Five poems by five poets, celebrating jazz…

April 28th, 2023

.

.

painting by Corey Barksdale

painting by Corey Barksdale

.

___

.

At Twenty-One I Caught the Blues

Midnight on flight line,
1966 Oxnard AFB,
I sit in base ops, stare
across darkened runways,
only surly weather officer
as company — every plane
in its hanger, no one inbound;
half mile away, on freeway, trucks
and occasional car sweep past;

accompanying passages to Ventura
or Los Angeles, lights flicker, lonely
emblems that provide a semblance
of human contact. I lounge in room
large enough to hold thirty people.
Wind sweeps through room. I imagine
Ella and Duke resurrecting Gershwin
just for me; bob my head; shake shoulders;
wind blends with their swinging grace.

I turn from side to side, slow
dance on swivel chair.
I flick on a radio. Wilson Pickett
is singing, “At the Dark End of the Street.”
I stop moving. Too lonely.
The room grows chilly. Freeway lights
flicker out, abandon night. Weatherman
leans motionless on counter. When Pickett
finishes, even wind has vanished.

Silence contains voices of family and friends,
many miles away. I am an empty vessel.
Across room weather officer still leans
on counter. He looks at me, shakes head,
disappears into his office. A rat scurries in one door,
out another. I wish phone would ring or someone
walk in. Four more hours until my relief. I can’t remember
who I am. Slowly night floats past. Sky turns dark blue.
I hum Nat Adderley’s, “Working on a Chain Gang.”

When day shift arrives, I greet them with jive.
No one is impressed.

.

by Michael L. Newell

.

___

.

My Life – The Musical

Here’s to Johnny Mathis
who rescued and romanced me
during those door-slamming,
eye-rolling, sulky, sweet, teenage years

When I cursed the insanity
of a world
that required me to translate
Latin and arm wrestle with Algebra

I’d throw myself across the bed
turn the hi-fi up
and allow Johnny’s silky voice
wash over me

Our affair suffered
and lost its urgency
when I learned he’d never
be interested in a relationship with me

And so, I slipped into the arms of
Rod McKuen, whose grainy, sexy voice
and sweet words
soothed my ruffled feathers
for a while

I dropped him
when my head was turned by
Tom Waits, a bad boy
who spoke to my soul
with words that
still shake my being

Rod Stewart made me dance
It was nice, for a while
just a dalliance
I knew it wouldn’t last
Leonard Cohen
Will Dance Me
Till the End of Time

These amazing voices
encouraged my fierce desire
to belt out the blues
To create sultry, soulful notes
to steal your breath away
Like Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald ,
Dianna Krall and Janis Joplin

I sing
in the shower,
in the car
and in my room
but my ears
are outraged
and embarrassed
No amount of practice
improves the sound

The horror
of watching small children
block their tiny ears
each time I tried to
soothe them with a song
shattered my dreams

I still crank up the stereo
and imagine I’m on stage
I strut and sway
I’m Etta James or Liza with a Z

Music speaks directly
to the loneliness
that sits in my soul

.

by Ann Doyle

.

___

.

How We Love Jazz (a Pantoum)

Our love affair began when we were young—
We followed girl cousins on bicycles
& we stopped by the soda shop
next door to Tower Records.

We followed girl cousins on bicycles
who were mad for Bessie, Lena & Billie.
Next door to Tower Records,
the jazz record piles were gleaming, swarming with fans

who were mad for Bessie, Lena & Billie.
We became hooked to the grooves in the listening room.
The jazz record piles were gleaming, swarming with fans—
Afterwards, we drank Cherry Cokes.

We became hooked to the grooves in the listening room.
& we stopped by the soda shop
afterwards; we drank Cherry Cokes.
Our love affair began when we were young.

.

by Carrie Magness Radna

.

___

.

Live Jazz, Sunday Afternoon!

In that small Massachusetts town by the sea
With fishermen were more likely to be found
Than jazz musicians,
In a world of sailing ships and long past witch trials
This afternoon of jazz,
This unexpected gathering, this gift of the music
That we loved.
But we wondered, far from city lights and clubs,
What we could expect.
“Live jazz, Sunday afternoon!”

In the bar, once filled with sounds but shuttered now for years,
We gathered with the remnants of a local jazz scene
And chose a table near the empty bandstand.
The instruments stood alone,
The bones of ghosts awaiting their redemption.
Then one by one the life-worn owners claimed them.
No one we could recognize,
And names we’d never heard.

Three feet from me an aging man,
His fresh white shirt
Announcing pride in the occasion,
Picked up his trumpet,
Caught my eye and grinned.
In his eyes, the history gleamed…
Buddy, Louis, Chet, Miles, Dizzy…

A woman, once a beauty – this was clear,
A girl singer forever despite her stylish gray blonde hair,
Fiddled with the microphone
Fiddled with her dress,
New I guessed for this reunion.
I could see excitement and history in her eyes, too…
Billie, Blossom, Ella, Sarah, Anita…

A younger man, fifties or so, took his place
At the old upright piano,
Tuned to within an inch of its life,
Played a few jazzy notes
And channeled those who’d broken ground…
Thelonious, Oscar, Bill and Art and Dave…

A short man, balding, held the standing bass,
Embraced it as his eyes belied the ones who’d gone before…
Ray and Ron, Charlie and young Scott…

The gray-haired drummer, all energy and smiles,
Unwrapped his sticks and idly tapped a riff, then hit the cymbal,
Glanced out at the room and dreamed of other days,
Of other places, other times,
Of Gene and Art, of Buddy and of Paul…

The crew was nearly ready now, nearly complete
For this Sunday seaside journey,
And then came last, the aging captain of a ghost ship
Near the cold Atlantic shore
With saxophone agleam, a lighthouse light
In that cool dark room.

With saxophone agleam and history in his eyes,
He’d brought his friends along for the celebration,
The spirits of John and Dexter,
Of Stan and Bird, of Lester,
The living spirit of Sonny Rollins.

He nodded to the crowd, the band,
Then blew a sound as sweet as ever I’d heard
On the opening phrase of Billy Eckstine’s
“I Want to Talk About You.”

I leaned back in my chair, slipped off my life jacket,
Sipped my drink and relaxed.
We were in good hands,
Safe hands, and this sentimental journey
From the Massachusetts shore
Would be fine indeed with
Fair winds and following seas.

Live jazz, Sunday afternoon!

.

By Molly Larson Cook

.

___

.

Jump Monk (Live)
……………Charles Mingus And Friends In Concert, Japan

That bassman fingering gut strings
in my face between clear ears the sections
sit playing where recording engineer thought
brass, reeds would sound right
detailed work placing microphones
of certain manufacture in perfectly sweet spots
fused together with interlaced copper capably
sound designed for hearing later
music acting as itself does
higher harmonies

One night you told me in knowing
detail exactly how an orchestra’s member
tunes in togetherness multiple times under
concertmaster’s direction to prepare for
being guided by conductor’s baton
(some of these positions you have been)

And for the record listening
to live recorded music
by Mingus, the orchestral master
on audiophile system you installed in
our room really
within my home for now
makes me appreciate more fully
hearing you clearly have
which I maybe don’t
maybe different

I hear how
you make me
time me ascertain
listening how you do I
can not in this body
womangrown elsewhere hear
natively like that OK

hey man this way I do
educating wordily & imagine,
not speaking
because action
articulates it all from the jump

.

by Catherine Lee

.

.

___

.

.
Corey Barksdale

A prolific artist, Corey Barksdale’s fine art subject matter ranges from human figures in non-objective abstracts.  In recent years, he has concentrated his talents on themes that portray the love and strength that exists within the African American community.  His paintings grace the covers of books, magazine, CD covers, posters, and murals.  Among his convictions is to give back to his community through arts education.

To view a complete selection of his work, please pay a visit to his website by clicking here.

.

.

___

.

.

 

Molly Larson Cook is an award-winning Oregon writer, writing coach, and artist. In 2016, she received the first Steve Kowit Poetry Prize in a national competition. Molly was a Fellow at the Fishtrap Writers Conference in Oregon where she worked with poet Naomi Shihab Nye. Molly’s jazz novel, Listen, was published in a limited edition in 2003. Her Colors of Jazz paintings are at mollylarsoncookpaintings.wordpress.com.

.

.

___

.

.

Ann Doyle is retired and lives in South Boston, MA.  She has worn many hats during her seventy plus years; jelly donut filler was her favorite job, but the pay was “crap.”  She has also worked as a trolley driver, train conductor, and registered nurse.  She now writes short stories and poetry.

.

.

___

.

.

 


Catherine Lee specializes in writing poetry with heavily jazz-inflected meters and pivotal word choices. In 2022, Lee finished her collaborative poetic drama, Mentor Wonders, about seniors mentoring Texas public school students, available in print at Amazon and as free video at VIMEO.  Recently, Lee was featured reading jazz poetry on KRTU-FM, archived at <https://www.trinity.edu/krtu/schedule-program> (select Tuesdays/Jazz Break at Noon/Show Archive then choose 4-11-23). .

.

.

___

.

.

 

Michael L. Newell lives in Florida. He has had seven books of poetry published in the last three years.

.

.

___

.

.

 

.

Born in Norman, Oklahoma, Carrie Magness Radna (she/her) is an archival audiovisual cataloger at the New York Public Library, a singer, a lyricist-songwriter and a poet who loves to travel (when it’s safe). She won the Third Place Prize for “Pink (a Ghazal)” in the 91th annual Writer’s Digest Writer’s Competition (Rhyming Poetry). She’s currently an Associate Editor of Brownstone Poets Anthology (2022-) and was nominated for the 2022 Pushcart Prize. Her fifth book, Shooting Myself in the Dark, was just published by Cajun Mutt Press in January 2023.

.

.

Listen to the 1966 live performance of Ella Fitzgerald and Duke Ellington playing “It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing)” from the album Ella and Duke at the Cote D’ Azur. [Universal Music Group]

.

.

 

___

.

.

Click here  to read and listen to  The Sunday Poem

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

Click here  to subscribe to the (free)  Jerry Jazz Musician  quarterly newsletter

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

.

.

___

.

Jerry Jazz Musician…human produced (and AI-free) since 1999

.

.

.

Share this:

Comment on this article:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

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 Larek

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.

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.

Poetry

art by Russell duPont
Three jazz poets…three jazz poems...Takes on love and loss, and memories of Lady Day, Prez, Ella, Louis, Dolphy and others…

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 Pedro Coelho/Deviant Art/CC BY-NC-ND 3.0 DEED
“After The Death of Margaret: A True Novella” by S. Stephanie...This story -- a finalist in our recently concluded 64th Short Fiction Contest -- harkens back to Richard Brautigan's fiction of the '70s, and explores modern day co-worker relationships/friendship and the politics of for profit "Universities"

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.

Site Archive