“Four Sides Live” – a poem by Justin Hare

November 16th, 2023

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photo by Ric Brooks Knoxville, USA, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Jack DeJohnette, 2006

 

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Four Sides Live

It tickles my fancy the way
francophone announcers
ornately say the names
of jazzmen in those live recordings
put to reel in Montreux.
Jack DeJohnette in particular
tickles me, perhaps because
it is a french-like sort of name.
They’ll speak it with élan and then:
applause—measured, at times
too dignified, but one yet hears
the love in their smacking of palms.

It must be Evans’ set I’m thinking of—
with the castle on its cover.
What picture could less connote Jazz!
Imagine flipping through the bargain bin:
all those typographic Blue Notes, then,
out of nowhere, something looking fit
to hold the Song of Roland up its sleeve.
Yet they loved it—the dissonance and swing—
those people born of castle-dotted cantons;
you know it by the flare the MC musters
when he speaks Jack DeJohnette;
you know it by the clapping of their hands.

With Return to Forever
things swung round again,
for Chick & Co selected
chivalric romance as theme
and lent it ecstasy—
a Fusion in more ways than one.
I wonder if ye olde peasant,
regaled by the traveling bard,
felt the same thrill I feel
when “The Romantic Warrior” enters
its seventh minute
and Chick puts his lance to my ear.

Describing music,
we always use the present tense;
it’s always happening,
provided that “play” is engaged.
It’s why I like records—
beyond, of course, the blown up art—
their circularity, betokening
recurrence, forever, return.
It tickles me: imagining
some future musicologist,
perplexed by a tongue long dead,
recognizing only Jack DeJohnette.

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Justin  Hare  is a native of Pittsburgh, PA, where he writes and wins his daily bread in the social-work field. He enjoys listening to live music, particularly jazz, and rock climbing. His writing has appeared in Uppagus and the Ulu Review.

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Listen to the spoken introduction to the Bill Evans 1968 recording At the Montreux Jazz Festival  [Universal Music Group]

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Listen to the 1976 recording of Return to Forever playing “The Romantic Warrior” [Columbia/Legacy]

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