A brief collection of poetry devoted to jazz…and love

November 7th, 2023

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“Jazz Diva” by Marsha Hammel

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All That Jazz

I was a Simon & Garfunkel, Motown kind of gal
He brought Maynard, Miles, and Hancock to the mix

Learned to love Billie Holiday’s smoky, sultry songs
Filled with yearnings, loss, and lynchings.

Floated away with Norah Jones, swooned with Etta’s
At last, melted with Nat’s Unforgettable.

My being swayed by new rhythms, blues, and beats
Hips swaying, bodies entwined with the timber of new love.

by Linda Freudenberger

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Now It’s Time To Go a Journeying 

I’ve lived a whole lifetime without you
Impossible task, but easily observed
In the rear view: Sad as a gypsy
serenading the moon

Palpable need, notes floating like
November-song, circling my head as I seek
Love as my shelter. An ex told me that when
I sit in my car under a tree to eat my fast food
Breakfast with coffee, enveloping leaves and
Branches above my sunroof top, that I probably
Look like I’m homeless

He could be right

But I just feel free
And now here’s Gregory Porter on my radio singing
“Skylark” and I think about birds sailing through the sky
Above my head being asked by any and all forlorn souls
To be led to a kiss

That’s probably a lot to ask of a bird
Minding his own business, just singing
for the sheer joy of it

Love is rare but it’s something I still feel
Free to find, key in the ignition and above us all
The melting clouds – grays and deeper grays
Like the entrance to that final mystery,
Where all that once was elusive is now
Beautifully clear:

Won’t you lead me there?

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by Connie Johnson

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The Bombshell’s Waltz

You walk down the street
like a flashforward
from a coming-of-age novel
or a Kamasi Washington solo
from a feelgood jazz collection.
You’re cranberry
like canned Thanksgiving relish.
Your jacket shimmies
and your lips pull back into a grin
like a gibbon pissed off
at a bunch of tourists.
I embrace you, hoping to avoid
the glitter spilling from your cheeks.
You shout, It’s been too long!
I don’t say, Not long enough.
Because I’m caught up in your act,
like when Kamasi’s sax carries me
aloft and I become him for a moment.
Your red lipstick stains my cheek
and your perfume invades me.
I’m with you again.

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by Geer Austin

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Dig It *

The lady was my barbecue
and far from being a battle,
she was barrelhouse,
a canary chick I collared.

She crept out like a shadow,
wearing a cool drape
and warned me,
“Don’t play me cut rate, Jack.”

I was togged to the bricks
and enjoyed a bit
of trickeration and the lady
just couldn’t help herself.

“You are too much,” she said,
“not at all off the cob.
Kill me, Baby.”

So, off we went
to do a little pecking
at the club.

Dig it?

 

[ *with a nod to Cab Calloway
and The Hepster’s Dictionary ]

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by Russell duPont

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Love Song

A long, subdued blast of a trumpet.

The gentle humming strum
of an upright base.

The warbled sound of a saxophone
making its presence known.

Fingers running across a piano keyboard
impersonating a tap dancer lightly tap dancing
across 88 upside-down steel drums.

A vocalist singing a song
calm and clean
straight and smooth:
a song that is a love song,
a song about a love
that is pure and incorruptible,
a song that imitates a single tear
falling smoothly down a cheek,
its salty residue
landing on the edge
of a joyous smile.

…………….(originally published in Jerry Jazz Musician, Aug. 22, 2023)

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by Bryan Franco

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What!?!?

What is this thing,
called by many names
in different jazz dialects:
“Louise”
in wild exhilarating Cecil Taylor syntax,
“What Love”
haunting and volatile by Mingus,
yearning, caressing whispers,
always soft,
but underneath the surface full fire impact
like cold coffee on a blistering summer day
because it’s too
goddamn hot,
Cole Porter, Mister Broadway “Kiss Me Kate”
knew experience is not only words, it’s What?
Django’s answer a jaunty “Minor Swing”
jitterbug gypsy four step,
but who can describe the mystery
of being inside undulating
in liquid warmth
a seed in black earth soil
foolish and crazy at times,
like a rose in a “Hot House”
wanting to break
free to the sun
perhaps Konitz reverting “Subconscious-Lee”
to childhood, like a child craving attention,
“I’m the center, the universe,
I’m not! What is this?”
What makes us ourselves,
What design, energy, and chaos
What delicate failure,
falling, getting up again, and again,
learning to walk, moving into this thing,
this What, this love?

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by Daniel Brown

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Long Forgotten

When she smiled, her face
grew crooked, a delightful
quirk that hooked my heart,
and drew me ever closer

to her wild eccentricities:
brown eyes that were untamed
as a mountain forest; lips
that never needed lipstick,

or any other trick of makeup;
legs that ran with a greyhound’s
grace over terrain rough and smooth;
an embrace that turned sunset to sunrise;

and a voice with the depth of a baritone sax
that turned conversation into jazz.

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by Michael L. Newell

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Listen to the 1958 recording of Duke Ellington and His Orchestra play “Tenderly” [Columbia/Legacy]

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Geer Austin’s poetry has appeared in Poet Lore, Fjords Review, Main Street Rag, BlazeVOX, Neuro Logical Magazine and others, and his fiction has appeared in A/U Magazine, the podcast A Story Most Queer and elsewhere. He is the author of Cloverleaf, a poetry chapbook (Poets Wear Prada Press). He lives in New York City.

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Daniel Brown has loved jazz (and music in general) ever since he delved into his parents’ 78 collection as a child. He is a retired special education teacher who began writing as a senior. He always appreciates being published in a journal or anthology. His first poetry collection, Family Portraits in Verse and Other Illustrated Poems, was recently published by Epigraph Books.

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Russell duPont is an artist and an author whose artwork is included in a number of public and private collections. He has published three novels, King & Train , Waiting for the Turk and Movin’ On, the sequel to King & Train; two books of poetry; and two non-fiction chapbooks. His essay, “The Corner,” is included in the anthology Streets of Echoes. His work has been published in various newspapers and literary magazines. He was the founder & publisher of the literary magazine,.the albatross.

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Bryan Franco is a gay, Jewish poet from Brunswick, Maine who competed in the 2014 National Poetry Slam in Oakland, California. He has been published in the US, Australia, England, Germany, India, Ireland, and Scotland. He has facilitated poetry workshops for Brunswick High School, Tumblewords Project, and Phynnecabulary. He hosts Café Generalissimo Open Mic, is a member of the Beardo Bards Of The Bardo poetry troupe, painter, sculptor, gardener, and culinary genius. His book Everything I Think Is All in My Mind was published in 2021.

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Linda Freudenberger began writing in 2017 to heal after the sudden death of her husband after 42 years of marriage. She graduated from the Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning Author Academy in 2019 and the Poetry Gauntlet in 2020. She resides in Lexington, Ky with Clancy, a certified therapy dog. Her first poetry book, The Other Side of the Bed and Beyond, is due to come out in January 2024 by Finishing Line Press.

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Marsha Hammel

A native of Miami, FL, Marsha Hammel grew up in Central America and Europe, returning to the states in 1961. A prolific artist, she enjoys a wide audience for original paintings and published works in the UK, having been represented by Felix Rosenstiel’s in London since the early 90’s. During a four-decade studio practice, at least 1500 paintings have become part of private, corporate and institutional collections throughout the US and Europe. Click here  to visit her website.

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Connie Johnson is an L.A.-based writer who turns to poets like Gwendolyn Brooks, Lucille Clifton, and Audre Lorde when she needs a little inspiration. And she agrees with Clifton who said: “Poetry is a matter of life, not just a matter of language.”  Johnson’s poems have appeared or will be forthcoming in Iconoclast, Haight-Ashbury Literary Journal, Jerry Jazz Musician, San Pedro River Review, Shot Glass Journal, Voicemail Poems, Misfit Magazine, Mudfish 23, Cholla Needles, Exit 13, Glint Literary Journal, Rye Whiskey Review and Door Is a Jar.

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

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Michael L. Newell lives in Florida. He has had seven books of poetry published in the last three years.

 

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Click here to read The Sunday Poem

Click here to read “A Collection of Jazz Poetry –  Summer, 2023 Edition”

Click here for information about how to submit your poetry or short fiction

Click here to subscribe to the (free) Jerry Jazz Musician quarterly newsletter

Click here to help support the ongoing publication of Jerry Jazz Musician, and to keep it commercial-free (thank you!)

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One comments on “A brief collection of poetry devoted to jazz…and love”

  1. Love + Jazz: the ultimate collaboration. Thanks, Joe! As always, your poetry collections contain much heart, inventiveness…and inspiration.

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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

Miles Davis "'Round About Midnight" (1957/Columbia Records)
“You Never Forget Your First” – by Brian Kates

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.

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 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

Coming Soon

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.

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