“All Aboard” — a short story by Susandale

    The dank and chilly hall echoed with a Marksmen rehearsal taking place. Lea and her spanking-new group rehearsed their music on a stage bordered by tables holding overturned chairs. And as David sat unnoticed in the dark hall, Lea’s caramel voice melted to run down the walls, and warm the empty pockets in his heart.                             

                                *Daydreams, I’ve got daydreams galore.

                                Cigarette ashes, there they go on the floor.”

     Scooting around, he wrestled with the chair’s wooden slats and wobbly legs versus his long limbs.    

     And while Lea was singing the third stanza, *”Let them laugh, let them frown … “ David was plotting his exit from the trailer. He was so engrossed with his plans that he didn’t notice the

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April 5th, 2017

“At Del Rey Rooms” — a short story by Tim J. Myers

            Years later he became a professor, a scholar—wrote a well-received book on epistemology.  But back then he was just a guy in love.

            They’d taken a cheap room in Venice for the summer, a run-down place a couple of blocks from Dockweiler Beach.  You could always smell the sea, its powerful mix of salt freshness and rot.  He’d never lived with a woman before; she’d had other boyfriends.  She was from back-county San Diego, told him she’d come to L.A. looking for a real life.  He’d just graduated from

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March 11th, 2017

Short Fiction Contest-winning story #44 — “Da Capo al Fine” by J. Lee Strickland

     I wake up when the door opens. Instant-awake, alert. I’m staring at the ceiling, at the ornate medallion in its center. Late-night city glow from the windows casts awkward shadows on the plaster. The light clicks on, and I hear a gasp. I feel a sympathetic shot of adrenaline hit my chest. I look toward the door, and there’s a woman there, a stranger. A beauty, too, dressed in a black pants-suit, purse slung over a shoulder, the jacket cut and fitted to her slim waist matador-style. Beneath the jacket, she’s wearing a white blouse with an enormous collar that flares out over her shoulders and breast, like gull wings. Her hair is loose, brown, shoulder-length, streaked with bits of blonde, her face around her dark eyes a mix of fear and puzzlement.

     “Who are you?” she says, her hand still on the light switch. “What are you doing here?” Her voice quivers.

     I look around. The ceiling looks like my

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March 4th, 2017

“Storyville” — a short story by Matthew Peel

Jeffrey’s fingers hovered inches above the ivory. His heart pounded. The oak bench creaked as he leaned forward, only the toes of his scuffed leather shoes making contact with the floor. The hand-written notes on the page in front of him bounced up and down with every panting breath. He recognized most of the squiggles and lines cascading up and down the staff, but he couldn’t read a single word that surrounded them. Ms. Joetta’s voice echoed in his head, reverberated out of the hole in his threadbare fedora. Play, son. The first chance you get, and don’t look back. He could feel lightning in his fingers, almost driving him past the fear deep in his

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January 28th, 2017

Short Fiction Contest-winning story #43 — “Pandora’s Sax” by Robert Glover

In the back of a closet, on top of a shelf, under two empty shoeboxes, and behind a small, carry-on bag lurked a humped, black, plastic case. Years of knocking about in the backs of vans and offstage in smoky clubs had etched lines into its surface. Every song had scuffed another memory: Dewey Redman’s “Imagination” or Clifford Brown’s “Night in Tunisia”. An accidental kick from a ska fan had left a dent even after the shell had popped back into place. For twenty years, it had remained closed, a relic of temptation, while inside a saxophone slumbered, waiting for its silent call to beckon again. It was patient. It had time.

Nathan Gold heard the call. It was a Saturday morning in mid-spring as he returned from racing his mountain bike along the Long Beach boardwalk. Pumping the pedals, he glided up the

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November 1st, 2016

“Requiem For Ishmael” — a short story by Jeanine DeHoney

There had to be hundreds of people standing in the rain, waiting to get into Misty’s Supper Club on Lenox Avenue for my brother Ishmael’s memorial. I swallowed the lump of grief in the back of my throat and surveyed the crowd, fans and protégé’s of his music, as varied as a pot of jambalaya.

Some people recognized me from seeing

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September 20th, 2016

“Psalm” — a short story by Ian Rictor

     I watch my hand remove the phone from the wall above the couch’s arm and there is a sweat in my ear as I hear a distant Miles Davis. I am called by the distorted voice of Miles Davis rasping my name.

     John, he says, are you busy?

     I let my eyes blur into my mother’s sofa, melting a monotonous no out of my mouth toward the receiver. I feel the room sloshing peacefully in waves around me and the buzzing of my lips from my mouthpiece and reed. My saxophone sits strewn across the floor along with my

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September 3rd, 2016

“Our Perspective” – a short story by Joy Bergman

“I don’t know…I still don’t see it.” I grumble to myself, sloping my head down in a perfectly coordinated position with the rest of my body. Slope. Coordinated. It all just makes me think of math. Math. “That’s it,” I tell myself silently, still looking around the empty halls, though no one is there. I sigh. I suppose it may not really be a fact, but everyone knows that statistically minded people, like me, see numbers. But people like her – well, I guess they see what I’m looking at. “No,” I run a hand through my gelled hair. She would see it all differently. What did she say again? I check my phone and then casually hold up what she said it would look like to the picture. “A black parked car with white windows near the dock in a blazing sunlight overlooking the ocean.” I focus on the

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August 13th, 2016

“Louisiana Pearl” — a short story by Bokerah Brumley

The faraway trumpet’s trill drifted into the home we shared. The tune stirred the heavy air. It should have been spring weather, but a heatwave had taken over our parish. It made the air heavy and made us languid during the days.

Mama hummed along with the hand-me-down song while she worked, stirring the wash or cooking supper or mixing herbs. Her mama taught her to hear it, same as she taught me. It was as constant as the wind.

Mama’s gray strands peeked from beneath a dark blue kerchief, the majority braided then twirled in an age-thinned bun. She didn’t know how old she was. Best she could figure, she was

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August 1st, 2016

“Intergalactic Language” — a short story by James E. Guin

I was playing my weekly gig at Café Reinhardt when Bella, one of the waitresses, whispered in my ear, “They want you out back.”

She had disturbed me from a zone. I had been through all of my arrangements and was improving on the chords to “Minor Swing.”

“They?” I asked.

She shrugged her shoulders. Straight to the point, no small talk, Bella was my kind of gal. In the second it took to place my guitar on my guitar stand a million thoughts circled around in my mind. Did Chad, the drummer, want to borrow money again? Had the musician’s union caught on to the fact I wasn’t paying my dues? Another one of the agent Jimmy’s scams? Groupies? Oh yeah, jazz musicians haven’t had groupies under the age of forty-five since the 1940s.

I stood up, and as Bella was strolling to a table near the front door, she said, “Take your guitar.”

Ah, nothing complicated just someone wanting to test out my chops before a gig. People can be peculiar when it comes to inviting musicians into their home. They want to meet you, form a relationship, and get the feel for

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July 20th, 2016

Short Fiction Contest winning story #42 — “Playing for Tips,” by Kevin Bennett

It was a persistent and gentle nudge—always was. He knew who was prodding him and what she would say without turning, so he continued to run his fingers up and down the keys—there was a major seventh followed by a fifth interval; repeat several times, arpeggiate, transpose—

“Sir? I’m sorry sir—”

The nudging again. He spoke as if distracted—which he was: “Yes?”

“Some of the people are trying to work,” she said.

“Have them come and talk to me,” he replied, and continued to play.

The barista was put-off for a moment, but she jostled him again. “If you could just play a little quieter—”

The words were like daggers. They weren’t new, they weren’t original, and they brought hate like bile to his mind and body; coursing in and throughout him like a thousand

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July 9th, 2016

“The Horn: Whispers of eternity in F major” — a short story by Mi West

Some lives turn out healthy and long, some more fulfilled than long. Bro was sick and much older. He passed away last spring, so his voice sounds both new and familiar to me, as it whispers,

Go to my place and visit my old room.

“Why?”

I’ll let you know.”

An ascending airliner outside wakes me up, and I realize I was dreaming. I’m still yawning as I look up a weekend bus, but the online timetable shows more blanks than connections.

It’s dry September weather, so I grab my key to his door, fill up my water bottle, and make this a bike trip in heat haze instead, like the

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April 6th, 2016

In This Issue

This issue features a roundtable discussion about how the world of religion may have impacted the creative lives of Billie Holiday, Langston Hughes and Ralph Ellison. Also, previous winners of the Jerry Jazz Musician Short Fiction Contest reflect on their winning story; three new podcasts from Bob Hecht; new collection of poetry; recommendations of recently released jazz recordings, and lots more.

Short Fiction

"The Wailing Wall" -- a short story by Justin Short

Interviews

Three prominent religious scholars -- Wallace Best, Tracy Fessenden and M. Cooper Harriss -- join us in a conversation about how the world of religion during the life and times of Langston Hughes (pictured), Billie Holiday and Ralph Ellison helps us better comprehend the meaning of their work.

Poetry

Nine poets contribute ten poems celebrating jazz in poems as unique as the music itself

Short Fiction

In celebration of our upcoming 50th Short Fiction Contest, previous contest winners (dating to 2002) reflect on their own winning story, and how their lives have since unfolded.

The Joys of Jazz

In this edition, award winning radio producer Bob Hecht tells three stories; 1) on Charlie Christian, the first superstar of jazz guitar; 2) the poet Langston Hughes’ love of jazz music, and 3) a profile of the song “Strange Fruit”

On the Turntable

25 recently released jazz tunes that are worth listening to…including Bobo Stenson; Medeski, Martin and Wood; Muriel Grossman and Rudy Royston

Features

Chick Corea, Rickie Lee Jones, Gary Giddins, Michael Cuscuna, Randy Brecker and Tom Piazza are among those responding to our question, "What are 3 or 4 of your favorite jazz recordings of the 1940's?"

Poetry

"Billie Holiday" -- a poem (with collage) by Steve Dalachinsky

Coming Soon

Thomas Brothers, Duke University professor of music and author of two essential biographies of Louis Armstrong, is interviewed about his new book, HELP! The Beatles, Duke Ellington, and the Magic of Collaboration; also, Spelman College President Mary Schmidt Campbell, author of An American Odyssey: The Life and Work of Romare Bearden, in a conversation about the brilliant 20th Century artist

In the previous issue

This issue features an interview with Bing Crosby biographer Gary Giddins; a collection of poetry devoted to the World War II era; and a new edition of “Reminiscing in Tempo,” in which the question “What are 3 or 4 of your favorite jazz recordings of the 1940’s” is posed to Rickie Lee Jones, Chick Corea, Tom Piazza and others.

Contributing writers

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