Two poems for Ella Fitzgerald

January 29th, 2020

.

.

photo by William Gottlieb/Library of Congress

Ella Fitzgerald, November, 1946

.

 

 

.

 

An Anecdote That Is Likely True

A man I knew, probably a brother of mine,
once played trumpet in a marine band that had a gig
on the old Glen Campbell show.  The band
finished its dress rehearsal, packed up instruments,
and headed for the exit and for dinner prior

to the upcoming show.  The trumpeter noticed,
as he was packing up, a quiet black woman
sitting in a corner, withdrawn deep into herself.
As the trumpeter reached the exit, he heard
a singer, a woman, unleash a voice of feral beauty,

elegantly controlled, filled with blues and jazz, wild
and funky, slipping and sliding up and down notes,
caressing and blessing the music she was sharing with
an indifferent world on its way to dinner.  The hairs
on the back of the trumpeter’s neck stood straight up.

The man noticed that the entire crew had ceased
its work and were staring at the singer.  The man
looked round, and hot, damn, the quiet woman
who was lighting up the studio was Ella Fitzgerald,
who even in a warmup for an upcoming show,

and without any audience other than departing
marine musicians and a television tech crew,
was lighting a musical fire of extraordinary dimension.
When I heard this story the first time, I realized
great singers are not capable of bestowing song casually,

not even on a world that is engrossed in the quotidian
affairs of everyday life.  A true singer always unleashes all
the heart has to offer, and so she did.  The trumpeter stood
with his mouth open until the song finished, and found
himself wanting more, more, please, please, more.

.

by Michael L. Newell

.

.

___

.

.

 

The Four Seasons Of Ella

even in winter,  she is a fire blazing, her eyes are
like the the clearest lake or the best dream or
like an opal, where night finds its song
a snowbird flies away, as snow gives way to
roses, she is alive,  like spring, like cummings
her soul takes flight to whimsy, she is a poem
not in motion, but standing still; she is jazz, even silent
a melody lingers, she is a summer breeze, she is like a tree
she demands your attention and your fidelity, like a muse
she comes, but is never called, she is fragile as a leaf
and her love lingers, long after the fall

.

by Erren Kelly

.

.

_____

..

 

.

Michael L. Newell is a retired teacher who now lives in Florida

.

___

.

 

 

 

Erren Kelly is a two-time Pushcart nominated poet from Boston whose work has appeared in 300 publications (print and online), including Hiram Poetry Review, Mudfish, Poetry Magazine, Ceremony, Cacti Fur, Bitterzoet, Cactus Heart, Similar Peaks, Gloom Cupboard, .and .Poetry Salzburg.

.

.

 

 

Ella, c. 1965

 

.

.

.

Share this:

8 comments on “Two poems for Ella Fitzgerald”

  1. Erren Kelly’s poem is a lovely tribute to the greatness of Ella Fitzgerald’s artistry, and its language is a burst of the purest lyricism. Fine, fine work!

  2. Michael, you’ve artfully picked the details to take us there to hear her. Another good poem! More, more, please more.

  3. Erren, you’ve skillfully taken us through the seasons with her. (I had to read it over again, to see how you made it flow.) Beautiful!

  4. Erren and Michael, these are very nice poems with great lines. I love “like spring, like cummings” – awesome! And “blessing the music…with an indifferent world…” – beautiful! These are fine offerings to a goddess.

  5. Michael. Another fine poem. Liked the “slipping and sliding up and down notes, caressing
    and blessing the music she was sharing.” Go Ella!

  6. Erren! Enjoyed the poem a lot. I too liked “like spring, like cummings.” It reminded me of the
    freshness of Ella, and how cummings could also bring that out in his poetry.

  7. Two such lyrical tributes to a wonderful performer, Erren’s sweet
    and full (and some stunning images -,the snowbird, the muse) and Michael’s starting from its slow, everyday narrative base to open out into such richness. Thank you both, very much.

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 Bekzat Tasmagambetov/via Pexels
"The Lady Sings" - by Michael Keshigian

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