Literature » Poetry

“Hearing Dizzy Gillespie at Dino’s Club in St. Louis for the First Time” – a poem by Alan Yount

photo by Eustachy Kossakowski

Dizzy Gillespie, 1960






          For Scott Heuer, and all the other
        musicians in our dance band.


we all were
three fifteen year olds
along with one of our fathers.

we were
the only white guys
in the club.

it was at dino’s club
in st.louis, in the fall of 1962
at the corner of
debaliviere & wabash …
also known as gaslight square.


before the concert started
a guy my age
(in the booth next to me)
tapped me on the shoulder.

“do you play trumpet,” he said.
I said “yes.”
he said, “me too.”

just then …
everything seemed o.k.

we talked about our horns …
and charts we had played:
both of us
had played in a jazz band.
we found we had both played
the “leads series” of stage band songs:
tunes that dizzy also played.


the concert was amazing …
groovin’ high & night in tunisia
with dizzy playing tight staccato notes
on his silver harmon mute.

dizzy’s playing … wow!
an infectious
infused joy, of boppish phrasing.

the crowd
would not stop clapping …
and cheering … after every song.


the guy next to me
& his family
left at the same time.
outside, we both said
we would meet

in st.louis somewhere
& get together

and play some jazz

also, we both agreed
for sure,

we were going
to remodel our trumpets

to have an uplifted bell …
just exactly like dizzy had done,

for his own horn,
for sure.






Alan Yount lives on the north bank of the Missouri River, just south of Columbia, Missouri, and has taken poetic inspiration from boating and floating the river for many years. His poems have been published in a variety of publications, including Palo Alto Review, Roanoke Review, Spring…the Journal of E.E. Cummings Society, Apostrophe Magazine, Columbia College Journal of the Literary Arts, Modern Haiku, Pegasus Review, and Tidepool Magazine.  Alan also plays jazz trumpet, and has led his own dance band.  He is a direct descendant of the famous frontiersman, Daniel Boone.