A Collection of Jazz Poetry — Winter, 2024 Edition

January 18th, 2024

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“Dave Brubeck Quartet” by Marsha Hammel

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“The Dave Brubeck Quartet” is by the artist Marsha Hammel, a figurative painter in the modernist tradition.  She writes that “Life and living are my inspiration – music, dance, people, places, even plants and animals. Subjects that provide a mirror to ourselves and a narrative to describe the best attributes of humanity.”

She has graciously consented to have a sampling of her work published within this collection of jazz poetry.

To view more of her work, please pay a visit to her website by clicking here. Her more 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:

…..Welcome to the 16th major collection of jazz poetry published on Jerry Jazz Musician since the fall of 2019, when the concept was initiated.

…..While earlier editions have included many voices previously unknown to readers of these anthologies, what is striking about the Winter, 2024 collection is that over one-third of the poets within it have only come to my attention since the publication of the Summer, 2023 collection.   What this says about jazz music and jazz poetry – and this community – is that the connection between the two art forms is inspirational and enduring, and that poets seem to have found a place for their voice within these virtual pages.

…..This artistically-gifted community is growing quickly and organically – as if each published poem generates enthusiasm for another.  I am so very proud to witness its growth, and humbled and honored to be an influence on a contributing poet’s creative process.

…..So, pull a chair up to the fire and take time with the collection.  I have no doubt you’ll find enormous gifts within it.

…..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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This collection of jazz poetry coincides with the efforts of brilliant contemporary jazz musicians who helped make 2023 a great year for the music.   To celebrate their work, all of the music available to listen to throughout the collection was either recorded or released during 2023.

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Listen to the bassist Ben Wolfe perform his composition “Sparkling Red,”  from his 2023 album  Unjust[CD Baby]

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Where It Can Lead

A poignancy
In the emptiness; the stillness of
Broken corridors. This kind of
recklessness could just
Break your heart

Appear and disappear
Like an apparition. Am I the blanket you
Conjure around yourself in a chilly room?

Everything and anything we do: too late
Everything and anything we say: too late
The jazz of memory; the jazz of
Counterpoint &
luminescence

I write seven pages of poetry notes
That offer insight into the truth of our
Existence

Or maybe not

It’s funny
Born to a woman
More suited to the Blues than to
Jazz, I improvise. My poetry takes me
Everywhere in this world, except to
Your front door

Improvised
Stillness; a particular kind of
Brokenness. It’s funny how many
Poems will lead you there

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by Connie Johnson

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Dancing
….-Demetre Chiparus’ Les Girls

Five lithe girls in skin-tight
purple costumes
chasse in a fluid tension
of jazz ballet,

their arms spread
like flapping wings,
showing a desire
to fly high like ospreys.

They’re better angels
of nature and dance
for our need
of a jazz moment

against inner turmoil
and war.

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by Jianqing Zheng

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Still Life Before An Open Window

The piano is crashing around corners
like a carnival
and the blue windows of Morocco
are calling us
to enter the shade of a summer’s day.

On the table in the living room
Le Journal is open
its ink in black columns climbing
white sand.

The steely notes of Django’s guitar
wrap around the wrought iron
railing on the balcony
making us see F-clefs everywhere.

And suddenly we are taken away
from the rusty street traffic
from the neighbor’s crying baby
from the postman’s noisy knock
and from the piercing elevator stops!

We’re delivered to an enchanted state
only accessible through sound waves
just over the west wall, a water fall
tumbling cool and gracefully;

And we take off our surly clothes
to spoon and splash
in electric currents of twilight jazz
with notes of setting sax
with twangs of salsa guitar
with piano crashing thru the Chagall
window into sheer starlight.

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by D.H. Jenkins

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In A Silent Way

she lays, as the trumpet
paints night into the room
she is one with the scenery
like the desert, she is without
beginning or end, night is a country
waiting to be discovered; she is
to be discovered, in fusion melodies
long hair, covering her back like
rainbows, i touch her saxophone
shape, and feel god, i feel blessed
knowing that jazz was born from
a woman and vice versa; how music
is her calling card, how it defines her beauty

as long as there is jazz and love, i’ll
take beauty and the pain
as long as she is the sunlight
i’ll walk in the rain…

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by Erren Kelly

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Jazz Man

She kicks back on a song
played in B flat? Fat black lady
she’s doing just that.
Her jazzy riffs spice up this track.
And the band?
Please! They
done changed key. She’s damn near
knocked me off my feet,
Fat black lady ain’t missed a note.
Might I just have a full-on stroke.
I know jazzy tunes played in E flat.
Bruh(!), I will step back and go
with all that. Cause E flat is three
intervals up from B flat. I will just
tip my hat and go with all that!
Why, I’m a jazz man.
That’s what I am.

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by Emmett Wheatfall

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Blown With Sound

sounds
bursting

bubbling
back water

jazz notes
thieving with
thickness
tempting
innocent air

never goes
never done

thirsty souls
consuming the
sound
by them
and those
of them

in motion
of flash

like diamonds

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by Roger Singer

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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.

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by Michael L. Newell

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“Sax Trio” by Marsha Hammel

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Solo Monk

This time, there’s no sticks,
just licks for stoners,
Monk’s erroneous bones
splintering the gasps and groans
of the beat and beardy, fine and dandy;
sophisticated ladies,
arm candy in cavernous night owl spaces;
some old school crepuscule,
newly minted felonious tones;
made round midnight.

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by Isabel White

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Front Row Seat For A Head-Bebopping Allergy Sufferer

The pollen is flying like mad –
frantic, crazy, amorphously Daliesque –
sort of like our trio the other day,
rollicking and lollygagging through Monk’s
Brilliant Corners, losing it so completely
that when Marty flung a stick at my head
and John, the discreet one, double dipped
his bass as though it were his dance partner,
I finally snapped out of it and
remembered not everyone might relate
to an over-exhilarated acolyte.
A truth I contemplate from the other side
today: without even glancing
through the window, I know that the birches,
in their fine green raiment, tossing their branches
in the wind like long-haired girls
at the beach with one hand on their sunhats,
are truly rejoicing with all of nature
and singing more than mere notes –
like the ones that gurgle through my living
room speakers, as though Thelonious,
the man himself, knew the loneliest monk
was right here, pried apart
from a world that so assuredly
announces itself, vibrantly yakking
and chittering in all its beautiful
nascent glory.

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by Francis Fernandes

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Remedy

Perhaps it’s Tension.
………………………………..from What!
Blood flow?

…………………………Emotional acceleration?
………………………………Visual dis-simulation?

Something more abstract?

Take the six capsule Fuller’s Blues-ette
………………………trombone treatment

Let that bell’s sound slide

& relax with a comfort

………….like donning a soft knit sweater
………………………on a late chill veranda afternoon

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by Terrance Underwood

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Saxophonists: The Heart of Jazz

It’s a gift, so much music available, my little apartment!
……..Stan with Jobin, Herman’s Four Brothers,
Zoot & Al improvising Kerouac’s blues & haikus, lots of
……..Basie with Lester, Hamp’s Flyin’ Home,
So much I rarely make time for, these days. But in a small CD pile,
……..unlooked at for too long,

I select Sonny Rollins’ Saxophone Colossus, & the first cut
……..is the ever-recognizable “St. Thomas,”
Brings me back to softer times, to concerts, islands,
……..to good jazz friends who’ve silently passed

And I think of old albums I’d loved, Alto Summit, Dizzy with Rollins,
……..Long Tall Dexter’s Manhattan Symphonie,
Hank Mobley’s hard bop. Paul Desmond making time, Pepper Adams
……..looking like everybody’s high school chemistry teacher

The horn invented 1840’s for German marching bands, became
……..the preeminent voice, the Black American experience:
And because it’s so easy, two clicks give a top 50 countdown
……..of the greatest in jazz, and the names
Sing, & shine, the richness, the power, this purely American music,
……..created by giants, still so strongly alive, today.

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by Phil Linz 

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Sonny Stitt, Alto Saxophone

his alto saxophone greets
me like a morning sunrise
a subtle striptease
he is a robert frost poem
showing you the best of nature and
life
the alto sound follows me like
her from room to room
removing all gloom
replacing it with mimosas and
prosecco and cafe au laits
the sound goes down smooth
as prayer

i just sit and hear the kiss
his alto sax gives me
sonny’s alto replicates the
fairer sex, who carries the
curves of the road less
traveled, who is sunlight
as she dresses in the dawn
her smile greeting you
as a morning song….

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by Erren Kelly

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Ben Webster

I’m jealous of your music.
I thought your blues would be like mine.

Is it only sound every pore of the body absorbs?

I remember the warmth I could find
inside Ben Webster’s horn.

His chords wrapping around my shoulders
brushing my neck and reminding me
to never let you go.

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by Miho Kinnas & E. Ethelbert Miller

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Listen to the drummer Allison Miller perform her composition “Hudson,” from her album  Rivers In Our Veins (featuring the violinist Jenny Scheinman).  [The Orchard]

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Listening to Imaginings
…………………………….(for Ian Brighton)

crouched over the music
plucked from a fretboard
of dreams
an ethereal imagination
transforms the sound

each note a spark
a rhythm improvised
and chased into
another octave
…………….another scale

a chaos of crescendos
and the alleyways
of an aural maze
unravel to haunt
a cosmographical void –

space transformed by
an explosion of mythical suns
notes of red green
violet and strangely blue
colours in sound

and a conversant theory
breaking through air
somewhere between
…………………….your guitar
and the safety of ground

there is an inner ear
a mind set free
to be and see and hear
the universal sky
a celestial mystery.

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by Adrian Green

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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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A Flower In Sight And Sound

If I could grow
a hot house poem

to an O’Keefe flower
a music garden pink and blue

it would be Strayhorn’s
a lovesome thing, Bechet’s

a petite fleur
a perfume of pollen

in stamen reverence alluring
a beautiful bee

vibrato all yellow
before I send it swinging

down
a garden path
toward
your ears.

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by Daniel Brown

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spare poems (for wayne shorter)

precious impurities (vulnerably
composed): the body beyond

time, without doubt. difficult
to police, unorchestrated move-

ments. paying no master
mind, poems found wanting

nothing. (not really missing
chords.) chicago: innumerable

solos, spectral presents. sand
hands. the self only appearing

among others? collected, one-
note volumes. (prose: literally,

the blue piano!) the descent
sometimes far more uplift-

ing: reconstituting the
fragment from the

whole, the spare
changing every-

thing &
no

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by Sean Howard

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Pure To The Soul

the kitchen
swing door opens—
music lounge

the dance steps
spin from a vein
reeling

the man sips
a sweating glass
…Tiger Beer

belching —
a hurricane of wind
behind a cupped hand

he exhales—
swirling smoke from
a Lucky Strike

stuffed with tokens
of different numbers

alcohol—
not his kind
of drink

belly full
of Kunu Zaki

pretty soon
his body sways
to the music
…only this time
he’s tipsy

staggering legs
hoards the harmony
of the Batá drum
along his feet

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by Christina Chin (and) Uchechukwu Onyedikam

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West Coast Jazz

The favorite
among star-spangled
a jazz musician rests.

On the beach
sweetest chords orchid
and grey amber.
Cross the cold
ocean for her peace,
as for me…it’s Showtime.

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by Barbara Anna Gaiardoni

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“Guitar Jazz,” by Marsha Hammel

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Nineteen Fifty Something

It was the time when teenagers were born
to parents who had given up their shape
to fit into old people’s clothes
so they could hold the line,
to try to stem the flow
of the coming revolution.

It was the time when music became dangerous
and could no longer speak across generations,
a time when new alliances were formed
and old ones forgotten or misremembered.
New friends, new foes,
new fears alongside the old.

Such was that time
back in the beginning,
back in the beginning of our time
the time when we began
to make ourselves up
and run free
for a time.

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by Lynn White

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The Bitter Taste of Coffee

The bitter taste of coffee
Comforts me tonight,
And the radio cajoles me
In this jazz-filled life,
And I need no other
Pleasures more focused
Than simple taste and sound

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by Martha Patterson

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Gramophone

At my new gramophone (record player)
I lift its wooden lid that links to an era bygone.
Where a vinyl LP, whose black face will
rotate clockwise at 33 1/3 rpm, whereupon,
the touch of its diamond-studded stylus will belt
out soulful microgroove music so sacrosanct,
I dare not lift the needle or close its lid.

I flip the LP twice. Its black face—
crooner Nat King Cole. Labeled Side-1 and Side-2,
I find Nat King Cole’s face twice. Unwritten code
says LP’s are to be softly placed on gramophones,
much the way a man lowers himself between a woman’s
thighs, wherein, he will establish his own diamond
studded rhythm.

For a few seconds, its sound is scratchy,
reminiscent of those times I went to clear my throat
for sake of clarity. Then, the sweet and soulful sounds
of Nat King Cole take to seizing my nostalgic senses,
taking me back to his bygone era, one that will
never return, it being memorable—not digitally mastered.

Why is this happening? I’m nostalgic. In my
imagination, I’m —wearing a black tuxedo, white tuxedo shirt,
a stylish black bowtie, and certainly—
black patent-leather shoes. She, being redbone, fashionably
attired in an elegant white evening gown; lets me
dance her night away, from sunset to the
peek of early light.

At its end that scratching sound returns. I lift
the diamond-studded stylus, placing it on its cradle. Upon
returning to my real self, and having bid farewell
to the redbone woman of my dreams; having been
heavily scented with soul, I climb into the
comfort of my bed, pull the sheets up to my chest where
I sleep like the newest of newborns.

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by Emmett Wheatfall

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Moon Burns

You know what I mean.

Somewhere in your home,
stacked in corners,
packed tight on shelves,
stowed in boxes and cartons
are the hundreds
of vinyl records
you’ve accumulated
over the years.

It’s too easy these days
to go to the laptop
and click on Pandora,
Spotify or JAZZRADIO
and plug in what
we want to hear.

But this morning, rummaging
through a stack from the ‘50s,
its sleeve worn and faded,
I pulled out the old dial album,
Swinging With the Woody Herman
Woodchoppers

and closed my eyes
as Sonny Berman’s trumpet
wails the lilting
and dulcet tones
of Moon Burns.

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by Russell duPont

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Respite

I’m happy to leave the perfection
of 24-Bit sound behind
for a while, shut out the world
and those staunch words
that fit the pictures in my mind
of a friend’s annihilation
and the devastation of this void
in my life – and just take Ella
and Louis with me
into the kitchen singing Dream
a Little Dream of Me on the most
primitive of speakers, and work
on those simplest of pancakes,
the ones with the banana
and the eggs and the coconut
and the buckwheat flour blended
into one thick mass that rises
slowly on the hot skillet, turning
a familiar friendly golden
brown, and once in my mouth,
with a helping of maple syrup
and apple sauce, lends
the moment a modicum of wonder,
pluck, maybe even gentle serenity.

….(previously published in  Jerry Jazz Musician,  January 10, 2024)

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by Francis Fernandes

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Icons Serve A Conviction

within a frame
on a wall
in a comfortable room
Charlie & Miles
hang like religion
surrounded in similar frames
by advance notice of coming royalty
a duke, a count, an earl
& here’s a Dexter there a Lester

within a frame
on an opposite wall
of that same comfortable room
Angels peer from open windows
gather crowded down a brownstone step
line orderly the sidewalk in front
& along street curbing seated in grace

when asked by foreign visitors
by the unfamiliar
they are told simply
all are images to a faith
to a belief braced daily
from their sound by their scripture

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by Terrance Underwood

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Listen to the pianist Sullivan Fortner play Duke Ellington’s composition “Come Sunday”  [PIAS]

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The Blues

Those who don’t get the blues,
Don’t get themselves.

The blues is personal,
It’s you.

You don’t play the blues,
It plays you.

It doesn’t come from you,
It is you.

Some people like a song,
Some people love a song,

While some people live a song-
That’s the blues.

The blues is about becoming a man
And being a man about it.

The blues is getting the girl
Without having to figure out how to get her.

Though the woman’s the boss
Where the blues’ concerned.

The blues is from the heart,
It’s not cerebral.

The blues is the soul singing from behind the senses.
An out of body experience in the flesh.

The blues cuts into you,
Gives you a piece of yourself.

It gets under your skin,
With that waspish sting of the guitar.

The blues is a feeling you have,
That shows people the feeling you get.

The blues listens to life
Rather than speaks for it.

The blues is the soul of a man,
Where man ain’t nothing but his mind.

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by Anthony Ward

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Listening Late to Lead Belly

Sometimes I get a great notion . . . to jump in the river and die

Morning rises
A false dawn again.
A shrike or a curlew cries
or a hawk though a curlew
is scarce here, and hawks
rarely screech nights.

A gibbous moon near full
falls in the west.
A hum and hubbub
of sleep
deepen.

The hawk or curlew
or owl
cries again now
faint, and far, its cries
more echoes of cries
than cries.

An old blues tune can do that.

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by John Briscoe

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Big Mama Thornton

Here’s the good news
She loves EveryBody
Makes wallflowers into dancers
She shakes shimmies
Don’t get shook up
Don’t fight her charms
She’s sittin right here
Blues walkin on my bed

Lookin out at the rain
Blues all round the room
She croons .spoons. blooms
Come on honey
She’ll take care of you
Don’t fret .don’t fight it
Mama’s right here
She gonna love you right

She’s sassy .she ain’t no sissy
She’s spirited spiritual
Wade in the Water
She’s wadin .wailin
waitin .wantin
Don’t miss out. Don’t mess up
Big Mama’s comin
She’s gonna fix what ails you

Let her try ..why not
What have you got to lose
You — sittin by the window
Blues in your pocket
You can be her hound dog
not her ball and chain
Everything gonna be alright
You know she’ll love you forever

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by Mary K. O’Melveny

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My Baby Don’t Care for Me
……………(sung by Nina Simone)

Smell rich to get ahead—
wear fancy clothes and make-up,
hide desperation’s stench.

Forget genetic setbacks—
cover up, learn to fit in.

Work hard, work overtime,
workout, work off those five pounds.

Consume—
make credit your “Manifest Destiny.”

Be the boss—
give orders, take orders.

Never complain—
smile, look pretty, show that you care!

Think you “have it all?”

Advertising doesn’t care
about fleeting promotions
or Mr. No-Shows.

Wake up—
perfumed lies can’t change
who you are!

….(originally published in the Nat’l and Int’l Goddess, NBPF 2023 Festival Anthology)

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by Patricia Carragon

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Nina Simone

Her voice and music still resonates in my soul,
her voice of truth, freedom, and love inspires me.

That sister could moan and growl.
Her voice of righteous witness
could make the angels weep.

A sway of sublime ecstasy,
soar to transcendence
and swoop down
to a hip stirring
soul shaking lovin’!

And at her finger tips
the ivory keys dreaming of
melodies never imagined.

Flats, sharps, chromatic scales
of ecstasy with Sista’ Simone

Lawd, all mighty!

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by Namaya

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Unearned Gifts
Jazz Festival 1988

Heart in pieces,
drove home, alone, across the country, coast to coast
jazz tapes for consoling company.
The long lonely road
rainstorms, Rock Springs, local radio.
None played jazz.

Then down the Gorge
with home in sight, to the city I loved, city of music,
city of jazz, back from Manhattan,
to my own backyard.
And who should be knocking at the gate
but Ella.

Festival scheduled months away
But tickets available. I bought two, standing room only
I should care, picnics and dancing, jazzfest, lovefest.
My friend and I among them
My friend a musician, me an aficionado, then in the darkness,
After other great ones, came the greatest herself.

Ella, no longer young
Ella, Queen of the hop,
Ella, Queen of May
And June, July and August.
Who else but Ella.

My friend said, “Go! I’ll guard our things.”
So I went. With my New York flare I slipped and slid through the crowd
near the high-priced tables
by the band to see her. To listen. To listen. To listen.
I must have seemed enchanted, entranced by the sound
And the sight of Ella.

A man at one table, party of six,
Motioned me to come closer. His friends and perhaps his wife, all motioned.
“Come sit with us for a better view.”
New York had taught me to take advantage
of lucky moments, of unearned gifts. Just go. Just take the risk.
And so I did.

A table of strangers,
me mesmerized on a hot August night,
just outside of Portland.
An unearned gift.
Ella.

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by Molly Larson Cook

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“Nina” by Marsha Hammel

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Trails & Elegies

I heard that John Coltrane was a trailblazer,
he could get his spaceship to take him anywhere.

In my country, most of us quiet young men,
would not blaze trails, but follow them

suspicious of their ends, hiding
from sirens rather than horns.

I was told that Miles Davis once asked Coltrane
Why did he solo so long, and John said because

I can’t find a good place to stop. Miles answered
well, you could take the horn out of your mouth,

but John did not, and neither did my friends, gone
and young, who kept holding the reed between their lips.

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by Juan Mobili

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Busking After Hours

A lonely horn in the deserted street,
a wail of blue notes in the night.

A solo musing on riffs
to push words out of my head
with the familiar
and unfamiliar tunes
I have no title for.

His notes roll around alleys
to a rhythm of footsteps
along the empty road,
they echo from walls
and shiver the evening shadows
between glowing amber streetlights.

His melodies are
a monologue of sadness
strong enough to penetrate
the shuttered casements
and doorways of buildings
hiding their secrets from night.

His music lives inside his head
and, through his saxophone,
in mine as I saunter past,
lulled into rhythm
and wondering what tune
he will play tomorrow.

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by Adrian Green

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While My Lady Sleeps

I listen to Coltrane
While My Lady Sleeps,
Wondering, if subconsciously,
She can hear further within,
How it sounds
Deep down
Through embedded essence.

I remember when I heard it first,
A distant memory at the time,
A future echo from this moment.

While My Lady Sleeps
I listen to Coltrane.

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by Anthony Ward

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Open Mic 

The blend is sweet music in ears
The keyboard rivals the unrest in my soul

The saxophone screams higher and louder
The trumpet loses all control

The bass creates a strong heartbeat
The drums rock in and out of time

Lyrics hit my head
like taking a massive bump
Relevant, aging well like a fine wine

Influenced by the greats that came before me
I’m motivated by what’s to come

I wanted to be successful
I felt that I needed to be heard
But right now I’m having so much fun

A long day led to an interesting night
the crowd is diverse
it’s dark in here but the stage is lit

I absorb the atmosphere
Rhymes form in my soul
Through this open mic I found bliss

.

by Nathaniel Terell

.

___

.

Black Saint

Steaming subway:
groaning trains and the lone
Spanish guitar.

Enter dancers;
the sinners bustle on:
off-beat footsteps.

Buskers beckon,
ringed by dancers, chanting:
Stop! Look! Listen!

He lights his pipe;
white tiles, graffitied:
psalm in black ink.

.

by Justin Hare

.

___

.

Gnawa Music

Softly seek to create and not destroy.
Be free from the chains of the hoi polloi.
Search to feel completely at one
with the soulful beats of Gnawa drums.

Fade into the Bordeaux floating light.
Skip to metal claps of the Qraqeb bite.
Drift out of the flesh with the gimbri strum.
Vibrate far from the crushing humdrum.

Sway with the music like reeds lilting with the wind.
Rejoice in the weightlessness of the soul’s incline.
Pilgrim to the tone’s lonesome desert lute.
Alight upon a heavenly homeward commute.

.

by Nayma Chamchoun

.

___

.

South Side

“Stay away from the South Side,”
he said. “Especially at Night.”

Not one to take advice,
I wandered out, down dark
and gloomy streets,
passed under the El
and came upon five guys,
seated in a circle on milk cases
in the middle of the sidewalk,
a jug of red going from hand to hand.

Heads raised and turned
as this white apparition
emerged from the shadows.
“Have a seat, man,” one said,
tapping the empty case beside him.

The jug came full circle
into my hands
and I took a long swig
of Thunderbird
while, from the boom-box
in the center of the circle,
the soft, subtle tones
from Miles’ trumpet
ebb and flow
‘Round about Midnight.

.

by Russell duPont

.

___

.

The Commute

on the train through the sky
mountains obscured by rain
with nothing to fix my eye
everything moves at the whip
of towers—an ineluctable grid
of foothills sequined with roofs,
socked in construction cavities,
predictable increments

electromagnetic tracks twitch,
propel through cloud-eaten rails,
each track joint, a calendar day
cemented in by habit of filling
negative space to countable bricks
until rhythm becomes automation

earbuds in, I re-rhythm with Coltrane,
full-blooded and pulsing off towers
in spikes and dips through rain
breaking up the mortar
of the club beat radiating
from the standing figures
with their Beats, hollow casings
pinging decreasing signatures
into space

.

by Jessica Lee McMillan

.

.

Listen to pianist Brad Mehldau play Lennon/McCartney’s composition “Here, There and Everywhere,” from his 2023 album of Beatle’s song interpretations, Your Mother Should Know  [Nonesuch]

.

.

Don’t Try 

Instead of San Luis Obispo
Where you once wrote about chasing
A woman’s shadow, thinking it was me
Come meet me in San Pedro
City of dive bars
& second-hand record stores
I want to prowl those dusty aisles
& find something you’d like to hear:

Reggae
Blues

Something with a cherry wood tom-tom
Effect, a sultry staccato from here to eternity
I’ll wait right here for a sign from you
On a gum-stained sidewalk, the smell of the ocean
In the air; everywhere I look mermaid murals
& fishermen.

I’ll hand you haiku I jotted down
On a juke joint cocktail napkin:

His left-handed stride
Monk is always amazing,
Jazz personified

Poetry is what we do;
“Am I a poet or a poem,” you ask
And the answer seems obvious.

Maybe we’ll stroll over to Bandini Street
Close to where Bukowski used to live and
We’ll ponder what he once said: “Don’t try.”

Writers! Impetuous in what may feel
Like a pointless pursuit. So no, we don’t
Try. We just do it.

.

by Connie Johnson

.

___

.

Music In The Other Room

You didn’t know I was there,
but I’ve been there all along,

waiting for you
to join me at the jazz club.

The music was hypnotic
& I swarmed to the rhythm with the other worker bees.

The tenor sax played its hot melodies,
countering the piano’s points tinged in blue honey—

Oh Honey, I was blue too.
I waited for you for over an hour—

The cocktail was strong.
Taking a final swig, I left the bar.

What if you were
in the bathroom?

You had waited for me outside by the door—
You were missing me too.

You didn’t know I was there,
but I’ve been there all along,

alive with the music
in the other room,

waiting
for you to break through.

.

by Carrie Magness Radna

.

___

.

Hudson Valley Lullaby

A mewing of catbirds
has landed in my lilac bush
at the corner of the porch.
If one listens closely,
it sounds like Birdland or
The Blue Note filled with
Kool Kats – Dizzy, Monk,
Count Basie, Charlie Parker,
Lester Young. In charge
of sound and syncopation
is Pee Wee Marquette.
Symphony Sid sends out
the tunes. Everyone stops
to listen. Bring along a drink
with a parasol. They will
sing us a Broadway lullaby
as the sun drifts away
like a final, fading A note.

.

by Mary K. O’Melveny

.

___

.

For Mister Davis

Some musicians create reams of rapid fire,
sound that sears the ears of listeners.
Others shape sounds of gold beautifully formed.

A few use notes that crack or snarl to adorn.
A handful carve sounds quiet as a murmur
found in brooks or streams or falling leaves.

Here and there one can be found whose sound
rises to embrace the world with silvery beauty.
Then there is Miles who could use silence to sing

of loss, the heart, all that could not be said, yet could
also make his horn operatic in scope, or turn
a whisper into a prayer — no wild bravura, but the dignity

of a perfect note played at the perfect time and volume.
Listeners learned to tune ears and hearts to his unique voice.
He could take you for a stroll in the park, he could make

a listener dance, he could make a thought visible,
he could elicit tears, joy, make a gloomy afternoon
feel like a sunrise. He could lead you deep inside your heart.

.

by Michael L. Newell

.

___

.

At Charlie Parker’s Grave 
…………….(for Gregg Ottinger)

We stood there and I played
a few phrases of “Ornithology”
on my phone, while birds
were singing in the trees
and bushes and making
their presence known
with little percussive
rustles and chirps.
The sky over Kansas City
was clear and blue,
like Bird’s blowing
on “All the Things You Are.”
I gazed in silence and
was about to turn away
when I took another look,
saw the other marker, Addie
Parker, the mother who
raised him, who denied
him nothing, who bought
him his first saxophone,
in whose eyes he could
do no wrong, and who
outlived him by 12 years
My friend said a few words,
we dropped some wild violets—
the only flowers at hand—
on both markers, and went away.

.

by Gregory Luce

.

___

.

Running Wild

I threw a rock through your bedroom window/ your window on the third floor
…………………..I threw with perfect aim.
I threw a rock through your window/ to hear shattering glass.
That echoed my shattered heart /and torn soul.
Crash, smash /a painful blast /an explosion of emotion
My heart beating/racing as I quickly walked away to the beat of Glenn Miller’s
“Running wild” playing in my head
I threw a rock through your window.
…………………..It felt so good.

.

by Elaine Croce Happnie

.

.

“Singer With Sax,” by Marsha Hammel

.

.

Jazz Is For Grown Folks

I pressed pause
On the hip-hop song
I was listening to.
I needed some jazz juju.
I needed saxophones,
pianos, bass guitars,
and rhythmic drums in my ears.
Jazz is for grown folks.
Jazz is sophisticated.
Jazz is played by the greatest
musicians. Jazz forces,
encourages you to listen.
Jazz is a music played
with precision.
Jazz is for grown folks,
the grown and sexy
because of its
musical complexity.
It’s affect on me
is powerful.
An hour full of jazz
has me relaxed,
chill to the max.
Jazz is for grown folks.
Bass sounds strummin’.
Jazz singer scattin’, hummin’.
With jazz ain’t to fakin’ or frontin’!
Jazz is for grown folks.

.

by Christopher D. Sims

.

___

.

New Freedoms, New Sensations

The key is when you’re feeling free!
Free is: a gigantic word.
The eyes so cleared, the ears so heard
No matter what the times and weather
We are all in this together.

Free is to be freed
In cooking, speaking, action, playing;
Jazz – ideas you’ve never thought of;
Means you’ve never used.
Every note’s ingredient completely fused.

What comes is uncertain.
Housed in the unknown brain,
Not chemical nor trained.
But now with freedom unrestrained:
Feeling free.
A mystery.
But underneath the virtues and sincerity,
The key.
( A,B,E,D flat – a joke.)

As human being, writer, pianist,
Spontaneity in all I do,
Yet filled with faults and weaknesses
I find the word ‘revised’ most useful,
Dynamic, changing, reconsidering
Reevaluating ‘re’-s that mean ‘again’,
I alter with the mood and climate; all within a discipline.
The brain knows lying, falsifying.
Those synapses know it all: true forgetfulness to recall.

I write again that life is sacred.
Not scared, but sacred.
I got sepsis, came back with sensations new:
Awarenesses, more tears to eyes,
Caring about cleanliness, the energies to size it up.
Beauty too, in everything – never thought about or seen.
Brand new creativity; indifference to the dollar thing, jewelry and clothing.
Yet still there, a vanity.

Creativity was the most salient.
Bigger, broader, all embracing.
Three joints left to play my jazz.
The jazz as interesting disharmony,
Yet tuneful, pretty.
Voice ‘gone’ – singing on.
Most certainly, the poetry.
Free, free, free, that’s me, that’s me.
And yes, the more inclusive death.
Reminding me that life is sacred,
Sweet and acrid.
So I play, sing, write to send –
So that, it, all that’s lit
………………………………….Is not forgotten.
Time is running on;
Experience too, I hope.

.

by Arlene Corwin

.

___

.

 

A Return To Jazz & Coffee Yuri In Nagoya

the years-ago butter taste of chicken rice the same
ketchup sting on the tongue, water drips on a silk
skirt, inside the lip of, outside the glass of iced coffee

rain is peripheral, rain is more rain than Stanley
Turrentine’s tenor sax on Star Brite shimmering each
note into a raindrop like a slow waltz with someone’s you

instagrams on couples’ cel phones, a black & white
cat on a tatami mat, white peaked mountains and outdoor
concert crowds, the near and far of where we are

a bicyclist glimpsed through the blinds snaps his clear
plastic umbrella back from inside-out as raindrops light
up the room like stars, Stan Getz and Burt Bacharach’s

trains & boats & planes segues in time to the bicyclist’s
leg extensions & pulls on the pedals, one full rotation
around per unsung line

t-r-a-i-n-s
andboatsand
p-l-a-n-e-s
arepassingby
t-h-e-y m-e-a-n
atrip to ParisorRome
Dadada da
dadada da
dadada dada dada
da da away
away from me*

*(Burt Bacharach/Hal David)

.

by Leah Ann Sullivan

.

___

.

Nostalgia

Who would believe it –
me in the kitchen swaying
to the rhythms of Willie’s
rough voice and Wynton’s horn?

What is so wrong
with nostalgia – our favourite
songs on the same old cd?

One bar of Stardust
and I’m the Lady
in Lady Chatterley’s Lover.
One bar of Georgia on My Mind
and I hear your Ahhhhh
and I wish my name
Georgia.

This before clouds block
moonlight in the pines, the magic
slowly falling away, and love becomes
the stardust of yesterday

leaving me stranded in the kitchen
slicing onions, brushing hair
from my eyes.

.

by Kathryn MacDonald

.

___

.

Prom Time

It’s prom time
and the new grads
are dressed to
the nines as they
pack the limos
to their big night
and make the latest
moves on the
dance floor.

Seventy years ago
I put on my electric
blue suit and danced
to the swinging sounds
of the big bands
on the same gym
floors under the same
streaming decorations,
and the same excitement
and the same anticipation
for an unknown future.

.

by Henry Wolstat

.

.

Listen to pianist Aaron Diehl playing Mary Lou Williams’ composition “Taurus,” with David Wong (bass); and Aaron Kimmel (drums). [Mack Avenue Records]

.

.

Interlude

All the mermaids in me
closed their eyes
and covered their ears,

but in the middle of the folding
………….machine
the sky unraveled.

Slipping like a memory
that separates from itself,
insistent,

the sound of the day
colored
………….the waves
………….………….and they sang.

.

by Lúcia Leão

.

___

.

Flamenco Sketches

After the rain, Coltrane’s saxophone
comes out from behind some clouds,
a horseman is approaching
and Miles’ trumpet begins to shout.

Bill Evans’ piano dances over the ring,
in the aftermath of tragedy
that we all bare
witness to: death in the afternoon.

Such sadness can only come comet-like
from Rilke in one of his elegies,
yet we listen intently
w/ the focus of angels on the wind.

.

by D.H. Jenkins

.

___

.

Jazz At the Metropole

The Metropole Cafe
was a jazz club in
the Big Apple until
it featured rock bands
in the mid sixties.

One afternoon I wandered
in on one of my frequent
forays into the city for
jazz and Broadway plays.
Max Kaminsky and his
Dixieland band was
the main offering.

Seated in the next booth
was Sarah Vaughan and
friends enjoying the
same traditional sounds.
I felt like a real
New Yorker then.

.

by Henry Wolstat

.

___

.

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 two 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

.

___

.

The Charles Mingus Sextet in Europe, 1964

Another day at the office: six musicians assembled
so close together they’d almost fit inside the piano—

all dressed like they’re about to give away the bride.
Imagine if baseball teams had to wear the uniforms

businessmen did throughout the twentieth century:
coats buttoned up and their ties too tight at the neck,

a signal that serious work almost always gets done
when people are made as uncomfortable as possible;

the same kind of illogic that drives or else stymies
innovation and all things, except art. What if the game

itself was played in the dugout, pitches, hits, and catches
happening elbow-to-elbow as the sweat flowed, turning

improvisation into art on the fly, rules ignored and belief
bolstering a faith to convince skeptics we’re all immortal.

.

by Sean Murphy

.

___

.

Mountains
…….(For Richard Davis and Carla Bley)

If it weren’t for impermanence
no well-worn mountain paths
would exist to climb

no bassist would ever scale
to Richard Davis’s height,
to pluck elastic pizzicato strings
as he did from countless summits,
for every music imaginable;

no young woman would discover
her own path
from Carla’s culmination of achievements
or to reach a pinnacle with such a view;

as it was with all the innovators, pathfinders
who may be departed
becoming influence beyond form
or are readying their own aged ascension to
the final plateau, preparing the slopes
for today’s generation who, like those before,
follow planting footsteps deep
into steep mountain paths.

.

by Daniel Brown

.

___

.

The Blue Scale

Sonny Rollins is a Williamsburg Bridge
His saxophone a morning star.
The keys and the bell of the horn glint
as the sun circles the jazz musician.
Harlem dreams of another renaissance.
Europeans look for Green Dolphin street.
No street festival
Weather turns the traffic lights yellow.
Beneath the bridge a deep blue calling.

.

by Miho Kinnas & E. Ethelbert Miller

.

.

“Jazz Trio,” by Marsha Hammel

.

.

Behind the Smile
…………(for Satchmo)

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

The Young Turk dismissed him
as an irrelevant embarrassment
one of the woe-begotten, cow-tow generation,
mistaking his toothy, buck-eyed countenance
as willing acceptance of injustice
unlike the younger, conscious brothers.

The Young Turk spied the old man
alone, backstage slumped shouldered in a chair,
trumpet dangling from exhausted fingers
the permanently disfigured lip
drawn down and grim
the true man revealed.

The Young Turk thought to retreat
leave the old man to his silence,
but he looked up and spotted him
a moment of understanding
passing between them
before the practiced grin erupted.

The Young Turk never again
cringed in mortification
at the old man’s onstage antics
knowing, at last, what burned inside him,
respecting the price paid by the legend
so others could just play their music.

(originally published on Jerry Jazz Musician November 5, 2023)

.

by Antoinette F. Winstead

.

___

.

Such Sweet Thunder: Duke Ellington

“I never heard
So musical a discord, such sweet thunder.”

-from A Midsummer’s Night Dream by William Shakespeare

.

You were on tour
when you tuned into
the Stratford Shakespearean festival,
heard and read the words
that connected again into sound.
Helping hands, warm veins
in a world which encircled
an outstretched confession
from the enduring heart
where a poet of the evening score
polished rhythms of aromatic notes.
An elegant encounter of speech and music
when during life’s eternal storms
all you had to do was listen.

.

by Byron Beynon

.

___

 

.

Fats Waller Plays “Handful Of Keys”

His two-toned fingers touch
ivories of black and white.
His expert mellifluent thoughts
transfix with rhythmic spirit
roomsful of listeners
become transformed, resound.

Some ears make mental notes,
compare piano-player sounds.
Some ears make physical connection,
own play blending mental combo sonics.
My ears hear rather “Chopsticks”
sum total all I learned with baby fingers
reaching out for similar keys
mimicking my mother’s touch
on ivories of upright in her mother’s living room.
She never finished any melody
she started, nor entertained my
youngish yen for lessons.

My ears discern within fleet fingerings,
his melodic dialect, what diverse,
divergent lifestyles would allow
my hands to grasp, to apprehend.
We could’ve played together
momma, baby, man, in time.

.

by Catherine Lee

.

___

.

Fingers
………….(for Erroll Garner)

There’s no way that’s just
one person people say
when they hear your recordings.
And when they watch your videos,
words like impossible float
from their mouths while your short
fingers and stocky palms stride
from Scott Joplin to bebop to
invention in the span of a song,
your right hand kissing
grace notes into being,
your left lumbering low,
both leaping
across black and white,
recomposing possibility.

.

by Bradley Samore

.

___

.

Errol Garner

“I get ideas from everything. A big color, the sound of water
and wind, or a flash of something cool. Playing is like life…”

At home with his audience
he tucks himself close to the keyboard
as if he’s looking forward to a really good meal,
his right hand spread wide over octaves
his left keeping the beat.
No score on the rack— what he needs
already inside him, pouring out through his smile.

Sometimes the song strides with ease
up and down the scale,
a man taking his pleasure
as the piano gives him everything.
Sometimes the notes quiver
like the wrist of someone working to steady
a revolver pointed at your heart.

You become the keys under his palms,
the gate through which his music flows,
chords flashing along the threshold—
the way your headlights
ignite the eyes of the doe in the road,
the way your joy swells as she leaps free into the dark.

.

by Carol Boutard

.

___

,

All the Bright Moments

……….“I wish we could just stay on the
……..bandstand, it’s so peaceful up here”
……..– Rahsaan Roland Kirk

Black
Blinded
Genius

He could see only shadows, but
He swore he could hear the sun

Three horns at once, not as a gimmick
That’s the way he heard the music in
His head. Circular breathing
Technical mastery, a triple
Threat! Growling to the
Brotherettes and the
Sisterettes:

“the love you all have been taught about
is the love in those magazines. And I am fortunate
that I didn’t have to look at magazines”

Paradigm shift
Genius Blacknuss
Quintessential and no boundaries
Son of Columbus, OH: “the forgotten
Colossus of Columbus,” as he was
Described on WCBE

Shining
On life’s eternal bandstand
Love in the subtle footsteps
Of his woman on Dorthaan’s Walk
The sound of Rahsaan Roland Kirk
A bright moment! Blackness in its
Indelible mark for the brotherettes
And the sisterettes
As we walk…
As we walk…
Away

.

by Connie Johnson

.

___

.

Thinking of Roberta Flack

For weeks now
whenever my absent
minded nature prompts
me to whistle
(it happens often)
the tune is an old one
Killing Me Softly
with His Song
(no surprise there) &
the voice I hear in my
head is Roberta Flack.

She has been on my mind,
age 85 now, no more songs,
can barely speak due to
ALS, a terrible malady,
attacker of nerve cells,
the spine & leads to death.

There is no escape, yet
her children’s book about
that junk yard piano her dad
brought home & painted green,
the one that led her into the
world of music & brought her
voice to us all these years
will perhaps lead other kids
down that same path with the
hope of equaling her talent,
her fame.

.

by James Higgins

.

___

.

For Eddie Palmieri

Eddie saved my life last night,
with his bandmates on the bandstand;
what a bastard was I
to turn my back on loving rhythms.

Eddie saved my life last night,
with his bandmates on the bandstand;
what an angel was I—
what loving rhythms.

Eddie saved my life last night,
with his bandmates on the bandstand;
with trumpets and drums,
acoustic key alacrity.

Eddie saved my life last night,
with his bandmates on the bandstand;
every trumpet was an angel
and every key alive.

Eddie saved my life last night,
with his bandmates on the bandstand;
there was not but loving rhythms—
everything was there.

Eddie saved my life last night,
with his bandmates on the bandstand;
the universe is syncopation—
our orbit’s oddly timed.

Eddie saved my life last night,
with his bandmates on the bandstand;
what angels are they
who lend the loving rhythms.

.

by Justin Hare

.

___

.

Lover Man
………..Charlie Parker, at the Dial

Quick sin Parker
plays Billie’s song,
plays hot December,
makes love for the rest,
plays blood in November.
You’re not dry, Bird,
no fish in holy water.
Play double molasses, Charlie.
Send lonely father
down the ear
of a lonely daughter.
Somebody hold up Charlie Parker.

.

by Michael Edman

.

.

Listen to pianist Billy Childs perform his composition “The End of Innocence” from his 2023 album The Winds of Change;  with Ambrose Akinmusire (trumpet); Scott Colley (bass); and Brian Blade (drums).    [Mack Avenue Records]

.

 

.

Classic Fun With Freddie Roach

onions
…………ancient
from a known cocktail species
perform an Archimedes displacement
in my Nick & Nora Gibson
proving a theory at least once more
this time with a Hammond overlay
“T’ain’t What You Do
(It’s The Way You Do It)”
……………………..For
Four Minutes Fifty-nine seconds
we B3
onions me & Freddie

.

by Terrance Underwood

.

___

.

Late In The Day The Moon And I

majestic full-blown golden galleon
caught in nearby trees
the two of us alone

in startling moment
a glorious blessing
in fading gloaming

all that is missing
is Miles’ horn
in valediction

.

by Michael L. Newell

.

___

.

Beyond Scale  

Our love is a jazz trio
in last-set energy
with expanded structures
and smoky toned fusion.

Wandering in melodies
of our own inner worlds,
we hold pauses like brinks
just long enough for longing.

We roil the melody
with solos rising and spilling
toward each other without caution
in scattered wholeness.

Even the bridge’s
wild independence
is at the mercy of progression.
It tangles back and reminds us
we are home.

.

by Pamela Nocerino

.

___

.

Suggestive

The very word

Like the velvety
notes of a clarinet
sliding up the scale
and
down

The soft g
brushes nerve endings,
captivates imagination

What the tongue
does with that soft g,
what the teeth do with the v
and the sssss ………….Very

suggestive

.

by Phyllis Wax

.

___

 

.

A Song At Dawn

she bends herself into
yoga poses, as the day
slowly rises, the woman with
a body like a soprano saxophone

her body, like a quarter note

she is music when she
walks, she is music when she
talks, she becomes music
as the sun rises

the saxophone sings its
blessings, she hums a melody
knowing she is one with the
creator

art, music, god, life and dreams
they are all connected.

she hums her song
and connects to
life.

.

by Erren Kelly

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In A Storm

falling out
onto the
street

our hands
and lips
drip fresh
of jazz
beneath the
thunder
of heaven

where we
fail to
pause under
a soft rain
cooling the skin
as we charge
into darkness
with wings
above storms

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by Roger Singer

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November

November afternoon,
a perfect Fall day
with the breeze
scattering leaves
all over the yard.

A chickadee balances
on the swaying clothes line;
and a woodpecker’s
slow, rhythmic drumming
calls out to his mate.

I take this all in,
but there’s no use
in saying too much,
even if I could.
Instead, I idle,

sit here, lazily
searching for words
while, in the background,
Miles goes on
In His Own Sweet Way.

With all this,
I am content.

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by Russell duPont

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“Plus One Guitar,” by Marsha Hammel

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Sitting Down To Play

I may have heard a tune that noon,
Or suddenly remembered one from out the past.
Breathing in: inspired.
Sitting at the keyboard, tired or not,
I play a chord.
A transformation may take place,
Consonant become a dissonant,
But yet completely right!
I carry on, and if the mind is light,
Spontaneously born,
I get a fresh new version.
Left not knowing what the right has shorn,
With instincts of a bassist -basic to my talents
(which I’ve long learned to respect)
I gallantly proceed to seed a whole new version
Of a song long, long forgotten.
Like cotton to the ears,
I leave the keyboard cleared of doubt,
Cheered by what new voicings have come out.
Ah, yes, sitting down to play
Is like sitting down to pray..
Can you agree, jazz player-reader?
Have you never had the pleasure
Of this pressure-less approach?
If not, I vouch for senses that are on
The way to exaltation
And in some way liberation.

.

by Arlene Corwin

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___

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A Sax’s Frills 

It was my first bus journey to London,
which acquainted me with the endless Baker Street
that resurrected from my teenage archival blend
Gerry Rafferty’s memorable song
to whose jazzy saxophone frills
I everlastingly thrilled.

It was a coincidence that he took the same journey
from Glasgow down to meet his attorney,
whereas I was an overseas student visiting a friend,
who held a position near London Bridge
and was residing in Battersea’s western end.

Rafferty is departed,
but he leaves behind a sax’s frills
that fill me with nostalgia for my Scottish days
which when compared with my current lot
is a paradise lost.

.

by Susie Gharib

.

___

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In Cedar Walton’s Realm
………………..I’m just sayin’

Barefoot his myriad forest
Absorb the voices of that nature
From the ground up
Let those beautiful notes gather
On one sole
……………………..enter
& pass through
To a deeper one
Relish the wealth
Of ..such attainment
Strength with lace
Both sharp & flat

.

by Terrance Underwood

.

___

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Falling To Earth

The warm water
of jazz
found favor
on my ears
cleansing the
inner me
with cool air
and a
bad thirst
while breezes
from dancers
lifted hair
and silk skirts
as the music
healed wounds
with the gift
of pure song
like stars born
falling to
earth and into
the hearts of
horns and strings
that bless
me with
hope.

.

by Roger Singer

.

___

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No Return

Miles told a mutual friend he heard music
in the dial tone; a long forgotten form
of communication influenced his tunes!
Though he ran his own story to his end.

We still listen with rapt respect, revery. We
wonder if he wanders in the body of a young-blood
in the ghetto; wonder if his escape door will open,
send him back into the sound of light on earth.

Or will his magic remain in the stars where
he plays with Nina, John, and Pharaoh;
no return. Once here; once gone.
A mortal no more.

.

by Judith Vaughn

.

___

.

29th October ‘22

It’s a date just like any other date,
but also not like any other: like
the world’s 291,022nd snowflake,

it is crafted only once and will melt
into its very own oblivion. We mark
deaths with a date. And henceforth

associate the passing, the dis-
integration, the exit of one of us
with a number. I hear about the accident,

the sudden fact that one moment he
is here and the next no more.
This demise means nothing – intention

played no part. Not like the nihilism
of stepping on an ant – or
when thugs disguised as soldiers

eradicate a whole village. One of
Bach’s cello suites happens to be
on the program. The first one: joyful

dances, reworked for guitar. Also here:
a couple Spanish tunes, like familiar
flowers from our youth. Tarrega,

Albeniz, Manuel de Falla. And, as
a nod to the masters of improv, some
Django Reinhardt and Charlie Christian.

The applause rises, then dissipates, like
a cloud. Outside, the smell of snow
lingers in the air. With my guitar case

in hand, I stop by a bakery for coffee
and a pastry. Something they call
Nussecke. A triangular piece of Valhalla.

Like Manuel de Falla’s Three-Cornered
Hat, only covered in dark chocolate
and filled with a rich marzipan-nougat.

Small solace for the horror of the day.
Perhaps the way Manuel savoured
sweet alfajores while living

the remainder of his days exiled in
Argentina, waiting for Franco’s Terror
Blanco to topple, dreaming of old Cádiz

and oranges, watching the snowflakes
dance over the cold cobblestone
streets of the capital

to the fiery music in his head.

.

by Francis Fernandes

.

___

.

Adieu Adieu Adieu

An owl cries, “It is time,
time to go, Old Man.” The old
man cries out, “Let me walk
through the golden leaves
on the lawn one more time.
Let me hear the Brandenburg

Concertos, A Love Supreme,
Sketches of Spain, Beethoven’s
Ninth Symphony, The Bothy
Band, Planxty, or even
one last heartbreaking solo
from Lady Day to accompany

my feet crackling through
the dying leaves, as their golden
beauty celebrates what they have
seen and been, and I slip away
staring at dying leaves, living trees,
wanting to sing just one more song.”

.

by Michael L. Newell

.

.

Listen to the Bobo Stenson Trio perform “You Shall Plant a Tree,” from their 2023 album Sphere, with Stenson (piano); Anders Jormin (bass); and Jon Fält (drums). [Universal Music Group]

 

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Click here to read the artist and poet biographies

 

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Click here to read the summer 2023 collection of jazz poetry

Click here to read a collection of jazz haiku

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 Old Casino,” J.B. Marlow’s winning story in the 64th Jerry Jazz Musician Short Fiction Contest

Click here to read On the Turntable – The “Best of the ‘Best Of'” in 2023 jazz recordings

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

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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___

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2 comments on “A Collection of Jazz Poetry — Winter, 2024 Edition”

  1. Congratulations everyone! I am thrilled to be included in such an amazing collection among this inspiring group of poets!

    Some lines I really enjoyed:

    “Am I the blanket you / Conjure around yourself in a chilly room?” from Connie Johnson’s “Where It Can Lead;”

    “from the postman’s noisy knock / and from the piercing elevator stops!” and “that we all bare / witness to: death in the afternoon.” from D.H. Jenkin’s “Still Life Before an Open Window,” and “Flamenco Sketches;”

    “Smell rich to get ahead” from Patricia Carragon’s “My Baby Don’t Care for Me;”

    “when I took another look, / saw the other marker, Addie / Parker,” from Gegory Luce’s “At Charlie Parker’s Grave;”

    “Free is: a gigantic word” from Arlene Corwin’s “New Freedoms, New Sensations;”

    “Another day at the office: six musicians assembled / so close together they’d almost fit inside the piano” from Sean Murphy’s “The Charles Mingus Sextet in Europe, 1964;”

    “he tucks himself close to the keyboard / as if he’s looking forward to a really good meal,” from Carol Boutard’s “Errol Garner.”

    Thank you to Jerry Jazz Musician for all the hard work in putting this together!

  2. “White tiles, graffitied:
    psalm in black ink”

    Beautiful imagery! So many great voices here. Including yours, Justin Hare.

    Thank you.

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In This Issue

"Nina" by Marsha Hammel
A Collection of Jazz Poetry — Winter, 2024 Edition...One-third of the Winter, 2024 collection of jazz poetry is made up of poets who have only come to my attention since the publication of the Summer, 2023 collection. What this says about jazz music and jazz poetry – and this community – is that the connection between the two art forms is inspirational and enduring, and that poets are finding a place for their voice within the pages of this website. (Featuring the art of Marsha Hammel)

The Sunday Poem

"Zambramomania" by Roberto Nucci/CC BY-NC-SA-4.0 DEED
“The Eye Tapes…Monument to my Jazzy Eye” by Anita Lerek

Poetry

Proceeding From Behind: A collection of poems grounded in the rhythmic, relating to the remarkable, by Terrance Underwood...A relaxed, familiar comfort emerges from the poet Terrance Underwood’s language of intellectual acuity, wit, and space – a feeling similar to one gets while listening to Monk, or Jamal, or Miles. I have long wanted to share his gifts as a poet on an expanded platform, and this 33-poem collection – woven among his audio readings, music he considers significant to his story, and brief personal comments – fulfills my desire to do so.

Black History

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

Black History

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

Black History

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

Feature

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

Essay

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

Interview

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

Poetry

art by Russell duPont
These poems are new submissions by six poets relatively new to Jerry Jazz Musician, and are an example of the writing I have the privilege of encountering on a regular basis.

Interview

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

Poetry

Trading Fours with Douglas Cole is an occasional series of the writer’s poetic interpretations of jazz recordings and film. This edition is influenced by Stillpoint, the 2021 album by Zen practitioner Barrett Martin

Playlist

“Latin Tinges in Modern Jazz” – a playlist by Bob Hecht...A nine-hour long Spotify playlist featuring songs by the likes of Horace Silver, Lee Morgan, Miles Davis, Wayne Shorter, Ahmad Jamal, and Dizzy Gillespie that demonstrates how the Latin music influence on jazz has been present since the music’s beginnings.

Poetry

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

Short Fiction

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

Feature

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

Short Fiction

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

Poetry

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

Book Excerpt

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

Community

Nominations for the Pushcart Prize XLVIII

Interview

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

Playlist

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

Poetry

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

Jazz History Quiz #169

This trumpeter was in the 1932 car accident that took the life of famed clarinetist/saxophonist Frankie Techemacher (pictured), and is best remembered for his work with Eddie Condon’s bands. Who was he?

Interview

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

Community

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

Poetry

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

Photography

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

Interview

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

Community

FOTO:FORTEPAN / Kölcsey Ferenc Dunakeszi Városi Könyvtár / Petanovics fényképek, CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
.“Community Bookshelf, #1"...a twice-yearly space where writers who have been published on Jerry Jazz Musician can share news about their recently authored books. This edition includes information about books published within the last six months or so…

Short Fiction

photo by Thomas Leuthard/Wikimedia Commons
“The Winslows Take New Orleans” a short story by Mary Liza Hartong...This story, a finalist in the recently concluded 64th Jerry Jazz Musician Short Fiction Contest, tells the tale of Uncle Cheapskate and Aunt Whiner, those pesky relatives you love to hate and hate to love.

Short Fiction

painting of Gaetano Donizetti by Francesco Coghetti/via Wikimedia Commons
“A Single Furtive Tear” – a short story by Dora Emma Esze...A short-listed entry in the recently concluded 64th Jerry Jazz Musician Short Fiction Contest, the story is a heartfelt, grateful monologue to one Italian composer, dead and immortal of course, whose oeuvre means so much to so many of us.

Interview

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

Book Excerpt

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

Short Fiction

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

Book Excerpt

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

Contributing Writers

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

Art

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

Pressed for All Time

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

Coming Soon

An interview with Tad Richards, author of Jazz With a Beat: Small Group Swing, 1940 - 1960;  an interview with Laura Flam and Emily Sieu Liebowitz, authors of But Will You Love Me Tomorrow? An Oral History of the 60's Girl Groups;  a new collection of jazz poetry; a collection of jazz haiku; a new Jazz History Quiz; short fiction; poetry; photography; interviews; playlists; and lots more in the works...

Interview Archive

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

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