Trading Fours with Douglas Cole is an occasional series of the writer’s poetic interpretations of jazz recordings and film. In this edition, the poet connects the recordings of Jessica Williams’ “Little Waltz” and Gene Harris’ “Summertime.”
Ella Fitzgerald is whispering
to me: “sit here and enjoy your dinner with my
sweet honey voice,” eternal bloom of time,
filling the corner of the street where I eat
with a Golden Age long gone but that remains
like an idea, lingering, like the steam of a
hot bath leaving
traces of fingers on the mirror
There are two types of clubs
Highfalutin hoity-toity stuck up clubs
And gritty grimy dingy dank dungeons
I prefer the latter, for obvious reasons
Clubs must be weathered
Crackled paint & nicotine stained
This edition features poetry chosen from hundreds of recent submissions, and from a wide range of voices known – and unknown – to readers of these collections. The work is unified by the poets’ ability to capture the abundance of jazz music, and their experience with consuming it.
. . Lester Young, 1946 . . Solace I relish the cultivation of my Lester afternoons an endeavor still absorbing at my age captive in that garden of ambient sound …………………that Young tenor breath ………………………….a zephyr expulsion stirring atmosphere rare these days for this climate caressing time & movement with a tone to stream still … Continue reading ““Solace” – a poem by Terrance Underwood”
and the epitome of 50s style
Anita O’Day steps onto
the stage, white gloves
to her elbows, black hat
crowned with white feathers,
slim black dress and finger clicks
the band into sound and dynamic
jazz minors and majors.
This busy bee, at the end of a life like clockwork,
a symphony of service to everything but herself—
wings snatched in a world blinded by the way it is—
slowly expiring in the sweet nectar of stillness,
. . The Sunday Poem is published weekly, and strives to include the poet reading their work. Ms. Baptiste reads her poem at its conclusion. . . ___ . . David Dellepiane, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons . . Jazz Within Me I like Jazz playing within me. ……………….Record that never skips. Since age sixteen, … Continue reading “The Sunday Poem: “Jazz Within Me” by Jerrice Baptiste”
This is the 14th extensive collection of jazz poetry published on Jerry Jazz Musician since the fall of 2019, when the concept was initiated. Like all previous volumes, the beauty of this edition is not solely evident in the general excellence of the published works; it also rests in the hearts of the individuals from diverse backgrounds who possess a mutual desire to reveal their life experiences and interactions with the music, its character, and its culture.
.This collection of jazz poetry – the largest yet assembled on Jerry Jazz Musician – demonstrates how poets who are also listeners of jazz music experience and interact with the spontaneous art that arises from jazz improvisation, which often shows up in the soul and rhythm of their poetic language.
As if the stars contained wood ticks
on fire. As if there were forests within
forests. Trees within stones. Stones
folded over into water.
The most secret nocturnal animals
walk around during the day, unseen.
You listen to Karrin Allyson sing “Blame It on My Youth,” you picture her in the throes of its May-December scenario. You picture her on a college campus. Columbia University, the steps in front of Low, a pleated skirt, a short bob, the full flush of love on her cheeks.
sittin’ in the corner knowing what others don’t get and smile-noddin’ over scotch and coda after a day bounced you about like Buddy’s snare and high hat clamped you down to sweet Georgia brown dirt in the Summertime wailed by Sidney Bechet
Through your horn’s dark pieties,
the glamor of its golden mouth, a youth
lost to the call and response of too many needle-nights,
too many dumps, too many dives,
you play a mudwater music, slow-flowing under an old iron bridge,
so sad, so far gone, it wings away never to come back.
A broad collection of jazz poetry authored by an impressive assemblage of regular contributors and established poets new to this publication – all of whom open their imagination and hearts to the abundant creative experience they derive from this art.
I rise, change the sheets on the bed
that used to be in Mother’s basement.
I step into her body or she into mine,
attempt to line the blanket and spread
evenly, to tuck in the ends the “military”
square-corner-way and then, I remember
Mother doing chores to jazz, blues
Was it something she said? about
the famous Charlie Parker drawers
He — himself a drawer —
illustrator, declaimer of conclusions —
commenced to rapping
on LA flight
When I hear Sketches of Spain or Kind of Blue – Miles Davis masterpieces from his earlier career – I am always calmed, thrilled by the ways that music can take over every portion of a person from head to toe, from inside to outside, from innermost mind to outermost layer of skin.
. . Distributed by Joe Glaser’s Associated Booking Corporation. Photographer uncredited and unknown., Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons Chet Baker, 1955 . . Always Cool Alison weaves on her loom in the living room. Fifth floor walk up. Manhattan. Chet plays on the stereo; a trumpet divinely graced, caressed like a stunning woman’s body, soft … Continue reading ““Always Cool” — a poem by Judith Vaughn”
Throughout the day, the sky has bled
boatloads of water to drown the streets,
a level of grief I have not known
since the day the e-mail arrived
with the heading, “Landing gear down,”
a note from a brother informing me
of my father’s passing in Oregon
From a dark corner, night crawls across a wood-board floor
warped from a life beneath boots and spilled beer.
Her music is a moan, a collection of sorrows,
lost love, broken hearts, and illegal dreams.
Inspired by the essays collected in the jazz and cultural critic Nat Hentoff’s 2010 book At the Jazz Band Ball: Sixty Years on the Jazz Scene, in this series of poems Sean Howard uncovers new relationships and resonances in the author’s writing – reusing, recycling, and remixing text from the book as poetry – while allowing him the opportunity to pay a personal tribute to a writer he reveres.
So long ago, before Ornette Coleman,
Coleman Hawkins, John Coltrane—
all those free spirits running up and down
the alphabet of jazz, there was old
J.S. Bach, running through the changes.
I always picture him, and hear him,
at the pipe organ in Tomas Kirsche
all by himself,
Molly Larson Cook’s abstract-expressionist paintings accompany the 50 poets contributing to this collection. Her art has much in common with the poetry and music found within it; all three art forms can be described as “landscapes of the imagination,” created by artists from all over the world who are inspired in a meaningful way by jazz music, and whose work can be uniquely interpreted and appreciated (or not!) by those who consume it.
One of my greatest joys for decades
was exploring unknown record shops.
I once walked into a newly opened used
shop around the corner from my university
and discovered a used album, apparently
the improvisatory result of a session
set up by Norman Granz that included
I never did read the news, though I don’t suppose
it made a splash in the Post or Herald Tribune–
with maybe just a line or two
among the baseball stats, divorces,
and the marches picking up
deep down in the Cotton States.
I had a little radio up on top of the refrigerator, and I turned it on as the sunlight went and the world filled up with darkness. I listened to a jazz station and smoked a cigarette and blew the smoke out the window.
Along with the satisfaction of publishing countless outstanding poems over the years comes my delight in getting to know many of the poets responsible for them. From this experience an active community of writers has taken shape, most of whom share a common vision of communicating their love and appreciation for jazz music and the historic artists they revere. One such poet is Ms. Aurora M. Lewis of Morena Valley, California, whose new book, Jazz Poems: Reflections on a Broken Heart has just been published.
The jazz DJ you listened to each morning
Is broadcasting from another sphere.
Perhaps you and Phil are parsing
Charlie Parker together.
His nasal voiced juicy lisp that spilled
details of Parker, Lester Young, and Coltrane,
no longer flies the airwaves in Birdflight.
Dim dusk breaks down
the receding light and one after another
strands of the passing hour unravel
leaving behind an existence beyond time
that opens the doors to another world:
It’s late in the evening in a foreign metropolis
Missa brevis —a little requiem. At most I know
perhaps forty Latin words and have already used up
four of them. Maybe not too bad for a Jew boy.
And besides, editors of poetry are always carping:
Keep it short.
“It’s not exclusive, but inclusive, which is the whole spirit of jazz.”
And…this spirit is not limited to the musicians, because celebrating jazz is rich in creative opportunity for writers and visual artists as well. The 54 poets who contribute to this poetry collection are living proof of that.
As always, thanks to the poets, and I hope you enjoy…
In this winter collection of diverse themes and poetic styles, 55 poets wander the musical landscape to explore their spirit and enthusiasm for jazz music, its historic figures, and the passion, sadness, humor and joy it arouses.
Jazz and poetry have always had a symbiotic relationship. Their creative languages share the common soil of imagination and improvisation, from which their audiences discover inspiration and spirit, and perhaps even a renewed faith in life itself.
This collection features 50 gifted poets from places as disparate as Ohio and Nepal, Estonia and Boston, Guyana and Pittsburgh, each publicly sharing their inner world reverence for the culture of jazz music.
We tripped through the parking lot and fell into the Woods—
Brown Amphitheater, then rested a bit as musicians tuned up.
When John McLaughlin’s first eerie notes of “Birds of Fire”
came through, we were taken by surprise. I’d thought
we were going to India, instead it was a caravanserai
to hear the scream of the butterfly.
The evidence against Monk was overwhelming. As he spun in circles, his beard greeted all the be-boos and scat tops with a whiff of singular restraint, knowing the blue minor chord could only hold so much dissonance before the black harmonies started some fragile shite.
in evening western sky, golden clouds pile
beneath sinking crimson sun and spill
toward river and ocean with the beauty
and rhythmic precision of notes tumbling
from a vibraphone during a dazzling
improvisation by Milt Jackson
No Dizzy Gillespie, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, King Oliver, Satch Mo’ and his velvety horn, No royalty of Jazz! No A Train taking us uptown, no Langston Hughes, or Zora Neale Hurston. No Chuck Berry and rock and roll
. . “Clifford Brown” is a painting by Warren Goodson, a Saxapahaw, North Carolina artist whose work is driven by his appreciation for Black culture. With his gracious consent, Mr. Goodson’s art is featured throughout this collection. . . _____ . . “Poetry is eternal graffiti written in the heart of everyone.” -Lawrence Ferlinghetti … Continue reading “A Collection of Jazz Poetry — Summer, 2020 Edition”
. . photo by Tengilorg / CC BY . . While Playing A Vinyl Record Music lightens blue mood. It softens mind like feather floating towards earth, then brushes against cheek, chin and ear. Body sways with Jazz in air. A tickle on skin, sensations cradled in ears, harvesting goodness like wheat to enjoy … Continue reading “Poetry by Jerrice Baptiste and Moe Seager”
. . photo Bret Stewart/Wikimedia Commons . . Afterwards …………………….For the Spring of 2020 . …………………..“The World Breaks Everyone, And Afterwards, ……………………Many Are Stronger At The Broken Places.” …………………………………………………………….– Ernest Hemingway. . many, many, years ago …………I was in need …………………..of some extra money. I had decided …………to sell my upright 1940’s ………………….. kay … Continue reading ““Afterwards — For the Spring, 2020” — a poem by Alan Yount”
. . . …..The poet Michael L. Newell, whose work has often appeared in the pages of Jerry Jazz Musician, has informed me that his new book, Wandering, is now available. Published by cyberwit.net, the book features selections of his poetry from the past fifty years. …..Michael draws readers into his lyrical, vast world with … Continue reading “News about the poet Michael L. Newell”