“Liner Notes for ‘Stardust’ — In Seven Choruses,” a cycle of short poems by Doug Fowler

April 25th, 2016

 

“Liner Notes for ‘Stardust’ — In Seven Choruses” is a cycle of short poems framed as imaginary liner notes and prompted by poet Doug Fowler’s favorite musical covers of Hoagy Carmichael’s “Stardust.”  In essence, according to Fowler, they are “imaginary liner notes for a real song about an imaginary song about love.”

The cycle is also partially a tribute to Chu Berry, who died as the result of a car accident in Conneaut, Ohio, in 1941, not far from where Fowler lives.

 

 

 

 

“LINER NOTES FOR ‘STARDUST’

— In Seven Choruses”

by Doug Fowler

*

 “Star Dust” composed in 1927 by Hoagy Carmichael

   Lyrics by Mitchell Parish added in 1929.

 

 

      PRELUDE:

     “Stardust” Chu Berry (with Roy Eldridge), 1938

 

Go!
the wild territorial blue and
watch out! over the
agricultural arc and frame. Look homeward
deep in a vein of rose quartz, colored as high
like watermelon snow.

Don’t make velocity a goal but savor the slow
concealed blues, even the dark line of storm
and let the aerial sift out lonely stations, waves
tuned and modulated to swing their lofted horns.

And I imagine what it might have been like
to play the car radio
driving
long and west
and up the line to the year I was born.

 

 

 

 

  1. “Star Dust” Louis Armstrong and his Orchestra, 1931 (Take 2)

 

Pulled off state route 177 where a macadam road
turns a sharp south on old survey lines where she
tells me to follow behind and into her blacktop drive.

Night thaws
and water drips
off ice-storm January trees
and in the late morning, Four Mile Creek, we
walk a path of 400 million years.

 

 

  1. “Star Dust” Louis Armstrong and his Orchestra, 1931 (Take 1)

 

I want so bad to apologize for it all –

my own name and
your ex’s
driven into space
and only dust returns.

Note on last stanza: Submitted
as short verse in the smallest careless
rockets, and the editor’s rejection, “I like this
but it couldn’t happen.”

It did.
As written.
A hundred thousand names
micro
etched
in silicon
orbit the Sun, reach aphelion
beyond Mars and into the asteroid expanse, 2.7 astronomical units.
[STARDUST Mission, 1999-2006, NASA/JPL COSPAR ID 1999-003A]

But a Mars colony with ATVs
corporate logos
and scoped rifles for polar bears?

I would ask to terraform the Earth.
I will keep the purple twilight, let wild violet asters
grow high
and once
I climbed along the Garden Wall arête walking the
luminous tiny blues of alpine forget-me-nots.

 

 

  1.   “Stardust” Coleman Hawkins, 1937

 

Late humid summer red-ball sun
halfway down
on a Maumee valley
interstate
– the other half rises over Tannu Tuva
of triangle stamps
of mountains
of dream altitudes of
old prop airliners.

We pick up aluminum cans most anywhere
some 60 pounds a year
crushed flat and cashed in, I find
empty cans in a walk around a turnpike oasis, buy
burnt coffee, drive eastbound under an exit sign
Gibsonburg
Woodville
Elmore
like the three minerals in aluminum ore
Gibbsite
Boehmite
Diaspore.
How far back do libraries in small towns
keep old high school yearbooks?

Off on
U.S. 6 where
prairie turbine
generators rise in
windy blades
turning as smooth as
a midwest
cheerleader’s
cartwheels.

 

 

                   INTERLUDE: “Dizzy Atmosphere” Dizzy Gillespie (with Charlie Parker), 1945

 

Some towns are there
to remind us
of de Bergerac’s futility
killed by a fallen chunk of prairie oak
for lack of gardens
on balcony apartments
and Cyrano’s knocked out for good
despite his forgeries and ease with words.

 

 

  1. “Star Dust” Dizzy Gillespie Sextet, 1951

 

But who came to bed in the callous night?
Who brought these misty dreams
to bask in bellied heat?

My knees draw up to your knee-hollow tendons
conjoined with time
irreversible
persistent with an image of bright sun
washed red inside your eyelids
unavoidable
irresolution
down to the sea
in volcanic brines where purple stars
cling to the rocks in low-tides.

The jellies drift cold in northern harbors.
We walk the bridge west over a creek bed’s
Ordovician corals.  We carry limestone
and hold up lampshells.

 

 

  1. “Stardust” Lester Young, 1956

 

(A. E. van Vogt reread after 35 years)

 

As light as being
and becoming

 as light as rarefied air

a drift of stove-ash thrown to the wind off the
back of a bird, a single memory is helium gone
to lampblack, gone over to instability, a fading

luminosity once reclined in a pick-up camper,
down bags and snow-sealed boots, sun slides
over second-hand paperback pages, turning

with every switchback ascent from Red Lodge,
climbing a warm chant, a polyphony around our
tiny mass, redemption for the lost heat of fifty
yellow suns off in the Magellanic Clouds

and not all that far west. 

 

 

  1. “Stardust” Joshua Redman, 2012

 

a goof
–that’s what
you called me
when I was at my best

and that’s all
I should be
smiling
without talking
–no proof
or abstraction

 

 

  1. “Stardust” Ben Webster, 1965

 

I never drove one of those summer car-show 1940 model sedans, never looked out a divided windshield over the green-hooded Detroit steel. But imagine how it might have been and Chu Berry and a couple of the guys head north on state route 7. Part of Cab Calloway’s orchestra, they’d played the night before, a Sunday evening, October 26th, 1941. an Ohio dancehall, the Yankee Lake Ballroom. The car belongs to Lamar Wright who sits in the back seat. Andy Brown drives and Chu rides the passenger side. Fog drags over any visibility. The car skids and strikes the side of a bridge over the East Branch of the Ashtabula River. Lamar and Andy are fine, shook and only a little banged up. Chu is thrown from the car with a fractured skull. He dies 3 days later at Brown Memorial Hospital in Conneaut, Ohio, 33 years old.

 

 

            CODA: “Stardust” Ron Carter, 2001

 

Melody
carried on a double bass
soft as a moth’s rap on a window screen at midnight
and the stars chime
and slide over my meridian

 

 

 

_________

 

 

 

 

 

Discography

(All are compact discs from the author’s collection.  Select recordings available for listening by clicking on the link)

 

        Prelude: Chu Berry and his “Little Jazz” Ensemble, “Stardust” (1938), The Chronological Chu Berry 1937-1941, Classics 784, Classics Records, 1994.

 

  1. and 2. Louis Armstrong and his Orchestra, “Star Dust” (both takes, 1931), Stardust, Columbia/Sony, 1988, 1990.  Star Dust, Take one.

 

  1. Coleman Hawkins, “Stardust” (1937), Coleman Hawkins, The King of the Tenor Sax: 1929-1943, JAZ 1012, Allegro Corporation, 2003.

 

        Interlude: Dizzy Gillespie Sextet, “Dizzy Atmosphere” (1945), Shaw ‘Nuff: Dizzy Gillespie and his Sextet Orchestras, Collectables Records, 1993, 2006.

 

  1. Dizzy Gillespie Sextet, “Star Dust” (1951), The High-Flying Dizzy Gillespie: Getting’ Dizzy, SLG Savoy Reissues, 2005.

 

  1. Lester Young, “Stardust” (1956), Lester Swings Again re-released on Lester Young: Seven Classic Albums, Real Gone Jazz, 2015.

 

  1. Joshua Redman, “Stardust” (2012), Walking Shadows, Nonesuch Records, 2013.

 

  1. Ben Webster, “Stardust” (1965), Ben Webster: There Is No Greater Love, Black Lion, 1991.

 

  1. Ron Carter, “Stardust” (2001), Stardust, Blue Note, 2001.

 

 

_____

 

About Doug Fowler

 

fowler

 

Fowler published a collection of poetry in 2005 (Condensed Matter and Other States of Mind, Finishing Line Press) before doing a six-year stint teaching astronomy and physics at the University of Wisconsin at Fox Valley. He currently lives Ohio now, 50 miles from where Chu Berry passed away. He is a member of the Planetary Society (which is how his name got sent out on the NASA/JPL STARDUST mission). He is also a member of the AAVSO (American Association of Variable Star Observers) and writes that “the last time I was out making estimates of the magnitudes of a few stars (at 3:30 AM), I was listening to recordings of Schumann, Bill Evans and Monk. What great night music! What peace! (And Coleman Hawkins would often play Schuman on his cello to relax.)”

 

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 RawPixel.com
“Style” by Laurie Kuntz

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