A Collection of Jazz Poetry — Summer, 2023 Edition

August 22nd, 2023

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“A Night at Birdland” © Everett Spruill

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“A Night at Birdland” is by the Florida-based artist Everett Spruill, who is known for his unique style combining elements of surrealism, cubism and abstract impressionism. He has graciously consented to have a sampling of his work published within this collection of jazz poetry.

To view more of his work, please pay a visit to his website by clicking here. His complete biography can be found on the artist and poet biography page, which can be viewed by clicking here.

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Dear Readers:

…..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.

…..A wide range of topics are found in this collection.  Tributes are paid to Tony Bennett and Ahmad Jamal and to the abstract worlds of musicians like Ornette Coleman and Pharoah Sanders; the complex lives of Chet Baker and Nina Simone are considered; devotions to Ellington and Basie are revealed; and personal solace is found in the music of Tommy Flanagan and Quartet West.  These are poems of peace, reflection, time, venue and humor – all with jazz at their core.

…..It is an honor to present this work.

…..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 are available to listen to throughout the collection.

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Listen to the 1965 recording of Herbie Hancock performing “Maiden Voyage,” with Freddie Hubbard (trumpet); George Coleman (saxophone); Ron Carter (bass); and Tony Williams (drums).  [Universal Music Group]

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A Poem About Art

Your chair is a kitten chasing a bird.
Hans Brinker skates across
your living room.

One sculpture wears a hat.
The other sculpture has balls.
The grand dame (Nevelson) wears black.

On the big wall, a large painting
by an angry woman. Roses.
Out the window – mellow bricks.

On a pane, a small fingerprint.
On the street, a poet bangs
a drum and shouts. It’s all jazz.

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by Geer Austin

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Making Something Out of Nothing

Reflection jazz.
You start with song.
As it goes playing on,
You saying something in the fuzz –
The chords, the tune become pure jazz.
And as it goes along
What seeded as a minus
Soon becomes a plus.
A pure example and a sample
Of the art of making something out of nothing.
This applies to everything.

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by Arlene Corwin

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Jazz on a Summer’s Day

It’s 1958
and the epitome of 50s style
Anita O’Day steps onto
the stage, white gloves
to her elbows, black hat
crowned with white feathers,
slim black dress and finger clicks
the band into sound and dynamic
jazz minors and majors.
The sun shines, a hot Newport
and it’s jazz on a summer’s day,
floating through the ears
of the people watching,
and swaying, nodding
chewing gum to the syncopation
of Jazz on a summer’s day.
And she turns to the band,
knowing she’s in charge,
arms akimbo, spread
to gather the music,
turns and spreads it out
to the people watching,
swaying, nodding, gum chewing
to the syncopation, watching
Anita O’Day and listening
to jazz on a summer’s day

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……………originally published in Jerry Jazz Musician on July 14, 2023

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by John Murphy

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Jazz

Half-crazy and broke, I walk in the rain,
An adrift fifteen year old runaway,
Whose world is a wet paper cup of pain
And extreme hunger, teeth aching, clothes soaked,
Hair unfurled down my shoulders as I trudge
Through Cooper Square on my way to St. Marks
Place, bones on fire with fatigue, shivering
In a beat-up old coat, paper in shoes,

I haven’t bathed in at least a week or
Changed my underwear even longer, but
My life is about to change as I step
Into a small club where Thelonious
Monk is performing a set, I sit at
The bar mesmerized by his jazz rhythms.

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by M.G. Stephens

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Sounds

I hear the rain’s beaded
notes on the window pane,
a fluid arrangement
on a stave of glass
as music forgives the ageless night
nurturing the tone of each moment.
The adrenaline in the blood,
transparent like an old memory
inhabiting unsheltered ground.
The articulation of discovered colours
recognized like a favourite season,
a blossoming of sounds
growing from within.

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by Byron Beynon

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What Say I?

I’ll play it first & tell you what
it is later – Miles Davis

Just that whole approach
To music (to life:

Zone out to this & you might find yourself
Jazz like a working conversation
That anyone can play

Experimental

I could cry
Or create

I choose the latter

Memories/Revelations
Conversations/Recollections
Regrets/Recriminations

Taken out of sequence
None of it makes sense, but

So what?

Let me live it first
I’ll explain it later

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by Connie Johnson

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“Birth of Cool” © Everett Spruill

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The Permanence of Improvisation 

They promised me my own sax solo.
I had brought adequate reeds
placed them in a cardboard box
near the main foyer, quasi-prominently.
Several people almost tripped and fussed.
The standup bass rolled in.
It took a while to acclimate.
There was a map on the far wall
with some notes of interest highlighted.
I had to move the large couch by myself,
this left a dust signature framed.
I wondered what to do about the contrast,
hesitated near some fern shaped guitars.
Their earth was moist and dryer than plastic,
metronomes set wet chewing gum glued.

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by Colin James

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The Shape of Jazz to Come: Lonely Woman

Ornette Coleman’s “Lonely Woman”
is like Rothko’s Entrance to Subway:
Blue pillars, blue floor, a man descending
and woman in pillbox hat ascending,
both not knowing the other is there.

Angular echoes on a tile wall—
Coleman calculates how sound
makes shadow of florescent light,
and then lays down tracks of sun.

Bone tight figures boxed into the subway
into depths of another Manhattan day;
Coleman’s saxophone brings us down
beneath estranged streets to a place
where everything has roundness again
—like the gust of a passing train.

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by DH Jenkins

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Kazuko

Pharaoh Sanders played an abandoned tunnel
in Marin
it’s just down the road
my road found him

breathe in
harmonium

the darkness and echoes
reverberations
generations
federations
Bop
Tick Tok the clock
it’s got numbers to mark the passage

Humanity did that
living in caves
what’s the day, days
taking time out of the continuum conundrum
playing their flutes made of bird bone and mammoth ivory

but, Pharaoh being a king
punctuated it with flutter tongue notes
harmonic multiphonic
tectonic
‘sheets of sound’
not assigned just keeping in time
with the eternal tunnel
sublime

harmony’s child,
Kazuko

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…..click here to view the film that inspired this poem

 

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by Dayna Genevieve

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Lucca

One day soon he will settle in Lucca –
A small house with a garden
A music room of course and in the cool
Spring evening it will be pleasant
Wandering piazza to piazza
To sit at café tables with a few
Understanding and forgiving friends

Someday soon when the fever breaks
Of crossing borders concert to concert
Festivals to cash-in-hand recordings
From dealers in hard drugs to hardened doctors
Substituting methadone with cautions

Driving overnight without a break
All to play one T.V. slot in Oslo –
Someday soon he’ll stay at home in Lucca
No last-minute sound-check to insist
‘I always play softly – I always sit down’

One day soon he will settle in Lucca
There is a quiet music to the phrase
Eternally assuring and enchanting
For high on uncut heroin
Every town is Lucca

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by Bernard Saint

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The Scarlet Hour (1956)

The velvety tones of Nat King Cole,
highlighting this long-lost film noir,
mesmerize.

The orchestra’s lush strings belie the
haunting words of the scarlet hour –
when desire

no longer is returned despite the searing
plea, “Never Let Me Go.” The song
repeats,

this time with Bill Evans’ crisp, witty
piano rendition that precisely enters
consciousness

like the knife of betrayal. Did Evans ever play
this for his lover, Miss Heroin? Oh, how she
never let him go.

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by Diana Rosen

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River Traffic

Throughout my life I have found place and direction, misspent, stolen time, refunded. My stowaway self culled, stoic, mercifully lost, to time and a river. The Seine oozes a musical mist, ebbs from its lazy waves, porous, penetrates my thirsty flesh. Graceful as bird song, this is visionary as eyes close. Gifted the first movement of Spartacus, peeled petal note and petal note as wind chime from the fine feathered tongue through the sweet wet kissing lips of Yusef Lateef.

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by Moe Seager

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Listen to the 1991 recording of bassist Charlie Haden, with Quartet West, playing “Lady of the Lake,” with Ernie Watts (saxophone); Alan Broadbent (piano); and Lawrence Marable (drums). [Universal Music Group]

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A Bit While Savoring Quartet West

viewed suspended
visually unsupported
a lone dry leaf held twirling
………………………clear in air
by some arachnid craft no doubt
“Haunted Heart” was heard
before the final drop

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by Terrance Underwood

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Always a Few Moments of Pure Brilliance

Like
the crack of a lightning bolt
………the crackling aftermath of electrified air

Like
the knife-like chirp of the cardinal:
………“I’m here … I’m here”

Like
the buzz of a hummingbird’s wings
………as it darts, dives, slices the air

Like
the cries and howls and yips of coyotes
………teaching jazz solos to their pups

Like
………Etta singing At Last

Like
………Abbey crying Bird Alone

Like
………ripples on a glassy pond
………….just before dawn

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by Bill Siegel

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Monday in Accounts

She, painterly person, holds the past weekend
like a sky within her memory. Now it is
Monday in the accounts department and she feels
the weight of white screens. But yesterday
she watched an orange crab in the rock pool
tamping sand, small puffs of it, hinting death
in the pool’s forest. Earlier, a child of three had
lapped an ice cream cone, her blue eyes hungering,
loving the gleam of pink and chocolate. In the
evening, in the beach café, the jazzman’s features
lay in the sunset’s shadow, his impromptu solo sax
haunting and befriending, his audience’s smiles
flickering before the wall’s green-painted pine.
Now that weekend lies below accounts’ reality,
low, mellowing, moaning for expression.

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…..previously published in Poetry Cornwall (2010) and the Autumn House Journal (2020).

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by Robert Nisbet

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Pure to the End

from
late nights and
blurry mornings
the scars in his eyes
roll out the
pain and love
of jazz
with broken
stories of
lost and found
searching for
the one night
healing from towns
and desert roads
where winds
push him in
and loss pushes
him out
helping the soul
to forget
names and faces
and promises
broken

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by Roger Singer

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Saving grace

Yesterday
I got the terrible word.
Today I’m
walking walking walking
down which boulevard I don’t
know, or care to know,
passing folk I don’t notice
nor care to see,
with the shards of a broken hope
stuck in my back, and twisting,
twisting, twisting,
suddenly from somewhere, I
don’t know where,
(maybe from a doorway, maybe
from a car, maybe from my
messed-up head) Mongo’s
smacking those congas, and there
inside me is “Watermelon Man”,
and I hear La Lupe’s laugh,
and I see in front of me the
23 Skiddoo Café, and hey,
I think, as long as we’re alive
and music is gloriously alive and well,
we can be well too, and
I go in and have a coffee and
thank God and Senor Santamaria
for a kind of deliverance
and a saving grace.

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by R. Bremner

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Jazz

Jazz moves my
Musical soul
Weaving a tapestry
Of shaded sounds
And syncopated rhythms.

Visions of Diz, the Prez,
Stan, Billie, the
Count and others.
In smoky bars,
Vast concert halls,
Tiny piano bars,
Where life has taken me.

My first record
As a teen
Of Woody and his herd,
The memories and
The music
Measure the
Years of my life.

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by Henry Wolstat

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Dawn Concert

dawn was breaking as I headed
up a wooded hill and discovered
a bird new to me who sang
a jazzy tune as though it was

Leo Wright doing a jazz march
alternating slow moody tune
with wild explorations of sound
I found myself doing a dawn dance

a celebration of sun hills trees
and the invisible bird who sang
like I had never heard before
from bird man wind or rain

I found myself trying to scat sing
with a creature I still had not seen
and a tree shook the music stopped
I was left alone on the path ..bereft

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by Michael L. Newell

 

 

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“Jazz Abstracts” © Everett Spruill

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Swinging Jazz
…….(Inspired by the late bass player Victor Bailey)

A steamy July set the mood for jazz.
Victor Bailey’s putting on a party
to tape music he adores.

Dropping our Manhattan cool, we give in to
Brooklyn’s pull—air and space, Shapeshifter Lab’s
wide white room, walls splashed
with vibrant murals of musicians at play.

Fans and friends jive to a booming bass.
Drummer Lenny White carries the beat.
Alex Foster’s horn seduces.
Mino Cinelu on percussion creates magical sounds.

Sweet guitar licks fill the night.
A flirting filmmaker records the show.
We salute the moment with Spanish white.
Victor basks in rhythm and swing,

inspires and energizes. A sapping illness lurks,
but Victor’s faith and funk drive his spirit.
A spontaneous family formed.
Ready to dance again.

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by Amy Barone

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Busking on Boulevard and Belvedere Street

A lone drummer sits on the corner,
sweat beading through his skin
giving his art his all on a hundred-degree day.
His hands hit cold steel hard, drumsticks pound his kettle
wildly with the rhythms
of the street, music flowing from a speaker with the volume up,
rat-a-tat-tat, whole, half, rest,
whole, half, quarter.
Not quite drowning him out,
the city passes by,
a few cars and curious pedestrians stopping their day to listen.
A few blocks away,
a saxophonist joins in,
swinging jazz in time with hip hop,
the melodies from Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew becoming another animal,
new, raw, current.
The men begin to dance, to sway to the beat,
their bodies keeping time,
to any audience of any size, large, small, or none at all.
Streets to stages, stages to studios, and back again,
their two souls in time together,
but separate.
Years spent perfecting their craft unites musicians,
despite the miles between them.

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by Elliott Martin

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Spinning Black Platters

During a brief respite from the hard rain,
I heard a music born of spring and sunsets
coming from spinning black platters.
Their weighty cadence, their spry
crackling fireworks
holding my wonder
as the grooves ran wobbly
and I spent hours
unraveling
the riddles
they told
the wisdom
they held
and where all that
joyful noise
was coming from.

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by Mike Jurkovic

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Jazz.  The Cosmic Connector

In fine form, the Friday night house band
plays Miles Davis’ E.S.P. – burns hot.
Guest trumpeter Al Strong ignites us.
Sticks ablaze, the drummer pummels
my body, becomes the pulse of the city.
Ziad’s saxophone freestyle takes flight,
brings us to our feet, sizzling.
Rhythms rope me in,
leave me limp.

The rowdy crowd
spills out of the Bechtler
in high spirits, chilled by the spring
evening breeze and thoughts of home.
Honey, you look good in pink whoops
the old woman propped outside the venue
to feel the heat, the beat, overstuffed bags
beside her. Newspapers neatly arrayed–
a magic carpet to carry her to this moment.

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by Patricia Joslin

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Frenchmen Street

Music swells from each club
in crescendoing waves
calling like sirens
begging us to drown.
We walk into a club
in the middle of a climax.
The band’s drums quake,
the trumpets blare, and
it’s not till the bass returns
thrumming I shiver
with the sound.

A kid at the table near us
has his face planted in his fist,
the drunk man’s thinker.
I wonder if he’s dreaming
of the drinks,
of the jazz,
of a person at the bar.
His eyes remain closed
for the rest of the set.
Under the club light,
his lashes glint red with
leftover tears.
And the music moves on
without him.

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by Carmen Barefield

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Twilight Time
……………(inspired by the Platters)

Twilight casts spells,
scatters
pink, orange, red, gold
onto short-waved blue sky.

With colors in turmoil,
it must hurry—
announce day’s end.

Quiet,
gradual,
not to disturb sun’s departure.

Blue to deepen
night’s shadow
and a curtain scattered in stars,
crowned by moon.

I cast spells,
scatter manifestations draped in
pink, orange, red, gold
onto short-waved blue incense.

With colors in turmoil,
I must hurry—
announce intentions
at day’s end.

Quiet,
gradual,
not to disturb sun’s departure.

Blue to deepen
your shadow
and a bed scattered in stars,
crowned by moon.

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by Patricia Carragon

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Rainbow Room Reverie

What ever happened to supper clubs?
White tablecloths and sparkling champagne
flutes clinking like wind chimes. Places
where the air is singed by electricity
of romance and a smile heats up a room.
Blossom Dearie singing I’m In the Mood
for Love while waiters hover silently,
awaiting a nod for refills. White dinner
jackets, peach, lavender satin dresses swirl
around a parquet dance floor as Duke plays
Caravan and It Don’t Mean A Thing.
Everyone swinging to the sultry beat.

An evening out, not just a meal. A place
where cigarette smoke mingles with Chanel
and charismatic bandleaders wink kindly
at young ladies who sing along as if their life
was always this fancy and swell. The Cotton Club,
the Copa, El Morrocco. Where everyone knows
a stellar story that’s good for a laugh. Where
each patron has the same chance to dream
that the night’s magic will linger like a
a determined lover. Where memories
will whisper gently long after morning alarms
jangle and grey subways shriek like crows.

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by Mary K. O’Melveney

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Listen to the 1959 recording of Charles Mingus playing “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat,” with Mingus (bass); Booker Ervin (saxophone); John Handy (saxophone); Horace Parlan (piano); Dannie Richmond (drums). [Columbia]

 

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The Fantastic Nicknames of Jazz
…………..With apologies to Hayden Carruth

Satchmo, Dodo, Pharaoh, Philly Joe,
Chico, Django, Dolo, Hi De Ho.
Snakehips, Hot Lips, Jeru ‘n Chu,
Eubie, Baby, Chubby, Tubby and Bu.

Plenty Kings, Queen just one, deuce of Jacks,
Gardens of Buds, pair of Boots and Sax.
Duke, Count, Baron, and Papa Jo,
A palette of Reds, Rosy ‘n Blue Lou.

So many Kids, Big Mama, ‘n Fatha,
Frog, Fox, piece of Cake, Maharaja.
Cag, Hog and Jug, Keg and Ragbaby,
The Senator, Guvnor, Pres and First Lady.

Cornbread and Fathead, the Judge ‘n Captain,
Bounce, Flip, Leap Frog over your Hammond.
There’s Tram, Slam, a Slim and a Ham,
Beaver, Mousie, Hawk, Hootie ‘n The Lamb.

Jaco and Guido, Dink, Chink, and Yank,
Spike, Punch, and Corky, Tex, Mex and Hank.
Brownie and Deedles, Bird and Crane,
Keter, Klook, Big Chief, Bubber and Trane.

The High Priestess of Soul, Professor Longhair,
Ol Blue Eyes, The Prince of Darkness, Papa and Bear.
The Divine One, Lord, God, and Tain,
Even The Great Dane with the Never-Ending Name.

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by Gloria Krolak

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click here to see the “solutions” to the nicknames

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Jazz Names

McCoy Tyner, Ornette Coleman, Paul Desmond;
Jazz names all three, all with trochaic surnames;
Add Armstrong, another trochaic surname,
and you see the pattern:
How many great jazz names there are,
And how many great jazz names are trochees!

Mingus, Parker, Reinhardt—the list is long
And poetical, and then there is Coltrane—
An iamb or a trochee, COL-trane or col-TRANE?
We’ve heard it both ways, even the great John
Said it both ways at different times, but Baker
And Coleman, there’s no mistaking; English

Allows only one way to say most names;
In jazz, mostly, they’re trochees.

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by George Held

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We All Have Gods

My husband has Art Tatum.
I have Monk and Powell.
We both come from our different sources,
Jazz, of course,
Bass lines and base.

‘Round Midnight’ helps me through the day.
It’s helped me sing and play
The way I do.
Powell’s ‘Anthropology’.
His fingers oh, so free.
He never once looks at the keys
Still influencing, teasing me;
1954 till now
Still listening and learning how…

We all have God, maybe –
But gods who lived and played for me
And those few limited to loving jazz,
Living jazz, chromatic, cool, developed jazz
Are living as
…………………..I do –
Devotedly, completely fast.

I love having my gods, small G.
It makes a better ‘man’ of me:
That said, I’m female through and through
Still listening to ‘Tea for Two’.

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by Arlene Corwin

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Harlem’s Jazzbirds

Come fly with me, Black Crow,
With Wings of Eagles.
Out of the Cage, Skylark, Baltimore Oriole,
Little Hummingbird, The Littlest One of All,
Andorhina, The Peacocks, Flamingo,
Birds of a Feather, Flying Colours.
Word from Bird, Fly!

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by Gloria Krolak

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The Greatest Female Jazz/Blues Singer

Smith? Bailey? Humes? Fitzgerald? O’Day? Christy? Carter?
Connor? Vaughn? McRae? Washington? Simone? Dearie?
All worthy, none the pinnacle. My pick is Eleanora Fagan.
Plumbs your emotions to a depth no other singer reaches.
Phrasing so resonant that a word can be a full song.
Floats forever, gliding endlessly above the melody.
To the public, she went by the name of Billie Holiday.

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by Peter Gregg Slater

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Black Dress Makes Me Blue

Bought me a black dress, anticipating a date
I’ve had that dress for years, time’s getting late
I ain’t got no man, all the women I know do
Now you know why this old girl is blue

Looking at the photos of men I used to know
All have gone some place above, others below
I wonder how long I’ll be here listening to my Jazz
Bobbing and weaving to the razz-ma-tazz

That black dress is dusty, the shoes no longer fit
My behind has gotten wider cause all I do is sit
Thinking about that date that never came to pass
And the black dress that won’t cover my big ass

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by Aurora M. Lewis

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“Nina Simone” © Everett Spruill

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5 Jazz Ladies (5 poems)

I’m between melancholy
and euphoria, when Billie sings.
Lady Day expresses her mountains
of pain into her songs. As she tries
to chip the loneliness away,
her voice made the blues sound beautiful.

Nina Simone flirts with everyone,
as she walks slowly towards the audience,
and she pauses between songs;
smiling, playing a hot piano,
painting her music like a Master,
this chocolate-colored and flavored siren.

Etta James, at last—
we know the essence of you.
Behind your platinum bouffant
and sultry smile, your inner world
deepens, your voice becomes stronger.
Decade by decade, you gave it your all:
we “just wanna make love to you.”

Yes, your father is an icon,
but you have your own quiet power,
Norah Jones. You play watery pianos
and you sing up a storm. You
taught us to dream during the
new Millennium, of sweet jazz.

“My love is like a fire. Your love is like a cigarette.”
These were the only words from Koko Taylor
I’ve heard uttered from her lips, the only woman who swam
in a sea of male players, in the “Louisiana Gator Boys”
from Blues Brothers 2000—She was the fire burning bright,
may her power and mastery never be extinguished from our sights.

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by Carrie Magness Radna

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Ella
………(on her 106th)

On this quiet morning,
the blue skies remind me
of you and the effervescence
of your voice, scatting
through “Lady Be Good”

“Boo dih loo dooh
oo bee ooh booh
eh eeooh buh dih
loo di doo bih . . . .”

You made
every song you sang
your own.

Happy Birthday
to The Queen.

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by Russell duPont

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For Nina

Stand up and be counted
frolic in the grass
tell it like it is
with no half measures
dance
naked
if you want to
sing
live as you wish
to be remembered.

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by Lynn White

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When Nina Sings

When Nina sings wild is the wind
I feel strange, so strange & weightless
like I could be blown, set adrift. A feather landing at your feet in a town
where the street lights are always green & you make me feel eternally seen.

you’re spring to me, all things to me and I still want to remain
just devastatingly me, to impress you. You invented me
poet to poet: and you still impress me even now:

Jackleg preacher
Midnight teacher
Three tokes of something newsworthy

Play me some Nina and let’s talk about how your soul was
one million years old compared to mine. Who loved me,
who I loved. It’s the only thing that interests me now.
Africa in your profile, Congo Square in your
Voodoo spells. It’s all jazz to me now.

let me fly away with you, Nina sings. And I’m a feather
that’s landed at your feet, in a town where
you’re all things to me

And it’s eternally spring.

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by Connie Johnson

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Nina as in Nina Simone

As a child Eunice crossed railroad tracks
To learn classical piano
Music being her language
Her access to other worlds
She became Nina Simone the performer
Aspiring to become a “rich black bitch”

Success came but with it
Depression, exhaustion and rage
She was pushed hard and beaten by her manager husband

But pain only serves the artist
To remind her of what is out there
That Nina was part of too–
The murders of four little black girls in Birmingham in ’63
Inspired her to become the first black, first female, first artist
To declare in song–
“Mississippi, goddamn!”

She joined the civil rights movement
Hoping to drive white people “insane” with her music
A matter of survival, she said
“How can you be an artist and not reflect the times?”

Staring down audiences like a mad woman
Nina demanded they bear witness to
Long-denied horrors

“They’re shooting us down one by one.
Don’t forget that because they are”

No matter the highs or lows
Music always flowed

Nina channeled the blues
Sometimes lulling
Sometimes pummeling people
Calling them out
In order to
Right history.

.

…..(originally published on Jerry Jazz Musician on April 2, 2023.  You can read Ms. Jenkins read the poem by clicking here…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).

.

by Arya F. Jenkins

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___

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Nancy King

It was “Love for Sale” that afternoon.
Homefried Truckstop Café, 1975,
blonde on a barstool
singing jazz,
…………………scatting too, and she could.
Piano man swaying,
…………………………………playing chords,
a few notes accenting
……………………….her soaring soprano,
……..that could dive…………. to growling depths.

Seems like a fast forward,
but time
…………..just did what time does,
now Portland, 2012
Jimmy Mak’s club,
singer from NYC in town,
a sellout……………plays piano,
sings smoky jazz ballads
……………………..like she owns them,
seamless back up by local sidemen,
like they play
…………………….together every week.

Second set, same crew, one special guest
tonight,
local friend of the headliner, Nancy
walks to the stage,
………………………..hair gone gray now,
Settles on a bar stool
………………………………by the guitar player,
takes an intro, sings
…………………………..just like always,
“Love for Sale” again.

.

by James Higgins

.

.

Listen to the 1965 recording of Paul Desmond playing “Here’s That Rainy Day,” with Jim Hall (guitar); Percy Heath (bass); Connie Kay (drums).  [RCA Victor]

 

.

.
To Duke

The Duke composed delicacies for the ears
With dreamlike determination,
Bringing a bluesy melancholy to luxuriant late nights.
His Caravan put us on the A Train,
To arrive at Solitude in a Sentimental Mood
Through shades of Indigo-
Reminiscing in tempo.

.

by Anthony Ward

.

___

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Play Basie, Play
………“He made the world want to dance…” — Rutgers University

Fluid moves and mellow tune
weaving its way from ear to heart
out of the lips, scatting starts
Be baba do wah beba do wee
Crowds gone wild tryin’ to see
Play it Basie, Montreux Scat

Groove the upbeat, heads are bobbin,’
hit that downbeat, fingers poppin’
The house is packed, front to door
tappin’ and dancin’ pulsate the floor
Play Basie, play that Red Bank Boogie

Swingin,’ swayin,’ clap, those hands
Can’t sit still on Basie’s band
Music is who I am he plays
Music’s where we go, they say
Play it, Basie, One O’clock Jump

Melodies are a tour of his soul
Harmony, life’s glissando
That’s why he’s the Count, cool cat
Soulful, jazzy Aristocrat
Play, Basie, play, April in Paris

The major notes ask a question
the minors answer – jam session
Jazz, blues, spirituals, swing
Musical icon, do your thing
Play it, Basie, Tally Ho!

Your style, flair, legendary genius
each stirring note, forever with us
Soulful, jazzy Aristocrat
Play, Basie, play, L’il Darlin’

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by Mari Fitz-Wynn

.

___

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Apprenticeship

for decades
….i have knelt

onstage
….pressing

my lips
….to the damp

wood
….over which

a trumpeter
….in smoke &

darkness
….swings

his green
….silk notes

who are you?
….i whisper

how long
….will this last?

he never
….answers

without
….looking down

he drains
….his spit valve

into my open
….mouth

.

by Jaydn DeWald

.

___

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Java Jive

Suddenly that certain morning she became aware
of Sarah Vaughan, the vocal master on the radio.
Out of duo-occupied queen-sized bed she jumped,
became attuned to
…………….Just a little lovin’ early in the morning
…………….beats a cuppa coffee for starting off the day
As she has done some thousand times before
and since that Vaughan recording first became
her charmed alarm, she ground the beans, extracted
brew, poured cup after cup, to relish
preparatory promise of communion.

She hoped insensate bedmate heard
enough to partner music’s message
cued cafe au lait for two.
Crabby hipster/poet slumbered undisturbed
by hostess’ desire, continued snoozing through
her java jive. No imaginary orgy
quenched her solitary sips.
…………….Deferred, she handles, savors only
…………….Robusta seed-roasted espresso dreams.

.

by Catherine Lee

.

___

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Duo

1

through an open window
comfort enters settling as sound
temperate breezes rush nearby leaves
with a soothing rustle
stirring a Desmond Old Feeling
bone marrow goes fluid for a bit
a flow in tempo until
back earthen comes That Rainy Day

2

A sudden stillness in the air beyond
Sound slips along atmosphere
With no mean encumbrance
First myriad bird songs
Now soft rain begins
Nuanced by Hersch
playing Thelonious
“Ask Me Now”
For a “Bemsha Swing”
All the rest tunes out

.

by Terrance Underwood

.

___

.

Questions for Astrud

Did you dream up the orange golden sun of Aruanda?
Seashells far from your mother, you would no longer need

to whisper, “Take Me to Aruanda.” She wouldn’t find you there.
Thick black eyeliner traced eyes. White diamond sand in thighs.

Iridescent pink fish in the stream, “Are you happy there now?”
Heaven waited over yonder for your perfect tone. What’s beyond?

Do you swing your hips in the dark? Moon lighting crescent
bones leaving sadness behind. Is it a sweet paradise in Aruanda?

.

by Jerrice J. Baptiste

.

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“Modern Jazz Quartet” © Everett Spruill

.

.

Modern Jazz Quartet, Late 1950’s

In a small upstairs club
on the edge of downtown D.C.
even on a steamy summer night
the coolest place in town

.

by Phyllis Wax

.

___

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The Spaces in the Music: Homage to Ahmad Jamal

Bach and Ellington
Mozart and Art Tatum
Ravel and Garner
Beginning at age three He knew them all like old friends

He loved the space that music made
The room it gave to feel to grow to glow
The spareness The richness The fullness
Everything rhythmic lush hypnotic

Poinciana But Not For Me
Ahmad’s Blues Marseille Pastures
These songs embraced our lives
So we could riff rap evolve fly

Some say there was never a piano like his
If you were lucky you caught him at
The Pershing The Alhambra The Village Gate
Swing Color Sweet Cool Spirit Clarity

Pianist extraordinaire Composer Bandleader
He taught us how to traverse the world
To watch the sky as it fills with birds
To hear the wind whisper between every chord

.

by Mary K. O’Melveny

.

___

,

Ahmad Jamal

Smooth sound
glues us as one,
holds strong.

Measured silence
between notes,
quiet spaces.

Truth found
in the pause,
travels to bind us
to our honest selves.

.

by Marilyn Mohr

.

___

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Ahmad Jamal on a Rainy Day

Beauty can be found in anything, even rain;

kids walk outside after a storm
and the streets are slick as the chords you play
I have always been about music
I have tried to find the melody in
everything; even a waterfall tells a
story

music breathes life to dreams
and gives beauty to a world
that is constantly molested and assaulted
by agendas, propaganda and
dogmas

An asian practices tai-chi in a park
marrying herself into morning
i listen to you playing, ripping the
mask off evil

and see a lovely lady smiling at me
with a face that is jazz

Like you Ahmad, I can find beauty
in anything

.

by Erren Kelly

.

___

.

You Got Me Feeling Retro

Make me want to drag out my vinyl, evoke some
Whispery confession over rum & coke, that’s what the
Grown folks would call a truth-telling instigator.
Any form of cheap high might make me tell some things
Best left on the Q.T.

All my vinyl holds secrets, closing my eyes as Billie sings
you’re my thrill, cheap high closing my eyes now

I feel chills.
I feel chills.

Does this make you want to say there’s no feeling
Like this feeling? When it gets retro like this
I might say anything:

Nothing seems to matter/here’s my heart on a silver platter

I told you I was feeling retro, eyeing you like you’re a 1930’s
Cat daddy in a zoot suit. It’s all about the drape and the swag
In a time of the newfangled epiphany. Tell me all
Your secrets and I’ll tell you mine. Whisper it in this
Holy space that feels like dreamscape. Believers and
Non-believers alike know what this feels like.

From the tavern, the street corner, to the churchyard
And back again. You’ve got me at my wit’s end.
But what does it matter?
What does it matter?
It’s no secret when you
Actually get down to it:

You’re my thrill.

.

by Connie Johnson

.

.

Listen to the 1958 recording of John Coltrane playing “Theme for Ernie,” with Red Garland (piano); Paul Chambers (bass); Art Taylor (drums).  [Universal Music Group]

.

.

Tony Bennett…An Obit Moment

a closed window provides
no deterrence to a song’s
entry actual or imagined

a falling rain in slow
descent rustles languid leaves
before reaching ground

it may be his spirit passing my way
evoking a fondness for Fundador
mentioned in a Roman referral

sound advice suggesting invitation
sadly not today for me not yet
I’ll catch up some other time

.

by Terrance Underwood

.

___

.

Soultrane

Soultrane came out when Ike governed.
1958. Before our nation
Would build up its war machine to invade
Viet Nam, training its Green Berets

In the hills of the Ko‘olau Mountains, above
Our campus, O‘ahu, Hawai‘i . At Kam School
We could hear the choppers in those hills
As our troops practiced for the invasion

To be in the jungles “over there”
While over here, in Philly, John Coltrane
Was blowing up a storm on his alto horn
For what would be his fourth studio album,

Soultrane, one of the many puns on the name
Of he who would become a saint
in his own AOC church:

A jazz musician, born in North Carolina,
Famous for his licks and arrangements,
Hallowed as a saint.

.

by George Held

.

___

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Rumble – March, 1958

French IndoChina was green on
Geography maps and poor Tom Dooley
was hanging down his head.
We three boys had a 45
record player to share – like the
big Schwinn ‘Spitfire’ that I, youngest,
rode last, which meant dark was nearing,
which meant last rider puts away,
.because that’s the rule of sharing.

We shared a ‘kit’ for the 45’s
we played after homework, which was
after dinner; not for long on school nights.
Sundays, after Mass, after lunch, we’d
take turns and play it loud as we could
since we were downstairs and my Dad’s
HiFi system was up and playing guys
with cool names like: ’Cannonball’,
‘Django’,‘Dizzy’, even ‘Muggsy’!

One Sunday, Jimmy let me ride
the bike on his time because he
snuck downtown to the record store
to buy the Cadence label song
we dove to the basement to hear:

Not my Everly Brothers, not Elvis,
No Dentist office ballad.
Link Wray;
‘RUMBLE’
Three chords, punishing drums,
then the riff – it meant, it felt,
it made you think of one thing:
trouble.

Nothing musical would matter
until around ‘65 – when
Jack Kelley got killed in Viet Nam
and that killed his band.

.

by Gerard Furey

.

___

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Lest We Forget

Dexter Gordon playing a ballad
was a slow delicate sipping of cognac

Charlie Parker in wild investigation
no one could match was strong bourbon

John Coltrane discovering A Love Supreme
was an exceptional Pouilly Fuisse

and Sonny Rollins alone on a bridge was
unadorned explosive mind-expanding tequila

.

by Michael L. Newell

.

___

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Peace

8:05 in the evening
and after days of rain
and dreary skies,
the night is crisp,
clear and dry.

Eric Jackson,
“Dean of Boston Jazz,”
opens with Tommy Flanagan’s
“Peace.” I close my eyes,
breathe in a 3-4-5 rhythm.

The day’s irritations
dissolve under Flanagan’s
subtle nuances
and I drift off in
………………………..Peace

.

by Russell duPont

.

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“Kind of Blue” © Everett Spruill

.

.

 

Instead of love

Instead of love
when I hear honied jazz
it flows through my brain
creating golden musical notes
that just between you and me
stay alive by floating over mountain peaks
where they morph into rainbow colors
they’re a beautiful sight that causes
music instead of blood to flow
through my veins and wipes away
thoughts that are dwelling inside
no matter how good or how bad
I’m swept to the sky to join angels
riding rainbow colored musical notes
that had floated over the mountains
to morph into cloud shaped stallions
that all angels rode my way
while singing heavenly jazzy praise f
or me atop their rainbow-colored steeds
I thought I had died and gone to heaven
until I was rudely awakened
by a saxophone that blew so loud it
caused rainbow-colored notes
and angels to fade away as if
blown out like candles
on a birthday cake

.

by Joe DiBiduo

.

___

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Percussion
………(for son Derek)

All summer I shadow your band
from the porch: London to Rome,
Lausanne to Amsterdam,
a week on Sardinia, then back

to Liverpool, Mecca of my youth.
And besides my usual obsessions—
your precarious health, the requisite
excesses—I worry over

each venue’s resident drum kit—
whether there will be two toms, a kick-drum,
high-hat, ride and crash cymbals,
a decent snare—and whether

the bale of the bucket,
the turquoise floor-mop bucket,
the one your older brother
rigged up for you

from the laundry room
to be your bright bass drum,
will still slip easily
over your head and your

Dutch-boy bangs
to lead the Mardi Gras
of neighbor kids, kazoos,
garbage-lid cymbals,

up one side of Fourteenth Street
and down the other, forever
marching, forever jazzing
my arrhythmic heart

back here in Holland,
Michigan.

.

by D.R. James

.

___

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This Blue Funk

That feeling when everything makes you sad
Nothing you can think of would make you glad
No matter how hard you try to remove yourself
From this blue funk

To make it even worst you listen to the Blues
Those songs that bring a tear to your eyes
Billie, Dinah, or Sarah wailing up to the sky
From this blue funk

Is it money troubles, no man to call your own
Kids ain’t got time for you now that they’re grown
That face in the mirror made you shudder and wince
From this blue funk

Poor a glass of wine, smoke a little weed
eat a quart of ice cream, your heart still bleeds
No tourniquet can stop the flowing pain
From this blue funk

.

…………..(originally published on Jerry Jazz Musician on May 21, 2023)

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by Aurora M. Lewis

.

___

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Folk Song Poem (Statesboro Blues)

Moma and Papa are dead
Leavin’ me wild and restless
Puttin’ on my travelin’ shoes
Quiet dusty footsteps
Tracking toward the door.
The distant train whistle moans “I’m gone”.
In the one room shack
Sister, Brother,
Would love to leave these blues behind
Huddled in the corner
Grandma and Grandpa is
Longing too.

.

by Daniel Brown

.

___

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Tiny Dancer

born between the cracks of
black and white piano keys
she is a dream that came to life
a miracle of lace and gauze
to become queen of the night

she is moonlight and stardust
she is all the fairy tales I trust
a fable of magic held dear
she is a wish my heart holds clear

lithe dancer, a dream of romance
the way she moves is not of circumsstance
but maybe chance?

she moves so flawless
she becomes one with the dream
or one with the dance

My lady of the music box
my saint of wonder
fragile as raindrops, what a
spell she puts me under

her legs become wings in the air
and my heart is frozen in a trance
The way to a man’s heart is not
through is stomach

but by moving like a dove in motion
seducing him through dance

.

…….The painter, Edgar Degas, would go to the theatre halls and watch dancers for hours.  They would inspire his paintngs – E.K.

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by Erren Kelly

.

___

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Baptism of the Jazz Dancer

humming
the saxophone
hue of an African

he plays the beat
slow and easy

tangled with
the guitar string
of Lekan Babalola

my fingers
tap his thighs
nice and slow

awakening
his melody
cosmic breath

rolled tobacco
fills the air

homeland —
tambourine
enchanting
display

her slender
silhouette

slow gyrating
note for note
to title a tune

.

by Christina Chin and Uchechukwu Onyedikam

.

.

Listen to the 1962 performance of Bill Evans playing “Like Someone in Love” [Universal Music Group]

.

.

Back at the Blackhawk

The Hal Leonard Real Little Ultimate Jazz Fake Book
includes over 625 songs compiled by Dr. Harry Wong who
has impeccable credentials in the jazz world.

Over the years, I’ve added now-fading yellow Post-it notes
to many pages for reasons now forgotten:
“Button Up Your Overcoat,” “I Could Write a Book,”
“It Never Entered My Mind,” along with five others including
“Like Someone in Love,” a personal favorite,
especially the Bill Evans 1962 solo recording.

Dr. Wong can’t be faulted for a single selection of song,
performer or composer but, given the opportunity,
I would have made some different choices.

I would have included Susannah McCorkle’s terrific vocal on
“I Thought About You,” the Johnny Mercer/Jimmy Van Heusen tune
she recorded including the verse
(almost no one covers the verse anymore) a few years before
she gave up on jazz and life, left them on the other side of
the window of her 16th floor apartment on the Upper West Side.

And I would have noted the nobody ever played
“Doxy” better than Cal Tjader on the original 1959
Concert by the Sea album recorded live at Monterey with
Paul Horn and Mongo Santamaria.

All I have to do is look at my old blue viny LP in the jacket with the
photo of the wild California coast
and I’m back at the Blackhawk with you, young again,
sitting at the bar, listening to Cal,
and very much like someone in love.

.

by Molly Larson Cook

.

___

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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.

.

by Bryan Franco

.

___

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Summer Trumpet

Fill the night like fireworks
their melodies lingers like
a song of patchouli perfume
your scent leaves in the wind

Like Miles, your song is filled
with all blues; like Terence, a
summer night in the french quarter
suits you best, like Dave Douglas
your theme appears like a goddess
on a movie screen. Like Lee Morgan
your tune tells a story, better than the
rest

even when muted, the trumpet cries
its euphoria, how you dance like Josephine Baker
as Louis Armstrong shouts “halleluiah”

A summer trumpet sounds its clairion
call in the night, above the noise, its cry is
heard alone

like a lone star, it stands out. Like you, a
one true note, all alone…

.

by Erren Kelly

.

___

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He Loved Jazz

He loved Jazz
and a trumpet and a sax
were his life-long pals,
but no one was willing to nurture the talent
of a man with limited wealth
and a family of three youngsters
and an extremely querulous wife,
so he played to his children,
his only appreciative audience
and won the respect of some neighbors
whose walls absorbed the passion
his tunes had daily exhaled.

I behold his face
in every musical assembly
with lots of bass and brass,
when Hans Zimmer performs Inception
and drums and trombones activate the pulse
that throbs at every semblance to Jazz.

.

by Susie Gharib

.

___

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Keeping Mystery Simple

on an archived promenade
down a broad jazz boulevard
……………………….a passage
through intersecting side streets
passing by familiar denizens
expressing familiar standards
instrumental & vocal
to stumble over Curtis Fuller
filling “Lover Man”
after a fine bowed double bass
……………………….prelude
for some sonic slide easy
“bone” smooth tremolo

O how that lilting brass
……………………….hones in solid comfort!
refashioning ancient chestnut notes
into old growth groves & stable forests

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by Terrance Underwood

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___

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The Gift of Song

When younger, still possessed of a voice
that could sing, I would sing with almost
everything: I would hear workmen hammering,
laughing, welding, and would burst into
“Work Song” by Nat Adderley and Oscar Brown Junior;
pass churches where I would hear old-time hymns
and sing passages from spirituals that I learned
as a boy; hear birds squawking back and forth,

and create my own scat song that I inserted
between their call and response; see itinerant
workers bent over in the fields and sing
“Hard Times Come Again No More,” or Si Kahn’s
“Aragon Mill.” I would watch lads playing
a pickup baseball game in a weed-choked
field, and slip into “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,”
and add some diddley-bop-she-bop flourishes

to the melody and lyrics. As a teacher, I would
walk through empty hallways, eavesdrop on
classes I passed, and make up tunes and lyrics
about what I heard. All life was music, much of life
was song, and my whole body would respond
to the sounds of the world. I lived alone in my
head, but I absorbed everything I passed, turned
it into a vehicle for all the joy, all the sorrow,

all the triumphs, all the losses that defined
who I was. Even the stone that I often carried
in my heart was transmuted through the medium
of music, music which lifted me to my feet,
made my body move, and elicited from my voice
sounds that were the closest I could come to Hallelujah.
I can no longer sing, but in my head and heart, I sing,
I cavort, I fly on the wind which still sings to and with me.

.

by Michael L. Newell

.

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“Modern Jazz Number Two” © Everett Spruill

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Where Souls Swim

a willing sax
throws out notes
long lines of
baited jive
into deep
swirling waters
where souls swim
with thirsty ears
anxious hands
breaking hard
the surface
eyes go wide
feet twist
shoulders sway
colors flow
sweaty smiles
setting tight
the line of jazz

.

by Roger Singer

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___

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Dream Poem

In my dream
I’m awakened to
distant music
rising over black mountains.
A Russian fantasy
played in
Boogie Woogie style.
Rachmaninoff meets Meade Lux Lewis
Separate but entwined
Through the loving
Turmoil of sleep.

.

by Daniel Brown

.

___

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You Must Live It

During that electric dawn
when I first heard
a bracelet of notes

which traced a subtle rhythm
within an hourglass of music
and sharpened the silence with sound,

Peggy Lee’s velvet
voice on ‘Is that all there is’
fused in my head,

a memory which swayed
from the radio’s breath,
those mysterious waves

telling me that whatever
life is for
you must live it.

.

(originally published in Jerry Jazz Musician, July 16, 2023)

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by Byron Beynon

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___

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Missing Matt

In the end, they put his few pieces of handmade furniture
by the side of the street. ……………One was the piano stand
crafted from skid-wood ……………to perfectly match his height.

Sometimes he’d cross his legs, …….sit sideways,
dangle a hand-rolled cigarette …….off the side of his lips
as I drank tea. He’d indulge me……. with Mingus.
Lift notes up from smoulder through dust motes
………………………………………………..into sapphire.

His cats had stopped sniffing him…….. or had started
an agitated routine ……of sniffing him more.
Who’s to say? …………….The cats had stopped
hearing him balance…. exquisite delicacy
against cascades of illumination, ………as Matt stroked out
a Beethoven Sonata …….with the same hands
that did not stroke ………their fur anymore.
Matt’s brother let himself in with the hidden key
found him there. ………Cats don’t weep.
…………………………………..Brothers weep.

So much time is spent in every life….. doing and undoing.
Heat soup. ……..Slop and wash that pot.
Slip beneath, ………………..re-straighten sheets.
Swing, …………walk through,
……………………..close the door.

Except for a man ………..like Matt
whose determination ……………was devoted fervor.
Each pitch, ………………..its intensity, duration
was a choice he made, a step
into a definite way of being.
He fired off notes …………with such
unfailing commitment……………. to tone
that phrases ………………hung in the air
long after……….. his fingers
stopped, ………….sometimes
…………………………for years.

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by Ed Ruzicka

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___

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A Path Which Lies Ahead

Alas, alas, day has passed,
and darkness owns all — a state
which awaits us, one and all;
giant sails sweep us ever deeper
into bleak black departure
from this land we have so loved,

and now we cross Tennyson’s bar
on our way to what we know not;
all is lost, and we have no surety
of what may lie ahead to be found,
and all who sail with us sing songs
of the sea, as we are swept toward

whatever may lie ahead; even now
song anoints and comforts us.

.

by Michael L. Newell

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Click here to read the artist and poet biographies

 

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Click here to read the spring 2023 collection of jazz poetry.

Click here to read a collection of short jazz poetry, published in January, 2023

Click here to read the fall/winter 2022/23 collection of jazz poetry

Click here to read the summer 2022 collection of jazz poetry

 

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

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6 comments on “A Collection of Jazz Poetry — Summer, 2023 Edition”

  1. What a collection! A collection of the most gifted and devoted men and women I’ve ever read. As for the editing, it incomparable! It must take months of reading, accepting, rejecting. The result is exceptional.

    Thank you Joe Maita for your own skill.
    Devoted reader and contributor,
    Arlene Corwin

  2. Wow! Starting it off with Geer Austin’s “A Poem About Art,” this collection just flows from there. So many incredible voices, so many takes on a genre of music that can transform you if you’re open to that experience.

    JAZZ:
    endlessly inspiring….

  3. Joe – you’ve done it again! What a great collection of words, emotions, music, art and thoughts about them. The jazz community is fortunate to have you and your publication.

  4. Yo Jerry Jazz, what It B? Much thanks.
    Tony Adamo
    Sonic Henderson
    Lyrics by tony Adamo of tony Adamo & the NY commission
    A vocal spoken word piece to music
    Tony Adamo Lyrics/Hipspokenword/ Mike Clark Drums/ Mike LeDonne Organ. Jack Wilkins Guitar
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BDuYuYf-v2w
    JOE HENDERSON’S POLIFIC OUTPUT AS EITHER A SIDEMAN OR LEADER/

    IS SHEAR SONIC VOLICITY OF MUSIC COMING FROM HIS TENOR THINKIN MIND/

    NO HALF STEPPIN HERE BRO/JOE’S INSIDE-OUTSIDE APPROACH GOT YOUR BACK TO EVERY SIDE HE PLAYED ON/
    TO THE LIVE SHOWS WE DUG HIM AT/

    HE BLEW HIS TENOR HORN UP TO AND LET HIS PLAYING SPILL OVER INTO HARD BOP/

    HENDERSON WAS ALWAYS DIGGIN INTO THE HOT-N-KOOL VOCABULARY OF JAZZ TO COME UP WITH

    NOTES THAT AREN’T ALWAYS OBVIOUS BUT ALWAYS FIT/

    HE WAS A BRILLIANT COMPOSER AND ATMOSPHERICAL MASTER CREATING THE SPACE FOR THE

    LISTENER TO DRIFT INTO AND CREATE THEIR OWN SOMETHIN ELSE WORLD OF MUSIC IN DIGGIN HENDERSON’S JAZZ CHOPS/
    JUST COOK-N-BURN BABY/ ALWAYS STICKING TO HIS UNDILUTED APPROACH TO HIS TENOR HORN PLAYIN
    FROM FIRST POPIN ON THE JAZZ RECORDING SCENE WITH HORACE SILVER,LEE MORGAN, AND McCoy TYNER/
    JOE EVENTUALL CAME TO SIT ON ONE OF THE PRESTIGE RECORDING CHAIRS AT BLUENOTE RECORDS/

    AS A TALENTED WELL TRAVELED AND VALUABLE NU HIP VOICE AS A BLUENOTE SIDEMAN TO THE MANY BLUENOTE RECORDING STARS OF THE DAY/

    JOE’S PHRASING AND MODULATION
    ARE FLAWESS/

    HIS FLOTING THOUGHT PROVOKING SOUND’S THAT WERE AT TIME’S HARD LIQUOR JAZZ MIXED WITH
    MAD SEX MUSIC/
    SET THE STAGE FOR THE JAZZ AFICIONADO’S TO DIG THE DEEP GROOVE IN JOE’S RHYTHIMIC TEXTUED

    LAYERING ON HIS SPEED RUNNING TO HIS FLAME THROWING ICE HOT SCALES THAT BURNED THROUGH THE ORGANIC JAZZ ORCHESTRATION IN HIS SOUND ARCHITECTURE/

    THAT HYPED UP THE NATURAL THINKIN IN HOOKIN UP THE HIGH VOLTAGE IN HIS HORN TO FRACTURE YOUR HIPSTER THINKIN TO NO END/

    JOE HENDERSON
    BLUE BOSSA
    LUSH LIFE
    BLACK NARCISSUS
    POPSICLE STICK
    JOE’S SCATING HIS VOCALIZE
    TO HIS SOUNCLOUD JAZZMIX

  5. Thanks for these–a very enjoyable collection, especially Mary K. O’Melveney’s “Rainbow Room Reverie” and Gloria Krolak’s “Jazz Names.”

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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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