“Song for Sookie” – a short story by Steven Rosenbloom

May 1st, 2023

 

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“Song for Sookie,” a short story by Steven Rosenbloom, was a short-listed entry in our recently concluded 62nd Short Fiction Contest, and is published with the consent of the author.

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photo of Dizzy Gillespie, 1946, by William Gottlieb/Library of Congress

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Song For Sookie

by Steven Rosenbloom

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…..I was pouring my heart and soul into a tenor sax solo on a Lew Tabackin composition, Yet Another Tear, while eyeing this curvaceous woman who seemed to really be into the music.  I hoped that when I made a move on her between sets that she would dig me as well.  As the house pianist Dan Martinson began his solo, I reflected on how fortunate I was to have this gig at Stanley the Steamer here in Fort Lauderdale while all my musician buddies were fighting off the mid-February cold back north.  Three years ago in October, I got a call from Martinson, the music director of the “Steamer” and was invited to be the guest artist for a week at this beautiful restaurant/jazz club named in the honor of the great tenor sax player Stan Getz.

…..So here it was three years later, a Tuesday night in February, my first set on opening night with my name, Moe Mirsky, in bright red lights in front of the window of Stanley the Steamer located on the tony Los Olas Boulevard.  This restaurant/club was a large square room, brightly painted in mauve and orange pastels, very fitting the Florida setting.  Plush, comfortable restaurant chairs placed around circular glass tables and walls adorned with black and white photos of jazz greats added to the chic appearance of the Steamer.  There was an added touch of a fancy wide screen television,  equipped with a DVD player, hanging above the bar at the back of this establishment.

…..As could be predicted, business was slow this early in the evening.  In the small audience at a table close to the entrance sat Joe Turtletaub, the real estate developer/jazz aficionado who built this exclusive jazz club/restaurant from scratch.  Beside him sat an old friend of mine, Guido Antonelli, who is a detective in the Broward County Sheriff’s office, his boss Sergeant Mary Haggerty, and Sookie Katz, a character straight out of Damon Runyon and a favorite of restauranteurs here on Las Olas Boulevard.  Besides the restaurant staff, there was the dark-haired Latin beauty nursing a scotch at the bar – her braless breasts under a tight-fitting white tee shirt.

…..When the set ended, I slowly ambled over to the bar trying not to appear too conspicuous about my interest in this stunner.  As it turned out I had nothing to worry about because she came up to me and introduced herself.  “Hi, I’m Juanita Chavez.  I’m a D.J. at our local jazz station WROJ.”  Batting her eyelashes at me, she said, “I’m a big fan of yours.  I collect all your CD’s.  You’re a bit of an underground hero on the South Florida jazz scene.  You have a unique style that teachers point out to students when they give an example of ‘developing your own voice.’”  Thinking all the while that this girl combines beauty with brains, I said, “Thanks.  It sure is nice when a player like me who has mostly been a side man gets some recognition for his own contributions.”

…..The corpulent Turtletaub was pretty typical of ruthless businessmen who decide to toy around with the arts.  They have a tacit knowledge that low paid performers like jazz musicians are dependent on their whims.  In characters like these, their sense of entitlement and bossiness are not far from the surface.  So, for the out of town “stars” like myself, the red- carpet treatment was de rigueur.  Local musicians like Dan Martinson couldn’t predict when the owner would suddenly decide to cancel an engagement, or delay payments for gigs, almost as an after-thought.  When Joe leaned over the table, pinched my cheek using my childhood Jewish name, and said, “Well Moishele, that was some nice playing you did in the first set,” I was wary.

…..The other three members of this entourage gave me an even more uncomfortable feeling.  Guido Antonelli was going through the painful experience of his wife of thirty years leaving him for a younger man while his boss Mary was playing mother hen, trying to keep Guido on an even keel. And Sookie Katz always made me feel a little uncomfortable.  Sookie, a diminutive bald-headed man in his seventies, sat there with arms folded, wearing a tight white tee-shirt exposing his Popeye muscles.  He smiled at me blissfully as if he had just discovered a long-lost son who could do no wrong.  I first saw Sookie three years before playing chess outside the Miami restaurant down the street from the Steamer.  He struck me as a hyperactive childlike man who seemed too willing to please others in order to get a scrap of attention in a conversation.  His rapid-fire way of speaking and attention-seeking made him a bit of a laughing stock with the septuagenarian crowd of chess players. There was something distinct about Sookie that drew my attention to him.  Sookie, a bit of a mascot for restauranteurs like Joe Turtletaub, began to show up at the bar every night that I played, making me feel that I meant more to him than just some guy playing the saxophone.  Unlike his gregarious behavior with others, he kept his distance from me and his beatific smile always made me feel strange.

…..The next night, there was a larger crowd at the Steamer.  Juanita Chavez blew me a kiss as she arrived half-way through the first set.  As is customary, the fourth tune featured the rhythm section with Dan Martinson and the boys playing their asses off on an up-tempo version of Fly Me To The Moon.  As I was reflecting to myself on how tunes that start off as ballads are often played much faster by jazz musicians, in walked Guido Antonelli with his daughter Bobbie.  The body language between them confirmed what Guido told me previously.  They were not getting along.  Bobbie, a squat tom-boyish blonde, waved to me and wolf-whistled when the band finished their number.  As I picked up my tenor sax to begin the ballad of the set, Coltrane’s Naima, I realized for the first time that Sookie Katz was not at his usual spot next to Joe Turtletaub.  Maybe I’m a natural worrier, but my excellent memory for details told me that Sookie never missed a set of my band’s in the three years I’d been coming here.  A little red light went off in my mind, but I played Naima, and two up-tempo tunes before we took a break.  We were greeted by a warm round of applause.  I excused myself to have a drink with the lovely Juanita.  She looked into my eyes and said, “That was one of the most soulful renditions of Naima that I have ever heard since Trane recorded it himself.”  Although I am a glutton for praise, Juanita’s approach left me feeling suspicious. Since I had made a habit of romancing beautiful women much younger than me and then getting cold feet, I was doing my darnedest not to jump into anything too quickly.  I decided to make small talk and take a wait-and-see approach.

…..At the end of the evening, Guido and I found ourselves sitting at one of those late-night cafes on Los Olas, drinking nothing more potent than Perrier on the rocks, when his cell phone went off.  From the tone of the conversation, my buddy seemed to be getting more and more upset.  “Omigod.  Who would do a thing like that? Uhum, uhum.  Okay, I’m on my way right now.”   Then he said, “Well Moe, I need you to come with me.  The Lauderdale cops just found the body of an old guy badly beaten around the head in a shallow on the beach pretty close to here.  From the description and I.D. papers it looks like someone killed Sookie Katz.  We’d better get down there.”

…..When we arrived at the crime scene located just past the corner of Los Olas and A1A, the road had been cordoned off with yellow tape, and flashing lights from the police cruisers were intense enough to make you feel as if you were watching a night game in a major league baseball stadium.  We were greeted by a couple of uniformed officers from the Fort Lauderdale police.  Guido introduced me to a chunky, ruddy-faced cop, Sergeant Jack Finley, and a younger, slimmer officer whose name was so muffled as to be inaudible.  “Well, by the look of it Guido,” Sergeant Finley said, “we have a murder here and from all the physical evidence gathered by the M.E., old Sookie was probably killed somewhere else and his body was dumped here a few hours ago.  The autopsy will tell us more but my guess is that he died from those injuries to his head and face.  It’s not a pretty sight.”  He led us over to the body just as the coroner’s people were about to load Sookie’s remains into a body bag.  His face was barely recognizable as he had the appearance of having gone ten rounds with a gorilla.  To me, this certainly did not have the mark of a random killing done by drug-crazed kids.  First off, Sookie did not give the impression of someone wealthy enough to rob for cash.  Heck, he still had some money in his pockets.  Second, the extent of the beating showed a deliberateness that did not fit a hit and run motive.  The fact that all evidence pointed to his being murdered elsewhere demonstrated an intention of a more complicated nature, or so I thought.

…..By the time I got back to my hotel room the digital clock read 5:30 a.m. and there was a flashing red light on the phone indicating a message for me.  Actually, it turned out to be two messages.  The first one was from Sookie Katz.  “Moe. I won’t be at your show tonight, but I have something important to tell you. I’ll call tomorrow,” he said in an unusually serious voice. The other message was from a lawyer, Lorne Warshaw, who said that he had a package for me from Sookie.  I was so overwhelmed with exhaustion that I collapsed and didn’t awaken until 10:00 the next morning.

…..Guido called as I was getting dressed and asked me to accompany him on a search of Sookie’s apartment, looking for anything that might explain his death.  As it turned out our departed friend had lived in one of those small residence hotels on the A1A not far from Oakland Park Boulevard.  I could see that the Sea Nymph Hotel was well suited to the needs of an eccentric single man with simple tastes, as well a need for contact with others.  The manager, a French-Canadian man with a pot belly, confirmed what I had already thought – that Sookie was a favorite, particularly with the kids, and was always fun to have around.  “You know I tink dat Mr. Katz was helping poor kids or something,” said Emile Gauthier in his broken English.  “Don’t quote me on it, but I remember something he told me.”  He scratched his head and muttered, “Jeesus, who would who would want to hurt an old harmless guy like dat?”

…..Sookie’s room was the epitome of neatness.  There were only two types of items that gave you a clue about the inhabitant.  In one drawer was a set of “Sookie uniforms” – white t-shirts and blue jeans.  There were also a few brochures with titles like Save the Children and South American Children’s Relief Centre placed neatly on the night table.  On the front of the second brochure, the name “Father Acuna” and a telephone number was scribbled in the lower left-hand corner.  No photos of loved ones, no books or magazines; nothing that could offer insight into the character of this man.  This left both of us wondering whether we had nothing more complicated here than a random killing or a case of mistaken identity.  Guido took the brochures and I took note of Father Acuna’s number with the aim of contacting him.

…..The next morning, I called a depressed-sounding Guido at work and convinced him that we should follow up the connection between Sookie and the South American Children’s Relief Center.  When I call the Director, Father Ernesto Acuna, I learned that the Center was located in the Santa Maria Church, a stones-throw away from 4th Street in the Little Havana section of Miami Beach.

…..We were greeted at the Center by Father Acuna, a tall bespectacled man in his sixties, who guided us through the back entrance of the church into the basement which was its makeshift headquarters.  Father Acuna, dressed in a pair of khaki shorts and an orange tee shirt with the Center’s logo in big black letters, spoke hesitantly and with gravitas. “Senor Mirsky. We are all deeply saddened by this murder of Sookie Katz.  He was an integral part of our Center.  He came to us about one year ago as a godsend, just when the Center was in danger of closing because of financial difficulties.  Senor Sookie took it upon himself to do everything from driving the Center’s van to assisting the volunteer kindergarten teachers who took care of the younger kids.  He spoke often of going to see you play, Senor Mirsky.  In many ways he was an eccentric man but was very kind and gentle.”  I too was having trouble processing the disconnect between my image of Sookie as a “lonely character” and the active volunteer and child’s advocate described by Father Acuna.  Particularly hard for me to understand was the growing sense I was getting that, to others, Sookie and I were tight buddies.

…..The priest turned away in apparent contemplation, and finally, after what seemed like an eternity, faced us and said, “You know, gentlemen, we see everything here…everything.  There are illegals that come from all over Latin and South America.  Venezuela, Colombia, Uruguay.  Often these are single mothers with their children who trust us with their troubles.  I hesitate to involve this organization with the police, but Senor Mirsky, Sookie idolized you like a son.  We have to do right by him.”

…..Hesitatingly, Father Acuna said, “About three weeks ago a ten-year old boy, an illegal, died under mysterious circumstances.  This death was not reported to the authorities; the illegals have their own ways of getting rid of bodies.  Senor Sookie had a particular fondness for this little boy Antonio and spent a lot of time consoling the mother and the rest of the family.  I have never seen your friend so distraught as when he learned of this.   He spent the mornings after this tragedy at the church crying his eyes out. Detective Antonelli, these are people who are frightened of being deported.  They don’t ordinarily speak to the police.  People in the community confided in me that Antonio had been forced into being a ‘drug mule.’  His mother, Fransesca, has family in Colombia and a local gang here somehow blackmailed her to send her son back home for a visit with false papers.  At the airport in Bogota he was made to swallow a packet of heroin that they think burst in his stomach, killing him shortly after he landed in Miami.  I was told by Fransesca’s brother only yesterday that despite all protests from the family, Sookie managed to extract some information about who did this and was on the warpath to track them down, when we heard of his murder.”

…..Later, I picked up Sookie’s package from Warshaw’s office and settled in at a Starbucks nearby, ordered a latte and sat myself in a dark corner to view the package’s contents.  The big envelope contained two photos and a letter addressed to me.  As I turned the photographs over, I knew immediately that they were familiar to me.  Both of these pictures had been prominently displayed on the mantelpiece of our apartment in Brooklyn when my parents were still alive.  The dates on the back written in fading fountain pen ink were October 10, 1942 and November 3, 1942. The place; San Diego.  One showed twenty sailors posing for a group shot.   The other was that of a US Navy Band in rehearsal. I was drawn to two faces: my late father First Class Seaman Abe Mirsky, and next to him, Sookie Katz.  In the rehearsal photo Sookie was playing baritone sax.  I eagerly opened the letter in anticipation of what it contained.  It read:

Dear Moe,

As you can see, your Dad and I were buddies in the Navy.  When the war was over and he married your mom, he used to send letters and pictures of you and your brother Billy to California where I lived.  When I heard that your folks died in a car accident on the way to a gig in Baltimore, it really broke me up.  I had my own troubles.  I lost my wife and daughter in a fire two years after your folks passed.  I’ve followed your whole career; everything from your stint in the MPs in Iraq, to becoming a great sax player and your helping other musicians when they are in trouble.  Your reputation as the “musician’s detective” is legendary back north, so some old musician friends of mine tell me.

Now look Moe, I got myself in deep here. Speak to Father Acuna.  He’ll tell you about Antonio.  When that kid died, something snapped in me.  But I dug up enough stuff to bust the whole ring.  I might be a goner, but I don’t want you taking any more risks.  I’ve hidden a key to a locker where only you can find it. Also, there is something that I want you to look at.  I know that this may seem melodramatic, but so you don’t get killed by these hoods by being too obvious, I’ve made a little riddle which I am sure you’ll figure out.  Here it is.

“Below Dizzy there’s a lot to see. Those things that need shaving hold the key.”

Don’t trust anybody here and don’t be surprised what you find.  I’m assuming that if you got this letter, I am already dead.  It was an honor to know you. Have a good life and good luck. 

Love, Sookie.

…..Suddenly, all those strange vibes from Sookie made sense to me.  I felt completely overwhelmed with sadness.  Why couldn’t he find it in himself to tell me about our connection before?  It felt like I had lost another relationship in a life already filled with too many losses.  I knew that I needed to share all this with Guido and decided to visit him at the headquarters of the Broward County Sheriff’s Office.

….Guido occupied a small office on the second floor of the Sheriff’s building.  When I arrived, but before I could fill him in on my findings, he stopped me in my tracks with news of his own.  “Gee Moe; I don’t know what I’ve been doing to myself.  Once we left Father Acuna’s, I said to myself, ‘Guido, you’ve been dropping the ball.’  Anyways, I had a meeting with our Narcotics people and they have been working on this ‘drug mule’ angle for months.  There are a couple of salsa clubs in the South Beach area owned by Alonzo Curacel that seem to be the headquarters for these activities.  The Narcotics boys showed me some surveillance tapes, including ones in which Sookie was seen going into one of them, The Flamingo, on two consecutive nights before he died.”

…..I filled him in on all the recent events, including the letter from Sookie.

…..“One thing is certain, Moe,” he said.  “Those Narcotics guys don’t have enough evidence to nail this bunch yet.”  He hesitated. “So, what’s with this Sookie and his riddles?”   I said, “You’ve got me there, buddy. This might take some figuring out. By the way, do you have any experts on intelligence who break codes and the like?”  Guido scratched his head and answered, “Oh yeah, look, if it’s one of those puzzle things, we should set you up with Sargent Andy Chan, our resident computer expert, who’s a whiz at breaking codes.  The computer center is one floor up from here.”

…..If I ever needed an efficiency expert, I would choose Sgt. Andrea (Andy) Chan.  This pretty, diminutive woman was seated in front of a keyboard and what looked like a dozen computer screens as Guido introduced us.  Andy’s winning smile and very deliberate way of speaking immediately put me at ease about the potential ways of solving Sookie’s riddle.  In collaboration with Andy, we decided that I should visit the music library at the University of Miami and the main branch of the Fort Lauderdale Public Library, both of which have pretty good jazz photo collections, and a picture of Dizzy Gillespie might lead me to pick up on what the first part of what Sookie’s riddle means.

…..That night and the next day, I saw more photographs of Dizzy Gillespie than what Dizzy probably ever saw himself.  There were shots of the trumpeter in big band settings, pictures with Miles and Bird, and photos in recording studios.  Except for a few trumpet cases and shots of his shoes, I didn’t see anything in particular below Dizzy.

…..That afternoon, Andy and I met in the computer room.  She said, “Moe I don’t think that this message is encrypted.  I’ve spent about four hours running the riddle through all of our coding software and I came up with nothing.  This riddle most probably is related to something specific to you personally.  I’m sorry that I couldn’t be more helpful to you.”  I said, “No, thanks a million Andy.  By the way, tonight is the band’s final night at the Steamer.  Let me at least extend you a personal invitation to hear us play.  You and your date’s meals are on me.”  Andy accepted my invitation, adding that her boyfriend was an ex-jazz drummer.

…..The closing night at the Steamer looked like we would be dealing with mayhem. The unusually large crowd consisted of the jazz faithful who came out in large numbers.  As I fought my way through the crowd onto the bandstand, I noticed a group sitting at a table close to the front.  Facing me was my new friend Andy Chan and her boyfriend, a tall redhead named Gary who I remembered as being one of the crime scene techs where Sookie’s body was discovered.   Next to them sat Guido, Bobbie, and, to my great surprise, his wife, Sylvia.  Something must have kick-started in my old buddy, to be able to convince his wife to come to the show.  They all waved to me, and after each tune played by the band, Bobbie wolf-whistled.  That became a bit embarrassing.  Juanita sat at her usual spot at the bar and enthusiastically applauded after each song.

…..As I was going to give the downbeat to finish Horace Silver’s Nica’s Dream, the last tune of the first set, I accidentally slapped my face on the neck of my tenor sax, which happened to be loose. In that split second, my eyes were drawn to a photograph of Dizzy Gillespie right above the big screen television.  Below Dizzy there’s a lot to see…

…..Reacting quickly, I ended the tune, got Andy Chan’s attention, pointed at Dizzy’s photo, and saw her eyes widen like saucers.  Andy grabbed her boyfriend’s hand and they pushed their way through the throngs to join me at the television above the bar next to the bandstand.  The noise of the large crowd was deafening.  When we got there, Andy shouted in my ear, “Any evidence we find here might contain fingerprints and other stuff.  Gary always carries an extra evidence bag with him.”  We figured there was something in the DVD player, but it was empty.  Undeterred, I reached underneath the console and felt a disc held by adhesive tape.  The ever-efficient Andy said, “We came in the Crime Scene van. There is a DVD player in there that we can use.”

….In the van, we popped the DVD into the player and watched what looked like a surveillance tape used in banks or convenience stores.  Only this was in someone’s office. The video quality was poor but pretty quickly I judged that this was part of Sookie’s evidence package. Although there was little to see at the beginning, a bit of fast forwarding brought us to the images of two Latino boys being given passports and other documents by an older man wearing sunglasses.  I now knew that I was looking at evidence of the “mule operations” described by Father Acuna.  I was not at all prepared for who I saw enter the office of the salsa club shortly after the second child was escorted out.  I said “We’ve got to tell Guido about this.”

…..We went back into the Steamer and I pushed my way over to Guido, who was busy getting reacquainted with Sylvia.  When I finished telling my friend what we had found, Guido said, “Jesus Moe. I can’t believe what you told me is true. It sure surprises me.  How do you want to handle this?”  I said, “Let’s finish the evening.  Stick around and let me handle the rest.”

…..Joe Turtletaub’s office was in the back of the club and I came in as he was preparing the cash payments for the rest of the band that evening. When he saw me, Joe said, “Moishele, sit down. That was great playing tonight.”

…..Behind me, I spotted a small television with matching DVD player and I said, “Joe, I’ve got to show you something,” trying not to betray my emotions.  I placed the “evidence” DVD into the player and fast forwarded it to the point where the last boy was being escorted out of the office.  At this time, there appeared a scene of Joe Turtletaub having a heated debate with the older man wearing sunglasses.

…..As I looked up, I saw Joe burying his face in his hands and sobbing.  “This drug business – it was an investment. I never knew that they were using kids to transport the stuff.  When I heard that they caught Sookie snooping around, I went over there to beg for his life….The real estate business was blowing up in my face and I was having trouble keeping this place afloat. I never wanted to be a gonif.  I was desperate.  Please forgive me.”

…..I stood there speechless.  Part of me wanted to believe him, but when I thought about Father Acuna’s sad eyes, when he spoke about Antonio and Sookie’s letter, all my sympathy for Turtletaub vanished.  Then, almost on cue, Joe pointed his finger at me and in a tone of arrogant vengeance said, “Who gives a shit about Sookie Katz anyway?  He was a little nothing. A bum we felt sorry for.”

…..After Guido and his officers escorted Turtletaub to a police car, I found myself alone, disassembling my instruments.  As I picked up my jacket to place it on a chair, I caught a glimpse of the photo of my dad and Sookie in the Navy band.  Just like that, the second part of the riddle came to my mind. Those things that need shaving hold the key.  “Of course,” I thought.  Sookie Katz was a sax player!   I reached down into the original package that Sookie sent me and at the bottom I felt a used tenor sax reed taped to a locker key. Sookie had remembered the saxophone player’s practice of shaving extra-hard reeds with a razor blade.  He counted on my making the connection as well.

…..Next morning the police found the locker that Sookie’s key opened at the bus terminal in Miami Beach.  Inside the locker they found a lap top computer that Sookie had managed to steal containing code names and addresses of children designated by Curacel and his mob to serve as drug mules.

…..Guido and I met for breakfast the following morning at my hotel where he explained his recent transformation.  He said, “You know, Moe, this Sookie stuff saved my marriage.”

…..Juanita and I spent a lot of time together that week and it looked like something might come of it. We talked a lot and did unspeakable things. Back in New York, and a couple of months later, I got a call from Dan Martinson who told me that the City of Fort Lauderdale decided to keep the Steamer open while they searched for private ownership.  I’ve got a two-week engagement there in March.

…..I must be coming up in the world.    

 

 

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Steve Rosenbloom is a psychoanalyst in private practice in Montreal, Canada, as well as a jazz saxophonist and composer whose compositions have been played by numerous jazz musicians.

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Click here  to read “Mr. P.C.,” Jacob Schrodt’s winning story in the 62nd  Jerry Jazz Musician  Short Fiction Contest

Click here  for details about the upcoming 63rd  Jerry Jazz Musician  Short Fiction Contest

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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

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“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.

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