A collection of poetry celebrating the culture of jazz — January, 2019

January 7th, 2019

 

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In this collection, nine poets contribute ten poems celebrating jazz in poems as unique as the music itself

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I Am Jazz

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I Am Jazz.
It is my nature to evolve,
to change and adapt.
I’m restless.
I move towards a future I cannot see or predict.
I will always be Jazz,
although I’m quite different from when I began.
I’m not sure Jellyroll Morton would recognize me now,
but I am certain he would admire how far I’ve gone,
and the places I’ve been, and the lives I’ve brought together.
I was born in America, in humble circumstances.
From New Orleans I grew and spread out,
and today I’m everywhere,
in all nations and all walks of life.
Years ago, I was even popular.
People danced to me, and I was all you heard on the radio.
These days, I exist on the outer rim of the Music industry,
yet I continue to thrive, as innovation has made me resilient.
To my creators, I offer only challenges,
and few financial rewards.
I am a life of perseverance and determination.
I am knowledge and beauty.
I am Jazz.

 

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by Freddington

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GET DOWN & LET YOUR HAIR FLY FREE.

breeze-blown leaves cavort down sidewalk and street

with the unimaginable and surprising grace of piano keys
that ripple under the fingers of Bud Powell as they cavort

gambol and swirl in implausible yet stirring and comforting
journeys into unanticipated and rewarding landscapes

all afternoon the neighborhood lays out a vision
of joy and freedom lilted by breeze leaf bush and tree

and a neighbor’s wind chimes careen and caper in accompaniment

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by Michael L. Newell

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RAIN OF STRINGS

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He was a blues man
the pain of soul moved
his fingers to dance with
the spirit of devil angels
warring in his voice
eyes closed
pork pie hat
tilted to the right
overalls
and silver tipped
cowboy boots
the crowd swayed
clapping as he
owned the space
with songs
walked over
past years of
desolate promises
broken lies
shadows hovering
over
his life
a beauty with a
restless wind.

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by Roger Singer

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He Played the Cornet

 

He was empathic, he played the cornet
not the trumpet, his daddy said everybody
plays the trumpet, why not narrow the field
So, he did, explaining to me trumpets blow
a piercing tone, cylindrical in sound, the cornet’s
tapered bell, a mellow lyrical song

His cornet case swinging, side to side
making his way up my street, to my door
removing it from the case, draining out
his saliva into my kitchen sink, a smooth
cloth shining the brass bell, watching him
smile beneath the bare light bulb swaying
above our heads

Sitting crossed legged on the floor, placing his
cornet to his lips, eyes closed, his head slightly
tilted forward, blowing love notes into the night
touching me without his hands, drawing me deeper
into whatever he was

It was only befitting that he played the cornet
as he was mellow, multi-toned, possessing a
gentleness, he was endearing, and oh
so, loved by me

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by Aurora Lewis

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REGARDING THE CLARINET

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Having gathered power and capacity
through years of practice and work
to induce a resonance worthy of attention,
keeping fingers nimble,
cascading between silver moguls
planted upon grenedilla grain
in a perfect cylindrical contour,
tuned and dripping with wetted breath,
I play away, constantly
navigating dotted notes and multiple flags
behind an expressive face,
the way a long happiness melds cheeks upwards,
inducing a squint.
No lack of endurance compromises
the integrity to sustain the passion
which exudes from the parchment
upon the stand,
that stream of sound,
dissecting thin air in the room
with compounding ripples
as walls tremble
to the timbre of song
until slowly a brilliant varnish
builds upon the dull papered walls
and a new voice, like others
hidden in the world,
finds a home to sing or dance
or meditate in any place,
anytime I play.
Behind this face, in this mind,
where no one can see,
I have burned another color
between the letters of my name
to remain.

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by Michael Keshigian

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A.NOTE.SUPREME

………even the universe lives to breathe
………even the universe lives to breathe
………………………… and with that breath wants to sing.”
………………………… ……       
 ………..-from “Universe in B-flat” by Steve Straight

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I’m sure there are better places to learn
about B-flat than in some dull classroom;
that’s where we were when you first let us in
on the key to this astronomical
phenomenon about the universe.

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I was embarrassed when I got home and,
after hearing what seemed impossible —
(I had told you that most of John Coltrane’s
music was in B-flat)  — realized that
it was alligators and not Coltrane.

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I guess I just wanted Coltrane to be
the singular creature who knew about
B-flat and its wondrous abilities
to inspire some humans and nearly
all gators for 200 million years.

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Play a B-flat on a tuba and a
male gator will grunt and play the same note,
a many-millions-of-years-old love note.
I guess I just assumed that John Coltrane
would breathe the supreme note that makes space chant.

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You read your poem – Universe in B-flat,
the note that, for many millions of years,
inspired gators to continue on,
though I believed that it was Coltrane who
would bring us music from light years away.

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I’m sure there are better places to learn.
After hearing what seemed impossible —
B-flat and its wondrous abilities —
I guess I just believed that John Coltrane
would bring us music from light years away.

*

by John Stanizzi

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Reaching into the Unknown

 

i don’t know where i’m going Billie Holiday said
but i do know what i’m doing right now –
reaching into the Unknown
she pulls out strange fruit
a blessing for the children
a shroud of crowded heartaches

Don Cherry sits in front of the piano
trumpet in hand
i don’t know how i’ll be doing in the future
but right now i’m doing just fine
reaching into the Unknown
he pulls out Brooklyn he pulls out Mu
he pulls out a cluster of heartbeats & red beans
he travels the world for me with his trumpet-lipped smile
Cherry-co his wiry frame dangling in the Ne(X)t

i don’t know where i was last night Bird chattered
but i know where i’ll be later
reaching into the Unknown
he grabs a fistful of un-played notes
travelling blindly @ the speed of light

Monk mumbling into the keys
pronounces his name slowly
The.lo. nious
reaching into the Unknown he enters an unknown SPACE
The Lone. Li .Est

Craving more than old Smoke & Broken Treaties
Jim Pepper grabs at the Vastness of the Unknown
finds only remnants of a PEACE Pipe
Art Pepper ties the tourniquet tight smokes his final cigarette
& pulls a monkey thru the prison bars of the Unknown

THIEVES WHORES ANGELS & THE UNKNOWN

Miles Davis surrounds himself with the Unknown smiles
whispers hoarsely thru his MUTE
“I am the Prince Of Darkness
there is no Unknown unless I say so”

Sun Ra claims to be from the Unknown
reaching into the Unknown finds himself again & again
in the Unknowable Known

Prez recoils into the Air that surrounds him
he is a foul-mouthed man of few words
his voice & skin are light
reaching into the Unknown
he pulls out crumpled hats & ladies
plucking on the strings of violins

IT DON’T MEAN A THING IF IT DOES NOT SWING IN THE UNKNOWN

The Hawk flew when the wind blew
reaching into the Unknown
he felt Dexter’s hand
reaching into the Unknown
he felt Sonny & Trane
he felt Dolphy & Ayler

Hope Nichols & Hassan walked in after Bud
They reach into the Unknown
& found that time is more pliable than one would imagine
played for nickels & dimes & hope & legend & TIME

i know where i am Blakey says
& i’m tougher than the Unknown
as he reaches for another message from the Mothership
& Max still reaching
knows that inside every moment of the Waltz
another Waltz is waiting

Visions of the Unknown & Unknown Visions
DUKE .. LOUIS . . BROWNIE. .  LEE
uncountable names
forgive me for not being epic

Reaching into the Unknown
i pull out these words that pull out these words that pull out these words
that pull out these WORDS…

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by Steve Dalachinsky

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Down Beat

 

Frank Sinatra, Only The Lonely
on repeat:

take what you got in them
lil’ plastic sachets
& put it
into the fire, I say —–
cookinsteaminrelaxinworkin
marked 12/23/18
5:05 pm

Spin a free jazz for the caged bird singing
inside you.

Get down onna blues number, prelude to
Blue X’mas, a shade of old
Blue X’mas;
…………………gotta hold onto your music
……………………..hold onto the music
……………………..you only got music

to get by these days of merriment,
………………………………………………………..you know that.

Excess goes where the mind goes
but never outside
the very four corners of this room.

………………………………………………………..You know that

the mind’s gonna stay cuckoo
on nights that stretches
all over the morning afters.

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by Anggo Genorga

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Ella’s Forbidden Lover

 

black notes  stand  out against
white paper
but can feel like prisoners
between the bars
and black keys against white.can either
make one  happy or sad
depending on the tones
and how they are played

you hold hands  with your  lover
in the norweigian night
as snowflakes fall like angels
the city lights blink randomly
like stars
like your scatting
as the two of you kiss
in the moonlight
as the two of you walk
the  streets, the song disappears
as smoke into
dreams

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by Erren Kelly

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My Gabor

Asked for Chico Hamilton’s
El Chico for my 16th birthday
Digging his Latin groove, dancing
around the room, a guitar haunting
each song, touching emptions unknown

People, the loneliest in the world, me
Strange, indeed I was, grooving in my
self-imposed lonesomeness, Space
my own, it was Gabor Szabo taking
hold, causing me to put Chico and
his drums aside

What did I know of Hungarian gypsy guitars
I knew and loved Gabor, the strum of his fingers
echoed in my heart, pulling at my being
with every song until I grew older, my
interest waned, moving on to something
new as young people do

Then one day he was gone, 1982, only
45, me 32, so much unheard over those
years, my forgotten Gabor, who  haunts
me still

*

by Aurora Lewis

 

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Freddington works as a shipper/receiver in Toronto, Canada, and has been a lifelong jazz fan ever since he was “corrupted” as a teenager by Charles Mingus’ “Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting.”

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Michael L. Newell is a retired English/Theatre teacher who has spent one-third of his life abroad. He now lives on the Oregon coast. In addition to the recent publication of his new book, Meditation of an Old Man Standing on a Bridge, he has recently had poems published in Verse-Virtual and Current.

To order a copy of the book, contact BELLOWING ARK PRESS 18040 7th Avenue NE Shoreline, WA 98155

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Roger Singer is a prolific and accomplished contributing poet who we have proudly published for many years. Singer has had almost 800 poems published in magazines, periodicals and online journals — 400 of which are jazz poems — and has recently self-published a Kindle edition of his book of jazz poetry called Poetic Jazz.

“Jazz poetry flows out with such ease,” Singer writes on his blog. “The people and places, the alleys and sawdust jazz clubs. The stories that bring jazz alive with horns and voices, from sadness and grief to highs at midnight and love gone wrong. The jazz is within us all. Find your poem and feel the music.”

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Aurora M. Lewis is a retiree. In her 50’s she received a Certificate in Creative Writing-General Studies, with honors from UCLA. Her poems, short stories, and nonfiction have been accepted by.The Literary Hatchet, Gemini Magazine, Persimmon Tree, Jerry Jazz Musician, and The Blue Nib, to name only a few.

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Michael Keshigian’s eleventh poetry collection, Inexplicable was released in November, 2016 by Black Poppy Review. Other published books and chapbooks:Beyond,Dark Edges,Eagle’s Perch,Wildflowers,Jazz Face, Warm Summer Memories, Silent Poems, Seeking Solace, Dwindling Knight, Translucent View. Published in numerous national and international journals, he is a 6- time Pushcart Prize and 2-time Best Of The Net nominee. His poetry cycle,Lunar Images, set for Clarinet, Piano, Narrator, was premiered at Del Mar College in Texas. Subsequent performances occurred in Boston (Berklee College) and Moleto, Italy.  .Winter Moon, a poem set for Soprano and Piano, premiered in Boston.(michaelkeshigian.com).

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John L. Stanizzi’s full-length collections are Ecstasy Among Ghosts, Sleepwalking, Dance Against the Wall, After the Bell, Hallalujah Time!, and High Tide-Ebb Tide. His work is widely published and has appeared in Prairie Schooner, Rattle, New York Quarterly, American Life in Poetry, and many others. Chants, his latest book, will be out this summer.

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Steve Dalachinsky is a New York downtown poet. He is active in the poetry, music, art, and free jazz scene. Dalachinsky’s main influences are the Beats, William Blake, The Odyssey, obsession, socio-political angst, human disappointment, music (especially Jazz), and visual art with leanings toward abstraction. Dalachinsky’s books include “A Superintendent’s Eyes” (Hozomeen Press 2000), his PEN Award Winning book The Final Nite & Other Poems: Complete Notes From A Charles Gayle Notebook 1987-2006 (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2006), a compendium of poetry written while watching saxophonist Charles Gayle perform throughout New York City in that time period, and “Logos and Language”, co-authored with pianist Matthew Shipp (RogueArt 2008) and Reaching Into The Unknown, a collaboration with French photographer Jacques Bisceglia (Rogue Art 2009).

For a complete biography, visit his Wikipedia page.

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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.

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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.

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4 comments on “A collection of poetry celebrating the culture of jazz — January, 2019”

  1. There are wonderful poems in this issue. I especially liked “I Am Jazz” by Freddington. Looking forward to more of this poet’s work.

  2. This collage of poems creates a superb pathway into the new year. Every poem successfully celebrates some aspect of the vast universe of jazz. The love and insight in these poems make this reader want to go revisit recordings of my favorite artists or seek out live music venues where jazz still thrives. I want to especially thank the following poets for the joy their poems bring into my life: Freddington, Aurora Lewis, Steve Dalachinsky, and Erren Kelly. I thank every poet in this celebration for helping to keep jazz alive with their written homages.

  3. Starting Out Of Time
    I must start out of tempo,
    Sometimes getting lost.
    But after hours and many tries
    At thoughts and skills and inner ties,
    An inner eye will clarify;
    The thing is fostered, building up;
    Lost gets tossed, then lost gets lost.
    At seemingly no cost. Rubato
    Takes up speed,
    Which leads to something it itself
    Can breed. Ideas appear.
    Indeed, ideas cohere
    In fullness and in form, informed
    By sheer reflection; sheer and clear,
    Like glass through which one sees, gets seen.
    Jazz musicians have the key—
    And those who master Zen.
    I must start out of tempo,
    Let the hand say when.
    When I get lost, it can be years
    Before I’m back on track.
    But after years of lies and tries
    The tempo builds up speed
    As if and of itself, the seed
    Of spontaneity has cracked,
    Sprouting, spurting, spuming out
    A finished, polished thing with clout.

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In This Issue

"Nina" by Marsha Hammel
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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

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Black History

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Black History

Eubie Blake
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Feature

Jamie Branch's 2023 album "Fly or Die Fly or Die Fly or Die ((world war))"
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Essay

"Lester Leaps In" by Tad Richards
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Interview

photo of Pepper Adams/courtesy of Pepper Adams Estate
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IISG, CC BY-SA 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
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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]
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Short Fiction

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Feature

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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

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Interview

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Playlist

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"Jazz Trio" by Samuel Dixon
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Jazz History Quiz #170

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This bassist played with (among others) Charlie Parker, Erroll Garner, Nat King Cole and Dexter Gordon (pictured), was one of the earliest modern jazz tuba soloists, and was the only player to turn down offers to join both Duke Ellington’s Orchestra and the Louis Armstrong All-Stars. Who is he?

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Photography

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Contributing Writers

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Art

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Eubie Blake
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