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

December 16th, 2022

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© Keith Mallett

With the gracious consent of the San Diego-based artist Keith Mallett, select paintings and etchings of his are published within this collection of jazz poetry.  To view more of his work, please pay a visit to his website by clicking here.

 

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…..While poetry may never again be a major part of popular American culture, it can still effectively impact a subset of it.

…..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.

….. It is with a great deal of personal pride that I provide poets this space to share the value they place on this important corner of American culture.  The result is…impactful.

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

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Joe Maita

Editor/Publisher

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At the conclusion of the poems, biographies of the artist and poets contributing to this collection are listed in alphabetical order

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A selection of jazz recordings – all released during 2022 – are available to listen to throughout the collection.  

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Listen to “First Light,” from Cyclic Journey, a session led by the trombonist Marshall Gilkes, and including Aaron Parks (piano); Linda May Han Oh (bass); and Johnathan Blake (drums). [Alternate Side Records]

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Sing For Me

Sit quietly now,
no more frog-like croaks
it’s a bit of a muddle
but soon
all the notes will be set free
and re-arranged untidily.
Only contemplate
and the notes will sing me
a jazz song.

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by Lynn White

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Time Remembered

It’s 3 in the morning….
a Tuesday…January…
and, as penance,
I lay awake
listening to the wind,
the spatter of rain
and the rustle of branches
against the house.

Night hovers, its wings fluted,
silent as the soft “whoosh”
of a swooping owl.
I could begin counting
and maybe drift off
somewhere in the hundreds;

or imagine the sound of water,
softly flowing down
a forest stream; breathe in
the scent of damp moss.
I squeeze my eyes,
relax to ease the tension;

reach over, turn on the radio.
The room fills with angels
and Evans’ Time Remembered
transports me to glistening shores.
My heart goes still and I drift off,
wondering what lies beyond memory.

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by Russell duPont

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obviousness

…though there’s something to be said
for flirting by absence
empty space where the pass should have been
conspicuously left vacant by all involved

in jazz composition
everybody knows where the one is
even when nobody chooses to play it

if the space is quiet enough
you can hear blood racing

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by debora Ewing

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It’s All Jazz

As far as eye can see,
As far as I can see
It is all jazz:
Changing constantly
In rows of nows improvisationally.
Nows that never, but continually
Change.
Not strange,
Albeit strange.

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by Arlene Corwin

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Brave Hearts

Winter was decked out white,
In a soft velvet mantle.
They came across the compass rose
Through the driven snow to meet.
He memorized her eyes
Over cigarettes and cappuccino,
At the corner table.
Muffled music playing
Inside his spinning head.
Within the winter of his heart
Was the marriage of sultry, smoky, Jazz
With his dreams of loving.
Inside the cafe, reflective conversation
Could be heard through the ceiling tiles.
He felt muted longing in the hollow, echoing ache
That was the vast hopeful cavern of his heart.
All too soon their cups were drained.
Buttoning her coat, she led him to the street
Where, together, they huddled against
The frigid gusts of ice crystal swirls
Raking against soft warm flesh.
His beloved and he… Laughing and clinging,
Becoming an exquisite whisper
In their shadow world of stored memories,
Bucking, against the unbiased winds of time.

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by c. m. mattison

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Down Time

What is Jazz!
It’s not the man I used to be.
It’s who I am here,
Seated at the bar
Contemplating my surroundings
Amongst a mull of people.
It’s the colour of bourbon,
The smell of smoke,
The stubbed-out thoughts
In my ashtray mind,
Smouldering to the aftermaths
Of having nothing to do
As the world carries on around you.

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by Anthony Ward

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© Keith Mallett

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Early Jazz

Like most artists,
Johann Sebastian Bach
moved to the city.

Sometimes you need
a point of entrance for
ornamental notes and flourishes.

So a crazy organist
can staff the future with
musicians who rest, yeah,
but mainly soar.

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by Sarah Sarai

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Soul Song

Curling mists rising from sloughs in a land table flat,
only a few thickets where the water stands full of cottonmouths;
bull frogs and mosquitoes rest from night serenade
and sun climbs to mid-day heat.

Dilapidated frame store stands,
gray-brown on the outside against Orange Crush signs,
dark behind the screen doors that bang gently when you enter—
glass cases full of jawbreakers and case knives
squat behind humming red Coke boxes;
earth fragrance clings like a lover
around cooler of Blue Ribbon and Jax.

Folks troop to the fields frothed with white to the horizon—
Mississippi white gold mined with sweat on sticky afternoons—
waiting for the sun to kiss the River.

Guitar sings soul in roadside juke joints,
harmonica wails pain away—
blues ooze, cake walk out of doors—
strings sing under callused finger-tips of Son;
Muddy wails waters of tears
in a Rainey night in Greenville,
as eternal as the flow of the River to the Gulf.

Late afternoons can still find lazy streams lined with people
stretching poles over holes
tempting mud-cats with bloodbait and doughballs.

It’s the forever land undulating in black
beneath your feet that gives it soul,
flavors it with tears.

And the blue notes still rising from bottle neck slides
glide out into a night as rich as black earth
waiting for another sun.

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by Emory Jones

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Body And Soul

The jazz man spoke
of his ancestors, the
lineage that brought
him to where he is.
Do not shine your
light on yourself, he

told the students
gathered around.
Honor the past,
honor the trials
of simple existence,
honor the pain and

blood that came
before you, and the
greatness that grew
despite all of that.
When he riffed

on “Body and Soul,”
the sounds coming
from all his circuits,
darting in and hinting
at the melody as we
knew it, reshaping,

and making the song his
own body in the moment,
his soul saxed message
was obvious, went
straight to the
heart and the blood.

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by Steve Paul

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Bird In A Cage

Few of us have done
as well as we expected.
I wasted my mind,
threw opportunity away
till failure became
what’s most interesting
about me.

Insignificance
as freedom.
So I say, hidden
in a nondescript life.

But today, I’m exposed,
conspicuous. Heat waves
rise from pavement.
Windows closed in
building after building
where everyone has A/C.
No one leans out a window
as I do.

Till she does.
And I’m the one who
hears it: blues piano,
Otis Spann, “Bird in a
Cage.” Something moves,
lazy, in the window across
the street. A gauze
curtain or a sluggish
whisper of humid breeze.

The woman crosses
in her underwear.
Behind her, on CD,
notes tremble, flutter,
a feather-light tickle to my
center, touching, gone.

I don’t regret
what I don’t have;
I value what I do:
a neighbor I don’t
know whose music
moves me.

…………………………….Originally published in Mount Hope

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by Diane Lefer

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The Musicians

You can’t live an entire lifetime with just language.
You need painting and architecture.
I was listening to the Burghers of Delft expound
on the strange letter they had received.

We were sitting in a pinochle parlor in Amana, Iowa,
when a cellist named Diablo walked in.
He was wearing a pearl necklace and carrying a lion-headed chair
which he put down across the room.

He sat and became engrossed in our conversation.
Diablo didn’t know Flemish, but he had traveled
in Guatemala for several years. Diablo was construyelo,
whatever that means. I’m just quoting him.

He ordered a basic repertoire of unfussy recipes
from the deli across the courtyard. He was the head
of a delegation of dragonfly lovers who would be performing
on the viny tendrils of their stringed instruments,

trying to bring order to the universe.
There were three crocuses in a jar by the window
which we all thought looked similar
to a well-known painting by Vermeer.

As evening fell, we were transformed.
The delegation’s performance moved us
to be part of life again somehow.

The Burghers became aware
that speech is to poetry as sound is to music.
They sucked in the music through their toes.

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by Ed Werstein

 

 

 

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Listen to the guitarist Julian Lage play “Emily” from his album Squint, with Jorge Roeder (bass); and Dave King (drums). [Universal Music Group]

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Before The Drum
for Milford Graves

Tradition says
before the drum was the bird
was the bird came before the drum
was the bird’s feet the wings flutter
was the heart beat of the bird
came before the drum

Tradition says
before the drum was the whistle
was the whistle of the bird came before the drum
was the nightsong of the bird
came before the drum
Tradition says was first the whistle
before the drum

Tradition says
before the drum was the body
drum was the body drum before the drum
was the deeper part of the body drum
was the heart the stomach
was the lungs before the drum
Tradition says was first the body drum
before the drum

The drum says
Was First the Drum
Tradition says
before the drum was the drum
was the drum came before the drum
The drum says
Comes the Drum

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…..originally published in Brilliant Corners, 1997

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by Bill Siegel

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Clifford Plays Somethin’

I want to live my life like
Clifford plays the drums.
Coolly observing the heady scene,

he has a feathery touch.
Sits behind a glittery rust-hued set of skins,
still body, head held high.

Brushing the drums on “Caravan,”
orchestrating the rhythm on each tune,
wowing the crowd on a solo.

Face masking emotion,
but hands and arms energized.
Goes easy on the exhale.

Wearing his black beret straight up,
accented by a crisp tangerine shirt
at Somethin’ Jazz club—a laid back lair on East 52nd.

So unexpected it’s beyond chill.
Like Clifford, who steals a gaze at the crowd
before returning his focus to work.

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by Amy Barone

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Liner Notes To Bluesy Jazz, A Playlist

The key to playing “Mo Better Blues”
is not marching through the mellifluous
melody on to the solo. Don’t linger—
but don’t paint by numbers either.
Maybe the piano gets a little gospel.
Strings bend as choice notes hang on
before letting go. Maybe that smooth
groove bumps with the odd thud of a tom
while brushes chill things out, rhythmning
nice and groovy, nice and bluesy,
walking with the bass, good company
through the valley of darkness. This—
when you finally get there—this is what
your solo will draw on. This and your pain.
Your part in it. Go slow with it.
Put your heart in it.

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by Chuck Sweetman

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Busking On Boulevard And Belvidere Street

Drummer sits on the corner
sweat beading on his skin
his hands
hit steel hard,
the city loves his music,
hip hop and jazz, swaying in time.

People on the street make time
to listen, change in the bucket on corner,
his raw, passionate music,
and the sound of drums on skin,
And though it is hard
perfect rhythm flows from his hands

Groove commanding hands,
music moving in time,
Saxman joins in, valves warm, and hard
from blocks away, on another corner
musicians, friends, kin
hear the city night, and its music

Years perfecting music,
training ears and hands
unites like few things can
Since dawn of time
in studios, stages, and corners
musicians know life of artist is hard.

Slowly swelling from soft to hard
rat-a-tat-boom, drummer and music
draw audience to corner,
With their phones in hands,
photos capture a moment in time
free and lose, as nothing can

Gather, drummers, with steel drums and cans
Saxmen, though your work is hard
it need not be perfect, only in time.
The world needs music,
and you will be handed
keys to the city, on every corner!

Can busking music be hard?
Yes, but hand traditions through time, on every corner!

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by Elliott Martin

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Scrape

Listen to the dancing feet
above the sound of chatter and beat.

Scuffing sand tells tales
beneath
new lover’s hearts
reach
some break
a few unfold.

Untold.

Swish, scrape, and slide
sand moves beneath
dancing feet
hear them glide.

Yearning, wanting, aching need
soul desires
swirling speed.

Needing, loving, dreaming feet
secret truths
scrape and bleed.

Music’s rhythm sets the pace
hanging thick in steamy air.

Only the lonely

Love contrasts and crashes in accord
echoing the sea

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by Tam Francis

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Trane Of Thought

Lying with the lights out
Listening to the respiration
Heart beating in rhythm
Thoughts in tandem
The tracks of the Trane
Transmuting the darkness
Of distilled night
My soul escapes me
Saves me from drowning
As it soars in the sky
Ebbing like aurora
As night recedes with
The dawn of sleep.

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by Anthony Ward

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Lullaby

It was Bosch who led me here.
I was on page 314 when Harry
slips in a tape and plays
George Cables’ “Lullaby.”

Cables’ melancholy opening,
his sensuous melodies,
lead into Frank Morgan’s
gentle and dreamy sounds.

His sax sings, soulfully
and like Bosch,
I drift off, wistfully,
into the dark
and rainy night.

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by Russell duPont

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I Want To Dance All Night

I want to slip on a pair of dancing shoes
so I can move to Jazz tunes or some Rhythm
and Blues, my feet sliding and hips moving
to Lee Morgan’s Gigolo or Dexter Gordon’s
Cheesecake, as I sensuously move like a snake
Wish I had a fella to twirl me around on
a ballroom floor until I can’t dance no more
his lips upon my ear whispering sweet nothings
making my face get red, my body hot
Those days have come and gone, my legs
now pained and stiff, I long to dance into
the wee hours of the morn like someone’s
sweet thing and memories they bring

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by Aurora M. Lewis

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Take 5

It’s a kind of blue 1959—
and Miles to go before we sleep.
Coltrane’s taking giant steps
when suddenly Brubeck’s
pollywogs are on the loose.

Time for six-four, three-four,
nine-eight, and five-four.
Not Columbia’s thing—
time out until ’61.

Take Five added—
two takes to record
what Desmond called
a last-minute throwaway.

But Brubeck’s vamp
under Morello’s solo
made me cross that bridge,
roll up the living room,
and dance a blue rondo
across the rug-free floor.

The tune picks up,
sticks with me
like the strange meadow lark’s song
from my childhood.

Brubeck calls one chord progression,
“Oom, junka, junk, boom, boom.
Oom, junka, junk,” and one theme,
“Dopa, depa, depa, dopa,
lom, bom, bom, bom.”

It all boils down to this:

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by Steve Trenam

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© Keith Mallett

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Concerto In F

It doesn’t have to be in a jazz club
It doesn’t have to be billed as jazz

But you know it when you hear it
You know because it’s got pizzaz

You know because your toes are tapping
and you’re moving in your seat

You know when you hear the trumpet
and it’s a little bittersweet

You hear the fascinating rhythm
and know it’s gotta be Gershwin

Catch your breath as it enthralls you
It’s a genuine heroin

high, a jazz free-for-all
even in Symphony Hall

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by Phyllis Wax

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A Take On A Short Nap
…………Starring Linda Darnell & Thelma Ritter

In a Time when
a scene imagined while dozing
under a Dexter variation
weeping willow
is not uncommon…

a room bathed in blue
bunched drapes plain cloth no satin
open tables no booths
failed swank but air conditioned
…………………….until the Jazztet begins
& now in focus
seated across from each other

Linda acts & Thelma reacts

One a raven haired exotic
at the peak of temptation
polished nails pinching a lipstick cigarette
………………………………………………..the other
perpetually forlorn in sweet desiccation
clutching a wine glass
……………like a bouquet of forget-me-nots
love’s recent memory in absentia

One avowing a doubtful disdain for men
in a voice like a dove’s song
………………………………………………..the other
hastened weary by a docile disparagement
…………………………………..that fades
as the last chorus of “Killer Joe” does likewise

Waking in a dim light
a curtain reels open
the willow above weeping still
another finish for a different beginning

often in moments since
…………………………………….I have wished
I could remember the name of that Club

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by Terrance Underwood

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Dusty Diner

when I getz down
way past the blues
thinking
a home
no longer there
I feel
angels inside
agonize me to
free the jazz
onto saw dust
floors
with slow lights
and broken fans
playing strong
smoke and sweat
until morning
saving
one more
cigarette
for a dusty diner,
coffee stained cups
torn seats and
cracked formica

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by Roger Singer

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Supper Club

Musicians
make conversation
around the notes
warm up before leaving terra firma,
say goodbye to familiar places.
Soar.

One big river,
the ecology of jazz,
forming up, dispersing,
forming up again.
Listening for the sound. The new sound.
The perfect sound. Listening for that.
………………………Listening.

Magpies at the bar
pick apart the tunes,
hold court
while royalty swings–
Mingus, Miles, Monk

That night in D.C.,
the Showboat,
Charlie on guitar.
………………………Listen or leave.

“I played sax when I was a kid.”
“Is that right? Well, thanks for stopping by, man.”

Girl singer spends her days
in longing and her nights
onstage while half the crowd
listens and the other half
talks stock options.
Two kind of people in the world:
The ones who listen to “Body & Soul,”
and the ones who can talk right through it.

Next tune reminds you of the man in the nightclub
that time you were in another city,
the man who smelled of English Leather
when you danced and asked for
your phone number but didn’t call. Or
if he did, he didn’t leave a message.
Quick. What’s the name of that song?

………………………I knew you’d remember.

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………………Originally published in Jerry Jazz Musician, October, 2022

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by Molly Larson Cook

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Confessions Of A Wannabe Torch Singer

Haven’t you wondered about road life
as a music groupie ..always traveling
to someone else’s schedule.. no matter
it is still a thrill to know each chord
of your life’s boundless sound track
without having to curate it alone

Think of all those moments when music
whispered in your ear like a slow burn
how you yearned to follow that steamy heat
to grab hold of that sizzled downbeat
that jitterbug flutter of wings that turns
out to be your heart as it sings yes yes yes

Or maybe it is even better to linger
on some Crescent City streetcorner
imagine crowds saying listen to
that singer she’s torchy as a blackbird
as heads turn ..words cease ..as they toss a dollar
or two.. into a cardboard box that once held
bus schedules faded autographs
dogeared programs.. ticket stubs

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by Mary K O’Melveny

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Esperanza Spaulding’s Aubade

She cradles the upright acoustic bass
as if a man cradled her
and she has as many
curves as her bass

her voice fills my room
and it becomes a beach
in brazil
she is the girl from
ipanema
playing bass, its song flowing
like chamomile tea mixed with
honey. she is the song
the pandemic couldn’t
kill

walking in sandals on the streets
of brazil
big-assed afro blazing like a torch
of freedom
a blonde-brown tiara of light

she channels mingus, she tunes in
paul chambers, ray brown is on her
wavelength
the fingers strumming the strings
the sounds giving birth to sugar cubes
and the morning song she sings
is always sweet

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by Erren Kelly

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Loft Party 1979

Long flights up from the Bowery
I arrive with chest heaving
under a blue anorak that I dump
on a pile of black coats on your bed.
Your roommate has hired a jazz trio
& you’ve plopped down bottles
next to haphazard plates of food
on a worktable in your studio.
Among your abstractions, I dance
with Lucia my upstairs neighbor.
It’s just before or after her husband
dumped her for a woman he met on his job.
She’s eyeing me as if she wants
to get closer, but I’m anticipating
someone else. There’s a bit
of hubbub, not too much, over SAMO©
who crashed the party. Later, we read
his sardonic commentary on the street side
of your front door. Something snarky about us.
He is dancing with your roommate
& Jack our dancer friend who spurns us
after he meets the love of his life
in a club on the Lower East Side. But
tonight the piano, the bass & the drums
herd us all into one jazzy corral.
My assignation arrives, a beautiful boy
who whizzes like a hummingbird
through my life, but at this moment
looms in my telephoto lens. Lucia
withdraws awkwardly & I dance
with the one whose name I no longer
remember. Eventually all our hearts
will break. Most of us will heal.

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by Geer Austin

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Po’ Monkey’s Juke Joint: Merigold, Mississippi 

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

Shoulders sloping and shrugging
The juice of the jazz in funkified fedoras

Waterfall ravishment in the smooth slide of the trombone
Jam of indulgence, a tenor saxophone cadenza

A chromatic scale gone berserk
Discordant jive squirming in our bellies

Pull me in close, Jitterbug of Jazz
Jubilee, swing and turn, on a juicy July night

Your hand juke jiving on the small of my back
In this ecstasy riff of a dive

Where we all glide to the offbeat
Where we all speakeasy

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by Marianne Peel

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So What—Supper Charged, Paris 1960

Like lines of cocaine on a mirror, the street
lights of Paris streak the forever avenues

Engines growl as Coltrane’s sax accelerates
and our hair is blown back to Timbuktu

Like a heart attack in a bathroom twelve
years away, a grave in Pere Lachaise,

those drums, that bass, are anything but cool,
more like the heat of summer in LA

But that’s okay because the piano is an iceberg
three quarters beneath the surface, and Ernest H.

is snapping his fingers, that perfectionist
of the hunt, and James J. is cleaning his glasses

hearing the diaphanous sound of world languages
all at once in the stuttering trumpet of Miles;

in the moans of Coltrane’s sax, he hears the
singing of the Sirens, the River Liffey, and

dear old Molly Bloom in full fingered ecstasy.
Oh what a night it is: our minds completely

blown, seven years before the summer of love!

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by D.H. Jenkins

 

 

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Listen to Joshua Redman (tenor saxophone); Brad Mehldau (piano); Christian McBride (bass); and Brian Blade (drums) play “Long Gone,” from the album of the same name. [Nonesuch] 

 

 

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Some Free Form Jazz

His name was unknown, unseen, unheard, kept solely to self,
………..until someone named him Coleman, cold man,
perhaps a cool man, coalman, coals for man to be cool,
………..cool man, hot to the touch, a colossal man,
a man clipped, clobbered, ta rara boom de ay,
………..oh for some meaning, even meaning lost in wind,

in waves, in wandering currents of life, life, lost life,
………..found life, life sputtering in chill, in ice,
in no meaning, in any meaning, in confusion, concussion,
………..clarity, in whatever is manifest in the moment,
any moment, each moment, in whatever is momentous,
………..so you see jazz be here, there,

and everywhere, just chop’em up words,
………..chop’em up sounds, and put it all together, however
you feel like doing, throw in a bounce step, or three, or four,
………..and you have a tune, a dance,
a wild, wet, and woolly song for life,
………..your own jazz recital, homemade, and played just

,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,this once.

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…………previously published in Don’t Fret, Jazz Poems by Michael L. Newell

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by Michael L. Newell

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Bird Talk

4 a.m. paris
Jazz meditation ebbing the silent pool of nocturne.
Then to greet the dawn
As it leaks through the window
A gentle wash of light.
A walk along barely stirring streets
Green leaf dew drop
Bird talk
Tomorrow another day

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by Moe Seager

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Shun? or -tion

According to Jaki Byard,
so many more
“positive aspects only”
exist for -tion, his list contains
dozens of meaningful leavings
for his legacy.
Of this suffix,
forming nouns from verbal stems,
these ones especially
appeal to me:
appreciation, composition,
conjunction, definition, divination,
education, emotion,
exploration, germination,
harmonization, incantation,
innovation, intention, jubilation, motion,
mystification, notion,
[jazz] ovation, [twice] perfection,
speculation, supplication,
transition, unification, valuation.

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….Mr. Byard’s lecture notes are used with permission from the New England Conservatory Archive

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by Catherine Lee

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Cool School

Musicians have apparent
Lack of conversation
Concerning all but sound

They rarely mention hardship
Eternally apprenticed
To Art with scant reward

They remain politely unimpressed
By fame-and-fortune merchants
The media feed an unreflective public

But if your part is ‘clean’
Meaning you articulate
A passage with due weight

And if you lend true feeling to each note
Then someone gives a nod
As if to say ‘O.K.’

Obliquely…
…Sometime later

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by Bernard Saint

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A Curious New Taste 

I don’t know boatloads about jazz –
But I am slowly learning. I began
To appreciate it late in life, as many do…

Always a music fan, I used to listen to
Rock & roll and folk and pop, but then
Discovered the complexity of jazz,

And the spontaneous, unpredictable
Imaginations and hard-to-fathom skill
Those musicians have to have.

Their works can be soothing, stimulating,
Or cacophonous, and I don’t necessarily
Enjoy them all, those varied talents –

But I keep finding out new favorites
To enjoy; it’s a commonly-felt ripening and
Cultural growth I experience each weekend,

When my local DJ turns me on, and
Bit by bit he educates my curious ears –
Thank goodness for the gift of radio!

.

by Martha Patterson

.

___

.

The Listener

I hear the melody or “head” –
Really focus on it ‘cause
I know what’s comin’:
The end is near,
now it begins.

Improvising on that melody,
I’m maintaining two streams:
the melody and
the dancing
around that melody.

How far away will he/she go from
the safety of that melody?
Will I be able to follow
as the player leaps, spins, slows down,
speeds up, changes key, stops, starts…etc

Can I still keep the “head” in my head
as the musician spins out
new lines and patterns from Whom knows where,
based on a melody that no longer serves
his/her creativity?

Just when you feel like you’re losing track
she works her way back to the head –
there…closure. I went”out to lunch” and
came back full and satisfied:
I ate God.

.

by Lawrence Ullian

.

___

.

J Is For Jazz

J is the hook to hang a pork pie hat
J is for jump dance against the dark,
Jazz making it up he knocks
blistering blues out of the park.

J is for Jazz shaped like your sax
waiting for your solo
in a room full of smoke
tapping tables thinking
sunlight or suicide
fingering your horn.

.

………..from The Abject Alphabet

.

by Victor Enns

.

.

© Keith Mallett

.

.

unfinished poem

the coltrane group,
live in seattle, ’64

(“the songs went on
for days!”) – two

solos into ‘afro
blue,’ the double

bass doubled,
so much to

discuss

.

by Sean Howard

.

___

.

John Coltrane

John Coltrane near his birthday, early Autumn night.
Breezes cease; allow nearby Maples and Beeches
to lean over my porch roof
in earnest reverence for ‘Trane’s summoning of Summertime.

I have sat at this bachelor’s kitchen table,
with Jazz as my companion:
trios, quartets, quintets—my guides.

Seasons pass: leaves grow, change, and fall.
America’s Jazz remains.
My kitchen as music hall, dreaming of Naima;
waiting on ‘Trane.

.

by Robert Milby

.

___

.

Dear Michael S., Dear Mr. Harper

The first time I heard Coltrane
at an unripe age of seventeen
walked into a shop off main street
and I would never be the same
a love supreme in my blood stream

The first time I heard Michael S. Harper
went out for midnight run in winter
so long since I’d heard that song
so long since seventeen

I listened to your recording Mr. Harper
Dear John, and stopped dead
in the street to press repeat
the way you describe
lilt of his body, drag of feet
up on the electric city
frigid and weary, how he
picked the horn up
anyway,
your poem, more song
and you sang of love-
a love
so supreme

brought this suburban mother
to her knees
in the middle of the street

I didn’t know he was sick
and kept playing
I didn’t know you
had died

.

by Natasha Zarin

.

___

.

A Moment With Lester
& The Kansas City Six

and now
bluebirds dart
a leaf note canopy
wing their swift jazz
on a jim-jam
of shared feathers
duo trio or combo
counterpoint
behind below
up or down or all around
an improv scramble
before a brief getaway
only to regain the leaves
more fun once more

.

by Terrance Underwood

.

___

.

Whenever I Hear The Köln Concert

I remember the time I stopped mid-sentence
as Keith Jarrett’s Köln Concert played
on my radio. I felt the air in the room
turn electric, as if there was no more need
to turn on lights or speak in only one language.
As if one could repeat a thought and each time
make it better, vibrant with new meaning,
each riff and vamp more insightful, urgent
than the last. It was jazz, it was classical,
it was blues, gospel. It was operatic in scope,
yet as fiercely intimate as a first kiss.

Later, I read that the first performance
at Cologne’s Opera House took place
on a substandard rehearsal grand piano.
Its pedals were weak, its sound tinny in bass,
thin in upper registers. Jarrett enhanced its
middle keyboard with ostinatos, rolling
left-hand rhythmic patterns, rubatos.
One hears the cheers of the late-night
audience. The acclaimed album set records.

For years, musicologists begged for
an official transcription. Even when
he finally agreed, Jarrett still told
everyone to use the original recording
as their guide. Isn’t this what we really
want from our lives – to learn to improvise
in the face of unforeseen challenges,
to transcend our circumstances, to
create miracles, one rendition at a time.

.

by Mary K O’Melveny

.

___

.

Grant Green’s Groove

Those silver strings contain his swing
the way heavy clouds hold on to water.

His groove ancient stones being squeezed,
compressing force to create a diamond.

Guitar solos dropping like counted cards
in a joint where the house always wins.

His work underground: sacred relics dying
for discovery and, ultimately, exaltation.

.

by Sean Murphy

.

___

.

.
Songs for My Fathers—Horace Silver, Amanda McBroom, & Me

………………….“It’s a sad funny feeling /now I’m older than him”’
………………………………………-Amanda McBroom

I never knew there were lyrics, that so-familiar, immediately-recognizable tune
Knew & loved the song so many years, Silver’s conk, sweating hard, the live video
Ellen May Shashoyan wrote lyrics, over a hundred covers for the instrumental
But only a handful for the vocal—a very different approach, a very different feel

Amanda McBroom’s dad was a “B plus” actor, often died next to old Errol Flynn
She wrote the song for her daddy, the video always a favorite of mine
Amazing how little we know, her very detailed website giving so much content
She wrote “The Rose,” wrote songs for animations, created this wonderful song

I find him now only in old photos, who he was, what he was; now years gone.
I’ve done so much internal work, yet still there’s “unfinished business,” father & son;
I wanted him to be proud of me, to answer me, beyond his overpowering silence
Our work remains only my own, karma I’ll continue ‘til the day that I die

Fathers and daughters, mothers and sons; at our best, we do the best we can
Sometimes we need work toward acceptance, toward love; toward letting it all go.

.

by Phil Linz

.

.

Listen to the vibraphonist Joel Ross play “Prayer,” from his album The Parable of the Poet, with Immanuel Wilkins (alto saxophone); Marquis Hill (trumpet);  Maria Grand (tenor saxophone); Kalia Vandever (trombone); Sean Mason (piano);  Rick Rosato (bass); and Craig Weinrib (drums). [Universal Music Group]

.

.

A Day Begins
Never To Be Replicated

Throning
while
reading an O’Hara Lunch Poem
a shower
a shave
a continuation of the Jazz Dream
only the letters won’t flutter
or trill
words remain an inline sequence
so the letters never reach the Rahsaan
manzello & stritch accent levels
for the air breathed in
or expelled
the letters settle into formations
from “Bumpin” by Wes
available for pulmonary
use instead

.

by Terrance Underwood

.

___

.

The Blues

Play it cheap, Man,
the song that tells it
like it is. The Blues
and the wail of a guitar string —

A woman wants her man —
a man wants his woman
and how what you love best
can hurt you the most.

It’s life, filled with pain;
with the murmurs of love;
the agony of despair;
and the lines that

separate black from white.
The Blues are a trip
along an endless
dusty road; the bottom

of an empty whiskey glass.
But you gotta keep movin’
or just call it quits.
Ain’t no way out.

.

by Russell duPont

.

___

.

The Blues Haiku

every time it rains
the blues are born even when
the sun is shining

ladies sing the blues
stranded notes travel down cheeks
rain comforts sorrow

the blues seek solace
we pick up our horns play tunes
to sooth rain-washed eyes

.

by Patricia Carragon

.

___

.

 

River Space

dark corners

whispers on webs

the usefulness on youth,
spent

river and moon
jealous of his space

the tides
draw from him
with respect

the hungry
wait for the
gift released
from his horn

drowning out
the thunder
born to jazz

.

by Roger Singer

.

___

.

Nils Petter Molvær

Nils Petter Molvær (NPM), Norwegian trumpet player, composer
and producer, takes multiple music styles—jazz, ambient, house,
electronic and break beats, as well as elements from hip hop, rock
and pop music—and effortlessly reshapes them into unique and
dramatic soundscapes of deep intensity.*

.

Mind-blower on albums
mind-Bender in concert

Soundscapes that deconstruct like this:

Miles meets Godspeed You Black Emperor
meets 28 Days Later meets shape-
shifting sonic set of ears

Blowing through both ends
of his horn
…can look gimmicky
Playing trumpet with one hand
computer dial electronica
with the other
…can look nu-age flakey

That’s look, not sound (no)

Add unrelenting driving throbbing
electric bass (w/ feedback bite)
& concussive percussion—

Some of the most transformative
(& freaking)
freeflow sound (not  free “blowing”)
you’ll ever be fortunate enough
to hear

This man has dangerously arrived
(ready to stun)

Listener, caught in the headlights

*nilspettermolvaer.com

.

by Stephen Bett

.

___

.

Another Saturday Night

Wine is a bordello
A sip slap stream
Stripdown illusions

Great assumption cleared by
Moustached clouds of heaven
Hullabaloo sneeze box

Art Pepper at the roundtable
King prodding his sax
In the soft muff parlors of
Stone Midnite villes

Sun of humility
Rises from the unconscious
Sneeze
Back home, True Station

.

by Michael Amitin

.

___

.
Who Knew

The gimp with a corkscrew limp
could no longer dance or move
with grace, speed, or elegance,

but he could blow a horn with chops
that raised young and old to their feet
and spun them like tops, lifted them

into the air with an elevation
that consecrated entire bodies, flesh
freed from shackles, and in his mind

he was still among them, even as he
sat crookedly on a battered chair,
bestowing beauty upon others’ flesh

turning a horn into a religious artifact,
his broken body into a conduit for beauty.

.

…………previously published in Don’t Fret, Jazz Poems by Michael L. Newell

.

by  Michael L. Newell

.

___

.

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes
…………..(trumpet by Miles Davis)

Your match tries to strike
this nasty woman.

Your status quo burns for lust,
and my honesty says no.

Your sulfur dioxide smells more than petals,
and my maverick thorns reject your pursuit.

Your silly hearts and sayings
try to incinerate my self-esteem.

Your phone number on a match book
has amnesia and turns to ash.

Your smoke is weak,
avoids insight.

Your eyes watch the bouquet land at my feet—
white roses fuel the bonfire.

.

by Patricia Carragon

.

___

.

She Was The Cat’s Meow

It was the days of rent parties
and dancing off your blues.
There were whoops and there was laughter
(and there was bathtub gin too.)

The music –it called her.
She had to move her feet.
It really had her number,
that boogie-woogie beat.

She threw off her old sweater,
slipped out of her shoes,
deep-sixed her inhibitions
to dance away the blues.

She boogied through the parlor,
she boogied out the door,
she boogied on down the street
and then she boogied more.

She boogied through the neighborhood—
she was the cat’s meow—
and I’ll give you ten to one
she’s boogying right now.

.

by Phyllis Wax

.

___

.

Lena

Lena, Lena, Lena
your silky-smooth voice
warms the bedsheets
in the hearts of us all
and no storms nor bad weather
can penetrate the lustrous
sheen of your skin
nor that pout of a smile
that says so much to us
without uttering a word.

.

by R. Bremner

 

.

.

 

© Keith Mallett

 

.

.

Pharoah Goes To Heaven

God has him now as the rain falls
singing its lament, the saxophone
plays a song of hallelujah, that
is a fufillment of God’s promise
Jazz is the great equalizer
that makes death its footstool
inside a saxophone’s bell lies
its cries, that equals gunfire
on a chicago street
or a woman’s moan, fading
in the brooklyn night
somewhere, someone picks
up a saxophone, and makes an
attempt to find peace

Mr. sanders brought the sound
of the pyramids home

.

by Erren Kelly

.

___

.

Eulogy for Pharaoh

the poet, playwright and activist Amiri Baraka wrote,
“Pharaoh has become one long song.”

.

Pharaoh Sanders joined the stars last week; not dead
stars pulsing light through a million years but musical
stars traversing the heavens on notes of pure light.
Light beyond language, beyond emotion.

While those sublime spirits waited for Pharaoh,
they played to the seven sisters, ancient constellations
in the celestial heavens. Notes of one long song.
Pharaoh’s one long song.

Poets birth words; artists, images; musicians,
notes. All melodies vibrating with planets rotating
through an endless universe. No sadness, no tears.
He has gone from whence he came, back to the stars.

.

by Judith Vaughn

.

___

.
Coltrane Ascends

Recording ‘Well You Needn’t’ Monks shouts
………………..COLTRANE, COLTRANE
without hesitation John
stands and blows a swift tiger wind
stream of consciousness sheets
micro-space building blocks that
flow into the universe, climb to the mountaintop
as air and light and love
jazz past and future as one body;

He transcends to centra-sun for a galaxy of sound;
his rhyming black deacon grandfather
North Carolina boyhood sanctified sound orbited
by alto Marion Brown, ‘Four For Trane’ Archie Shepp
………………………………..black new thing revelators, a time circle
………………………………..back to New Orleans parade musicians

and of course himself, COLTRANE, COLTRANE
orbiting in/off his influence beyond his final ASCENSION
from the temporal (in Islam dunya),
to inter-being, atomic arrow quarking,
in every continuum of peace and sound.
HALLELUJAH!!

.

by Dan Brown

.

___

.

Crepuscule with Madeline

………………for Joe Maita and in memory of Thelonious Monk (1917-1982)

Madeline is the name of our bichon.
Crepuscule is my favorite word for dusk,
here pilfered from the title of a tune
made for piano by Thelonious,
who played it in his one-of-a-kind way—
called Crepuscule with Nellie, for his wife.
Now when I walk the pup, late in the day,
just at that in-between before the night
falls on us like a blanket as we go,
I hear that song for Nellie in the air
thumping, pausing, dissonant and slow.
It’s well known that Monk’s use of words was rare
He never talked too much, but when he would,
one had best listen up and listen good.

.

by Joel Glickman

.

___

.

Street Fighter Mas
……………..After Kamasi Washington

one more, una mas
two quarter cymbals
crashing down the slot
glinting red, Begin!

counter lady puffs
under neon buzz
dust carpet circa
’82 pink gum
tacky underfoot

Pole Position sim
driver’s seat buffed
change loosed
and teeth cut
in the hustle
for the 8-ball table,
dollar bet on rail

BREAK

one more 16-bit
stint in side scroll
roundhouse
high kick
to beat the boss
with Chun Li

more arcade
hours better wasted
than bullies with bills;
6 packs and lungs
rattling like empties

.

by Jessica Lee McMillan

.

___

.

Miles & Monk
…………(based on the album cover Miles & Monk at Newport)

Double portraits
the helix of jazz
two M’s
in a live celebration.

Miles’ pensive
looking ahead to
so what and what will come

dampening his mouthpiece
composing the future
in kinetic musing

Monk’s stoic
knowing everything is
happening
every foot tap of rhythm-a-ning
a portrait in
hat and beard
straight up
no chaser
sound
unique as a statue
wedged in solid ground.

.

by Dan Brown

.

___

.
In the rain…

the girl with god dances
her feet becomes wet with
jazz, as she moves, her hair
raidiant even in the greyness of
day, this woman of flesh, becomes
a spirit, a vapor, floating in light, she
becomes one with coltrane’s sound
this anointed one, she moves among the
waters, she becomes water, this girl of
jazz, of god, magic and light
look into her eyes and feel her love of
rain, as she walks in it, falling…this girl
with god, knows and gives love
everlasting, she is perfect as a keith
jarrett solo, her body is notes falling like
blessings, like dreams, she is god’s love
falling like rain…

.

by Erren Kelly

.

___

.

 

Janis (if she was jazz)

Too big for Texas,
she fell under the spell of the blues,
an acolyte to Bessie Smith’s memory,
a pearl who rocked the world wide open.

What if she didn’t reach San Francisco,
but headed east to Detroit,
or south to New Orleans?
Would she still end up as a rock star?

She might have strutted her stuff,
with scintillating sass,
backed by hard-playing saxes & trumpets
in beatnik bars, dives & jazz clubs,

shaking up the rafters
with her mammoth voice,
howling “Baby, cry baby”
as the dudes played along too.

Would she had broken through
in the jazz world,
if hippies hadn’t existed?
Perhaps she would have

lived longer than 27 years,
if only she had quit heroin
& Southern Comfort,
& had let music & sex be her only vices;

Perhaps she would have been
like Aretha or an imagined
cleaned-up Lady Day,
who also could have stopped

burning the candle at both ends
if our dear Lady had wanted to.
That’s why they became unforgettable:
they left the party too early

still singing, still wailing,
still having us stand at attention.
Janis, what could have been
if you had loved jazz?

.

by Carrie Magness Radna

.

.

Listen to the drummer Mark Guiliana play “A Path to Bliss,” from the album The Sound of Listening, with Shai Maestro (piano); Jason Rigby (tenor saxophone); and Chris Morrissey (bass). [Edition Music]

.

.

Jazz In The Wintertime

We dine in the kitchen
quietly.

Her, the dog, me. She
sips on chardonnay;
I, green tea. The dog
naps, snores.

In wintertime, jazz
winds through our
house, tickles her
cheeks, rubs my
feet

it is the beat, the
beat, the beat!

Our heat during
Wintertime is jazz
music. Our discussion
moves up and around,
such as jazz percussion.

The dog’s snores
turns into moans,
groans, growls

while my lady howls
in the night

to jazz songs

I say sing Sarah!

I begin to yawn, enjoying
Ms. Vaughan.

Jazz in the wintertime;
jazz in the Midwest;
jazz at its best!

,

by Christopher D. Sims

.

___

.

As Long As It’s Musical

Tone gruff,
Not quite enough
To make it lyrical;
What counts Is, is it musical?
Bobby Dorough,
Stewart, Rod
Armstrong, Louis in his niche
(though I have read he had a sense
Of perfect pitch)

No matter.
With a voice like lumpy pancake batter,
People listen. They admire
The attire of musicality.

With age the singing, (even speaking) voice
Grows coarse and rough.
A little cough,
Hoarse and raspy – throaty stuff
No longer mellow – shallow, hollow.
‘Used to be’s’
No longer pleasing
To the singer but
An audience is there to cheer,
The proof being the pudding.

As talent grows
It shows right through.
With musicality the main reality
Goodness knows,
It’s subtle sensitivity
That hits, imparts
Its movement to all hearts.

Hot or cool,
The fuel will always lie
In musicality.
And so, musicians all,
Be not afraid or shy.
Follow your call
And get your high
From merely being musical.

.

by Arlene Corwin

.

___

.

Late Into Night

rising piano notes,
lightening breaking air,
beating out sound
with heat

the sound feeds
the hungry
while dancers
drift darkly
as warm tides
of lovers hands
brush the night
with whispers
breathing jazz.

.

by Roger Singer

.

___

.

Take The Chill Off The Bone

Sitting here as usual, all alone
Pouring myself a glass of brandy
to take the chill off the bone

Listening to Freddie Hubbard’s
First Light and Red Clay, trying
to make it through another day

I’ve been in love twice, ending with
a broken heart, what went wrong
why did we fall apart

Listening to Freddie’s Yesterday’s
Dreams and Intrepid Fox
Love wasn’t what it seemed

Trapped in memories of stone
Sipping a little more Remy
to take the chill off the bone

.

by Aurora M. Lewis

.

___

.

Hoofers

On tin roofs raindrops dance
How long will this light rain last
Could the tapping be Sammy Davis Jr.
Gregory Hines comes to mind
Sounds like the late Scatman Crothers
Might they be freestyling up there
It’s them I swear
I close my jumbo umbrella
You slide your arm in mine and squeeze
Soaking wet the least of our concern
Just that syncopated joy in our ears

.

by Emmett Wheatfall

.

___

.

everybody knows where the one is

i wait

like the most esoteric
wind against a curve of strings

everyone leans into the bass
sway and shake but baby

i wait

that communal pause o my brothers
back up inhale a watch and see

eyes closed either I step
to the reed or choke on a melody

…………………………….cool breeze over dry grass beneath soft soft
………….shaded breath abated our minds in kind and the wind
…………………………………………………………………the wind the wind…if
i wait

you might not stick around
i wish i knew
……..my dear I wish I knew

.

by debora Ewing

.

___

.

You Don’t Know What Love Is

Trane’s mighty horn gently nudges you, suggests
…………you don’t know what love is, elicits
……………………memory, sorrow, loss,

and the realization what once was
…………will never again be,
……………………and tenderly Trane’s sax

suggests loss can be transcended,
…………but not without passing through grief,
……………………all healing rooted in fresh growth

replacing those years once rich in feeling,
…………now empty, forlorn — abandoned, lost, deprived;
……………………by tune’s end Coltrane sails you to fresh growth,

where a tranquil future awaits, if you are brave enough to embrace it,
…………embrace it,
……………………embrace.

.

 

…………previously published in Don’t Fret, Jazz Poems by Michael L. Newell

.

by Michael L. Newell

.

___

.

Etymology

Wikipedia primly
says jazz comes
from jasm meaning
verve, but as Eubie
Blake has hinted
and as you might
already suspect
this must have been
a slant way to say
jism, and even
upgraded to jass
it still wasn’t sterile
enough for mainstream
since as Nick LaRocca
of the Original
Dixieland Jass Band
reported, people
just couldn’t resist
scratching out the J.

.

by Laurinda Lind

.

___

.

Pete Kelly’s Blues

Why am I grabbed, riveted even when I hear this old
jazzy, bluesy tune played by piano man Tommy Flanagan
recorded way back in ‘93 from an even older ‘55 movie?

It speaks to me so loudly, wraps itself around my brain
my heart. I pause if I am writing, reading, whatever I’m
doing for the five and a half minutes it takes. My mood

changes, have to shake it off a little, sometimes even
wipe my eyes to get back to whatever it was that seemed
important before I heard those first notes start.

.

by James Higgins

.

___

.
And In Vibraphone News…

On Linger Lane there was a Stick Up! but Bobby, the Wise One, avoided the traffic by driving the winding Highway One back to Montara, during the Total Eclipse.

Joe, locked inside the 4 Walls of Freedom with melody, rhythm, harmony and form, will appear on Mission: Impossible wearing a Subtle Disguise. The episode is titled Force of Four and will air in Blue November.

It’s been confirmed, Buddy Montgomery had A Love Affair in Paris!  Back on Indiana Avenue, brother Wes said, “It was just A Day in the Life. Know What I Mean?

At the Cabin in the Sky in Copa Village, Hendrik Meurkens was spotted ordering Samba to Go!  Back at the jam session, Let’s Play, said Herb. I’m In the Zone, added Freeman. Just Play, retorted Karl. With Feeling, shot back Winchester.

Mike Mainieri was Steps Ahead; he and Rusty Burge were already Faraway on Parallel Paths to the Reunion at Jazzfestival Bern.

At the Blackhawk, Victor Feldman formed a Transatlantic Alliance with Milt Jackson and The Modern Jazz QuartetThings Are Getting Better, Jackson whispered to Cannonball Adderley.

Warren, Black Wolf, and Willie Jones III laid the Groundwork for Incredible Jazz Vibes at Wolfgang’s miraculous Reincarnation.

Gary Burton’s Departure left a gaping hole in the Common GroundIt’s Another Day, folks.

Afrophysicist Stefon Harris will travel Ninety Miles to present his Grand Unification Theory to the SFJazz Collective.

This weekend Red Plays the Blues, On Stage in the renovated Rose Room.

We Now!  return you to your regularly scheduled programming.

.

by Gloria Krolak

.

 

.

 

.

.

© Keith Mallett

.

.

First Christmas

Never up first, he was always
downstairs first, his four little boys
aligned like ascending angels
up the polished staircase, already
dressed, eager to see the tree,
their piles of presents, when he gave
the word. But this—his first since
moving out, holed up in a grayed
box on a slab with a stoop just
blocks away: Christmas Eve with
him, a canned ham, and trifles
stuffed into four new matching
stockings; Christmas day with her.
At forty-four, he’d never spent
this morning alone with its luxury
of infomercials, happy-holiday sales
inserts, fried eggs and left-over ham.
A nice woman stopped to exchange
commiseration, gifts meant to flatter,
their festive fronts. Later, the phone
said what everyone had gotten—
what he already knew. That night,
back at the rental after kissing four
happy foreheads through their front
porch door, he watched winter turn
his wine black, fell asleep weeping,
Miles Davis playing Blue in Green

.

by D.R. James

.

___

.

The Christmas Angel

has a heart of holly
and is luminous as a
snowflake
she walks in the moonlight
like a girl of frost
she is a gift of
winter

i look into her eyes
and see heaven or
maybe a birch tree?

she lays in the night
my jazz angel
glowing like winter
a girl of frost
is a gift io
me

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by Erren Kelly

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___

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Elegy For Birdsong
……………In memory of Diane Moser

I wait predawn for the morning calls
of birds to announce the day.
You composed an entire jazz suite
dedicated to their language and
taught me to listen.
The crickets and cicadas, long since
partnered off, rest in sated silence
beneath the browns of late Autumn.

I hear the sound of jets, the heavy drum of
trucks delivering milk and produce.
My friend Gertrude ducked down ,
cowered at the sound of an airplane
after surviving WWII in hiding.
The sounds of dawn now heard in Ukraine,
thunder of bombers , followed by explosions.

The dawn here burns a pink and silent sky,
The black and white keys you played
avian melodies on are frozen in disuse.
I hear the first caw, the trill and response,
a whistle and the hiss of leaves in the wind.

.

by Marilyn Mohr

.

___

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The Death of Charlie Parker
…………………(August 29, 1920—March 12, 1955)

Charlie “Bird” Parker would be 100
Today, but instead he died at the age

Of 34, described by the doctors
In the hospital where he was taken

As an elderly Black man, as if he
Were a mere mortal like the rest of us.

.

by M.G. Stephens

.

___

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Ain’t Got No, I Got Life
………………….for Nina Simone

Sometimes there’s a night wind in the belly
of a poplar or an oak. In the stump, say, of a sassafras
hollow. Other times, gravel scuffs
the throat’s crow. If I had been a bird, I would have been
a pygmy possum trying to pouch myself in you,
Nina. So a bird is sometimes not
a bird. Most Zen koans can’t count
past zero when stuffed with starlings.
That’s one reason my name is
“Ain’t Got No.” So many years
of empty brought me to you.
So many years of this person hurting
that. If there be a word for bravery, Nina, I’d make sure
to spell it with the husky sad of your voice.
How’d you know to dive, scour the earth,
and bring it back up as if it sank
from heaven? Lord knows you sang as if drowning
angels betrayed the night sky. I’ve got a voice
in part in my poems because you made me hear
Holy, Holy Vowel. Even in the scuffle and gruff
of “Sinnerman.” If I could muster one moment
of your aching strength I could pound the piano
parts of myself no one sees into the black and white
keys of maybe and possibly and more. You sang
as if your death depended on it. If you’d been a bird,
you would have been the word salt
scraped backwards across river rock
so many times even Gandhi couldn’t have marched
across the Indian subcontinent all the way
to the sea to make a handful of self-
determination. Most Hindu paradoxes are Zen
koans in reverse. Most true piano notes are neither
black nor white. Sometimes there’s an oak inside
the belly of the wind. A mango tree from West Bengal inside
the cypress beards of the South. When it exhales, it somehow
inhales …..swallowing the world just enough to remake it
in the image of commingling bread and salt. “Black,”
you sang, “Is the Color of My True Love’s Hair.”
If there be a word, I’d make sure to comb through it with the sad
hand of a joyful ache. Had I been a bird, I would have
surely been a bird. Whingeing my way downwards
to earth, where your voice remains
so humanly human, Nina, calling
sideways down and upward possibility.
Lucky me to hear and perch myself
in you. Lucky you, beautiful bird
woman. Owl-singing
on a limb the night wind all day
during the all day long.

.

by George Kalamaras

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___

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My Chick Corea Bookend

I cannot think of those few years
in Kansas City without hearing
the music of Chick Corea.
There in a new state and city for school,
I went lonely to the Plaza
with its 1920’s Spanish architecture
to search for a pulse of the place—
something to tether me there
in a time before electronic connections
to home— no cell phones or emails.

An outdoor concert by Chick Corea
bloomed on that August afternoon.
In improvisation with the traffic beat,
his fingers flicked notes off a keyboard
that perturbed every molecule of air,
sending them spinning in exuberance.
I grew a first rootlet to the city.

Forty years and many jazz moments later,
my husband and I drove to a nearby college
for another Chick Corea concert.
Magic was revisited, time was nonlinear,
and we at once felt that we were both
coming from and returning to forever.

.

by Laura Trigg

.

___

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Power Of A Juke

A lad fired up a jukebox; his feet
spun left, then right; he lured a lass
into his arms; their feet caught fire;

they scorched the floor from one side
of the room to another; suddenly, left,
right, and center, the room had an ecstatic

herd of teenagers whose fleet feet
scalded the boards all through the room,
and the night came alive with joy’s

magnetic bonfire; hallelujah, brother
and sister, let us praise life in all its many,
exuberant, illimitable characteristics.

On the box, sax, trumpet, piano, bass, and drums
swung, swung, and swung, until all were done:
lads, lasses, and magic players igniting instruments.

.

…………previously published in Don’t Fret, Jazz Poems by Michael L. Newell

.

by Michael L. Newell

 

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Listen to the pianist Jon Cowherd play “Quilt City Blues,” from his album  ride and Joy  [Le Coq Records]

.

.

New Year’s Resolution

A cliché of sequins staccatos
across this first verse of sun, across
undisturbed snow as white and composed
as Styrofoam – till you can’t dismiss

what’s winking, what truly is twinkling,
or then the burly squirrel bounding through,
a cartoon ball bouncing out its bebop tune.
Granted, this should finally do you good.

In fact, it should go on resounding
against the discordant rounds without
and within, against the monotoned news,
the refrained and distasteful self-

revelations, against the flatted notes
of familial failures, of aging and its kin,
against the perennial drone toward ever more
of the ho-hum. Yes, you’d think it should . . .

and it does: this New Year lyric – landscape
writ bright with ice diamonds, wet confetti
free-jazzing at will from still branches – blows,
albeit pianissimo, against it all.

.

……first published in Psychological Clock (Pudding House Publications, 2007)

.

by D.R. James

.

___

.

Believing

Bill Evans
(three years before his final season)
plays ‘You must believe in Spring’
sadly
as if he doesn’t believe
(wait—-)
a slight up tempo
(maybe)?
then Eddie Gomez’s bass solo
and piano refrain.
(Yes, of course, bursting flowers
through snow,
why not?)

.

by Dan Brown

.

___

.

Get Through

I imagine myself
inside an Edward Hopper panting,
sitting in a diner
alone and motionless,
the black coffee getting cold,
waiting for something
within me to change
when suddenly the atmosphere
eases and I hear
a trumpet sound
played by a lean,
cool Chet Baker
embracing my silent mood,
reaching out across
the evening shadows,
touching my sleeve,
taking me along
with those strong adjectives of music
which climb and soar
above the oppressive
streets and traffic,
telling me calmly of a way
to get through.

.

by Byron Beynon

.

___

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Night Covers Itself In Jazz

my heartbeat thunders like the sound of drums
the piano lays down its groove to the moment
its black keys imitate the night as
the minor chords bring relief

i imagine a woman in a jazz club
seeking solace, like me, seeking grace
in the sound of a saxophone
her hips easily mimic an upright bass
she smiles, and that’s all the melody i need

i don’t care if the world’s problem’s ever end or
if men, deluded by money and power
let nuclear bombs replace their egos
just as sports cars become men’s phallic symbols

just give me jazz, the song of night
and i’ll happily lose myself in its baptism, the song
of dreams.

.

by Erren Kelly

 

.

___

.

The Future Is Happy

Accept connection, She.
The thing? That holds us together?
A bed slept in. Art begins in light’s breathy
slink through slats, ‘cross floors, covers, morn.

Hear it in a tenor sax.
Count Basie’s Band. Always hip and never late.

There’s no foot in the grave, only the dead.
Swing time. Bebop. If you need more, I can’t help you.

.

originally published in The Future Is Happy, BlazeVOX

.

by Sarah Sarai

.

___

.

Jerry Jazz Musician
…………..Tribute to Joe Maita

Faces on a computer screen,
poets bound at the heart by jazz;

love, more, adoration

Each word falling from their pen, musical
notes on a staff, poems on a page.

Eyes wide with wonder, Louis Armstrong. Aquiline
noses, mysterious as a cat; Miles on a fence.

Soaring black bird words, straight to the heart.
Days gone by shared in flight;

love translated, more, adoration

Breathe in….. breathe out….. connected.

.

by Judith Vaughn

.

.

Many thanks to Judith for capturing the spirit of this community in her poem, and to all the poets for sharing their soul in their appreciation for jazz music.

-Joe

 

 

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___

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Click here  to read the artist and poet biographies

.

.

 

Click here  to read the summer 2022 poetry collection

Click here  to read the spring 2022 collection of jazz poetry

Click here  to read the fall/winter 2021/22 collection of jazz poetry

 

.

Click here  for information about how to submit your poetry

Click here  to subscribe to the quarterly Jerry Jazz Musician newsletter

Click here to help support Jerry Jazz Musician

.

.

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6 comments on “A Collection of Jazz Poetry — Fall/Winter, 2022-23 Edition”

  1. What a wealth of jazz poetry! Enough to get lost and then find yourself again.
    To Martha Patterson, I especially appreciate your salute to the radio host who is the source of your jazz education. I suspect we are all still learning, but definitely true for me.
    Listen to my show Good Vibes (JazzOn2) and I will teach you what I know about the vibraphone, an instrument that captured my attention some twenty years ago, and had been adopted into jazz by Lionel Hampton and Red Norvo in the 1930’s. My last ten shows are also archived at mixcloud.com
    under Good Vibes with Gloria Krolak, which I update every month.
    http://www.gloriajazz.com

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In This Issue

painting of Clifford Brown by Paul Lovering
A Collection of Jazz Poetry — Spring/Summer, 2024 Edition...In this, the 17th major collection of jazz poetry published on Jerry Jazz Musician, 50 poets from all over the world again demonstrate the ongoing influence the music and its associated culture has on their creative lives.

(featuring the art of Paul Lovering)

Publisher’s Notes

photo by Rhonda Dorsett
On turning 70, and contemplating the future of Jerry Jazz Musician...

The Sunday Poem

Painting of Thelonious Monk by Martel Chapman
“Ten-Suite Epistrophies and Improvisations: for T. Monk” by Bill Siegel...

Click here to read previous editions of The Sunday Poem

Poetry

“Revival” © Kent Ambler.
If You Want to Go to Heaven, Follow a Songbird – Mary K O’Melveny’s album of poetry and music...While consuming Mary K O’Melveny’s remarkable work in this digital album of poetry, readings and music, readers will discover that she is moved by the mastery of legendary musicians, the wings of a monarch butterfly, the climate and political crisis, the mysteries of space exploration, and by the freedom of jazz music that can lead to what she calls “the magic of the unknown.” (with art by Kent Ambler)

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

In Memoriam

photo via Wikimedia Commons
A few words about Willie Mays...Thoughts about the impact Willie Mays had on baseball, and on my life.

Poetry

photo of Earl Hines by William Gottlieb/Library of Congress
Pianists and Poets – 13 poems devoted to the keys...From “Fatha” Hines to Brad Mehldau, poets open themselves up to their experiences with and reverence for great jazz pianists

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

CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
“On Coltrane: 4th of July Reflections” – a poem by Connie Johnson

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

photo of Coleman Hawkins by William Gottlieb/Library of Congress
“The Naked Jazz Musician” – A playlist by Bob Hecht...As Sonny Rollins has said, “Jazz is about taking risks, pushing boundaries, and challenging the status quo.” Could there be anything riskier—or more boundary-pushing—than to stand naked and perform with nowhere to hide? Bob’s extensive playlist is comprised of such perilous undertakings by an array of notable woodwind and brass masters who have had the confidence and courage (some might say even the exhibitionism) to expose themselves so completely by playing….alone.

Feature

Excerpts from David Rife’s Jazz Fiction: Take Two – Vol. 3: “Louis Armstrong”...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 third edition featuring excerpts from his book, Rife writes about four novels/short fiction that include stories involving Louis Armstrong.

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

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

An interview with Larry Tye, author of The Jazzmen: How Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, and Count Basie Transformed America; an interview with James Kaplan, author of 3 Shades of Blue: Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Bill Evans, and the Lost Empire of Cool; 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

Ella Fitzgerald/IISG, CC BY-SA 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
Click to view the complete 25-year archive of Jerry Jazz Musician interviews, including those recently published with Judith Tick on Ella Fitzgerald (pictured),; Laura Flam and Emily Sieu Liebowitz on the Girl Groups of the 60's; Tad Richards on Small Group Swing; Stephanie Stein Crease on Chick Webb; Brent Hayes Edwards on Henry Threadgill; Richard Koloda on Albert Ayler; Glenn Mott on Stanley Crouch; Richard Carlin and Ken Bloom on Eubie Blake; 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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