Trading Fours, with Douglas Cole, No. 11: “Blow by Blow”

January 17th, 2023

.

.

 

Trading Fours with Douglas Cole  is an occasional series of the writer’s poetic interpretations of jazz recordings and film

.

.

___

.

.

“Blow by Blow” is a portrait of Berkeley, California in the 1970’s, and the fusion jazz that was finding its way onto the scene at that time.

A recording of Mr. Cole reading this work is found at the conclusion of the poem.

 

.

.

 

___

.

.

The campanile on the campus of the University of California, Berkeley

.

.

Blow by Blow

It’s the Seventies, out loud, that forward bass funk
and Blues guitar, that speedy growl.
This does not happen without James Brown.
Soundtrack to shootouts, party nights, shag rug, lava lamp.
I think the guitar is saying something in words.
Running Benvenue, night, running like crazy across Underhill field,
streets overhung with vines, it all looks like a jungle to me—
needle rain, that one bedroom apartment on Dwight,
low rumble of Telegraph Avenue.

Bus strike, school strike, Northside wild: Cal Cameras, Laval’s,
bins of illegal falafel grain in Anne Melah’s garage,
Euclid trickles down to the archway of Cal, eucalyptus trees,
red tile rooftops, groves, Sproul Plaza, Sather Gate.
The cement takes on the texture of the sound.
Jeff Beck out there with the Grateful Dead, Al Dimeola,
Parliament Funkadelic and James Brown, did I mention James Brown?
Jazz fusion is jazz James Brown.

Back to Dwight and Benvenue—I’ve got things to figure out.
You with me? You walking all the way with me in heavy rain
down railroad tracks to West Campus, history class,
soaked to the bone, fever by four, then back home, deep shiver,
eyes red glued shut, windows and walls throbbing,
circus lights from People’s Park, drums, congas, train rhythm
rolling in and out of my consciousness.

Ah, love, I’ll learn Spanish for you, I’ll paint the house,
I’ll hop the bodies on the porch.
Santa Cruz summer, king waves, Capilano Drive,
the coves of Aptos,
Sunshine rising naked from the waves
to sit beside us on the beach.

Back to Northside, Virginia Street, the Rose Garden,
brothers arriving from Hugo territory,
scholar sister Chris,
Thanksgiving and Doctor Dave a little overeager with the flu shots,
and Charlie says, Man, we’d get up, smoke a joint,
put on Southern Comfort, run uphill to the M,
bomb off to class, high, glorious.

Charlie, Chris, and Mike in old man Valentine’s place
after the years he lived alone,
sitting in his kitchen by the open stove for heat,
strolling slow on evening constitutionals
(he’s ninety-something after all)
sporting in his pinstripe suit.

Now I’m long-striding up Fulton Street to Haste,
pontificating with Randall Mullins,
Bobcat Goldthwaite doing his routine in a Piedmont church,
James Brown, Herbie Handcock, Weather Report,
Crusaders, James Brown, ConFunkShun, James Brown,
jazz and James Brown equals fusion, Jeff Beck speaking in licks,
Jeff Beck on his way today…

The Seventies are never the same: that look, that stride,
Starsky and Hutch, Hillstreet Blues, Baretta, Shaft…
I learned every alley, trail, basement, hideout,
years dead end on Warring, bottle-smashing Hearst,
bombers and beers,
Andreas Godfrey’s house party in the hills,
his father, a mathematician, in the living room dark,
slipping into dementia.

The Magic Christian at the UC Theater,
Bootsy Collins in a stretch limo,
riding up Bancroft and waving through the sunroof,
those star glasses and that gold-tooth smile…
music made the scene, music made the moves, the attitudes, the world views—
you want to time travel, get inside the music.

It’s the way a piano thinks, the everlasting at Stinson Beach,
from first light to dusk—sometimes the sea is a big martini,
and the sun is just a swizzle stick.
Rough ascent from that room on Milvia,
around midnight, the moon insistent at the window,
puffed up red as a fresh heart—I mean,
where do I go from there? To the bathroom?
Look in the mirror? I’ve got to get out of here!
And Charlie says, You’re not leaving without me.
Mary Helen puts the earth on her shoulders like a backpack.
Strawberry Creek taps into the garden of Eden,
in this light, this bright moonlight,
the water lit-up flowing black and gold.

After that it all adds up, a little,
don’t pay any attention to the curtains,
they’ve been whispering and hissing all night,
spider casting its web from heaven to the crown of your head.
Berkeley, you never change the way you’re always changing.

All it takes is music, though going back I find
less and less is there I know, the world that was.
Now is more voracious, this is true,
whatever street you’re on, especially one’s I mentioned.
Charles Simic says from “Hotel Starry Sky,”
“I wasn’t there yet I saw everything.”
He and Jeff are leaving today. That’s a simple truth,
even if truth isn’t simple,
like saying fusion jazz is jazz plus James Brown.

.

Listen to Douglas Cole read “Blow by Blow”

.

.

___

.

.

 

 

The following tracks are examples of music referred to directly and indirectly in the poem that would have been heard in dorm and apartment rooms, bars, cafes, and clubs in Berkeley in the early-to-mid 1970’s.

.

James Brown, “Ain’t it Funky” (1970); [Universal Music Group]

.

___

.

Herbie Hancock, “Chameleon” (1973); [Sony Music Entertainment]

.

___

.

Jeff Beck, “Thelonius” (1974); [Epic Records]

.

___

.

The Crusaders, “Time Bomb” (1974); [Universal Music Group]

.

___

.

Weather Report, “Black Market” (1976); [Columbia/Legacy]

.

.

___

.

.

photo by Jenn Merritt

.

Douglas Cole has published six collections of poetry and The White Field, winner of the American Fiction Award. His work has appeared in several anthologies as well as journals such as The Chicago Quarterly Review, Poetry International, The Galway Review, Bitter Oleander, Chiron, Louisiana Literature, Slipstream, as well Spanish translations of work (translated by Maria Del Castillo Sucerquia) in La Cabra Montes. He is a regular contributor to Mythaixs, an online journal, where in addition to his fiction and essays, his interviews with notable writers, artists and musicians such as Daniel Wallace (Big Fish), Darcy Steinke (Suicide Blond, Flash Count Diary) and Tim Reynolds (T3 and The Dave Matthews Band) have been popular contributions. He has been nominated twice for a Pushcart and Best of the Net and received the Leslie Hunt Memorial Prize in Poetry. He lives and teaches in Seattle, Washington. Click here to visit his website..

.

.

The poet’s collection, The Blue Island

.

.

___

.

.

Click here  to learn how to submit your poetry

Click here  to subscribe to the Jerry Jazz Musician newsletter

Click here to help support the continuing publishing efforts of Jerry Jazz Musician

.

.

.

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
"23 Poets remember their father…"

This space on Sunday is generally reserved for a single poet to read one of their works, but this week’s issue -Father’s Day – features 23 poets who weigh in on the complexity of their relationship with their father, revealing love, warmth, regret, sorrow – and in many cases a strong connection to a common love of music.

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.

Book Excerpt

An excerpt from Emily Jon Tobias’ MONARCH: Stories, and a reflection on our friendship

Art

photo of Archie Shepp by Giovanni Piesco
The Photographs of Giovanni Piesco: Archie Shepp...photos of the legendary saxophonist (and his rhythm section for the evening), taken at Amsterdam's Bimhuis on May 13, 2001.

Poetry

The cover to Joni Mitchell's 1976 album Hejira [Asylum]; photo by Norman Seeff
“Fort Macleod, Alberta, Canada” – a poem (for Joni Mitchell) by Juan Mobili

Click here to read more poetry published in Jerry Jazz Musician

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