The Sunday Poem: “The Music of Surprise” by John Menaghan

June 4th, 2023

.

.

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

Mr. Menaghan reads his poem at its conclusion.

.

.

___

.

.

 

The 1982 Timeless All Stars album It’s Timeless  [Baystate]

.

___

.

The Music of Surprise
for The Timeless All Stars

.

Cedar and Buster and Billy emerge
from the wings exuding élan
and inexpressible cool
as they take their
places behind
piano, bass
and drums.

The trio maneuvers thru a series
of tunes as if their fingers, feet,
whole bodies carried within
all that remarkable music,
sounds they just tote
around as they move
through the world,
let out to play
from day
to day.

Then Harold conveys his sax to center stage,
threads notes through the tapestry,
gives the tunes extra texture as
they curl out over the crowd
like a breeze you can’t
see or touch, warm
and cool at the
same time.

A few songs further on Curtis sidles
up to Harold, lifts his trombone.
And as the trio begins a new
song Harold & Curtis
blast off for
the moon.

By the time Bobby grabs his mallets, makes
it a sextet, something better than sex
has started to happen onstage
and the six men look at
each other in wonder,
smiling at finding
this astonishing
little groove.

As the music starts to sound not
just celestial but out of this
or any world the only
thing the audience
can do is hold its
breath, embrace
this feeling for
as long as
it lasts.

Another gig, another show, another city
for the band, until it proved more
than anyone had any right
to expect or think they
deserved on what had
seemed just another
night in another
spot nothing
special
at all.

What is jazz? This. The music of
surprise, a chance to invite
the incredible just by
listening, letting go,
letting a force you
cannot even hope
to comprehend
take charge
one more
time.

.

Listen to John Menaghan read his poem

.

.

___

.

.

Winner of an Academy of American Poets Prize and other awards, John Menaghan has published four books with Salmon Poetry — All the Money in the World (1999), She Alone (2006), What Vanishes (2009), and Here and Gone (2014) —as well as poems and articles in Irish, British, American, and Canadian journals, and given poetry readings in Ireland, England, Scotland, France, Hungary, Canada, and across the U.S. from New York to Honolulu. A fifth volume, composed entirely of his jazz-related poems, is forthcoming from Salmon in 2024.

.

.

Listen to the 1982 performance of the Timeless All Stars playing “Stella by Starlight,” with Harold Land (tenor saxophone); Curtis Fuller (trombone); Cedar Walton (piano); Bobby Hutcherson (vibes); Buster Williams (bass) and Billy Higgins (drums).  [The Orchard]

.

.

___

.

.

Click here to read previous editions of The Sunday Poem

Click here for information about how to submit your poetry or short fiction

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

Click here to help support the ongoing publication of Jerry Jazz Musician, and to keep it commercial-free (thank you!)

.

___

.

Jerry Jazz Musician…human produced (and AI-free) since 1999

.

.

.

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 by Mel Levine/pinelife, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
“Lady Day and Prez” by Henry Wolstat

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.

Publisher’s Notes

photo by Rhonda Dorsett
A very brief three-dot update…Where I’ve been, and an update on what is coming up on Jerry Jazz Musician

Poetry

Photographer uncredited, but the photo was almost certainly taken by Chuck Stewart. Published by ABC/Impulse! Records.. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
“And I’m Not Even Here” – a poem by Connie Johnson

Click here to read more poetry published on Jerry Jazz Musician

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.

Click here to read more interviews published on Jerry Jazz Musician

Poetry

Three poets and Sketches of Spain

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.

Trading Fours with Douglas Cole

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

Review

Jason Innocent, on “3”, Abdullah Ibrahim’s latest album... Album reviews are rarely published on Jerry Jazz Musician, but Jason Innocent’s experience with the pianist Abdullah Ibrahim’s new recording captures the essence of this artist’s creative brilliance.

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.

Click here to read more short fiction published on Jerry Jazz Musician

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

"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 #171

Dick Cavett/via Wikimedia Commons
In addition to being one of the greatest musicians of his generation, this Ohio native was an activist, leading “Jazz and People’s Movement,” a group formed in the late 1960’s who “adopted the tactic of interrupting tapings and broadcasts of television and radio programs (i.e. the shows of Johnny Carson, Dick Cavett [pictured] and Merv Griffin) in protest of the small number of Black musicians employed by networks and recording studios.” Who was he?

Click here to visit the Jazz History Quiz archive

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

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