A big mind
Think of One with rare flat-fingered technique,
Hat and Beard gave you a distinct mystique;
Evidence early of genius unique,
Let’s Cool One while your sweet glissandos peak.
Off Minor keys pressed with heavy-hand passion,
Nutty tunes composed in bright, Skippy fashion;
I Mean You can’t help but feel Bemsha Swing
under the influence of Rhythm-n-ing;
Suburban Eyes shine in Epistrophy.
Misterioso of space so sublime,
only you knew ’twas a matter of time;
Nellie in crepuscule first saw the light,
knew we’d catch on to you ‘Round About Midnight.
A big star
Classic example of heroin’s waste,
Hollywood handsome turned withered prune-face;
embrochure crushed in a ‘Frisco street fight,
tumbled to death from a Dutch window flight.
Bird from his yard said that you’d be the one
able to give Miles and Dizzy a run;
king of cool, yes, but a warm crooner, too,
even when your luck was finally through,
really was no one that could out-play you.
A big pioneer
Joyful proclaimer of pure love supreme,
oh! how you burned like none had ever dreamed;
Heaven reclaimed you; you passed the baton:
no giant steps taken once you were gone.
Chimney sweep tune from a new movie score,
only you transformed it and made it soar;
lengthy, bold phrases of mystic oration;
train colored blue made you the new sensation.
Rivers of Africa murmur your name,
Ascension glory beyond mortal aim;
never will sheets of sound be heard again;
eternal blazer, forever you reign.
A big iconoclast
Mute man so hoarse with such change in his chords,
in final years, a recluse of few words;
legacy in making music sound different;
electric move made him stadium riches,
steadily sipped he the brew of new bitches.
Dizzy successor in high-fly bird school,
ably he gave birth to the style called cool;
varying modes, his bands found blue in green;
imitate? never, no question mark, clean,
So What if acid was his last new scene.
A big lady
Blues were born into your plaintive voice box,
infinite time in the school of hard knocks;
loving the easy living you knew best,
Lady Day, named by the tenor men’s Prez;
interesting way they arranged your strange fruit,
exquisite style that in our hearts took root.
Home life you longed after time and again,
only to ride wild on trains with jazz men;
limited range but such depth of emotion,
in solitude you earned our true devotion;
devils tormented you from East to West,
and while you died a well-chaperoned death,
yes, it’s still you we hear above the rest.
A big clown
Clown sweating upright on many a stage,
hog callin’ blues put you into a rage;
although there were those that said you were strange,
revered by all for the way you’d arrange
love chants and folk forms you sought to attain;
ecclusiastics you wrought from your pain;
sorrowful ecstasy, your voice not plain.
Mercurial leader of your small big bands,
intricate runs from your rough, callused hands;
Nogales to New York was a quick trip,
growling brown bear of such sardonic quip;
until this day we have never have seen
such a big thumper with long lines so clean.
A big vision
Wonder child, you single-handedly preserved a genre;
you deserve all of the recognition thrust upon you.
Never has a jazz man yet received such great acclaim;
trumpeter, you’re fast approaching Louis Armstrong’s fame.
Only generation left before pure jazz was through;
no one knew it better than did you at twenty-two.
Messenger of music, you direct with style and pace;
Art Blakey could see it, so he put you in his place.
Red blood on the fields you wrote of got us all to thinking;
slave songs from the Center in Manhattan named for Lincoln ;
all around you spread J Mood, your Citi Movements honed;
listen to Noo ‘Awlins callin’ with Levee Low Moans;
it’s time again you and your brothers made the Jazz Fest scene,
Steepie says he’ll treat you to Bayona’s on Dauphine