“Intersection” — a short story by Sal Difalco

January 18th, 2022

.

.

“Intersection,” a story by Sal Difalco, was a short-listed entry in our recently concluded 58th Short Fiction Contest, and is published with the consent of the author.

.

.

___

.

.

photo from PxHere/Creative Commons CC0

.

.

Intersection

by Sal Difalco

 

.

 

Dressed in a tight-fitting black suit, Rosario Cino, flanked by his son Mario and his nephew Charlie, also in black suits, exited the cool of All Souls Church and stepped into a rank wall of unseasonably warm and humid air. They and a handful of friends and relatives had just sat through the funeral of Guido Tutolo, a former bookie, loan shark, and paisan—and last of the old gang, as Rosario had said repeatedly to his son and nephew, neither of whom seemed torn up about the death, their connection to Guido limited, their youthfulness of course looking forward.

 …..Wincing from the heat, Rosario slid his fedora over his silver hair. Head and shoulders taller than his son and his nephew, he stood out even more from them crowned in a fedora. Nothing new. He had stood out his entire life, as a gangly immigrant teenager and a towering young man, and now, in his quasi-patrician dotage, was proud of the fact that—straight-backed and steady—he still stood out. Moments later, forehead pimpled with sweat, he removed his fedora and fanned himself with it.

 …..       “Jesus,” he gasped. “This is terrible. Didn’t even get this hot in Sicily when I was there last summer.”

 …..       “They said it would be a scorcher,” Mario noted, squinting as they approached the chrome blaze of Charlie’s immaculately restored S.S. Camaro.

 …..        “Mario better sit in the back,” Charlie said, perhaps unnecessarily, as he opened the passenger door. Rosario couldn’t get his big legs into the back seat even if he tried.

 …..     “Don’t drive too fast, Charlie,” Mario said. “My vertigo’s acting up.”

 …..       “Don’t worry about it,” he said with a slanted smile.

 …..        That smile always reminded Rosario of his brother Joe, Charlie’s father. Joe had died a decade ago in a car accident. Rosario was driving them back from smelt fishing at the Welland Canal when he lost control of his Oldsmobile and rolled it into a ditch. He sustained only minor injuries, but Joe, wearing no seatbelt, got tossed from the car and died instantly. Sure, they’d sucked back a few beers during the outing, but Rosario was fit to drive. The cops never actually gave him a breathalyzer, but he swore he wasn’t drunk. Still, not a day went by when he didn’t think of Joe, when that smile of his didn’t flash through his mind. He was a good kid brother, flawed but good—a straight shooter, devoutly Catholic and honourable. Never got into the gambling and whoring like Rosario did. And Charlie was a good kid, raised right. He wasn’t full of shit like his cousin Mario, who among other undesirable achievements was a degenerate gambler and a pathological liar. Joe would have been as proud of Charlie—so clever and independent, so full of life—as Rosario was disappointed with Mario.

 …..     They set off to Bayview Park for a walk by the marina, something none of them had done in years. Rosario wasn’t sure about the walk, given his poor physical condition. But maybe he could walk off the terrible guilt he felt. Not about Joe; he had dealt with that as much as he could in this life. No, he felt guilty about the ten grand he still owed Guido Tutolo. Guido had no children and died almost penniless. Rosario had owed Guido the money for years—money that might have lessened the agony of his cancerous last few years on earth. He had long ago stopped harassing Rosario about it, though he’d not forgotten or forgiven the debt. Indeed, whenever Rosario had bumped into Guido, he never failed to mention it. Where’s my money, boss? Why he had never pressured him—or threatened him—to pay up mystified Rosario, though he did say once, I’m not worried, Rosie. One day you’ll pay me back, with interest.

 …..      “There might be a regatta today,” Charlie said. “They used to have them on weekends. Anyway, it’ll be cooler by the water.”

 …..       Neither Rosario nor his son could argue with that. They climbed into the sticky Camaro and rolled down the windows. Rosario fumbled with the tied box of cannoli Charlie had given to him that morning. Probably a mistake to leave them in the car during the service, but what was the option? They gave off an odour that nauseated Rosario so he handed them off to Mario.

 …..    “What do you want me to do with these,” Mario said from the back.

 …..    “Have a cannoli.”

 …..      “In this heat? You kidding, Pa?”

 ….. Rosario said nothing about how their smell disturbed him. The truth might have offended Charlie, who could be touchy. Rosario tried not to think about them, but now and then a heady whiff made him recoil somewhat.

 …..         True to his nature, Charlie drove with a heavy foot, darting in and out of traffic, speeding through amber lights, pushing his luck at every moment, to Mario’s chagrin.

 …..    “What did you think of the service?” Rosario asked.

 …..     Charlie shrugged. He didn’t know Guido that well. With Mario’s driver’s license suspended for one reason or another, and his uncle requesting a lift, he didn’t mind doing him a solid. He loved his uncle.

 …..     “The priest was sweating like a pig,” Mario said. “And a fly kept landing on his lip.”

 …..        “Father Angelo’s from Italy,” Rosario said.

 …..     “He’s weak,” Mario said, “a weak priest. I don’t know how people tolerate him.”

 …..       “It’s not as if you go to church anymore,” Rosario said.

 …..     “And you do?” Mario chuckled.

 …..     Charlie laughed.

 …..    “You think it’s funny?” Mario said.

 …..  “Yeah, you’re funny, cuz.”

 …..   “Screw yourself, Charlie.”

 …..      They were like night and day, the cousins, and had never really gotten along. Even as toddlers they fought over toys, attention, and dominance. Freckled, easily frazzled Mario had always played second banana to his stormy black-eyed cousin. Tolerant and deeply affectionate of his nephew—whose love and loyalty could not be gainsaid—Rosario nevertheless felt uneasy as they flew down Bayview Avenue, digging his fingernails into the sides of his seat and biting his lips. Charlie had always been the maverick of the family—the black sheep—but also, and for better or worse, the passionate one.

 …..   “Slow down, Charlie!” Mario whined.

 …..     “Don’t bother me while I’m driving,” the cousin replied, pursing his lips.

 …..    “Pa, tell him to slow down.”

 …..      “Charlie,” Rosario said. “What’s the matter with you?”

 …..      “Sorry, Zio.”

 …..      Charlie tried keeping to the speed limit, but couldn’t help accelerating past intolerable stragglers and doddering blue-haired drivers, and could not be faulted for this. Rosario pulled an embroidered hanky from his jacket pocket. It had belonged to his dead wife Louisa. Though it felt like decades, Louisa had only passed away two years ago, from pancreatic cancer. She had been a decent wife, even-tempered and predictable, if somewhat boring. Some days he missed her, most days he didn’t. He dabbed his lips and sighed.

 …..       “What did you think of the service, Pa?” Mario asked.

 …..       “It was fine,” Rosario said.

 …..       He had endured it without issue, though Father Angelo had theatrically prolonged the Biblical readings, coughing relentlessly, red-cheeked, eyes bugging out of his piggish face. Rosario thought he’d choke to death before he finished. That he could make a gripping story like the Resurrection—with the blood-soaked wrappings, the tomb cut out of rock, the three days, the rolled stone and so on—excruciating was remarkable.

 …..     Darting in and out of traffic like a stuntman, Charlie showed off his nimble driving skills. He’d been behind the wheel since he was a kid, when his father, as a lark, used to let him tool around abandoned lots in his old pickup truck. By the time he took him to the Ministry for a driver’s permit, he was an old hand at the wheel. He could handle a car with an impressive degree of expertise; but perhaps, like his father, God rest his soul, he lacked good luck.

 …..  “You’re driving too fast!” Mario protested.

 …..      “Oh, live a little, cuz. I didn’t buy a muscle car to pussyfoot around this town.”

 …..     “Charlie,” Rosario said, “take it a little slower. I’m serious. We’re in no hurry.”

 …..      “No worries, Zio,” Charlie said as he slowed again to cruising speed.

 …..       Rosario rolled down his window and watched the scenery flash by: tired bungalows and clapboard A-frames, red and yellow smudges of wilting tulips, beige lawns. A fecal smell permeated the air. Spring green hadn’t yet taken hold. Everything looked flat and drained. It was too early for this kind of heat.

 …..       “Even the birds aren’t flying,” Rosario muttered, more to himself than to the others.

 …..     Mario leaned up from the back and presented his breathy mouth to his father’s ear. “This is the hottest May I can remember!” he cried, more loudly than intended, perhaps overcompensating for the engine noise and the wind rushing in from the windows.

 …..      Rosario turned his head and gently pushed his son’s face away, shooting him a glare. What the hell was wrong with him? Sometimes he couldn’t believe he was his son. He had taken after Louisa’s side—more like her ginger-haired and klutzy sisters. Mario tried hard but was all thumbs and left feet, with no filter for his frequent inanities.

 …..      Charlie fiddled with the radio knobs until he found the jazz station. Sinatra happened to be singing “You Make Me Feel So Young” so Rosario didn’t mind. Normally jazz annoyed him. But Sinatra was Sinatra—And every time I see you grin/ I’m such a happy individual. The tension in Rosario’s body eased, and despite the choking warmth and the reeking lilies, he leaned back and started enjoying the drive. The breeze blowing in from the window cooled his sweating face; Charlie drove smoothly, beautifully, like a seasoned chauffeur. Everything felt right. It was nice. So it came as a shock at the next intersection when a white service van jumped the red light and charged toward them. The silhouetted driver wasn’t slowing down. Charlie screamed and jerked the steering wheel at the last moment, slamming the brakes at the same time and putting the Camaro into a tailspin. Rosario’s seatbelt held firm as he rocked forward violently; then his heart skipped a beat as the van’s front end narrowly missed the Camaro’s front bumper.

 …..     Shortly a bright flash blinded Rosario, reducing everything to a dull white screen—an absolute absence of colour or form. His ears rang so loudly he thought sirens were approaching. He shut his eyes, uncertain what had happened, but praying it would quickly pass.

 …..   As the van sped off, the Camaro rocked to a halt.

 …..       They sat there in silence for a moment. Pale and breathless, Mario had suffered a good fright. Charlie gripped the steering wheel with straight arms, shoulders scrunched up to his ears, lips trembling. Rosario had frozen, afraid to move or even breathe.

 …..        “Are you okay, Pa?” Mario asked.

 …..        Everything looked blurred now, opaque. Rosario closed and opened his eyes. Slowly, things came back into focus. He was okay, as far as he could tell. Shaken, but okay.

 …..  “That was close,” Mario said.

 …..   “Too close,” Rosario said.

 …..  Grimacing, Charlie gunned the Camaro. For a moment Rosario thought he was going to track down the van, but he continued to the harbourfront. Oddly, Sinatra was still singing “You Make Me Feel So Young.” Rosario didn’t recall it being that long. Then a ringing in his ears drowned out the music and made him question if it was even playing.

 …..      “Are you okay?” Charlie asked.

 …..      “I don’t know,” Rosario answered.

 …..    They parked in a municipal lot, and after gathering themselves exited the car. Charlie and Mario removed their jackets and ties and rolled up their sleeves. Rosario merely loosened his tie.

 …..  “Pa, leave your jacket,” Mario advised.

 …..   “What if I get a chill by the water?”

 …..   “In this heat?”

 …..    “I might get a chill.”

 …..    “Okay, have it your way.”

 …..      Charlie locked the car and they struck across Bayview Park toward the marina. Halfway there, Rosario ran into difficulty; he needed to rest, but the intense heat had blistered the green paint on a nearby park bench.

 …..    “Don’t sit there, Pa,” Mario said.

 …..   “Jesus, it’s hot.”

 …..     Something had changed. Rosario couldn’t put his finger on it. Not just himself—he felt off, yes—but everything around him radiated a more pervasive negativity. The park looked parched, the grass wilted and uneven, the scant tree leaves chlorotic, not a flower in sight. Even the sky, hazy but glaring, possessed a peculiar grinding weight that oppressed him to the core.

 …..    “Don’t think I’ll make it,” he said.

 …..   “It’s cooler by the water,” Charlie said.

 …..  “Pa, we can turn back.”

 …..   Rosario puffed. “Just give me a sec. I should have brought a parasol.”

 …..    “Pa,” Mario said, “we can turn back if you want.”

 …..     “We’ll get drinks at the marina,” Charlie said. “There’s a refreshment stand.”

 …..     With a start Rosario noticed a trickle of blood worming from his nephew’s left ear.

 …..     “Have you hurt yourself?” Rosario asked, touching his own ear.

 …..     Charlie shook his head. “What are you talking about, Zio?”

 …..     “The—the blood.”

 …..      “What blood, Pa?” Mario piped in.

 ….. Rosario blinked hard. When he looked again, there was no blood. Charlie was fine. Strange. Too drained by the heat and the fright of the near accident, Rosario didn’t bother questioning his own perceptions.

 …..      They continued walking. Rosario removed his jacket and draped it over his right arm. Sweat had soaked through the armpits of his white shirt. He lifted his heavy legs and planted them carefully. His feet hurt. His ankles were swollen. Mario held his elbow. Charlie walked ahead, his slender frame blurred by the heat haze. For a moment he seemed to dematerialize, leaving only an imprint of pale shadow. Rosario couldn’t pin him down, couldn’t allocate him to the present moment. He seemed distant, not of this world, moored elsewhere. Rosario wiped his sweating face with his hand as he slowly made his way.

 …..     “Charlie!” Mario cried. “Slow down!”

 …..    Charlie stopped and turned. From that distance, in his white shirt, hands on hips, he looked like some kind of angel. The black sheep playing angel. Rosario smiled and waved. Charlie waved back.

 …..      “Pa, you’re not gonna make it like this,” Mario said, holding his tottering father firmly. “Let’s head back.”

 …..     Mario meant well but was relentless. “I’ll be okay. Just let me catch my breath.”

 …..       Charlie started back toward them. The sun blazed above the heavy air. Sweat ran down Rosario’s thighs, his head throbbed. They still had a ways to go. He worried he might black out before they reached the marina.

 …..      “You okay, Zio?” Charlie asked as he pulled up.

 …..      Rosario nodded. “I’ll be okay. Gonna take off my shoes. They’re killing me.”

 …..       “Pa,” Mario said, “you can’t walk on that crap. You’ll cut up your feet.”

 …..       “These shoes are cutting up my feet, sweetie.”

 …..     Rosario kicked off one shoe then another then pulled off his black socks, revealing thick yellow toenails. Pale blue veins striated his swollen feet. He flexed his toes and started walking. Mario retrieved his shoes and socks.

 …..        They made their way wordlessly to the marina. Rosario gasped for air. Charlie moved ahead as though weightless, scarcely touching the rough grass.

 …..       “Zio,” he said, “when we get there you can go in the water if you want.”

 …..      Rosario looked at Charlie with heavy eyes. He wasn’t going in no water.

 …..      They reached the marina at last, both Mario and Charlie assisting Rosario. Several anchored sailboats bobbed in the grey-blue waves; a few listless gulls circled in the sky. No one else was around, the docks and boardwalk empty. People normally flocked to the water on days like this for a walkabout. And what about the regatta? No sign of it. And the refreshment stand was boarded up, something that made Mario squeeze his father’s scuffed black shoes.

 …..     “You said we could get drinks,” he barked at Charlie.

 …..  “I didn’t know it would be closed. I’m thirsty, too.”

 …..     “I’m worried about Pa, okay.”

 …..     Indeed, sweat dripped down Rosario’s blubbery, pallid face. His chest rose and fell rapidly as he panted. His thoughts grew more and more confused. Something had changed from when they left the church. Something had happened. But what? What?

 …..       A thickness had gathered to the west, darkness. A vague rumbling ensued.

 …..       “Wasn’t supposed to rain,” Mario said, screening his eyes and gazing at the mass.

 …..   “It won’t rain,” Charlie said with a smile. “It won’t rain.”

 …..     “Pa, what do you think?”

 …..          Rosario shook his head and shut his eyes as if to say, I can’t think right now. He thought he could hear Sinatra playing almost out of earshot— “You Make Me Feel So Young?” He must have been hearing things for fuck sake. Charlie came close to him and spoke softly:

 …..   “It’s time to go in the water, Zio.”

 …..    Rosario reared his head and looked at his nephew. Blood trickled from his ear again, spilling onto his shoulder.

 …..      Charlie touched his uncle’s cheek, his fingers cold. “I’m sorry,” he said softly. “I’m sorry, Zio.”

 …..       Mario stood beside them, silent and motionless.

 …..   “We can go into the water now,’ Charlie said. “We should.”

 …..  “We should,” Rosario repeated.

 …..      Charlie removed his shoes and socks and walked up to the sandy beach strip. He continued to the water’s edge, where soft waves lapped the sand. He allowed a wave to touch his feet, then followed it back until he was knee deep, his pant legs flexing to the next wave.

 …..  “I want to go in,” Rosario said.

 …..   “You’re crazy,” Mario said. “He’s crazy and you’re crazy.”

 …..    “No. It’s time to go in the water.”

 …..     “Pa, you can’t do this.”

 …..    “Shut up. Can’t you see you’re wrong this time?”

 …..  Mario stared at his father. Something was wrong with his eyes—

 …..    Rosario dropped his jacket and started for the water.

 …..    “Pa!” Mario cried, reaching for his arm, but there was no stopping him.

 …..    Charlie stood waist high in the water, hands splashing at his sides. Mario watched as his father walked to the water’s edge and dipped his feet. He lifted his face, smiling as if relieved, spread his arms for balance, and waded toward Charlie. The two embraced and, holding hands, continued wading further out.

 …..      Mario dropped his father’s socks and shoes. He watched his father and cousin wading further and further out.

 …..     “Pa!” he cried. “Pa!”

 …..       He continued watching as they moved into the soft waves, deeper and deeper, until all he could see was the black swirl of his father’s tie.

.

.

___

.

.

Salvatore Difalco is the author of five books, most recently the story collection Minotaur (Truth Serum Press). He lives in Toronto.

.

.

Listen to the 1956 recording of Frank Sinatra singing “You Make Me Feel So Young”

.

.

___

.

.

Click here  to read “Mouth Organ” by Emily Jon Tobias, the winning story in the 58th Jerry Jazz Musician Short Fiction Contest

.

Click here  for information about the upcoming Jerry Jazz Musician Short Fiction Contest
.

.

.

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

photo via Pickpic
“Footprints to Infinity” by Michael Amitin

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 #170

photo of Dexter Gordon by Brian McMillen
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?

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.

Site Archive