Poetry by Britt Peter

February 17th, 2012

 

 

 

 

Feathers

 

 

 

 

Mocking bird has heard
Too much Coltrane
High in our walnut tree
The fervor is there
Chromatic escapades
Bird honks
Direct pronouncements
So loud; a masterful annoyance
An edgeless song

 

 

At the Blackhawk

 

 

 

 

Sitting across the table
From George Shearing
How lucky!
Listening to John Lewis, the MJQ
The rope of listening
Palpable listening; nothing missed
“Ah, a taste of Tatum, there”
And more; John whittling away
Into new dimensions, angles
Beyond the scope
Of a mere vinyl recording
“Bags”, now; felt constructions
Percy’s austere demeanor
Connie’s chimes and
George’s light hip smile
Through smoke, across the table

 

 

Listening

 

 

 

 

“Why are your tastes so black?”
We were listening to Jimmy Yancey
Rolling bass, and the tap dancer’s
Staccato asides, worker’s hands
The successful boy asked again
“Why are your tastes so black?”.
He was bothered, out of his depth
Used to choosing not digging
Castles won’t topple, stocks will
Remain steady, the academy is secure
How could I tell him that
Rap on the snare rim, walking bass
I discovered Bessie Smith before
Doris Day

 

 

Blues at Sugar Hill

 

 

 

 

Mama Yancey, no bigger
Than a moment
But the whole town
Came out to hear her
“Pops” Foster, “Big Boy”, Wellman Braud
The frail oracle at the bow
Of the piano
Jersey patterned dress
Like my grandmother wore
Belting out not just any
Song blues, but real blues
Piney woods, train platforms
Anguish and creosote
Damn, make a postage stamp
Of that!

 

 

Pony at Jimbo’s Bop City

 

 

 

 

Pony, un-tethered alto
Breathing, singing
A stream of mind
From the bell of the horn
“I’ve never been this far out before”
Loving the fact that
“Sputnik” and McKibbon
Are on the pier, the ply board stage
“I can hear them back there”
The sea gulls crying accidentals
Living within a bubble of sound
Pushing air out against the
Watching eye, the shuffle of chairs
In the basement club
Extend the line
“Go, Pony—Go Pony”
“They are goading me now
Yeah, from tree to tree
Like Tarzan in tune
No, like Bird (well, not quite)
Like a bird: tree to tree
Port to Port: New Orleans to K.C.”
Further , breathing out
To the sands of the continent’s edge
Skipping over the high point
In waves, estuaries flooded
Piers shake
“Sputnik” is gassed, Big Al laughs
Bass and snair
Ride out chorus; stop
Starfish applause

-For Pony Poindexter, 1926-1988

 

 

Minstrel

 

 

 

 

North Beach evening
Listening to Lonnie Johnson
Through an open door
I didn’t have enough money
To go in
Car noise took away
Many of the notes
Gold lame jacket, single spot
He was playing Leroy Carr
And Gershwin tunes
Rhapsody in continuum
Musician, minstrel
As if to say
“More people should hear this”

 

 

 

 

Just Diggin’

 

 

 

We were up in the balcony
Old Oakland Auditorium
Listening to Mahalia Jackson
Singing “Dig a Little Deeper in God’s Love”
A room more used to auto shows
And Roller Derby
The upright piano jumping off the floor
Did she say
“…Storehouse of his love”? Yeah!
Round again, shovels in the spotlights
DDig a little deeper…”
Two old sisters just behind us
Sunday silk and big handbags
Said: “Those boys must be here
Just for the music”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cold Gig

 

 

 

 

It’s not easy
To turn a TV studio
Into a barrelhouse
Large cameras, boxed eyes
Cables everywhere; concrete floor
Studs Turkel served free beer and pretzels; talk
And we have a few old clips
Of Henry “Red” Allen
Musician’s tux, big chest
Patent leather shoes
Standing on the tips of his toes
Leaning into it
To get some high notes
Or a growl
“Let her rip, wamp, wamp!”

 

 

 

 

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 by Bekzat Tasmagambetov/via Pexels
"The Lady Sings" - by Michael Keshigian

Click here to read previous editions of The Sunday Poem

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.

Interview

The Marvelettes/via Wikimedia Commons
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...Little is known of the lives and challenges many of the young Black women who made up the Girl Groups of the ‘60’s faced while performing during an era rife with racism, sexism, and music industry corruption. The authors discuss their book’s mission to provide the artists an opportunity to voice their experiences so crucial to the evolution of popular music.

Book Excerpt

An excerpt from Emily Jon Tobias’ MONARCH: Stories, and a reflection on our friendship

Art

photo of Archie Shepp by Giovanni Piesco
The Photographs of Giovanni Piesco: Archie Shepp...photos of the legendary saxophonist (and his rhythm section for the evening), taken at Amsterdam's Bimhuis on May 13, 2001.

Poetry

The cover to Joni Mitchell's 1976 album Hejira [Asylum]; photo by Norman Seeff
“Fort Macleod, Alberta, Canada” – a poem (for Joni Mitchell) by Juan Mobili

Click here to read more poetry published in Jerry Jazz Musician

Calling All Poets!

News about a Jerry Jazz Musician printed jazz poetry anthology, and information about submitting your poetry for consideration

Short Fiction

pickpik.com
Short Fiction Contest-winning story #65 — “Ballad” by Lúcia Leão...The author’s award-winning story is about the power of connections – between father and child, music and art, and the past, present and future.

Click here to read more short fiction published on Jerry Jazz Musician

Interview

photo of Louis Jordan by William Gottlieb/Library of Congress
Interview with Tad Richards, author of Jazz With a Beat: Small Group Swing, 1940 – 1960...Richards makes the case that small group swing players like Illinois Jacquet, Louis Jordan (pictured) and Big Jay McNeely played a legitimate jazz that was a more pleasing listening experience to the Black community than the bebop of Parker, Dizzy, and Monk. It is a fascinating era, filled with major figures and events, and centered on a rigorous debate that continues to this day – is small group swing “real jazz?”

Playlist

Sonny Rollins' 1957 pianoless trio recording "Way Out West"
“The Pianoless Tradition in Modern Jazz” – a playlist by Bob Hecht...an extensive playlist built around examples of prominent pianoless modern jazz.

Feature

Excerpts from David Rife’s Jazz Fiction: Take Two – (Vol. 1)...A substantial number of novels and stories with jazz music as a component of the story have been published over the years, and the scholar David J. Rife has written short essay/reviews of them.  In this initial edition featuring his story essays/reviews, Rife writes about three novels that explore challenges of the mother/daughter relationship.

Trading Fours with Douglas Cole

The cover of Wayne Shorter's 2018 Blue Note album "Emanon"
Trading Fours, with Douglas Cole, No. 20: “Notes on Genius...This edition of the writer’s poetic interpretations of jazz recordings and film is written in response to the music of Wayne Shorter.

Click here to read previous editions of Trading Fours with Douglas Cole

In Memoriam

Hans Bernhard (Schnobby), CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
“Remembering Joe Pass: Versatile Jazz Guitar Virtuoso” – by Kenneth Parsons...On the 30th anniversary of the guitarist Joe Pass’ death, Kenneth Parsons reminds readers of his brilliant career

Book Excerpt

Book excerpt from Jazz with a Beat: Small Group Swing 1940 – 1960, by Tad Richards

Click here to read more book excerpts published on Jerry Jazz Musician

Poetry

painting by Vaino Kunnas
Jazz…in eight poems...A myriad of styles and experiences displayed in eight thoughtful, provocative poems…

Jazz History Quiz #172

photo of Teddy Wilson by William Gottlieb
Teddy Wilson once said this about a fellow jazz pianist:

“That man had the most phenomenal musical gifts I’ve ever heard. He was miraculous. It’s like someone hitting a home run every time he picks up a bat. We became such fast friends that I was allowed to interrupt him anytime he was playing at the house parties in Toledo we used to make every night. When I asked him, he would stop and replay a passage very slowly, showing me the fingering on some of those runs of his. You just couldn’t figure them out by ear at the tempo he played them.”

Who is the pianist he is describing?

Community

photo via Picryl.com
.“Community Bookshelf, #2"...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…

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

Coming Soon

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