“The Piano Whisperer” — a short story by Arya Jenkins

August 14th, 2018

The publication of Arya Jenkins’ “The Piano Whisperer” is the 14th in a series of short stories she has been commissioned to write for Jerry Jazz Musician. For information about her series, please see our September 12, 2013 “Letter From the Publisher.”  Also…following the conclusion of this story is news concerning this collection of stories.

For Ms. Jenkins’ introduction to her work, read “Coming to Jazz.”

*

A note to the reader, from author Arya Jenkins:
As an experimental fiction, “The Piano Whisperer” suggests a musical composition. To that end, I’ve used techniques found in music such as repetition and the Modernist stream of consciousness approach in order to tap a flow of lyricism. The narrative is transgressive, a call to and from the narrator, an exhortation to freedom in which time, space, reality and identity are interconnected and ever fluid. 
You may use this as a key in reading the text, or not. Please enjoy it as you will.
– Arya
_____

 

 

The Piano Whisperer

by

Arya Jenkins

 

In the underground of how it used to be, in days long ago when things were quite good, when the only bad thing, if you want to call it bad, was poverty, which was longstanding, a dull ache of years that traveled with you through good times and bad and sometimes sang you to sleep like a sad horn, bwa la la la (high note) bwa la la la (high note) bwa la la, in that time, the song of poverty that belonged to everyone belonged also to Noname.

Noname, pronounced Noh-nameh,  ran bleak streets then 60 years ago when the world was kinder, a better place, where murder was just, well, murder, and horror, ordinary, conceivable, and every person, regardless of how they appeared, who they were, part of a diverse evolving unique American gyroscopic system. Even the most jaded soul understood being different was natural, even if your difference was made of so many facets, no one thing stood alone and nothing alone could capture it — save poverty herself, true interpreter of shades and depths of differences, which we celebrated on saxophone streets, in piano bars and when looking to the heavens for inspiration in the form of star notes seeping through the black ceiling of the sky.

We walked to the pier and back, crossed the river many times, snuck onto boats. Late nights when high on dope, danced invisibly across wires that sang between buildings foreshadowing a future of untold messy connections in electrified space, wandered from place to place the way music wanders and language, taking each thing we touched, each experience into the next, creating musical compositions out of that which could not be assimilated any other way.

It was the artist in the child of Noname wanting to connect things, a pure desire that arose out of her authentic lineage and testified to her true belonging in that unseen space and time, where artistry is conceived and these days must hide.

Her roots were royal, her father’s books, little comprehended, featured on bookshelves in stores throughout the country, her mother’s music played in every record store. Her mother’s profile, defiant chin arching upward decorated the side of a brick building in Soho — a club was named after her in the West Village and one in Chicago.

At dawn, after a long night listening to everything there was to hear and seeing what there was to see, we sat on a bench watching time on the Hudson River. I watched Noname imitating me as she mused, trying to anticipate her direction. Noname sat there calm, proud head crowned with dredlocks the color of soil, her well-defined nose and blue eyes slit, behind them, an acknowledgment of, well, darkness, the state of things, aimed across the river as if reality, truth, what mattered, was more apparent there.

“I want to fuse things, make something new,” she said. I nodded, and told her she could do whatever she set her mind to. “That’s my girl,” I said, plain as day, just as its first fingers stretched toward us across the river.

Noname’s hands were long, tapered at the ends like her mother’s and like her mother, she was skilled, even effortless, on the piano. She had learned a few lessons from me, hanging around all the bars where good music played, but her understanding was inherent, her mother’s gift.

She was versatile on the instrument, covering all jazz and blues standards without a blink and skilled on drums too, although that was a secondary thing, an accompaniment and rest in her mind. It was her idea I conduct drums in her mind. We heard drums whenever we traipsed along the avenues and side streets of New York, Pittsburgh, Chicago, or Kansas City hanging out on stoops, outside cafes or clubs. ‘Twas drums we heard, whenever we ran from some bloody scene or riot. Whenever it rained or snowed, drums grew soft, almost tender, a third heart beating between us to time and its exigencies. But it was piano Noname played as she evolved as a musician despite her parents’ lack of presence.

Truth was, her parents had not had a clue what to do with her. They themselves had been together just a minute, long enough to create her, celebrate her explosion in their consciousness, ecstasy that came between them. She came into the world and were off doing their own thing, one signing books, talking the world to death, the other playing music, giving a new face to pride. The girl, Noname, was on her own. “You’re a happy consequence,” I told her when explaining her state of orphanhood.

Thankfully, the streets, which are the best teacher, helped me raise her. By the time she was a teenager, we were masters of happenchance. One day, passing a store, we peered in the window together at a sea of pianos—black, brown, white, creamy and golden. “Look at that.”

We went in. The balding manager sat at a desk in back, busy over paperwork, looked up, nodded, waved, like “do what you can to fill this stodgy room with something beautiful.” So Noname picked a black upright, settled upon the bench before it, hesitated a prayerful moment before placing her hands on the keys, black and white, loving each distinctly, with equanimity, and played one of the first blues’ riffs I’d ever taught her by Muddy Waters.

That was our lunch date that day, bread and butter, soul connecting to the future’s pregnant abundance. Noname played the future, sitting at a piano, mastering a tune, bringing it forward with her own influence so it had something new — something it had been and something more.

Noname could play just about anything and do justice to a tune whether she was on an abandoned instrument left to rot on the streets, a forlorn one in some remote corner of a library, or a beat up one in some funky club. Long as the keys were there, even when not perfectly tuned, she could befriend the piano and use it to tell stories. Her touch had magic, brought people together to listen and left them with a story to think about and connect to their own lives — which is what art is about isn’t it?

Noname played to what she knew, differences and anathemas — ana-what?—and turned around hostilities because the music was love. Her music spoke to resistance and fire, to her ancestry and her will to stay as she was—different–and to create a musical monument out of the host of differences in her.

What does a woman do alone in the world? Her mother Nina asked this of her often, asked it of the mirror while Noname watched, admiring, trying to learn. Her father Andre had no questions, only hard, unyielding certitude. A statement onto himself, he was big-headed and pig-headed, sure as only men can be who have everything from the beginning — name, height, intelligence, acknowledgement, place and therefore the right to do anything, the right to be. But her father hated war, understood art as protest, wanted to fuse art and culture, and surely music. Did he understand music was the key? Did he understand music united everything?

The only thing her father did not understand was where women belonged, what their roles could be, and so he fit them into boxes. He fit her mother and her music into boxes. Can you imagine, fitted his own child into a box, assuming, name would be her only tether to any sense of belonging in the world.

Each child forges her own place, understands legacy and takes from it what she will. An image and word can marry, each out of nowhere conceive something fresh together. But there were ideas that stood apart, that belonged to vast space, emptiness, where connections happen at such a rate they are inconceivable to ordinary seeing and understanding. Still as an intuitive, her mother’s child, she knew where music and time reside, so does the absolute.

Therefore, Noname could not dig ordinary, relative concepts about art, music, life. Life was blues and jazz and had to be infused with these in order to be true. The horns had to protest harder, had to articulate pain and reality with the certainty of a pregnant woman knowing she must give birth.

Noname felt unassimilable, that her differences were alternately convex and concave, and attempted to resolve deep questions about this state that she believed to be that of all things, playing music. Ping, pong, reng, dang, om, pang, reng. The convex became concave. Then she tapped in reverse—reng, pang, om, dang, reng, pong, ping–became convex, saw herself stepping through doors where masters walked escorted, shrouded in finery, and were applauded on stages around the world. She understood that to be one thing you had to be the other as she tendered notes drawing them high, pulling them low, awakening memory, fingers singing, waking onto truth and poverty, the reality of what it means to live alone on city streets even as the world commands you to do other things and pay homage to mundanity.

Pom pam pom pam pom. Pom pam pom pam pom went her mother’s bare feet climbing stairs to her room toward the crib in which she lay naked surrounded only by breeze that blew over her the scent of metal, sky, trees, trucks and debris, scent that demanded music transform it into something beautiful. A curtain puffed derided by wind, brushed her cheek and she billowed.

       Whatcha want baby? Whatcha want. Ain’t got nothin’ for ya, nothin’. Just listen. You like this record, huh? You like my voice?

Yeah, she loved her mother’s voice that stemmed from its own history of incongruencies, the gutter, rage, potent streams and citadels, where women’s stories lay scattered, broken, incomplete.

Sometimes her father came up too and tried to sing to Noname, blowing smoke from his cigar toward the window, rocking her with one hand, gazing at her in the box of the crib, wondering into what boxes she would grow.

       Daddy, she said in her mind, even as a toddler, gazing at his distracted smile. He heard her voice, her need to reach him and looked down. Listen, she said. Listen. He went away puffing, smiling.

She had to listen for him, for all men, brothers, poets, writers, artists, musicians, who did not make room for women, who did not understand the perfect juxtaposition their intention makes on all art, their intention to make peace, create even in havoc, out of havoc, for havoc.

At dawn, after a long night listening to everything there was to hear and seeing what there was to see, we sat on a bench watching time on the Missouri River. I watched Noname imitating me as she mused, trying to anticipate her direction. Noname sat there calm, proud, a pixie blonde like the actress Jean Seberg, cigarette dangling, pug nose, wide eyes behind which was an acknowledgment of, well, darkness, the state of things, aimed across the river as if reality, truth, what mattered, was more apparent there.

“I want to fuse things, make something new,” she said. I nodded, and told her she could do whatever she set her mind to. “That’s my girl,” I said, plain as day, just as its first fingers stretched toward us across the river.

Noname felt unassimilable, that her differences were alternately convex and concave, and attempted to resolve deep questions about this state that she believed to be the state of all things, playing music. Ping, pong, reng, dang, om, pang, reng. The convex became concave. Then she tapped in reverse—reng, pang, om, dang, reng, pong, ping–became convex, saw herself stepping through doors where masters walked escorted, shrouded in finery, and were applauded on stages around the world. She understood that to be one thing you had to be the other as she tendered notes drawing them high, pulling them low, awakening memory, fingers singing, waking onto truth and poverty, the reality of what it means to live alone on city streets even as the world commands you to do other things and pay homage to mundanity.

Pom pam pom pam pom. Pom pam pom pam pom went her mother’s bare feet climbing stairs to her room toward the crib in which she lay naked surrounded only by breeze that blew over her the scent of metal, sky, trees, trucks and debris, scent that demanded music transform it into something beautiful. A curtain puffed derided by wind, brushed her cheek and she billowed.

       Whatcha want baby? Whatcha want. Ain’t got nothin’ for ya, nothin’. Just listen. You like this record, huh? You like my voice?

Yeah, she loved her mother’s voice that stemmed from its own history of incongruencies, the gutter, rage, potent streams and citadels, where women’s stories lay scattered, broken, incomplete.

Sometimes her father came up too and tried to sing to Noname, blowing smoke from his cigar toward the window, rocking her with one hand, gazing at her in the box of the crib, wondering into what boxes she would grow.

       Daddy, she said in her mind, even as a toddler, gazing at his distracted smile. He heard her voice, her need to reach him and looked down. Listen, she said. Listen. He went away puffing, smiling.

She had to listen for him, for all men, brothers, poets, writers, artists, musicians, who did not make room for women, who did not understand the perfect juxtaposition their intention makes on all art, their intention to make peace, create even in havoc, out of havoc, for havoc.

At dawn, after a long night listening to everything there was to hear and seeing what there was to see, we sat on a bench watching time on the Chicago River. I watched Noname imitating me as she mused, trying to anticipate her direction. Noname sat there calm, proud, bald and bold, flared nose, sensual lips, hazel eyes behind which was an acknowledgment of, well, darkness, the state of things, aimed across the river as if reality, truth, what mattered, was more apparent there.

“I want to fuse things, make something new,” she said. I nodded, and told her she could do whatever she set her mind to. “That’s my girl,” I said, plain as day, just as its first fingers stretched toward us across the river.

Noname felt unassimilable, that her differences were alternately convex and concave, and attempted to resolve deep questions about this state that she believed to be the state of all things, playing music. Ping, pong, reng, dang, om, pang, reng. The convex became concave. Then she tapped in reverse—reng, pang, om, dang, reng, pong, ping–became convex, saw herself stepping through doors where masters walked escorted, shrouded in finery, and were applauded on stages around the world. She understood that to be one thing you had to be the other as she tendered notes drawing them high, pulling them low, awakening memory, fingers singing, waking onto truth and poverty, the reality of what it means to live alone on city streets even as the world commands you to do other things and pay homage to mundanity.

Pom pam pom pam pom. Pom pam pom pam pom went her mother’s bare feet climbing stairs to her room toward the crib in which she lay naked surrounded only by breeze that blew over her the scent of metal, sky, trees, trucks and debris, scent that demanded music transform it into something beautiful. A curtain puffed derided by wind, brushed her cheek and she billowed.

       Whatcha want baby? Whatcha want. Ain’t got nothin’ for ya, nothin’. Just listen. You like this record, huh? You like my voice?

Yeah, she loved her mother’s voice that stemmed from its own history of incongruencies, the gutter, rage, potent streams and citadels, where women’s stories lay scattered, broken, incomplete.

Sometimes her father came up too and tried to sing to Noname, blowing smoke from his cigar toward the window, rocking her with one hand, gazing at her in the box of the crib, wondering into what boxes she would grow.

       Daddy, she said in her mind, even as a toddler, gazing at his distracted smile. He heard her voice, her need to reach him and looked down. Listen, she said. Listen. He went away puffing, smiling.

She had to listen for him, for all men, brothers, poets, writers, artists, musicians, who did not make room for women, who did not understand the perfect juxtaposition their intention makes on all art, their intention to make peace, create even in havoc, out of havoc, for havoc.

Pom pam pom pam pom. Pom pam pom pam pom went her mother’s bare feet climbing stairs to her room toward the crib in which she lay naked surrounded only by breeze that blew over her the scent of metal, sky, trees, trucks and debris, scent that demanded music transform it into something beautiful. A curtain puffed derided by wind, brushed her cheek and she billowed.

 

__________

 

 

 

 

A note from the publisher:

 

In July of 2012, Arya Jenkins’ short story “So What”—a story about an adolescent girl who attempts to connect to her absent father through his record collection – was chosen as the 30th winner of the Jerry Jazz Musician Short Fiction Contest.  When that outstanding work was soon followed up with another quality entry with jazz music at its core, I invited her to contribute her fiction to this website on a more regular basis.  We agreed to a commission of three stories per year, and today’s publication of “The Piano Whisperer” is her 15th story to appear on Jerry Jazz Musician.  To access all of her work, click here.

I recently received word from Ms. Jenkins that Fomite Press, a small, independent publisher out of Vermont whose focus is on exposing high level literary work, will be publishing these stories in a collection titled Blue Songs in an Open Key.  Publication date is November 1, 2018. 

I am pleased that the investment we made in one another has led to such a proud result. 

For more information about the book, and about Ms. Jenkins, visit her website at www.aryafjenkins.com.

Joe Maita

Publisher

Jerry Jazz Musician

 

 

 

 

 

_____

 

 

Arya F. Jenkins is a Colombian American whose poetry, fiction and creative nonfiction have appeared in numerous journals and zines. Her fiction was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2017. Her poetry was nominated for the Pushcart in 2015. Her work has appeared in at least five anthologies. Her poetry chapbooks are: JewelFire (AllBook Books, 2011) and Silence Has A Name (Finishing Line Press, 2016).

 

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