen Playlist of Ella Fitzgerald Specialties from Five Decades,” as selected by Ella biographer Judith Tick...Chosen from Ella’s entire repertoire, Ms. Tick’s intriguing playlist (with brief commentary) is a mix of studio recordings, live dates, and video, all available for listening here.

Poetry

"Jazz Trio" by Samuel Dixon
A collection of jazz haiku, Vol. 2...The 19 poets included in this collection effectively share their reverence for jazz music and its culture with passion and brevity.

Jazz History Quiz #170

photo of Dexter Gordon by Brian McMillen
This bassist played with (among others) Charlie Parker, Erroll Garner, Nat King Cole and Dexter Gordon (pictured), was one of the earliest modern jazz tuba soloists, and was the only player to turn down offers to join both Duke Ellington’s Orchestra and the Louis Armstrong All-Stars. Who is he?

Interview

From the Interview Archive: A 2011 conversation with Alyn Shipton, author of Hi-De-Ho: The Life of Cab Calloway...In this interview, Shipton discusses Cab Calloway, whose vocal theatrics and flamboyant stage presence made him one of the country’s most beloved entertainers.

Community

Nominations for the Pushcart Prize XLVIII...announcing the six Jerry Jazz Musician-published writers nominated for the prestigious literary award

Poetry

Gotfryd, Bernard, photographer, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
“Devotion” – a poem and 11 “Musings on Monk,” by Connie Johnson

Photography

photo of Mal Waldron by Giovanni Piesco
Beginning in 1990, the noted photographer Giovanni Piesco began taking backstage photographs of many of the great musicians who played in Amsterdam’s Bimhuis, that city’s main jazz venue which is considered one of the finest in the world. Jerry Jazz Musician will occasionally publish portraits of jazz musicians that Giovanni has taken over the years. This edition is of the pianist/composer Mal Waldron, taken on three separate appearances at Bimhuis (1996, 2000 and 2001).

Interview

Leffler, Warren K/Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
A Black History Month Profile: Civil Rights Leader Bayard Rustin...

Community

FOTO:FORTEPAN / Kölcsey Ferenc Dunakeszi Városi Könyvtár / Petanovics fényképek, CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
.“Community Bookshelf, #1"...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…

Short Fiction

photo by Thomas Leuthard/Wikimedia Commons
“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 tale of Uncle Cheapskate and Aunt Whiner, those pesky relatives you love to hate and hate to love.

Short Fiction

painting of Gaetano Donizetti by Francesco Coghetti/via Wikimedia Commons
“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.

Interview

photo by William Gottlieb/Library of Congress
Interview with Alyn Shipton, author of The Gerry Mulligan 1950’s Quartets...Long regarded as jazz music’s most eminent baritone saxophonist, Gerry Mulligan was a central figure in “cool” jazz whose contributions to it also included his important work as a composer and arranger. Noted jazz scholar Alyn Shipton, author of The Gerry Mulligan 1950s Quartets, and Jerry Jazz Musician contributing writer Bob Hecht discuss Mulligan’s unique contributions to modern jazz.

Book Excerpt

“Chick” Webb was one of the first virtuoso drummers in jazz and an innovative bandleader dubbed the “Savoy King,” who reigned at Harlem’s world-famous Savoy Ballroom. Stephanie Stein Crease is the first to fully tell Webb’s story in her biography, Rhythm Man: Chick Webb and the Beat that Changed America…The book’s entire introduction is excerpted here.

Short Fiction

pixabay.com via Picryl.com
“The Silent Type,” a short story by Tom Funk...The story, a finalist in the recently concluded 64th Short Fiction Contest, is inspired by the classic Bob Dylan song “Tangled Up in Blue” which speculates about what might have been the back story to the song.

Book Excerpt

Book excerpt from Easily Slip Into Another World: A Life in Music, by Henry Threadgill and Brent Hayes Edwards

Contributing Writers

Click the image to view the writers, poets and artists whose work has been published on Jerry Jazz Musician, and find links to their work

Art

Designed for Dancing: How Midcentury Records Taught America to Dance: “Outtakes” — Vol. 2...In this edition, the authors Janet Borgerson and Jonathan Schroeder share examples of Cha Cha Cha record album covers that didn't make the final cut in their book

Pressed for All Time

“Pressed For All Time,” Vol. 17 — producer Joel Dorn on Rahsaan Roland Kirk’s 1967 album, The Inflated Tear

Coming Soon

An interview with Tad Richards, author of Jazz With a Beat: Small Group Swing, 1940 - 1960;  an 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;  a new collection of jazz poetry; a collection of jazz haiku; a new Jazz History Quiz; short fiction; poetry; photography; interviews; playlists; and lots more in the works...

Interview Archive

Eubie Blake
Click to view the complete 22 year archive of Jerry Jazz Musician interviews, including those recently published with Richard Carlin and Ken Bloom on Eubie Blake (pictured); Richard Brent Turner on jazz and Islam; Alyn Shipton on the art of jazz; Shawn Levy on the original queens of standup comedy; Travis Atria on the expatriate trumpeter Arthur Briggs; Kitt Shapiro on her life with her mother, Eartha Kitt; Will Friedwald on Nat King Cole; Wayne Enstice on the drummer Dottie Dodgion; the drummer Joe La Barbera on Bill Evans; Philip Clark on Dave Brubeck; Nicholas Buccola on James Baldwin and William F. Buckley; Ricky Riccardi on Louis Armstrong; Dan Morgenstern and Christian Sands on Erroll Garner; Maria Golia on Ornette Coleman.

Site Archive