The Sunday Poem: “Miss Janice Scroggins and Her 88 Keys,” by Emmett Wheatfall

March 5th, 2023

.

.

The Sunday Poem  is published weekly, and strives to include the poet reading their work.

Emmett Wheatfall reads his poem at its conclusion.

.

.

___

.

.

.

.

 

Miss Janice Scroggins and Her 88 Keys

Some of them black
Some of them white
88 keys are from left to right

Oh, what joy
Oh, what delight
88 keys are gonna get played tonight

You see, the club is full
And every seat is filled
Does anyone know how the legend feels

The lights are low
And the spirits bright
Only God knows what genius has in store tonight

Alright, alright
It’s time to get real
Ladies and gentlemen
How do you feel?
Welcome to the stage
And welcome with me
Ms. Janice Scroggins and her 88 keys

Silky smooth and light as a feather
She opens with Oscar Peterson
Who’s listening from heaven

His dissonance and timing keep her head bopping
Just short of death she ain’t stopping
88 keys – they know this
Hell, they say “man!”
we ain’t gonna stop this”

Suddenly new inspiration comes
All 88 keys know this is going to be fun
You see, Scott Joplin has tickled her fancy
Intricate his timing – delicate his mastery
Jazz purists are left in a spell
88 keys stay hot on the trail
Her playing is tight – it tingle’s the ear
Hey! Someone shouts
“She’s paying tribute to yester-year”

Play on
Play on the crowd yells
Yet Ms. Scroggins wants to quell
With fascination
Her own interpretation of “Imagine”
John Lennon’s magnum opus
His anthem – the lyrical revelation that must become us

Then it was as if the whole club just shook
Even the drummer and bassist stopped to look
Ms. Scroggins has summoned the late great Mr. Sam Cooke
Why?
Because he knows her pain and then some
His message is her message
“A Change Is Gonna Come”

All night long she raptured with song
Her theory ingenious
Her phrasing—88 keys strong

Then the end came
As did the music the same
88 keys fell silent
No one moved – no one took to the night
Even though her mind and body was spent
To acknowledge the crowd’s ovation
She stood and bent
But the crowd would not relent
So again, she bowed and bent
Again and again, she bowed and bent
And like all the greats before her
Into the night she went

88 keys
Some of them black
Some of them white
88 keys are from left to right

Oh, what joy
Oh, what delight
88 keys got played tonight

.

.

Listen to Emmett Wheatfall read his poem, accompanied by Janice Scroggins on the piano

.

.

___

.

.

 

Janice Scroggins

To characterize Janice Scroggins as an exceptional talent would be an understatement of epic proportion. Janice was a musical genius and my dear friend. We collaborated on more than one occasion, and she honored me by sharing her immense talent. Unlike in August Wilson’s brilliant play The Piano Lesson, where the piano was a source of consternation, for Janice Scroggins the piano was a portal to melody and rhythm without limitation.

Rest harmonically my dear friend.

-Emmett Wheatfall

.

.

___

.

.

 

Emmett Wheatfall lives in Portland, Oregon. He is a published poet and performs lyrical poetry to music. He has three books of poetry published by Fernwood Press. They are As Clean as a Bone (2018) which is an Eric Hoffer Award finalist and Our Scarlet Blue Wounds (2019). His new poetry book With Extreme Prejudice, Lest We Forget is now available. For more biographical information visit https://www.poet-emmettwheatfall.com.

.

.

Listen to the 2013 recording of Janice Scroggins playing “What a Friend”

.

.

___

.

.

Click here  to view previous editions of The Sunday Poem

.

Click here  for information about how to submit your poetry

Click here  to subscribe to the (free)  Jerry Jazz Musician  quarterly newsletter

Click here  to help support the ongoing publication of  Jerry Jazz Musician  (thank you!)

.

.

.

Share this:

One comments on “The Sunday Poem: “Miss Janice Scroggins and Her 88 Keys,” by Emmett Wheatfall”

  1. I was not familiar with Janice Scroggins but loved her playing and Mr. Wheatfall’s poem. Thank you!

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

Miles Davis "'Round About Midnight" (1957/Columbia Records)
“You Never Forget Your First” – by Brian Kates

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.

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