“Words and Music” — a short story by Mary Corbin

September 18th, 2021

.

.

 

 

“Words and Music,” a story by Mary Corbin, was a short-listed entry in our recently concluded 57th Short Fiction Contest.  It is published with the permission of the author

.

.

.

 

The symbol for a fermata, which is used to indicate that a musical note should be held longer than its standard duration. The length that the note can be held is up to the artist or conductor of the piece of music 

.

.

 

.

Words and Music

by

Mary Corbin

 

.

…..It’s never easy to say goodbye, especially when you didn’t get there in time. Dad was hours away from me and I didn’t have a car and it was the middle of the night when I got word. Words. Sung off-key.

…..Dickie Calais was born in the year when an American president outlined a plan to end war forever and women gained the right to vote. And he was my dad. Of French Norman descent, he grew up in a small farming town in upstate New York playing sandlot baseball, the only son in a family whose other child, a daughter, died when she was seventeen and a father who tried hard to keep a job but couldn’t. His mother was the real backbone of the family, the rule maker. The keeper of accounts.

…..When my dad was ten, it became apparent that he not only loved baseball but he loved music, too, and could carry a tune like nobody’s business. His talent soon came to the attention of his Auntie Wynn while she was visiting the family one August weekend. Wynn was an artist who lived in New York City in a flat in Greenwich Village with her wealthy banker husband, a life very different from her older sister, Nettie.

…..“Dickie, you are quite a songbird, you are!” Wynn said, listening to Dad singing right along with the radio she had brought them as an extravagant gift that year.

…..“Why, he knows all the words to all the songs, Nettie,” Wynn said to her sister sitting on the couch mending a shirt for her husband who was sleeping off a little too much whiskey taken a little too early in the day.

…..Dickie was singing along to “Happy Days are Here Again” while putting the checkers back into their box. When he became aware of Auntie’s attentions, he began singing louder to her admiration. He started to snap his fingers and clap along to the music, played the coffee table like a drum with his hands in time to the beat of the song. Nettie just nodded and kept to her task.

….. “Dickie, you really are something!” Wynn said.

…..“On the Sunny Side of the Street” started up. Dickie stood to perform as though on stage, extending his arms wide and dancing back and forth across the room. He began to sing harmony to the main melody, proving he had a command and range beyond an ordinary kid. Wynn clapped and laughed with glee, looking over at her sister Nettie.

…..“Ok, time to turn that radio off, Dickie. Help me set the table for supper,” Nettie said, standing up to commandeer the room.

.

. . . . .

.

…..“Nettie? There is a new music school in the city for boys. I think Dickie should enroll, he has such talent. He could live with me for the summer . . .” Wynn began.

…..But Nettie was already shaking her head as she washed the dinner plates.

…..“No, no. He plays baseball all summer. That’s what boys are supposed to do, Wynnie,” she said, throwing a dish towel over her shoulder.

…..“Now, go get me those coffee cups off the table and let’s not hear another word about it,” Nettie said.

…..Wynn was crestfallen. Nettie didn’t like her younger sister telling her how to live her life from the vantage point of rich city folk. No, she was content to live out her days the way she saw fit, as ascribed by the good book and the words of wisdom of their elders.

…..“Ok, Nettie. I’ll get the cups,” she said, walking slowly over to the table.

…..Turning, she caught a glimpse of little Dickie sitting on the living room floor, sorting through his baseball cards and humming a tune that played only in his head. She released a soft sigh and walked back to the kitchen sink, back to Nettie in her old dress and well-worn apron, her hair pulled taut in a bun atop her oh-so level head.

.

. . . . .

.

…..When Dad was a young man, he followed his heart into music as a drummer and singer in a band called “The Hottentots.”  Who the heck knows why they named a quartet playing big band music after an indigenous people of South Africa?  I never thought to ask. Innocent enough to my dad was its hep sound when it rolled off the tongue. He played the skins and sang at parties and once in a while had a real gig in a café in exchange for a beer and a plate of hot food.

…..I’ve Got a Gal in Kalamazoo. Chattanooga Choo Choo. Tangerine.

…..For him it was his life’s blood to play music and express himself in rhythm and vibrato. To have audience.

…..But another war came, despite that American president’s willful plan and Dad was shipped off like the rest, thrust into a violent and tragic opera. It would take some time before a proper set of notes could be contained within five horizontal lines and four blank spaces to create euphonious harmony in the world again. Dickie would return to his hometown, meet a young woman named Marian, fall in love and create his own American songbook of love and family.

.

. . . . .

.

…..I’m Louise, by the way, Dickie and Marian’s third. The middle child in a family of five kids, with two older brothers and two younger sisters. I’m the bridge in the song that ties both ends together into a whole. Casey is the oldest, then Joe, me, and Sarah and Melody are on the other end. Melody, or Mel, is the youngest and keeper of the family flame. Sarah has lived in Paris for years. She’s a jazz singer, which is fitting because my parents named her after one of their favorites, Sarah Vaughan. We hardly ever see her and Dad always hated that the thing he loved the most is what took her so far away from him.

…..Growing up, Dad was always organizing us into a band. We had a dedicated music room with a piano front and center surrounded by guitars and a banjo, a violin, a clarinet, a tambourine, a full drum set and a xylophone. We all played something and some of us played everything. We had a stereo system and a wall of records spanning all music genres and generations. Andy Williams to Frank Zappa.

…..My sisters and I would gather around the piano and sing three-part harmony, putting on shows for Dad. I’d look over to see his hazel eyes sparkling in the limelight of our performance, his toothy grin adding to the shine. I don’t think there was much that made him happier than that.

…..On Sundays, Dad would croon in church, singing loud and clear. People would turn around to see where that voice was coming from. A kid would stare at him and we’d get a little bit embarrassed, nudge him to take it down a notch. He had his own way of holding his hymnal, his own way of interpreting those devotional sentiments and putting them back out into the world.

.

. . . . .

.

…..My sister Melody, she was there. Of course, she was there, even though none of the rest of us could be. It was all too sudden. She was the one to call and tell me it was time to say goodbye. She said Dad couldn’t speak and his eyes were closed but she felt he knew she was there. I wondered why I wasn’t, why things hadn’t aligned more perfectly. Like notes on a piece of sheet music, in perfect cadence and space and metered time. Just like the way he had taught me to write it out.

…..“Make the music first, Louise. Then add the words,” he’d say. “Heart and soul first.”

…..I always did the opposite, worked it all out in my head first, what I needed to say, despite his instructions.

A fermata is a symbol used to indicate that a note should be held longer than its standard duration. The length that the note can be held is up to the artist or conductor of the piece of music . . .”

…..I could hear my dad’s explanation during one of our music lessons at home while he taught me how to read music when I was twelve. My siblings were better at learning music by ear. I insisted on knowing the intellect of it all, the phrasing, how to parse it all out like a math problem. He was thrilled to hand this down to me and he knew we shared a special shorthand that the others were not in on. We had our own secret language, we did.

…..Sometimes, when he was having his Saturday morning coffee, I’d hand him a page or two of my scribblings; words that needed to be set to music, a tune that only he could hear in his head. He’d take the sheet from my hand and give me a wink.

…..“I’ll take a look, baby,” he’d say and set it down on the table.

…..I’d hear him later after we had all gone to bed tinkling away at the piano and I knew. I’d wait for the big reveal a few days later. The two of us sitting side by side on the bench, then, working it out together in perfect two-part harmony.

…..“Hold the phone up to his ear, will you, Mel, I want to say something,” I said between gasps for breath. I could feel her nodding.

…..“Ok, give me a second and then just start talking,” she replied.

…..I heard a little muffle of words from her as she was apparently placing the phone next to Dad’s ear, telling him it was me.

…..“Dad? Can you hear me?” I asked.

…..Silence.

…..“Dad. I’m sorry . . .” I started to say.

…..No. Not that, I thought to myself.

…..“Dad? I know you can hear me. I don’t know what to say…Except…We’re together right now and we’ll always be together. Every little breeze . . . I’ll be with you and you’ll be with me. Always . . .” I rambled, barely able to say the words through my tears.

…..Then I spoke my final words to him, uttered in a secret whisper into his ear, something meant only for him. I wiped the wetness from my nose and waited. Melody must have been able to tell that I had stopped talking. It was her voice I heard then through the fog of my advancing grief.

…..“Louise?” she asked quietly. “Are you done?”

…..“Mm-hmm,” I said.

…..“Ok. I better go then,” she said. “I love you.”

…..“Mm-hmm,” I managed again.

…..Setting the phone down on my dresser, I staggered across the room to my bed and crawled onto my belly with my head turned sideways on the pillow towards the big oak outside my window. I could only just make out its penumbra, full light not ready to break the darkness and I lay there for a minute or two before my phone rang again.

…..“Hello?” I said, though I knew it was Melody.

…..“He’s gone,” she sobbed. “It’s like he was waiting for you. Whatever you said to him, it was all he needed to hear. He slipped away just seconds after we hung up.”

…..I hung up the phone before I was even able to understand that he really was gone. There was nothing in the void but my final words to him, hanging loose in the air. He was my music. Without him, there could be no song.

.

. . . . .

.

…..Things weren’t always harmonious between me and Dad. We had words. I was a teenager in the 1970s and there was plenty to argue about with someone whose generation was steeped in tradition and sacrifice. He didn’t understand plenty about us girls, especially me, the rebel of the three. My brothers were hippie boys with long hair, but he sort of let them be. But, when I stopped going to church, threw away my bra and quit shaving my legs to protest the double standards for men and women, we got into it more than once.

…..My siblings and I were emerging from a different world into one that demanded our attention and our right to express them freely. Dad didn’t want to believe any daughter of his might not want to get married and have kids. He had tautly drawn gender definitions. I tried to explain it to him in a way he might understand.

…..“Dad, I’m the cadenza.”

The cadenza is the moment in a musical piece where an instrumentalist or singer is given the opportunity to solo with complete artistic license outside of a rigid tempo or rhythm.

…..He tried to see it, he really did. He didn’t want to be the rigid tempo holding me in check, but I was his daughter and there were expectations.

…..All of that conflict, it always dissolved when the music began to play. Someone would put on a record and no matter if it was Mick Jagger or Perry Como, the tossing ship would right itself again onto a calm sea. Dad would become his true self, the hep cat Hottentot drummer, the bon vivant, floating on an ethereal cloud of true meaning and bliss.

.

. . . . .

.

…..Flipping through the channels a week after Dad left us, there it was. Innocents of Paris, an old film he had loved and watched over and over since he was a kid.

…..What’s this doing on, I wondered.

…..The part where Maurice Chevalier sings “Louise” in his French accent was about to begin and I sat up straight from my slouch on the sofa to take it all in. It was the special song dad used to sing to me. Looking right into my eyes with a bright smile, tucking me in at night, he’d sing it. Or when we walked hand in hand on an early summer day to the corner market for hand packed ice cream, he’d sing it. It was our song. Here it comes. I sat up even straighter.

Every little breeze seems to whisper Louise
Birds in the trees seem to twitter Louise
Each little rose, tells me it knows 
I love you, love you.

…..I could hear him singing it to me now, the beat of my heart keeping time with the music. He was there with me.

.

. . . . .

.

 

…..The morning Dad died, I could barely function. Getting to Melody’s would take a lot of stamina, but I knew it was what we both needed so I pulled myself together, packed a few things into my daypack, grabbed a bag of cookies from the kitchen counter and caught the bus to pick up a rental car.

…..“What did you say to him? I mean. I guess it’s really between you and Dad, but it’s weird how you sort of . . . released him,” Melody said.

…..“I think it is between me and Dad, Mel. It was just his time,” I said.

…..Melody had the music channel on her big screen TV tuned to the channel that played the old stuff  dad loved. Tommy Dorsey, Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller. “Begin the Beguine.” “In the Mood.” “Take the ‘A’ Train.” Those songs.

…..We were sitting on Mel’s big leather couch sharing stories. Once in a while we’d get up and slow dance together, imitating the way Dad would take one of us into his arms and glide us across the living room floor. We’d laugh and twirl each other around, Mel and I, take turns leading, until one of us would just get too teary and have to throw ourselves back down on the couch.

…..Then we’d sit looking at each other until a new song came on. A still frame of Rosemary Clooney appeared and the notes began.

…..“Always Together,” I said.

…..Melody looked up at the screen.

…..“Yeah. Rosemary Clooney. ‘Always Together,’  Melody said.

“Stay near to me, we’re meant to be, always together.
Me loving you, you loving me, always together.” 

…..“This song. I don’t think I’ve ever heard it before, have you?” I asked Melody while I kept my eyes on the screen, like I was expecting an image of Dad to suddenly appear up there, singing directly to us or something, sitting on a cloud from his perch in heaven.

…..“What is it?” Melody asked.

…..“That’s Dad. He’s singing to us right now. Through her, I mean,” I said and turned to look back up at the screen. “Those were my last words to him.”

…..We sat staring at that still photo of a young Rosemary Clooney, feeling the words, feeling something was happening that was meaningful and a little bit unsettling all at once.

.

. . . . .

.

…..The next morning, the sun was coming up over the trees over Mel’s patio.

…..“I think Dad is here with us, Lou, don’t you?” Melody asked.

…..I nodded.  “Yep. I do,” I said, looking over at her sweet face and I could see the little girl in her all over again.

…..“He wanted us to know,” Melody said, her chin trembling. I reached over and took her into my arms and we stood there, feeling a little breeze sweep over us, the sound of birds in trees all around us.

.

. . . . .

.

…..Two days later, I peeled myself out of bed, climbed into the same clothes I’d worn the day before and looked for my wallet. The two-block walk to the grocery store felt endless, my energy low as if my legs were tethered to a ball and chain tethered to my heart.

Adagio.

…..I was standing in the dairy aisle staring into boxes of butter when I heard it. Everything around me was artificial. The store, cavernous. The lighting too bright. And this music being piped in directly over my head, only for my ears.

…..Could anyone else hear it?

…..I looked up to see if I could find the source of it, some speakers or something. I didn’t recognize the song at all, a man’s voice singing over and over and over again, “Don’t be sad. Everything is going to be alright.”

…..I looked both ways to make sure there was no one else in the aisle. I set my hand basket down softly onto the floor and looked up.

…..“Dad? Is that you?”

…..I was sure he was trying to reassure me that he was in a good place and that I should stop my crying. I stood there for another minute staring into space until I had to move because I was blocking the eggs and this woman was trying to reach around me, no doubt wondering what the heck was my problem in the first place. Shaken from my stupor, I picked up my hand basket and made my way to the check-out.

…..For at least the next month, I kept hearing words and music that reminded me of Dad. He was everywhere with me no matter how far afield I would go. One weekend, my best friend Jackie persuaded me to go away to help get me out of my funk. I did need to get away, break the routine of things, try to shake off at least a little bit of the grief.

…..We got off the elevator and walked down the hallway to our room, engaged in easy small talk. Stopping in front of our door, I looked up at the number posted in big numerals. 1407. My dad’s apartment number. After Mom died, we had moved him into a little apartment a few blocks from Melody’s house where he lived for the last five years of his life. 1407 Waverly Court. As Jackie scanned the key to let us in, walked into the room holding the door for me, I stood frozen. When I told her about the coincidence of the numbers, she laughed.

…..“That is just like your dad not to want to miss out on the fun! He had to come along with you, Louise, even here,” she said, and I nodded.

…..I pulled my suitcase into the room.

…..As we unpacked, I made a promise to myself not to dominate the weekend with my sorrow and revelations. Jackie knew I was in a slow heal but she didn’t need to listen to me sob and mutter regrets all weekend. As we stepped out into the hallway later for dinner, I heard it. Playing in the hallway just for me.

The best is yet to come and babe, won’t that be fine . . .”

 …..One of Dad’s all-time favorites! I wanted to cry. But I took a deep breath and didn’t even mention it to Jackie.

…..The funny thing is this. On Monday morning, when it was time to leave, there we were again in the hallway and I could hear the song, that same favorite song of his. It must have been on some kind of loop but here it was, meeting me at the door again. I knew that familiar one-finger piano intro. I began laughing.

…..“What’s funny?” Jackie asked as the door closed behind her.

…..I started to snap my fingers to the tune. I started to sing along. I felt theatrical. Overcome by feeling, I belted it out right there in the hallway for Jackie. And for Dad.

“Out of the tree of life I just picked me a plum
You came along and everything’s startin’ to hum
Still, it’s a real good bet, the best is yet to come”

 …..I was throwing my arms around and dancing back and forth across the hallway to Jackie, the same way Dad did for Auntie Wynn. The way we girls used to do, putting on a show for him as kids. Jackie giggled, watching me, delighted that I was experiencing joy again.

Allegro.

…..Then I looked up and gave Dad a little wave. We heard the elevator bell and the doors open and I quickly pulled myself together as the song descended into its fade out as we headed down. With Dad. Above us following along.

.

. . . . .

.

…..Dad. I just keep wondering one thing. What happened to your timing? Your rhythm?

…..Where was your fermata after all. I mean, couldn’t you have held the note just a little bit longer. For me? Maybe I could have gotten to you then, held your hand, whispered my special words to you in person.

.“The length that the note can be held is up to the artist or conductor of the piece of music . . . “

 …..I wasn’t ready for the music to end, for the singer’s final bow before the curtain fell and the lights came up and the audience dispersed. I guess I’ll have to rise, too. Let my seat flip back up behind me. Walk up the aisle and back out into the light of day. Carry the tune with me always.

.

.

___

.

.

Mary Corbin is a writer and artist based in San Francisco.  Whether in words on a page or paint on a canvas, she aims for strong narrative with relatable characters and experiences.  Her stories contrast a simple moment, thought, or gesture of the ordinary with the mysterious layers that lie beneath the surface.  This contemplation is her constant source material.

 

.

.

 

Listen to the 1960 recording of Rosemary Clooney singing “Always Together”

.

.

Click here for details on how to enter your story in the upcoming Short Fiction Contest

Click here to read the winning story of the 57th Jerry Jazz Musician Short Fiction Contest, “Constant At The 3 Deuces,” Joe Zelazny

.

.

.

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

"Zambramomania" by Roberto Nucci/CC BY-NC-SA-4.0 DEED
“The Eye Tapes…Monument to my Jazzy Eye” by Anita Larek

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