photo by Francis Wolff/© Mosaic Images
Blue Note Records partner Francis Wolff’s photograph of David Izenson, Ornette Coleman and Charles Moffett posing for the cover shot of Coleman’s album “At the Golden Circle,” Humlegarden Park, Stockholm, Sweden, December, 1965
In this winter collection of diverse themes and poetic styles, 55 poets wander the musical landscape to explore their spirit and enthusiasm for jazz music, its historic figures, and the passion, sadness, humor and joy it arouses.
As always, thanks to the poets, and I hope you enjoy…
This collection features examples of Francis Wolff’s historic photography that masterfully captures an important chapter of jazz history, and are published with the kind consent of Michael Cuscuna of Mosaic Records.
All photographs by Francis Wolff /© Mosaic Images. To access Mosaic’s complete library of classic Francis Wolff photographs, click here
At the conclusion of the poems, biographies of Francis Wolff and the poets contributing to this collection are listed in the order in which their poems appeared
Under The Rhythm Of Jazz
Under the rhythm of jazz,
I danced and sang my wintery cries,
buried in a lengthy silence,
unbelted the ropes of cryptic fear,
the shadow that kept me hostage.
Under the rhythm of jazz,
I unleashed my perplexed dilemmas,
gave away my nagging worries,
unfettered the winter of my thoughts,
enlivened my dreary hopes.
Under the rhythm of jazz,
my heart unfolded as a golden Lotus,
blooming over mud of thorns.
Under the rhythm of jazz,
verses evinced my soulful truth,
lauded the unsung songs.
by Ermira Mitre Kokomani
First Snowstorm Of The Year
all day it swarmed
until our thoughts
were gusts of white
each flake an event
sculpted on air
cool as a Miles
by Michael L. Newell
The coffee molting in that licked cup is stale
already, gone the steam, gone the beans,
gone the money-bagged Peruvian bean man,
never stood a chance against this batch.
Doesn’t matter anyhow the cup’s not there
for consumption anyhow, the cups
there are all for aesthetics—my fancy word
for look at me in my mood, look at
me with my wild hair and lips a’licking
the plastic lid cup “recycled” what!—
we listen to jazz, have our conversations
we appreciate these “timey” days
blending so neatly with themes of the 20’s
ironic demise, impending doom
forestalling happiness all about the mood!
O Johnny Griffin, O Hampton Hawes!
Did you know you would be the voice of today,
those little black speakers singing &
singing? Let’s talk about that spider I just
ended, long legs lingering between
my two fingers, let’s talk about why we feel
so small when we’ve got it all even
now we’ve got it all; I lift up my cup &
I know that I don’t have to drink it.
by Josie Rozell
A Solid Breakfast
shake a leg with
Duke’s bunch in 1963
whipping up on
“The Jeep is Jumpin'”
Hawk pounces on Tenor
leading a convoyed rumpus that
can still griddle hot cakes
& scramble an egg or two
by Terrance Underwood
Breakfast and Jazz
Hotcakes on the griddle
Bacon fryin’ in the pan
Jukebox playin’ Satchmo
Cup of java in my hand
Nothin’ fires up the soul
After bein’ out all night
Like scrambled eggs and bacon
Known as the Bluesman’s Delight
The band had been on fire
They played till 2 am
Fats on the piano
Krupa beaten’ on them skins
Me, I played some blues harp
Sweat pouring down my brow
The crowd was goin’ wild
They sure did like my style
Now it’s time to hit the road
Pull up my collar, grab my hat
Mosey on over to the motel
To take me a little nap
by Joseph R. Stellin, Jr.
What Did I Know?
I didn’t understand my uncle
jus’ sittin there, eyes closed,
head and shoulders movin’
in synch with a sleepy melody
and the low moan of a sax
played by someone he called “trane.”
What did I know?
There were other names
he tossed around —
the colorful “Blue,” “Silver,” “Red” —
the exotic “Bird” and “Monk” —
the royal “Count” and “Duke” —
the playful “Sassy” and “Gatemouth.”
What did I know?
Now, well into my second / third chorus,
I listen to Jazz – celebrate the Blues,
think of words by Langston Hughes.
I drone “a drowsy syncopated tune,”
scat with Ella’s “How High the Moon.”
Man.What a wonderful thing —
living life with a swaggering Swing.
by Russell Dupont
photo by Francis Wolff/© Mosaic Images
Thelonious Monk at the Royal Roost, NYC, 1949. This is the cover shot for the 10″ LP “Genius of Modern Music.”
Play It On Me
pulse the jazz
stack my wants
tell me what
I need and
where I am
pour the life
pulling it tight
over my soul
by Roger Singer
Jazz in the wintertime
Jazz in the wintertime,
we dine in the kitchen
Her, the dog, me. She
sips on chardonnay;
I, green tea. The dog
In wintertime, jazz
winds through our
house, tickles her
cheeks, rubs my
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,
while my lady howls
in the night
to jazz songs
I say sing Sarah!
I begin to yawn, enjoying
Jazz in the wintertime;
jazz in the Midwest;
jazz at its best!
by Christopher Sims
Brushing Light Snow
Another story has it that it
really was the same dream
w/the same outcome: Jarrett ’72.
Today. Brushing light snow.
Our footprints merging
into one w/all the dreamy gauze
attached. The handmade cards and
Minton’s. A bit south of the Yonkers line
To hear Charlie P and C
and Kenny behind Monk
who was behind no one
That third week in May
whatever the year when
the motion of Heaven
moved us all to the point
of you saying yes
and me saying yes
and Max saying yes
Taking the music
through thick, thin,
sickness, and poor.
To Jarrett today
brushing light snow.
by Mike Jurkovic
Jazz Night At The Onyx
Jazz night at the Onyx …
and the big man blows the blues
a sweaty, funky, blues.
Bearded and bereted
a beautiful bebop daddy
crying through his cornet
He’s junked up goopy
Rocking back on his heels
he lets the blues ooze
His horn a golden anchor
pushing us down
deeper into the Earth
and he wails as we all wail
the crying un-ending
no absolution for sins
so serious and sinking.
Eyes closed tight
blows America’s lights out
covers the world with darkness
telling us there is no Son
no salvation won.
Let the big man blow his beatific blues
heaven is not listening.
by Robert Kokan
Atlantic City on a Thursday
I came here out of guilt.
His vacation was right now,
during the workweek when all is quiet,
& the cool brunch places were closed on Thursdays,
and 7-Eleven on New York Ave.
only offered its sustenance after the stroke of noon,
where the natives casually strolled on Pacific Ave.,
trying to avoid the crowded Boardwalk
as the seagulls sang jazz riffs.
AC is washed-up, hog-tied, put away wet, run-down,
a plethora of check cashing and pawn stores,
& souvenir T-shirts & other shit,
& fairly decent crab cakes
If you got money, Honey, try the casino!
If you don’t, just walk on by…
This is not just the Wacky Idiot Olympics,
I came here for him.
He came here many years ago for one day,
wandering around alone without a hotel room.
We came here together on another day in ’08
when we played Skee-Ball & mini golf at Steel Pier—
He doesn’t remember that trip:
We went to Caesars and played slots! I pleaded.
He shook his head, miscomprehending me—
He thinks he’s a manufactory defect.
Creativity might be a [symptom of] mental illness, he reasoned.
The ocean view
from the Twenties Restaurant
is so soothing;
another secret piece
of salt-water taffy consumed,
& another martini
I want us to join the jazz
of the night, out on the Boardwalk.
by Carrie Magness Radna
Spring of 1963
It was the Spring of 1963, being only 13
I could not join my Mother and Uncle Bob
to dig the jams of Trane then Miles
billed at Shelly’s Manne Hole on different
dates, 2 nights each
I was given a full accounting of
Shelly’s cabaret, the varying
manhole covers on the walls
the smoke-filled room with dressed
to impress clientele, silenced when
Trane took the stage on the nights
of March 19 and 23, Mama and
Uncle Bob went to both, how cool
could these 2 be
I was not fully acclimated to Trane
The young girl that I was, I thought
his name was Coal Train, a nickname
for pushing fuel down railroad tracks,
bringing warmth, getting the job done
with his smooth, melodic tones
Mama and Uncle Bob planned 2 more
outings, April 5 and 14, the incomparable
Miles, I knew his albums, Live at Blackhawk
Kinda Blue, Sketches of Spain, they said
it was an explosion-in-wait when Miles
took the stage, blowing the joint apart
Spring ’63, an exceptionally good year
but not for me, I was only 13
by Aurora M. Lewis
photo by Francis Wolff/© Mosaic Images
Chick Corea at Bobby Hutcherson’s “Total Eclipse” session, Plaza Sound Studios, NYC, July 12, 1968
from recent rain
standup bass notes open
deepening black &
across failing ground
a lone piano invited
left & right hands cope throughout
each for the other
each for no one
by Terrance Underwood
Sonnet: In Summa Summit
………………..in memory of Chick Corea
Pretty, I’ve got a postcard picture mind
that finds windows inside a supermax
where lost time and space are a double bind —
the phenomenology of the sax
remembered from all-night pot-toked jazz fests,
Chick Corea’s Return to Forever,
Mahavishnu Orchestra’s playful rests,
the brain a cell block: never, ever.
Climbing Mount Never Rest, all sherpa sure
on the white disappearing trails ahead,
I move by instinct, my motives are pure,
samsara release, the Book of the Dead.
When time and space come to set my “soul” free
I’ll melt in the music’s infinity.
by John Kendall Hawkins
What will we do without you?
With no idea of what to do,
So used to having you to listen to –
The perfect pianist,
There was no area you didn’t master,
Any, every listener bolstered,
You and your technique one unit,
To your credit, each and every note exquisite.
At a loss for word,
Your loss a world of music still unheard,
I’m still in shock,
But must react and shout
The way some folk react by crying out!
It’s all too new,
RIP seen just two ticks ago,
A tear-filled page
With nothing deep or sage to say.
I’ll go away in just a ‘sec’
With “shit” and “hell” as well as “f_-k!”
As well as tears upon my cheek.
You will be missed
More than your consummate pianist self
Could ever have surmised.
by Arlene Corwin
Jazz In a Small Town
The middle of summer
early morning in ashen Pennsylvania
all roads lead to Rome
no one awake but Buster and me
the sun will be rising soon
as the galaxy spins
and the factories burn baby burn
only TV reruns
where insomniacs sleep
as for us
down by the creek
Buster finds what he’s looking for
a pee mail
I hear the faintest sound
from an open window somewhere
two people and the sound of Coltrane
over the mown lawns of this place
I think we will be saved
by John Stupp
(This was written on October 6th, 2013, while listening to WBGO’s program,“Jazz From The Archives.” The topic was “Jazz and Poetry.” Many spoken word pieces from the period 1956-1960 were featured).
I listened to Ferlinghetti recite “Autobiography”
backed by the Cellar Jazz Quintet
and it did not sound like my life.
It did not sound like anyone’s life.
My life is not beat jazz very early white hip hop.
I don’t recite poetry backed by a quintet
or some guy on the spoons.
My poetry is accompanied by my voice echoing
off the walls ceilings faces eyes in the room.
I listened to Kerouac recite haiku
backed by a horn of unknown provenance.
He spoke odd juxtapositions and transpositions
of scenes in his mind or by chance.
Perhaps that was Jack’s life
to be drunk as a hoot owl
but it is not my life
to sleep head down in a barrel.
I write my words
my biology graphed delineated mapped measured
Look here, then here, oh there, turn the page.
Must you see how sausage is made
or do you just want to hear/smell the sizzle?
Ok, read chapter 2634.
I write. Ink flows. The words drizzle.
Draft, draft, draft, draft, maybe it won’t fizzle.
My story eventually appears on the page
zzzsssssszzzzzzzszssssz smells good
by Wayne L. Miller
A Dream Of Coltrane
Walking through Greenwich Village in New York
I hear a distant melody.
What is this cacophony of color, line and sound –
These spiraling notes that seem so angry?
A shrieking saxophone, a moaning horn –
What type of music was being played?
I was with my brother when the music played.
We had spent the day in the Big Apple
Seeing shows, visiting museums and yet this horn
Being played was unlike anything else. Its rapturous melody
At times tender, sweet, lyrical and angry
Created something different – a new sound.
Robert, my brother, wanted to hear this sound.
We found a man who told us who was playing.
“John Coltrane,” he said, “and his Quartet.” “The angry
Tenor,” once wrote Ira Gitler, “But the best in New York.”
Sinuous lines, slithering shapes, sonorous melody.
How could all this come from one man’s horn?
We walked down into the club to hear the horn.
As we sat, I in my shirt, he with his coat, there arose a new sound.
No longer was the music fierce that was being played,
No longer a din in New York,
No longer furious, no longer angry.
“Why is this?” I wondered. To not play angry,
But romantic music instead. The glittering, shiny horn –
(An axe someone called it) with a tone as big as New York
Instead was producing a rapturous, gorgeous and beautiful sound.
The pianist McCoy Tyner, with his fourths and fifths also played
A counter line – an inventive melody.
Snap! went the cymbals- in their own way a melody.
The set was soon to end. I was angry.
Why must it stop? Why not keep playing?
Piano man- don’t close that lid! Trane don’t box your horn!
For we have heard a joyful sound –
John Coltrane live at the Village Vanguard in New York.
I can still see myself in New York, can still hear the melody.
To what sound had I been exposed, sweetly lyrical and sometimes angry?
The sound of Trane’s horn and the jazz that he played.
by Joel Jacob Todd, Jr.
One Blue Note
Fingering was his greatest skill
and for ten years he licked a reed
to train himself on clarinet,
advanced from metal to warm wood,
and scaled from simple finger drills
up to sonatas, polkas, swing,
from merely playing to arranging,
reading, writing, breathing music
and mimicked De Franco and Fountain,
grooved with records of Edmond Hall,
jammed with Goodman’s, hottest of all,
dreamed a future in smoky clubs
wailing with soul and heart, possessed
by his muse—until that fatal year
when she, who’d started his career,
said he’d never be as good as Goodman,
and, cut by her sharp sentence,
his breath deserted the reed,
his trembling tongue and lips went dead,
and fingers fumbled for one blue note.
………………First published in Ghost Trees (Kelsay Books)
by Ralph La Rosa
Jazz In The Amber Room
He snaps his fingers to a melody in memory. He doesn’t remember cumbersome lyrics, but the tune tastes even sweeter like brown sugar on lips. He often asks “Do you know this song?” “Yes, I know the song,” I answer, as if I could magically make the words appear, pulling them out of a white rabbit’s hat. I hum along, with the objective of finding the words hidden in the amber room. It’s where we live mostly in our home with sunshine and songs mingling. “I’ll Remember April,” I say quickly. We both compete singing the lyrics, bits & pieces.
by Jerrice Baptiste
without your body,
without your breath
next to mine,
I feel like a
trumpet without air
and I listen to
imagining you would
still be there,
imagining you would
blow that trumpet
for me. The night sky
is grey as a greyhound
without master; and
I see the stars glide
against the web
of my unconscious.
I find myself
hoping you would
hold my hand
it’s never gonna
And the sky
I long to hear
that has become mine
too. “Almost blue,
Almost doing things we
used to do,
There’s a man here and he
‘s almost you
………………………*Quoted lryics by Elvis Costello
by Claire Andreani
photo by Francis Wolff/© Mosaic Images
John Coltrane during his “Blue Train” session, Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, NJ, September 15, 1957
The Late Twenties
Blue Indigo mute
licorice stick stuck
The Mooche screeching
clarineting then sax
sax sax saxing
stick stick stick sticky
keyboard tunk tunkle
trumpet cocktail stir
jungle echo growl
Get aboard all aboard
this rapid transit
day break ‘spress move
move moving moving
growl whistle wooing
by Ed Coletti
Straight, No Chaser
……….July 24, 1951
On Genius of Modern Music Blakey knocks out
a sweet jump-rope sashay for Monk to jump into:
a 12-bar blues to dance about in, one idea
re-expressed, each time placed in a new zone
of the measure—a run over McKibbon’s bassline
then a twist. Sahib Shihab jumps in for a verse
on alto, echoing a little Bird, then Milt
on vibes, the band runs it back as a unit
then out. The take takes all of three minutes.
It’s the song’s first ever recording. Not perfect,
but not bad. Why not let it stand? There’ll be time
for a new crew to come and complicate the game.
by Sebastian Matthews
Reflections of Jazz at the Hollywood Bowl
Start off whispery
Soft patters on the drums
Hot jazz is the weather
Pick up momentum
To slaps on the leather
Coming at me from all sides
To stretch out a refrain long and lean
“Why do you have to be so mean?”
Bounce me off my seat
Hands together on my feet
Swaying to the beat
Violins slide along
Until a trombone coaxes them home
Skips a beat
Then picks up another
A chattery rhythm
Only Latino’s know
Wrap around the code from Mexico
Born of castanets
Sailed to Cuba’s Bay
Picked up guitars and drums
Along the way
Climbed over Trump’s fence
and settled in L.A.
Choruses fall from the skies
Held aloft by kindred spirits
Dancing on the minor chords
To be picked up by a lonely horn
Taking you back
To before you were born
Swaying and shagging
Let’s skip across the stage
One note at a time
Climb, climb, climb
“One, two, three
I’m lost to myself
Come, please and find me”
Note Upon Note
Toes begin to wriggle
tappin to the beat
rising to the ankle
tickling the calf
note upon note stacks upon one another
disparate sounds coalesce into coherent riffs
music flows and caresses
curving around curves
curling ever up
heart rhythm competes with the beat
coursing through veins
mouth cannot be contained
happy laughter sprinkles in trilling bursts
body cannot restrain the joy
liquid music spills out the eyes
runs down the face and disappears
back into the music’s ether
by Tam Francis
That Pleases Me
Blues in time
call and response
fingers from nape to spine
movements with force.
Sing in percussion
let the beat serve you
tight in my arms
sway with me
pitch of vocal tones
pleasure and touch
adept palms on the small of my back.
Slide into passions
smooth with intent
Do I move you?
by Dana Hunter
II. The Day of Wallflowers
Jesus Tuesday Daisy
Are you afraid
of watertight people
getting lukewarm close?
not near enough
to see brush strokes
in oily paint. Petty larceny.
I will guide the door.
Regret and your mouth
in this face poorly
standing on the slow chair.
Walk away from
the burning house;
ignore the plunging
glass vase. Thieves
on a midnight tour.
our outrage on this,
your ragtime headstone.
Void of all verbs.
Forget about the hands,
the callused, shy
fortune teller bellicose.
But the feet
Ah! the feet.
Big toes hum
lines to soul-read
while heels tap
to run from;
to linger next
to in the dark alleyways
of blue Bessie’s satin
jazz rooftop club.
The dirt forms the dance.
The need of nicotine,
the clamor of brandy.
The half-rest stops
of murder be-bopped
to the music
by Millicent Borges Accardi
The Gentle Giant
Bern Nix’s conversations were of memory lane.
“East Village is changed”
“Not the same”
“Where’s the next gig?”
“I pray to the gig fairy everyday”.
“Harmolodics … as a member of Prime Time,
it drove me crazy”
“I’m just a fly on the wall”
“Ornette said play it this way and it’s not”
“It’s free form jazz”
“It’s blending notes to a gradual tone”
YouTube, Hear it …
Here’s Bern’s last gig for Summer Solstice on May 27, 2017.
Two days later before his biggest gig
to honor Ornette Coleman band’s reunion.
Now he is harmonizing live
With the big ones in the stratosphere.
Bern played with unknown musicians
to me he could jam
Made him bona fide
special guitarist a
Piercing other musicians’
Barriers a resting
as they catch up.
His long fingers
Caressing the guitar’s neck
Strumming the strings
Finishing on the same note
by Susan Yung
The Night I Heard Mose Allison Sing
Was in 1984, not yet 20 years after
I’d first heard that Southern drawl, soft
as cotton or Mississippi silt,
and those plaintive and wacky blues
lyrics that floated out of my little radio
in the night air.
But now, in the heart of the country,
Mose was looking academic, his gray hair
and beard neatly trimmed. He wore
a seersucker jacket.
At the piano, with a local bass player
and drummer I knew,
Mose first launched into a boogie-woogie
rhythm, with slightly skewed riffs, just
off balance. There was a maelstrom of
notes in double time, and I wondered,
as those sounds reached my ears, if I could characterize
it all as Looney-tunes meets Fats Waller meets Chopin.
Or maybe just Waller and Chopin, piano stars
of equal stature, I’d say.
Fifteen minutes into the piece, he shifted
to a darker place, then back to this
orchestral craziness. (Do you remember
this, Bob Bowman, deep in your string bass
aural archive? Would your fingers ever
recognize that jazz abandon again?)
Then we applauded Mose’s ear for a great
song, Percy Mayfield’s “Lost Mind,” and
I can still hear Mose sing, “If you would be so
kind as to help me find my mind…”*
After another offbeat tune,
Mose slowed down to sing
“Everybody’s Cryin’ Mercy,”
which speaks to us today
in the darkness: “people
running round in circles,
don’t know what they’re heading for.”*
I could name all of the songs he played,
because just now I found the notebook
where I wrote it all down, his tributes
to Duke Ellington, Willie Dixon
and the lesser-known Johnny Fuller,
a blues man who came out of Mississippi,
landed in Oakland and within 12 months
of this glorious Mose night
would be dead at an age we all hope to live past.
It looks like I must have written down
all the words, as Mose sang them, of “How
Much Truth,” not
knowing then one iota of what I know
30-plus years later about truth and whether
the world is “left without its daydream…
threatened by the works of man…Destined
for the frying pan.”*
Mose, dead now just one month
at the age of 89, took his piano
to the edge of chaos
more than once that night. That’s what
we live for, the truth and transformation
in music, crystalline moments that help us find
our lost minds and deliver meaning
in the love and the mist.
Quoted lyrics by Percy Mayfield (“Lost Mind”) and Mose Allison (“Everybody’s Cryin’ Mercy,” “How Much Truth”)
by Steve Paul
photo by Francis Wolff/© Mosaic Images
Birdland during Art Blakey’s “A Night at Birdland” session, NYC, February 21, 1954
The Landscape As Jazz
Jazz abounds everywhere: the dog
bounding in syncopated leaps about
backyard as small children race
the animal hither and thither;
the old man tapping down busy
streets, stopping suddenly to observe
a near miss at a traffic light, looking
above to witness a congress of crows
in heated debate on telephone lines,
leaping aside awkwardly to avoid
a lad on a bicycle doing wheelies
down the sidewalk, always and ever
amazed and amused at life’s unexpected
encounters; stands of eucalyptus sing
a quiet song as a spring breeze infiltrates
their branches, a song Bill Evans
might envy; Coltrane is evoked
by lightning ripping a darkening
evening sky, unleashing thunder to roll
across the landscape, shaking houses
and startling even those comfortably
indoors and well-sheltered; let us not
forget lovers abed who think the storm
is a gathering of Miles Davis, Coltrane,
Bud Powell, the Bird, and Buddy Rich
brought together in the sky to sanctify
true love and imprint its beauty on
a world currently in great pain;
and an old woman stands looking out
of a half-opened screen door imagining
the dying storm’s sounds as a last
song sung by the late great Lady Day.
by Michael L. Newell
A grand old institution
Preserving the jazz tradition
Of New Orleans—
Jelly Roll Morton,
But the Preservation Hall Band
Like Muskrat Ramble
And Tin Roof Blues.
In New Orleans,
Even the funerals
With jazz playing
And the umbrella strutter
A cakewalk down the street.
New Orleans is rich
Is one of its treasures.
by Emory Jones
From Outside In
………………………….nuages for the most part
Out for a promenade along Green Dolphin Street
bends & curves notwithstanding
during a Coronavirus excursion
with Kenny Niels-Henning & Phillip
as travel companions when
I commented upon echoes
of Django Jim & Toots
(that famous whistler)
just heard down
from open doors & windows at
random points of intersection
Niels-Henning smiled saying he heard Mr Sam Jones
Trippin’ throughout a stroll
to the sunset harbor at the end of the street
by Terrance Underwood
red blues (applause, for the shaman)
cecil taylor, solo piano,
live in montreal – dry river-
bed stage, heat & light; 40
minutes, blood streaming –
by Sean Howard
Listening To Dexter Gordon Under Quarantine
Softly, you arrive ’round midnight
Holding my heart like dreams, stardust and wonder
All lie in your breasts, you are curvaceous as the
Notes, pouring out of Dexter’s saxophone
Naturally, you’re the fantasy he concocts
One never wonders of your motives
Near me, you are a song of stars, the sax gives
Birth to ever night, I’m
Reborn with you, you’re my jazz
Alive in my DNA, we replicate
Desire; you become my madness
Bring yourself to me, dear lady
Ethereal as the night, we
Revel in the love we grow, like the sax, you are
Roses, your breasts, tender as roses, as song, as stories
You lie in my lap, as Dexter plays, you become a garden
by Erren Kelly
A Godly Duet
Gerry Mulligan Meets Ben Webster
on the Chelsea Bridge
inside a moment
outside of time
then serenade the world with Tell Me When
so much sweetness floats
that even a wrathful God
sets aside vengeance
for 5 minutes and 6 seconds
of earth time
distracted by the sound
of such beauty
by Frank Wilkes
From the recording Miles & Coltrane, Newport Jazz Festival
……………………………………………………..— Fourth of July, 1958
At the 7.59 mark of “Straight, No Chaser,” during Paul Chambers’
bass solo, one of the musicians coughs and it can be heard
clearly over Paul’s solo.
“The reward for playing jazz is playing jazz.”
…………………………………………………………………..-– John Lewis
One second before the clock
strikes the end of the minute,
a small itch at the back of the throat
can be heard,
a little one-note burst,
an improvised human sound
that demands to be uttered,
a cough, though cough
may be too strong a word.
It’s sounds more like
the way a quarter-note looks,
the smallest push of voice
placed amid a crowd of sound,
and entirely necessary.
And who was it
who had the unstoppable urge
to express that sound?
We know it wasn’t Bill —
he was nattering with the piano,
with blind clarity,
with something like trust,
while the others were where
thought enters breath,
weaving firey synapses
into a language in the air
that we cannot speak
yet we understand, intangible,
and as beautiful and impossible
as a mockingbird atop a pole,
a little whole-note
taking in everything around him
and making it his own
with all the precious breath
he can gather,
playing it into the air,
which makes it all worth it,
which makes it all disappear
I’m taken by the casualness of the cough,
its accessibility —
while the rest of the band
converses in verses
of invented direction,
oblivious of their destination until they arrive,
one stopped along the way
for an unadorned expression,
a connection with the listener
as vital as the humanity
which surrounds us,
and though I cannot recall how jazz
entered my veins,
I do remember high school hallways
where kids sang I Want to Hold Your Hand,
while I hummed Monk’s Dream,
learning to make up my life
as I went along.
……………originally appeared in the Peacock Journal
by John L. Stanizzi
photo by Francis Wolff/© Mosaic Images
Miles Davis during rehearsal for the “Miles Davis All Stars” first session, Birdland, NYC, May, 1952
He was a wanderer of worlds
alone in tune with others on stage
his rapid breaths sending him
into outer space, geometric shapes
defining the lyric riffs
played on his brass instrument
All of the rapid phrases telling us
“It is here, it is here” in
triangles of elation
rectangles of love
circles of creation
His lightning conductor message:
“Cleave this world open and you’ll
find another one, and another one”
like Matryoshka dolls or an atom bomb
When he returned rung out to earth
he crashed lonesome but hopeful, for
each night was an initiation of the
golden lotus opening up, yet
each dawn was another relapse
into familiar forms of the deep
by DH Jenkins
Genocide Begins With A T
Sometimes the road feels tenuous beneath you.
Snowflakes flash through the headlight,
sequinned bugs streaming to a glassy death.
Any moment a Peterbilttailgust might catch
and paper you away ………..a sheet on the wind.
…………………………..I think of Mingus in the dark years
…………………………..lumbering up Avenue A
…………………………..an old silver Lincoln Town Car
…………………………..greyed and dulled with one corner
…………………………..down on a broken spring
…………………………..wondering how music will escape the wreck
Do you remember when we tucked our heads
between elbows and knees
hiding from the reds
the child who didn’t come back to school
from the hot lure of
summer’s crippling pool
There never was a time we were safe
when we could run street to path
to the tall weed cover
without the hidden fear of mothers
catching us along the deer
trails like raspberry canes at our jeans
(wearied waiting for the chance bullet
from a gunslinger’s leer, tired of waiting
for the cossack’s hoof)
………the angel of death
………in my sleep.
………I was too heavy for her
………I don’t know
………but she……….. left
………saying she would return
………Monday at 5:15.
………She left me
……………………………..I asked Mingus
……………………………..What does this mean?
……………………………..It’s all about sex, he said.
……………………………..I said, I know what you mean
…………………………………………..The eternal search
…………………………………………..for an organism
…………………………………………..that can have a good time
…………………………………………..without killing itself
……………………………..Mingus said Aw shit man,
…………………let’s play the blues
…………………like Bessie Smith
…………………talk about sexual politics,
…………………………………………..Yeah, let’s change our specific gravity
I’m a yeastie beastie, your honey’s what I need.
I’m a yeastie beastie, bring your honey to me.
Let’s get together honey, make ourselves some mead.
When I eat your honey, makes me feel so fine
way you effervesce and bubble, I know you feel so fine.
Sipping at your honey must, just like drinking wine.
Oh that taste of honey, it really makes me swell.
working and fermenting, yeah I love that smell.
get so damn tumescent, sweetie I just got to yell.
………I’m a free radical
…………………don’t you want to bond with me
…………………Hey baby, what’s your valence
…………………Hey, I’m charge-coupled
We were the last generation to face the drill
without benefit of Novocaine
the first to face the bomb as babes
AIDS as lovers
……………………………..Put on your high heeld sneaks, red dress
……………………………..hop in this fine fat car
……………………………..shifting round the corner
……………………………..of hundred thirteenth and compton
……………………………..little riffs holding your hair back
…………………………………….drive on out these mean…………. these mean
by Michael Vander Does
“The only aristocracy lies in not touching”—Fernando Peossa
We once walked three miles with gas
leaking from a red plastic can I held
between us and both of us laughing
with no sound at our inability to figure
the speed of our feet vs. velocity of the drip
in order to determine if there would be any gas
when we arrived back at the old Fairlane,
that bastard Fairlane, the same car
that had left us stranded once before, atop
Dick’s Gap, dark mountains looming over the valley
as we trudged down the curvy two-lane road
in the green mountain heat, silent, he
with Miles and me with Monk,
though I held his hand once, standing
beside his brother’s grave, the newspapers
full of explanations of the necessity of the death,
he squeezed my pink hand until it was
white as the underbelly of a flatfish,
a sea fish, one that lived deep beneath the sound,
drifting in that vacuum, always on the lookout,
drifting among the black stones, the weeds,
the millennia of coral.
by John Riley
Freed by the jailer’s keys
the notes escape
halo their savor’s head
in jubilant syncopated dance
into a congo line of emancipation
wandering off to join others
in like-minded groups and pairings
alive with frenetic energy
too long constrained
in carbon-steel prisons
unfettered no longer
they crave absolute freedom
pour out the door
flood the midnight streets
unapologetic in haste of flight
collide with indignant passers-by
who too slow to react
catch only the fading whisper
of improvisational exuberance
as the newly emancipated
toward the heavens.
by Antoinette Winstead
Don’t Ask This Of Me
Coltrane stains the air
with dusky shadows
quivering across the bay
like words lost
The waning moon sheds
a string of luminescent
pearls across dark water
each wavelet a silken shiver.
Burnished shiraz lingers on lips
bay-water laps ankles
voices hum with pining
under the sax’s spell.
deep within cascading notes
A fish breaches
…….its rupture creating circles
dives into hidden depths.
by Kathryn MacDonald
photo by Francis Wolff/© Mosaic Images
Shirley Scott during Stanley Turrentine’s “The Common Touch” session, Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, August 30, 1968.
Boiling over the Edges
They took us to the mountain tops, didn’t they?
Charlie boiled until he was up and over the edges
While Billie painted her shadows
And the notes floating about, abstract
Sarah pulled ‘em in, lined ‘em up
And weaved ‘em altogether
The Count counts ‘em
There’s just enough for the responses
And the reactions he’s been looking for
Until a wild child cuts loose
To disappear around the bend
And when no one’s looking
Jumps back in
Take a deep breath now
Duke is gliding over the keyboard
And everyone is swinging easy.
The Black Voice
Beyond technique, it’s feeling
Low, warm, rich
Deep in the larynx
Has to do with the nasal cavity
Full of pain or rage or myth or something
Moon hits the trees like the twinkling of lights
…………………………………………………………………………….in Old New Orleans
Nostalgic and comforting
Good for spirituals, but
In need of refined European training
by Allison Whittenberg
Ancient to the Future
………….(Art Ensemble of Chicago @ Sweet Basil – 1985)
not a sweet path
a pure bath of light
in their own flowing words
as Ancient to the future
exotic black birds
union of solos
flock of individuals
far from extinction
plumed benevolent punishers
stomping @ the heart of…fractures
nest hath cracked this mean egg’s shell
with sweet brutality
lifted up the heavy yolk
borne the high way’s crowded shoulder
screech into deep air
step beyond & into pure abstraction
………..(not as) sweet
(nor as) pure
………..faster faster into chaos
starving for sound
fed on breath &
by Steve Dalachinsky (1946 – 2019)
Billie’s scalded voice
…………..on a warm river
her white gardenia
…………..a gentle exotic
in the smoke
…………..of the world-weary bar
the ching of the cash register
…………..tinkling the voice of commerce
the bass pumping
…………..the determined pulse of life
…………..into every heart
by Paul Brown
Trash Records, 1950
A Blues Sonnet
I once worked in a store where music died:
Race Records, dusty and disdained, had died
in burning bins the owner fed outside.
I’d asked about those discs, so strange to me.
My new boss viciously enlightened me:
the vinyl stamped with colors vibrantly
depicting Satchmo’s grin and glistening horn
and red-dressed women dancing to his horn
were Shit from spades that’s even worse than porn!
I quit, but checking bins behind the store
saw all the blues and jazz discs from that store
were melting rainbows in the blaze’s roar.
I salvaged one with Satch’s Black and Blue,
played it at home, respecting black and blue.
……………….First published in Ghost Trees (Kelsay Books)
by Ralph La Rosa
Hate To Tell You Traditional Use Of The ‘N’ Word
The kid who played bass in his local Houston band
Arnett Cobb and The Mob
now grown older himself
tells me the whole story he heard from the horse’s
mouth, his very lips, the embouchure belonging to
that singular most influential
on what would have been his
99th birthday, August 10, 2017
I hope I recollect it right, the one about
the accident in 1956 that lamed his leg
and took one lung, but did not one bit
slow down his Martin saxophone playing,
legacy dominating, soulful music making.
He was booked ’til after he was dead, he always said.
“The kids don’t need to know that stuff,”
Red said. But his piano player, Lanny Steele
hip white dude, egged him on,
“yes they do
need to know
about Jim Crow.”
Driving a big old fancy Lincoln,
had a 45 record changer in it,
luxury cars like that back then.
Late at night coming back from a gig,
a bull ran across the road in front of him.
Then decided to charge the car, ran back.
Arnett hit and killed it, wreck
Knocked to roadside,
no seat belts then, badly injured.
White folks drove right by,
“just a [Nobody] hollerin’
nothin’ to see,”
Finally a veterinarian stopped.
He and his wife got him in their truck,
explained he wasn’t a doctor
but was a vet, had to treat
a black man secret-like,
else he wouldn’t have a practice.
Wife went out and bought some blood.
Only way to save the leg
was fuse it in 3 places.
Rest of his life Red played on crutches.
That didn’t slow him down none.
The Wild Man of the Tenor Sax
taught so many
how to make real music.
Cobb resiliently recorded it 4 years later.
Timeless truth of the blues.
He coulda died out there.
Lot of ’em [Nobodies] did.
Hate to tell you.
…..Originally published in Activate! A Chapbook to Incite, Issue No. 1, Winter 2018.
by Catherine Lee
Listening To Coltrane
listening to Coltrane’s
Once in a While
and the smooth flow
of his sax, a whiskey
beside me, thinking
of those Jazz-infused
moments before life
began to drift away.
A slow start —
beautiful and lyrical
with a hint of the infinite
flowing into an experience
only poets can grasp.
No runaway ‘trane here —
only a bluesy and sad tune,
a quest for ecstasy,
world-weary and wistful,
smooth and quavering,
with words that repeat
and repeat in my mind….
Think of me . . .
once in a while.
by Russell Dupont
photo by Francis Wolff/© Mosaic Images
Max Roach at the “Herbie Nichols Trio” session, Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, NJ, August 7, 1955
………………for Reggie Workman
A long bass solo
turns midway to bells,
slowed and deep, rou-
sing the inhabitants
of the drowsy
by Sean Howard
Sounds And Scenes From City Hall
He stood in the ell of buildings
that represented bureaucracy’s center
amid the pillars where acoustics
enhanced his projection every time he played.
A tall, thin man, balding
yet with a thick, full-faced beard,
playing jazz licks in funky modes
on his saxophone
for the suits and skirts that passed by,
but mostly ignored him.
An attractive thirty something executive was one.
She barely raised her head,
but he continued nonetheless.
A seagull from Boston Harbor
swooped overhead and dropped a message
by his open case where loose change gathered,
but he continued to play.
I went to get a coffee and when I returned
he was in the middle of Desmond’s Take Five riff,
sounding quite good. Nobody stopped.
Nobody asked him the name of the tune.
No one applauded. When it started to drizzle
and no one was in the square,
the droplets danced to his rhythms,
even as he backed beneath the overhang to stay dry
and bumped into a pillar. He never missed a beat.
I figured he’d stop sooner or later,
his chops fatigued, but he made music till 5 PM,
when the suits and skirts
headed to the parking garages,
after another day’s challenge with the mundane.
He attempted to mitigate their hurried paces
with a rendition of Stardust.
I watched as the tune chased after them.
When he finished, I applauded.
He took a bow, packed his sax in the fouled case
and walked away into the dim mist of oncoming night.
I waited a minute before leaving
in the opposite direction,
inadvertently floating in Stardust.
by Michael Keshigian
halftime: waiting for max roach
cymbals hanging high, snares
the sticks: ginger rogers’ legs I keep
watching them waiting for them
the microphone a baton leading
a freeze frame from a fred astaire movie
brass top hats and sequined canes caught in mid-
I grow old sitting there and turn
to ginger rogers:
it’s hard sometimes in this theatre light
to get oriented
but she doesn’t
‘s in the dark too
she says here
let me help you
……..but the drums
I want to tell her
……..the drums don’t need
by Bill Siegel
Jaco Pastorius And Toots Thielemans Visit Havona
It starts with love. Jaco is delighted
As Toots walks out. Toots tosses
His old boss a kiss. Who saw
How great the harmonica could be in jazz?
Jaco knew. He heard the sound
One crystalline day in Havona.
The ocean off Fort Lauderdale
Refracted this sound, and also brought him
the banging tingle of steel pans,
the babble sound-look of babies’ voices.
Jaco grins broadly at Toots. Come with me
To Havona. And Toots signs on.
It is a place of perfect scales and harmony.
Music heaven is your own best tune
And a friend in tune to what you do.
I want to play my emotions through my fingers
Through my sunburst guitar.
I want to catch the faintest whiff of Havona.
Jaco is transported. He scats with no mike,
Karaoke from his own divergent soul:
My eyes look out on different oceans.
I’m just back from Fort Lauderdale,
The startling peacefulness of Jaco Park,
A room high above his Caribbean Ocean.
I wake at three and go out onto the balcony
To watch. I only hear shish, shish,
Shush. No harmonica, no steel pans.
Only the sprung rhythms of the waves,
The fluttering of harmonic oceans. It’s a start.
Jaco stumbles when he hugs Toots, kisses his neck.
He’s in shards. He may know he will never see Toots again.
by Mark Fogarty
…..Of all the minutes in the sound, Charlie was chasing the quickest one. He was on the porch only partly attached to a house, in a bar the next town over, on a Greyhound bus with his eyes closed.
…..The minute knew of his pursuit and drew him on, over and around and in and under and between all the other sounds at the same time. But Charlie held the quickest minute in his ear, his whole face listening, and one time he caught it and they laughed so hard the ceiling cracked and the stars shone down because already there was no roof.
…..In nearly the same instant, Charlie cried, suddenly so hard he had to be held. The minute itself dissolved into tears that had just now taken the shape of Charlie’s laughter. The tears hid themselves amid a crowd of people until the great mysterious wave of grief washed over Charlie and he slept.
…..Charlie had to be dirty to chase the quickest minute—had to be coated with dirt from the gulley, dirt from the subway, dirt from just not washing, but he didn’t have to be in love. Charlie was a true fool, not singing about love. Yet the minute was quicker and loved him back.
by Lisa Fishman
…………(after Alice Coltrane / Turiyasangitananda)
Rain cleanses city
praise through grey
Piano and tenor sax
into harp and flute
light as a feather
collect and break
travel like a seeker’s
along a helix
by Kathryn MacDonald
That’s My Beat
fat on jazz
icing on the cake
fat lipped horns
by Roger Singer
photo by Francis Wolff/© Mosaic Images
Herbie Nichols at [Blue Note Records co-founder] Alfred Lion’s apartment, Englewood, NJ, May, 1955
“Poetic musing culled from delving oneself into a Roland Shannon Jackson frolic”
How can I come up with the
same bebop of words
when attempting to scribble
poesy either inside the head or
straight to the notepad?
……………………(Tower Records, Dubai Mall, 2016)
by Anggo Genorga
One hot night in New Orleans
The Jazz age had begun
Some Creoles and some Black folk
All together havin’ fun
They took that good ol’e Ragtime
Then mixed it with some Blues
With Jelly Roll on piano
It was time to light the fuse
At first they spelled it Jass
Though this didn’t stick for long
Soon the name was Jazz
With Mama struttin’ to it’s song
Jelly Roll put pen to paper
The first who ever had
He loved to tickle them ivories
His Jazz was bad- ass bad
With this new thing the Victrola
Black vinyl all the rage
The Original Dixieland Jazz Band
Were playin’ on the stage
The music spread like wildfire
Jazz joints far and wide
Black and White folk loved to dance
Sweet Baby, ain’t no jive
It started with those old Black men
We still do love them Blues
As Jazzbos we all understand
This Jazz don’t suffer fools
by Joseph R. Stellin, Jr.
Sometimes I’m Happy
like when I listen to Ray Bryant’s
rendition of “Sometimes I’m Happy”
from fifty years ago. But sometimes I’m sad
like when I realize
“Sometimes I’m Happy” has only
107 views on youtube and probably 102 are mine.
Once I’m gone
it’s the swan song for Ray,
for who will ever again hear his mellifluous piano,
his joyful whimsy
and easy harmony striding along
like happiness itself? And who will bother to discover
the bassist is Tommy Bryant,
likely quite happy to be playing
with his famous older brother, both of them
when Jo Jones decides to drum
with the tenderness of brushes instead of sticks?
Of course, Ray is sometimes sad, too:
That Saturday morning, the late seventies,
when he realized muttonchop sideburns were out of style.
Ray reclines under a cape
while the barber picks up his instruments.
He quiets his hands, folds them in his lap like birds’ wings,
then closes his eyes
and listens to the music:
The whisper of shaving cream
swirling on his cheeks. The click
of the straight razor sharpening on a strap.
Funk screeching from a radio quivering atop an empty hat rack.
by Barry Peters
1977 (Hang a Ralphie)
“Hang a Ralphie”, he said
as my taxicab careened
through slippery city streets
in a merciless storm.
I turned right.
“Hang a Louie, next block” as he
unveiled his tale, and my cab turned left.
“The kids, they don’t know, I try
to tell em. The greats, you know,
Eckstine, Sara, Trane, Monk.… they
don’t wanna listen. Hang a Louie, then
a quick Ralphie.”
I made the turns, the Louie then the quick
Ralphie, all the time listening.
“It’s all that bump, all that disco.
My daughter, she’s no fool, why she wanna
mess with that stuff? And my boy, he’s a lost
cause, a lost cause.” Three more Ralphies and
a Louie and we were there. The Three Sisters
Lounge. Music was pouring out the weathered
steel door in the faded brick wall. Damn
fine sax and piano. “Can you come in for
a taste?” Boy, I wished I could but Pete the dispatcher
would nail my ass to the wall and I needed this job.
He leaned in through the window, looking remarkably
like Langston Hughes. Rain slid down
the rim of his fedora, as he said, “Don’t get me
wrong. They’re great kids, I love em to death. But why oh
why can’t they dig real music, stead of that disco shit?”
I didn’t know.
“You’re sure you don’t want to come
in for a taste?”
He paid the fare.
Man oh man, I wanted that taste, but I
watched him go into his Nirvana alone.
It was 1977. Barry White came on my cab
radio. I switched it off.
Hung a Huey, and headed back.
………….(originally appeared in Poets Online, November 2014)
by R. Bremner
Don’t Shoot Me, I’m Only Listening to the Piano Player
I was thinking
a piano player
doesn’t need anybody else
two hands are enough
just listen to Art Tatum
or Earl Hines
or McCoy Tyner
pumping 12 notes at once
like a shock wave
or a Civil Defense drill
get down under a desk
are the windows safe?
I don’t think clouds
need anybody either
exploding and splashing
this May morning
like a fish needs a bicycle
a woman needs a man
like a fish needs a bicycle?
if it matters then
to Pittsburgh or my bosses
I was also thinking of Herb Ellis
and Barney Kessel
and Joe Pass
struggling to keep up
with Oscar Peterson
and the peloton
of his own making
that I ride in when no one is watching
that I ride in joyfully like a fish opening a can of beer
in the old world
by John Stupp
The Drummer’s Dog
……………………..For Dag B. and in memory of R.J.
We would practice, early evenings
Now and then, rehearsing for gigs,
When gigging was still possible,
in Dag’s front room, and his bulldog
would sit right by the kit, staring
up intently at him, that look
being either adoration
or the insistent messaging
of the mentor to his pupil:
I taught you everything you know
so don’t fuck this up. And I was
never sure which of those meanings
was correct. I play reeds but know
the difference between a good
drummer and a bad one. Never,
neither any time before his
jowly, inscrutable roommate
passed on, nor since, did our drummer
screw things up, not once. I fancy
this might be due to R.J.’s ghost
still keeping a canine vigil
there, beneath the big ride-cymbal.
I’m not a drummer, but I have
had to teach it all at one time
or another, and as I lie
here with a much smaller doggie,
palms on her little back upon
my lap, tapping my favorite
snare-drum rudiment, soft against
her coat with both hands’ finger pads,
I think about the drummer’s dog.
Did he get or give drum lesson?s—
tattooed upon my bichon’s fur.
And if she thinks at all about
what I am doing, it’s likely:
Palie knows the paradiddle
and he means well but he will not
ever. ever be a drummer.
And I miss those far off summer
jams with bulldog in the middle,
as I play riffs on this small pooch—\
by Joel Glickman
Whenever Toby shuts a door
Georgi howls, demanding entrance
to the shower, his bedroom-high school,
or practice room for scaling riffs,
her plaintive yowl interrupting
his virtual singing lesson, Tuesday’s
class in AP Psych, or socially
distant socializing in
and on his cell, for Georgi loves
our isolation. Big eyes, all fur
and fluffy tail, she cannot bear
a separation and I wonder
what will happen when he leaves
for college—her brokenhearted wail
a worry in a broken, tone-deaf
world. But they don’t think of this—
she’s hungry now, he’s wrapped in Garland —
for that’s my job: to look ahead
in cold-eyed ways that Toby can’t.
He needs to do some Calc review,
harmonize this Bublé tune,
while Georgi naps inside his warm
and sunny beam. I struggle with shadows,
so why disturb Georgi’s sleep
and Toby’s beautiful Big Band dream?
by Felicia Chernesky
photo by Francis Wolff/© Mosaic Images
Wynton Kelly during Sonny Red’s “Out of the Blue” session, Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, December 5, 1959
Thelonious Monk’s Hat
on the keyboard.
Bill Evans’ glasses too.
I put Monk’s hat on
and suddenly feel
like the captain of a ship.
Even if my ship’s a ship
of fools, I pass the storm
safely into the blue.
on the music rack.
I have no need of one.
I have Bill’s glasses.
I’ll navigate by reading
by Gary Jude
Roland Kirk’s Dream
It appeared to him, he said, while he slept.
Or, rather, it revealed itself to him, the way
visions will, seeming nonsensical to those
who claim to see—the light in their eyes
conveying what they believe is required
of them—no revisions necessary for this
rough draft we’re born into, a book with
backward pages or pictures upside-down.
(What if you could train your brain to talk
through instruments, creating dialogues
out of time or space: sound that surrounds?
Are creatures in the darkness of the deep,
or farthest out in stellar regions, sightless?
Ordo they perceive what nothing else can
process, forsaking the cues and clues given
to brothers and sisters slower on the uptake?
Are they blind or do they see differently?
Do our eyes watch—or just reinterpret all
they’re told, wires pulled behind the seen?)
Kirk’s work shifts things, realigning reality.
This is music that says: I was here, I am alive,
we don’t die when we’re no longer here; we are
dark stars bringing light for those who can prepare
themselves to deal with miracles, where art becomes
like armor, protecting and serving, and if too often
it falls on deaf ears it stays made, gets heard, remains
unreal in the ways that matter most, bright moments
or an inflated tear exploding—like a dream deferred.
by Sean Murphy
My Funny Valentine
………………..(sung by Sarah Vaughan)
Photos took away
tried to compensate.
Her mouth and expression
distorted by light and angle.
less than chic,
even in basic black.
To match her mood,
she dyed her hair
the bluest purple.
He used to hum
My Funny Valentine,
joked about her looks
but would ask her
to stay another night.
Would jab deeper.
Her vulnerability fell,
her stem transformed—
a reminder to single women
that more petals
by Patricia Carragon
Of Crows And What They Bring
Ever since Tashkent, crows
circle above me during twilight;
twilight lasts longer the older I get,
and the crows grow closer;
the closer crows grow, the darker
my mind and more silent my heart;
some evenings my heart shines a black light
causing dogs to howl and crows to unleash
a cacophony of sound, a choir
blending Tom Waits with Satchmo;
dogs, crows, and a silent heart:
a life in twilight.
by Michael L. Newell
Francis Wolff during a portrait photo session, NYC, December, 1964
For 28 years, Francis Wolff – a partner of Blue Note Records co-founder Alfred Lion – brought his camera to every Blue Note recording session, masterfully capturing an important chapter of jazz history. Record companies had little need for photographs in the days when 78s came in plain paper sleeves. But Francis had his own pure need to create photographic images, and his early efforts resulted in some of the most intimately revealing and relaxed portraits ever made of many jazz giants during the pre-war era.
Musicians can recall Lion screaming at Wolff during sessions in a thick German accent, “Stop! You’re clicking on my record!.” But Lion knew that Wolff was creating an archive of great photographic value and a visual documentation of jazz history unmatched at any other record company. Likened to that of the great portrait photographer Yousuf Karsh, his ability to frame, capture and light a shot was equally remarkable. But where Karsh had an afternoon and an obedient subject to get a shot, Frank had only an instant with a preoccupied musician. Still his candid portraits have astonishing precision. His eye and his technique nailed it, usually in the first shot…..not unlike the way great jazz musician can masterfully nail a solo on the first take.
As Marty Khan wrote in 2001, “Wolff had the uncanny ability to capture his subjects’ soul and essence with the same profound artistry seen in the work of the great Richard Avedon. The difference was his mastery in reacting to a moment rather than designing it.”
Wolff stayed at the helm of Blue Note until his death, caused by a heart attack following surgery on March 8, 1971, just a month short of his 65th birthday.
Click here to read Wolff’s complete biography
The publication of Francis Wolff’s photographs are courtesy of Michael Cuscuna, the legendary record executive and owner of Mosaic Records and Mosaic Images, which has curated the Francis Wolff photo collection since 1992, identifying and archiving over 20,000 images taken at hundreds of Blue Note sessions between 1940 and 1970. To view a collection of over 2800 images from this historic era, and for details on how you can own or license them, click here
Poets contributing to this collection (listed in the order in which their poems appeared)
Ermira Mitre Kokomani defines Poetry as the Harp that delivers the Music of the Soul. Her first book of poetry, Soul’s Gravity (Graviteti I Shpirtit) in Albanian, published in Albania, delivers her soul’s music. As a bilingual poet, Ermira feels as if both languages have merged uniquely into her identity. She has published poetry, short stories and scientific papers in both languages. Her English poetry has appeared in various international and national poetry anthologies and journals.
E-mail: [email protected]
Michael L. Newell is a poet who currently lives in Florida. He has published 17 books and chapbooks over the last 29 years. His most recent books are Traveling without Compass or Map (Bellowing Ark Press), Meditation of an Old Man Standing on a Bridge (Bellowing Ark Press), Wandering (Cyberwit.Net), and Each Step a Discovery (Cyberwit.Net). He is a retired English/Theatre teacher who has lived in 13 of the United States, and 13 countries on five continents outside the United States.
Josie Rozell writes to the long-notes of Nina & Billie and laces the stanzas with a little Miles Davis. She lives in Hawaii where she plays jazz mandolin and is currently at work on her first collection of poetry, Articulated Soul, coming December 2020. More of her work can be found at www.thehydrogenjukebox.com, and she can be reached at [email protected].
Terrance Underwood is a retired Rolls-Royce Service Engineer, veteran, College Grad (B.A. History) who has been listening to recorded jazz music since he was 5-6 yrs old. One of his first memories is listening to a 78 version of “Cherokee” by Charlie Barnett.
Joseph Stellin Jr. lives in Santa Clarita CA and writes what some people call “Horror Poetry.” He has been published in the local Signal newspaper numerous times, and his works are included in five Anthologies presented by The Golden Pen Writer’s Guild. Joe is working on publishing a book of his own in the near future.
Russell Dupont is an artist and an author whose artwork is included in a number of public and private collections. He has published two novels, King & Train and Waiting for the Turk; two books of poetry; and two non-fiction chapbooks. His essay, “The Corner,” is included in the anthology Streets of Echoes. His work has been published in various newspapers and literary magazines. He was the founder & publisher of the literary magazine,.the albatross.
Visit his website by clicking here
Dr. Roger Singer was in private practice for 38 years in upstate New York. He has four children, Abigail, Caleb, Andrew and Philip and seven grandchildren. Dr. Singer has served on multiple committees for the American Chiropractic Association, lecturing at colleges in the United States, Canada and Australia, and has authored over fifty articles for his profession and served as a medical technician during the Vietnam era. Dr. Singer is the Poet Laureate of Old Lyme, Connecticut. He has had over 1,070 poems published on the Internet, magazines and in books and is a 2017 Pushcart Prize Award Nominee. He is also the President of the Shoreline Chapter of the Connecticut Poetry Society.
Christopher D. Sims is a writer of poetry, a spoken word artist, and a human rights activist who uses words to inform. Born and raised on the west side of Rockford, Illinois, he has been writing since he was nine years old. A published poet, Christopher wrote a poetry and memoir collection entitled I was Born and Raised in The Rock in 2020. He is a fellow of the Intercultural Leadership Institute.
A 2016 Pushcart nominee, poetry and musical criticism have appeared in over 500 magazines and periodicals worldwide with little reportable income. Full lengths include: American Mental, (Luchador Press 2020) Blue Fan Whirring (Nirala Press, 2018) President, Calling All Poets, New Paltz, NY. CD reviews appear online at All About Jazz, and Lightwood, Featured poet: He was and hopes to be again the Tuesday night host of Jazz Sanctuary, WOOC 105.3 FM, Troy, NY. He loves Emily most of all.
Robert Kokan’s many influences include the Beat Generation writers and the jazz scene from that era. He has had poetry published in Bramble, the Wisconsin Poet’s Calendar and the ezines Yellow Mama, and Breathe.
Born in Norman, Oklahoma, Carrie Magness Radna is an audiovisual cataloger at the New York Public Library, a choral singer and a poet who loves traveling. Her poems have previously appeared in The Oracular Tree, Muddy River Poetry Review, Poetry Super Highway, Walt’s Corner, Alien Buddha Press, Cajun Mutt Press and First Literary Review-East. Her new poetry book, In the blue hour (Nirala Publications) is now published! (Find it on Amazon.com and SPD.com)
Visit her blog by clicking here
Aurora M. Lewis.is a retiree having worked in finance for 40 years. In her fifties, she received a Certificate in Creative Writing-General Studies, with Honors from UCLA. Aurora’s recent poems, short stories, and nonfiction have been accepted by The Literary Hatchet, Jerry Jazz Musician, The Blue Nib, Trembling in Fear, Jitter Press, Scary Snippets, Copperfield Review to name only a few.
John Kendall Hawkins is an American freelance writer currently residing in Australia. His poetry, commentary and reviews have appeared in publications in Oceania, Europe, and the US. He is a regular contributor to Counterpunch magazine. He is a former winner of the Academy of American Poets prize. He’s working on a novel.
Arlene Corwin…Brooklyn born. Age 85. Harpist, pianist, singer. High School of Music & Art. Hofstra Univ. BA. 2 films (lead in one, composer in the other — see IMDb) original lead in “The Nervous Set, introducing “Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most”. 19 published poetry books, yogin since the age of 20-something. Lives in Sweden. Jazz musician forever. Mother owned jazz club, The Turf with Slim Gaillard in the 50’s, Hempstead, Long Island. (See.Arlene Corwin. Poetry.com .for longer version.). See Youtube for Arlene and some good tunes.
John Stupp’s third poetry collection Pawleys Island was published in 2017. His manuscript Summer Job won the 2017 Cathy Smith Bowers Poetry Prize and was published in August 2018. A chapbook entitled When Billy Conn Fought Fritzie Zivic was published by Red Flag Poetry in January, 2020. (From 1975-1985 he worked professionally as a mediocre jazz guitarist). He lives near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and can be reached via email at [email protected].
Wayne L. Miller is a poet from Northern New Jersey. His work has been (or will be) published in Pank, Arc Poetry Magazine, The Paterson Literary Review, LIPS, Statorec, Edison Literary Review, Exit 13, Narrative Northeast, Turtle Island Quarterly, and various other journals and anthologies. Sometimes what he writes is not poetry and never can be.
Visit his website: https://waynelmiller.info/
Joel Jacob Todd, Jr. is a resident (and native) of Maryland’s Eastern Shore, a graduate of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (B.S.) and Rowan University (M.M.). He is also the organist and choir director of First Presbyterian Church in Ocean City, Maryland.
Retired from professing English and American literature, Ralph La Rosa has published work on American writers, written for film, and now devotes himself to poetry, having published widely on the Internet, in print journals, in the chapbook Sonnet Stanzas, and in a full-length collection, Ghost Trees. My Miscellaneous Muse: Poem Pastiches & Whimsical Words was published in 2020.
Jerrice J. Baptiste is a poet and author of eight books. She was the recipient of a residency for The Women’s Leadership Program at The Omega Institute, NY, 2019. Her poems have been published and are forthcoming in The Yale Review; Kosmos Journal; Mantis; Penumbra Literary & Art Journal; Shambhala Times; The Caribbean Writer; West Trestle Review; The Lake Poetry Journal; The Tulane Review; Autism Parenting Magazine; So Spoke the Earth: Anthology of Women Writers of Haitian Descent and many others. She also facilitates creative writing workshops. Her poems and collaborative songwriting are on the Grammy award winning album Many Hands: Family Music for Haiti. Jerrice is the host of “Women of Note” on WKZE, 98.1 FM in Red Hook, NY where she enjoys playing jazz & world music for her international audience. Visit her at Guanabanabooks.com to learn more about her work.
After having completed her first years of Masters in American Literature at la Sorbonne and her second year of Masters at New York University, Claire Andreani started writing poetry, focusing her work on Emily Dickinson, E. E Cummings and Wallace Stevens. She is currently working on a collection of poetry called the city, exploring the absurdities and transformations imposed by Modern Society: how city life reflects in Human Nature and changes it.
She can be reached via email at [email protected]
Ed Coletti is a poet, painter, fiction writer and middling chess player. After graduating from Georgetown University, he served for three years as an Army Officer, then as a Counselor and later as a Small Business Consultant. He was a student of Robert Creeley’s in the graduate creative writing program at San Francsico State. Recent poems have appeared in ZYZZYVA, North American Review, Volt, Spillway, and Blueline. Most recent poetry collections include The Problem With Breathing (Edwin Smith Publishing –Little Rock- 2015) and Apollo Blue’s Harp And The Gods Of Song published by McCaa Books February 2019.
Sebastian Matthews is the author of a memoir, In My Father’s Footsteps, and two books of poetry, We Generous and Miracle Day. His hybrid collection of poetry and prose, Beginner’s Guide to a Head-on Collision, won the Independent Publishers Book Award’s silver medal. Matthews is also the author of the collage novel The Life & Times of American Crow and a memoir-in-essays, Beyond Repair: Living in a Fractured State. Learn more at sebastianmatthews.com.
Susandale’s poems and fiction are on WestWard Quarterly, Mad Swirl, Penman Review, The Voices Project, and Jerry Jazz Musician. In 2007, she won the grand prize for poetry from Oneswan. The Spaces Among Spaces from languageandculture.org has been on the Internet. Bending the Spaces of Time from Barometric Pressure is on the Internet now.
You can reach her by email at [email protected]
Editor-in-chief for From the Ashes (Arts & Literature 1990-1994) and Swivel: Vintage Living (vintage lifestyle 1994-2000), Tam Francis has also been a poet (two-time, National Poetry Slam city team, Scottsdale Center for the Arts Poetry Art Walk Featured Poet, New Times Feature Poet, Visual Voices Featured Writer) and short story wordsmith (two-time shortlisted for Scare the Dickens Out of Us contest). Published in Texas Writer’s Journal, Short Edition, Coffeelicious, Awakenings, Red Dog Journal, Spoken Word from Lalapalooza, and other digital and print magazines.
Dana I. Hunter has published in CAPS -Poets For Social Justice. A short story in Adelaide Literary Magazine. Her screenplay won Honorable Mention in the first ‘Scriptapalooza’ contest. She received her B.A. in Communications from Upsala College. She can be reached for poetry inquests at – [email protected]
Millicent Borges Accardi has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), Fulbright, CantoMundo, California Arts Council, Barbara Deming “Money for Women,” and Fundação Luso-Americana (FLAD). Most recent poetry collection, Only More So (Salmon). IG and Twitter @TopangaHippie
photo by Cheryl Pyle
Susan Yung…Domestic–violence; misogynist–hater; anti–racist; democractic–anarchist; ghettoe–girl; Chinatown–Harlem; East Village–West Village; homesteader–gentrifier; yuppie–squatter; homeless–sheltered; American–Asian; World–Traveler; Adventress–Common–Law–Wife; Photographer–Videographer; Martial–Fine–Artist; Musician–Drummer; Artist–Scientist; Geologist–Librarian; Mathematician–Designer; Collector–Exhibitionist; Buyer–Seller; Cook–Politician; Migrant–worker; Independent–Dependent; Pacifist–Activist.
photo Roger Gordy
Steve Paul, a onetime jazz DJ and critic, retired from daily journalism after a career of more than 40 years and segued into literary and cultural biography. He’s the author of Hemingway at Eighteen (Chicago Review Press, 2017) and a forthcoming biography of the writer Evan S. Connell. His occasional columns on jazz topics appear in KC Studio, a regional arts magazine.
Dr. Emory D. Jones is a retired English teacher who has taught in high school and in several community colleges. He has four hundred and ninety-eight credits including publication in such journals as Writers Digest, Jerry Jazz Musician, The Storyteller, Modern Poetry Quarterly Review, and Encore: Journal of the NFSPS. He is retired and lives in Iuka, Mississippi.
Sean Howard is the author of four books of poetry, most recently Ghost Estates (Gaspereau Press, Canada, 2018). A fifth collection, Unrecovered: 9/11 Poems, will be published by Gaspereau Press this spring. Sean’s poetry has been widely published in Canada, the US, UK, and elsewhere, and featured in The Best of the Best Canadian Poetry in English (Tightrope Books, 2017). He can be reached at [email protected].
Erren Kelly is a two-time Pushcart nominated poet from Boston whose work has appeared in 300 publications (print and online), including Hiram Poetry Review, Mudfish, Poetry Magazine, Ceremony, Cacti Fur, Bitterzoet, Cactus Heart, Similar Peaks, Gloom Cupboard, .and .Poetry Salzburg.
Frank Wilkes lives in the Santa Cruz Mountains of California. He enjoys writing poetry and composing mellow music. His work has been published in The New York Quarterly, On The Bus, Slipstream, and the Santa Cruz Good Times Weekly, among others.
He can be reached at [email protected]
John L. Stanizzi has authored Ecstasy Among Ghosts, Sleepwalking, Dance Against the Wall, After the Bell, Hallelujah Time!, High Tide – Ebb Tide, Four Bits, Chants, Sundowning, and POND. Besides Jerry Jazz Musician, John’s poems have appeared in Prairie Schooner, Cortland Review, American Life in Poetry, and others. He’s been translated into Italian and appeared widely in Italy. He’s had nonfiction in Stone Coast Review, Ovunque Siamo, Literature and Belief, and others. John lives with his wife, Carol, in Connecticut.
DH Jenkins worked as an associate professor of English/Speech for the Univ. of Maryland in Japan and Korea for many years. His jazz play, Ti Jean, about Jack Kerouac, has been staged in Tucson, AZ and in St. Joseph, MO. Thirteen of his poems are set to music in the film Call From a Distant Shore, a collaboration with musician/artist Bill Scholer, June 2020.
Jazz.Poet filmmaker Michael Vander Does is from Columbus, Ohio. He performs with The Jazz Poetry Ensemble (poetry/trombone/leader) (www.makejazznotwar.org). His poetry is informed by avant-garde jazz.
John Riley has published poetry in Mojave River Review, Smokelong Quarterly, Connotation Press, Dead Mule, Better Than Starbucks and many other journals and anthologies. He works in educational publishing part-time and is a full-time nanny to his granddaughter Byl.
photo James R. Winstead
Antoinette F. Winstead is a poet, playwright, director, and actor living in San Antonio, Texas, where she’s a professor at Our Lady of the Lake University. Her poetry has appeared in several publications, including The Woman Inc., Texas Poetry Assignment, Voices de la Luna, Langdon Review, Texas Ballot Poetry, and The Poet Magazine. Her poem “JAZZ” received First Place for the 2020 Persimmon Prize. She is currently President of the Alamo Area Poets of Texas.
Kathryn MacDonald’s poetry has been published in literary journals in Canada, the U.S., England, and Ireland. Her poem “Seduction” was short-listed for the 2019 Freefall Poetry Contest. She is the author of A Breeze You Whisper (poems, 2011) and Calla & Édourd (fiction, 2009).
Allison Whittenberg is a Philadelphia native who has a global perspective. If she wasn’t an author she’d be a private detective or a jazz singer. She loves reading about history and true crime. Her novels include Sweet Thang, Hollywood and Maine, Life is Fine, Tutored and The Sane Asylum. Her latest play Choice will be performed at the Downtown Urban Arts Festival directed by Tony nominee Reg E. Gaines. She can be reached at [email protected]
Steve Dalachinsky was a New York downtown poet active in the poetry, music, art, and free jazz scene. His main influences were the Beats, William Blake, The Odyssey, obsession, socio-political angst, human disappointment, music (especially Jazz), and visual art with leanings toward abstraction. His work has appeared frequently in Jerry Jazz Musician, and now with the consent of his wife, the painter and poet Yuko Otomo. He passed away in September, 2019. He was 72 years old.
For a complete biography, visit his Wikipedia page.
Paul Brown writes poetry and fiction in Belleville, Ontario. His novel Wolf Pack of the Winisk River, written in free verse, was published by Lobster Press, Montreal, in 2009.
Catherine Lee reads solo and performs with improvising musicians “on poem” when she can. Five of her annotated jazz-related poems were featured in the July 2020 “Music” Issue 5 of Northampton Poetry Review, pages 63-74. Her multimedia poetry, documentary videos, and radio specials are archived on Soundcloud and VIMEO. Find artist-handmade, numbered, limited edition chapbooks (We Free Kin and A Rested Development) with music CD at Jazz-Ovation-Inn.com.
Michael Keshigian, from New Hampshire, had his fourteenth poetry collection, What To Do With Intangibles, released in January, 2020 by Cyberwit.net. He has been published in numerous national and international journals and has appeared as feature writer in twenty publications with 7 Pushcart Prize and 2 Best Of The Net nominations.
Bill Siegel lives in the Boston MA area, and writes both prose and poetry to express his love of jazz. Bill’s work appears in Indigenous Pop: Native American Music from Jazz to Hip Hop (Univ of Arizona Press, 2016); AllAboutJazz.com; inmotionmagazine.com; International Poetry Review; Brilliant Corners; Blue Mesa Review: Cruzando Fronteras (Crossing Borders); and other publications. He also created and manages jimpepperlives.wordpress.com, a collection of articles, poetry and news celebrating the work of the late saxophonist, Jim Pepper.
Mark Fogarty is a poet, musician and journalist. He curates The Jaco Pastorius Gig List on Facebook
Lisa Fishman’s most recent collection of poetry is Mad World, Mad Kings, Mad Composition (Wave Books, 2020). Her earlier books include 24 Pages and other poems, F L O W E R C A R T, and The Happiness Experiment, on Wave Books and Ahsahta Press. Her work is anthologized in Best American Experimental Writing (Omnidawn, 2014), The Arcadia Project: Postmodern Pastoral Poetics and elsewhere. She teaches in the MFA program at Columbia College Chicago.
Anggo Genorga is from the Philippines and works as a manager of a local band called Wonder Woman’s Electric Bra. Recent writings can be found at Horror Sleaze Trash, Devote, Duane’s Poetree, Outlaw Poetry Network, Paper And Ink Zine, Red Flag Poetry, In Between Hangovers, Dubai Poetics, The Odd Magazine and Walking Is Still Honest Poetry Press. Also at Empty Mirror, Mad Swirl, Guide To Kulchur Creative Journal, Silver Birch Press Bukowski Anthology and Verses Typhoon Yolanda, a book for benefit published by Meritage Press and the now defunct The Screech Owl and Dead Snakes.
Barry Peters lives in Durham and teaches in Raleigh, NC. Publications include The American Journal of Poetry, Best New Poets, New Ohio Review, Poetry East, Rattle, and The Southampton Review.
R. Bremner has been writing since the 1960’s. He appeared in 1979’s first issue of Passaic Review, along with Allen Ginsberg and Rich Quatrone. International Poetry Review, Oleander Review, Paterson Literary Review, Red Wheelbarrow, and.Shot Glass Journal.are a few of the journals he has been in. Ron has won Honorable Mention in the Allen Ginsberg Awards, and has published six print books, including.Ektomorphic(Presa Press), and thirteen eBooks.
Joel Glickman taught music including jazz history and the jazz band at Northland College, Ashland Wisconsin, from 1974 until retirement in 2017, where he has resumed teaching about jazz again, part time. He has written and published poetry over a wide range of subjects. Primarily a classical clarinetist and folk singer-song writer and banjo player, his jazz and saxophone skills lag behind these. He resides in Ashland with wife Susan and their Bichon, Madeline.
He can be reached via email at [email protected]
Felicia Sanzari Chernesky is a longtime editor, slowly publishing poet, and author of six picture books, including The Boy Who Said Nonsense (Albert Whitman). She left the masthead of an academic quarterly to work with people who want to share their writing in print. Her poem, “Mother Tongue,” received an honorable mention in the 2020 Allen Ginsberg Poetry Award. Felicia lives in Flemington, New Jersey. Find her online, with links to recent publications, at www.feliciachernesky.com.
Gary Jude is from London, but has been living and working in Bern, Switzerland for many a year now. His poems have been published in various UK poetry magazines.
Sean Murphy has appeared on NPR’s “All Things Considered” and appeared in USA Today, The New York Times, The Huffington Post, and AdAge. A long-time columnist for PopMatters, his work has also appeared in Salon, The Village Voice, Washington City Paper, The Good Men Project, Memoir Magazine, and others. He has twice been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, and his chapbook, The Blackened Blues, is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press. To learn more, visit seanmurphy.net
Patricia Carragon’s poem “Paris the Beautiful” won Poem of the Week from great weather for MEDIA. Her fiction piece “What Has to Happen Next” is nominated for Sundress Publications Annual Best of the Net Anthology. Her latest book from Poets Wear Prada is Meowku. Her debut novel, Angel Fire, was just released by Alien Buddha Press. Patricia hosts Brownstone Poets and is the editor-in-chief of its annual anthology. She lives in Brooklyn, NY. She can be reached via email at [email protected]
The next collection of poetry — currently scheduled for May, 2021 — will be centered on Miles Davis.
Click here to read the Autumn, 2020 collection
Click here to read the Summer, 2020 collection
Click here to read the Spring, 2020 collection
Click here to read the Winter, 2020 collection
Click here to read the Fall, 2019 collection
Click here to read how to submit your poetry
Click here for details concerning our 57th Short Fiction Contest