“Nina” — a poem by Luis Lazaro Tijerina

Eunice Kathleen Waymon, also known as
Nina Simone — I hear you now —
O no one has ever been Blue like you!
So long, Miss Blue, your ways more blue than indigo,
your heart that sung to piano jazz in hot notes
that fell like a shower of stars, dazzling the
shadows of the night…
No other woman sang

...

August 9th, 2017

“You Bring Out the Jazz in Me” — a poem by Erren Kelly

You bring out the jazz in me
The art blakey, max roach the roy haynes in me
Seeing you  shake your hips like
Congas…the way you move your hips to a mamba
My heart pounding like drums inside my head
But this fever won’t put me in bed
Instead I get out on the dance floor

...

June 11th, 2017

“Jazz” — a poem by William Chene

Somewhere between the wide open spaces
And those tiny, secret places in the heart,
The sound of nursery rhymes and temple chimes
Mingle with incense and nonsense
Until even the air has to smile.
That’s where you’ll find me, in my hiding place,
Making up rhymes and trying to keep time
To the pace of the

...

May 4th, 2017

“Watching La La Land” — a poem by Erren Kelly

Unlike New York City
L.A. is a woman who will love you back
But she gives her love freely and often

On a not so beautiful morning,
I went to the movies and thought
about you as the credits rolled.
Tried to wash you out of my hair,
but love lingers like a

...

April 2nd, 2017

“Alabama: Jack DeJohnette, Ravi Coltrane, Matthew Garrison” — a poem by John McCluskey

                Yes, it is hot,
     night sweats beneath
     Spanish moss and the terror in trees
     now knowing no cover of darkness
     to greet a Sunday morning

     10:22 a.m.
                      under the stairs
                                     16th Street Baptist Church.

     “Three minutes”
     and the siren wails

...

February 19th, 2017

“1960” — a poem by Billy Collins

Today’s Writers Almanac daily poetry post — as chosen by Garrison Keillor — is “1960” by Billy Collins, a brilliant piece that reminds us of the intimacy found in a 1960 Bill Evans live recording.

 

1960

 

In the old joke,
the marriage counselor
tells the couple who never talks anymore
to go to a jazz club because at a jazz club
everyone talks during the

...

November 7th, 2016

“Thelonious Monk” — a poem by Stephen Dobyns

A record store on Wabash was where
I bought my first album. I was a freshman
in college and played the record in my room

over and over. I was caught by how he took
the musical phrase and seemed to find a new
way out, the next note was never the note

you thought would turn up and yet seemed

...

October 12th, 2016

“Visionaries,” a poem by Michael L. Newell

A marsh harrier soars above the Norfolk broads
circling higher and higher

rather like a Gillespie trumpet solo that rises and rises
to dizzying heights of pitch and volume

eventually the bird slides behind billowing clouds
and vanishes into distance

so the trumpet reaches and

...

October 4th, 2016

“The Quick Hands of Hampton Hawes” and two other poems by Daniel Shapiro

For years, the autobiography proved elusive,
speeding east like the double-jointed run
that skipped from white keys to black,
soldiers chased from Central Avenue battles.
Then the book took a rest, hiding out
in a nondescript store among academic texts,
tomes whose covers bore geometric shapes.
Cardboard screamed orange, red, and white,
the slow burn of a

...

September 13th, 2016

Two poems by Michael L. Newell

Rikki spun, spun
and leaped, twirled
and dipped,
                 James Brown
on the jukebox, the small
bar filled with smoke, clinking
glasses, Filipinas in short dresses,
and a couple dozen G.I.’s profane,
obscene, and three-quarters in the bag;

Rikki, half-black, half-
Filipino, ten, living
in alleys and under bars, danced

...

August 25th, 2016

“Looking for Charlie Parker” and other poems by Matthew Johnson

I wonder if it will take another body to stream into the Infinite….

For this was the odd idea that stirred me eerie

Like a push into the wild past from my future spirit to relive my final day,
Or a siren calling me to steal the virtuose of fire.

I was looking for Charlie Parker that night,
Improvising my footsteps under porch lights which spotted

...

July 13th, 2016

“Innovator” and “…And it Comes with Rain and Jazz” — two poems by Mike Faran

T-Bone Williams was the first
to use the
double-D harmonica &

he employed some lyrics that
seemed compatible —
this was way before Bobby
Dylan

sometime in the late ‘40s when
he did his 12-string
guitar experiments

...

July 11th, 2016

“Young and Gifted and Little Girl Blue” — a poem (for Nina Simone) by John McCluskey

Young and Gifted and Little Girl Blue

wants only to play classical ways of
Bach, Chopin, Rachmaninoff, Beethoven,
but Curtis – Philly, perhaps Carnegie too, whether prejudice or preference,
doesn’t think her particular hue
belongs with the masters, so she skips circus tents, every star in the sky,

...

June 24th, 2016

“Liner Notes for ‘Stardust’ — In Seven Choruses,” a cycle of short poems by Doug Fowler

“Liner Notes for ‘Stardust’ — In Seven Choruses” is a cycle of short poems framed as imaginary liner notes and prompted by poet Doug Fowler’s favorite musical covers of Hoagy Carmichael’s “Stardust.” In essence, according to Fowler, they are “imaginary liner notes for a real song about an imaginary song about love.”

The cycle is also partially a tribute to Chu Berry, who died as the result of a car accident in Conneaut, Ohio, in 1941, not far from where Fowler lives.

...

April 25th, 2016

“In Search of an Elegy” — a poem (for Bill Evans) by Larsen Bowker

I’ll have it spare as the reverence you feel for silence
in your long melodic lines, where the music cries

in the sacred spaces you leave between the notes…
I’ll have the long curve of your back bending over

your shadow on the keys as you play “Turn Out
the Stars”, written for your father when he died,

Blue Notes stretching out as if you’d have them last

...

April 15th, 2016

“my funny valentine” — a poem by Ed Corrigan

Miles’ horn blows
thru my head
down to my toes
down baby down
i need to blow
my bleeding nose
a red note bleeding
dododowaaaah
a smile with my heart
she just tore me apart
wuwuwuwaaaah
don’t know myself no more

...

February 12th, 2016

“Finding Night” — a poem by Roger Singer

Songs overflow from doors
opening to the sidewalk
where neon lights
baptize the weak, stirring the curiosity of
a night strung tight
while others pray in alleys
whispering their sins
under a celestial curtain as
stars cross behind the black
of space where not
a molecule is out of place

...

January 16th, 2016

“Chet Baker and his Abandoned Shadows” — an essay and poem by Arya F. Jenkins

We like to immortalize talent in this culture, and in so doing, often decontextualize it, absolving it of complexity and stains. Media especially likes to make angels out of demons, and vice versa, stripping the truth out of images and ideas.

In the case of Chet Baker, William Claxton’s photographs helped especially to immortalize the singer and trumpeter, fixing him in time and space, freezing an idea of him as beautiful, ethereal, ideal.

Chet Baker is almost always remembered as the

...

January 10th, 2016

“A Night in Havana,” a poem by Doralee Brooks

Dizzy in Thurston Howell garb steps samba-like
through the airport exit. On film, he and his entourage
move like dancers tapping clave in a Las Vegas
revue called A Night in Havana. His embrace
of space defies ground and grounding.
Amiri, you called him high priest, royalty,
a monarch who flew you from dusty bebop

...

October 24th, 2015

Three new poems by Roger Singer

Roger Singer, our most prolific and accomplished contributing poet, recently submitted three new poems for our consideration, which we proudly publish here. Singer reports that he has now had almost 800 poems published in magazines, periodicals and online journals — 400 of which are jazz poems — and has recently self-published a Kindle edition of his book of jazz poetry called Poetic Jazz.

“Jazz poetry flows out with such ease,” Singer writes on his blog. “The people and places, the alleys and sawdust jazz clubs. The stories that bring jazz alive with horns and voices, from sadness and grief to

...

August 18th, 2015

“Chet Baker” — a poem by Jack Peachum

Tumbling out of the second story window —
an accident, I swear — passing the first floor,
and, “You’ll never make it as a musician, Chet!”,
an endless string of notes plays by my ear,
one solo interlude strung out forever,
reaching, reaching, for the ultimate chord,
my sideman lost in a tinkle of piano keys,
the percussion of the vibraphone,

...

July 10th, 2015

Poetry by Paula Hackett


Paula Hackett’s four newly published poems include pieces on Max Roach, Billie Holiday and Milt Jackson…

_______


Billie Holiday
(lullaby)

Sometimes when nature is quiet
and the moon shines just where you are
I can hear you singing the spirit world to rest
I remember as a child, your voice would
wrap me in cotton
as you felt the blows for all of us
Born into a country that tried to
make your voice illegal
poise and elegance was your response
And tonight like so many

...

June 20th, 2015

“Lake Bud,” a poem by Ishmael Reed

Lake Merritt is Bud Powell’s piano
The sun tingles its waters
Snuff-jawed pelicans descend
tumbling over each other like
Bud’s hands playing Tea for Two
or Two for Tea

Big Mac Containers, tortilla chip, Baby Ruth
wrappers, bloated dead cats, milkshake
cups, and automobile tires

...

May 1st, 2015

“¡Oh, Put On Another Record And Bring Me A Drink!” — a poem by Steve Williams

I like The Jazz
We listened to Roland Kirk
and Eric Burdon sing of
Roland Kirk

And the hum of the freezer

Roland borrowed a phrase from Coltrane
and I borrowed a phrase from

...

March 19th, 2015

“Bird” — a poem by Ed Coletti

I recall you
dream weaver
I remember you
You’re the one
who makes most dreams
come true
Sir Charles
just not your own
when the sax
ceases dreadfully
heroes fall
trumpets screech
Max Roach calls you
to attention
Sir Charles
listen to Diz
man just don’t fade man!

I hear Lover again
Bird you’re with me
like my mother’s voice

...

February 26th, 2015

“Just Another Punk Rocker Writing About Jazz” — a poem by Jon Wesick

They must have materialized at the open mike
out of carbon and nitrogen in the air,
those poets you’d never see in a jazz club.
A guy in Roman-helmet-like Mohawk
reads three-chord rhymes about Mingus,
an MC in Phat Farm jeans
fires machine gun words about Miles,
and a woman in high collar and sensible shoes
chops Art Blakey into fourteen lines of ten syllables.

Seems you can’t be a real poet
unless you

...

February 12th, 2015

“Pillow Worship” — a poem by Roger Singer

Lazy humid Lake Pontchartrain
breezes slip sideways
through turquoise louvered doors
past a cat, on a stool with its legs hanging
like green tangled moss
as the man, deep with pillow worship
lays still, breathing soft, his hands open and flat
holds court with dreams of last night
the jazz holding tight
the band cutting through

...

January 22nd, 2015

“Peace on Earth” — a poem by Michael Harper

Tunes come to me at morning
prayer, after flax sunflower
seeds jammed in a coffee can;
when we went to Japan
I prayed at the shrine
for the war dead broken
at Nagasaki;
the tears on the lip of my soprano
glistened in the sun.
In interviews
I talked about my music’s
voice of praise to our oneness,
them getting caught up in techniques
of the electronic school
lifting us into assault;
in live sessions, without an audience
I see faces on the flues of the piano,
cymbals driving me into ecstasies on my knees,
the demonic angel, Elvin,
answering my prayers on African drum,

...

December 11th, 2014

“Begin the Beguine” — a poem by Luis Lazaro Tijerina

Under the stars, we danced to your song.
She held me tight, while you, Artie,
With your clarinet, brought the music alive.
What rapture, that night! All the time,
she was whispering to me about
this and that…
There were no clouds that night,
no curse of life’s dark embers, not a one.
The tenderness in her eyes, in her voice,

...

November 21st, 2014

“Thelonious Monk” — a poem by Stephen Dobyns

A record store on Wabash was where
I bought my first album. I was a freshman
in college and played the record in my room

over and over. I was caught by how he took
the musical phrase and seemed to find a new
way out, the next note was never the note

you thought would turn up and yet seemed
correct. Surprise in ‘Round Midnight
or Sweet and Lovely. I bought the album

for Mulligan but stayed for Monk. I was

...

October 22nd, 2014

“The Bullocks Oriole Plays The Blue Note” — a poem by Eric Meyer

O you sweet be-
spectacled bird!
you’re too cool for me
sitting there perched
in your wild catbird seat
with your sleek black
beatnik goatee &
blindman’s shades
pulled down low over
your hot orange
djellabiya while you
spill out shrill jazz
riffs and raffs

...

October 3rd, 2014

“As Long As You Living Yours (For Keith Jarrett)” — a poem by Erren Kelly

not even schroeder from the peanuts
comic strip
is as dedicated to the piano
and he has a bust of beethoven
gracing his steinway!
you pull sounds out of the air
making something out of nothing

you call it improvisation:

i say, god’s just using you as
a transmitter for his thoughts…

...

August 8th, 2014

“10’s & Things; in memory of Carmen McRae” — a poem by Michael Harper

Fingerings,” she says, a nobody,
intermission pianist
for the likes of Anita O’Day;
but this is Chicago,
three plus years out of Harlem
resisting suicide recommended
by jealous musicians.

...

July 13th, 2014

Interview with saxophonist Kevin Flanagan on the convergence of poetry and jazz

The convergence of poetry and jazz has long been a part of the counterculture, and it has always interested me. An early interview I did for Jerry Jazz Musician was with David Amram, once known as Jack Kerouac’s musical collaborator. In the interview he talked about Kerouac’s love of music, telling me that “he had an enormous memory for music and for jazz and the classics. He could sing the melodies from different Haydn and Beethoven string quartets. He was like an encyclopedia of music and classic literature from Europe. He also had an enormous knowledge of Buddhism. He had a tremendous knowledge of Judaism, as well as the writings from the Old and New Testaments as well as from the Mass. He had this knowledge of so many different things. When he was reading, I would submerge myself into whatever it was he was reading, and I tried to anticipate what would happen next.”

     So, the collaboration of words and music is fascinating, and has deep and intellectual roots. It was the basis for my interest in an email I received a while ago from reed player Kevin Flanagan who, like Kerouac, is a Lowell, Massachusetts native. Flanagan’s Riprap Quartet recordings, he informed me, “feature compositions by the band setting the works of Pulitzer Prize winning-poet Gary Snyder” and is

...

July 3rd, 2014

“LESTER YOUNG” — a poem by Ted Joans

Sometimes he was cool like an eternal
blue flame burning in the old Kansas
City nunnery
Sometimes he was happy ’til he’d think
about his birth place and its blood
stained clay hills and crow-filled trees
Most times he was blowin’ on the wonderful
tenor sax of his, preachin’ in very cool

...

June 30th, 2014

“One O’Clock Jump” — a poem by Paul Zimmer

Still tingling with Basie’s hard cooking,
between sets I stood at the bar
when the man next to me ordered
scotch and milk. I looked to see who had
this stray taste and almost swooned
when I saw it was the master.
Basie knocked his shot back,
then, when he saw me gaping,
raised his milk to my peachy face
and rolled out his complete smile

...

June 18th, 2014

Langston Hughes reads “The Weary Blues”

“The Weary Blues” — a poem about the importance of music and the blues in everyday life — is a signature work of Langston Hughes, the Harlem Renaissance writer whose poetry helped change the way art created by African Americans was viewed, and influenced the writers of the beat generation. Written in 1925, the melancholy poem is set in a Harlem bar where a piano player plays the blues, and is one of the first poems to mix poetry and music.

Besides being a great writer, Hughes was an eloquent communicator, and it is a wonderful experience to hear him read his own poetry.. This 1958 film shows him reading “The Weary Blues” to the accompaniment of a Canadian group led by pianist Doug Parker.

...

June 3rd, 2014

“The Singer Will Not Sing” — a poem by Maya Angelou

The Singer Will Not Sing
(for A.L.)

A benison given. Unused,
No angels promised,
wings fluttering banal lies
behind their sexlessness. No
trumpets gloried
prophecies of fabled fame.
Yet harmonies waited in
her stiff throat. New notes

...

May 30th, 2014

“Vintage Gray” – a poem by Joshua Michael Stewart

The morning glory —
another thing
that will never be my friend.
— Basho

Rain has a way of darkening the bark on trees,
deepening the wood cracks in fences.
Grass appears softer, envious of clouds
that tease with their rootlessness,
their promise of travel and a good night’s sleep.
Normally, I’d have a little Johnny Hodges
playing in the background or Casablanca
splashing silvery-blue against a wall,

...

April 19th, 2014

“You Can Be a Genius and Be Sane” — a poem about Thelonious Monk, by Arlene Corwin

You Can Be A Genius And Be Sane

Watching Monk and watching self,
One senses that one can have genius
And be sane.
You can
Be odd,
The brain its own,
To nail the themes
Your thought-extremes deem right.

Monk plays and pounds
In rhythmic spasms;

...

March 30th, 2014

“The Day Lady Died” — a poem by Frank O’Hara

It is 12:20 in New York a Friday
Three days after Bastille Day, yes
It is 1959 and I go get a shoeshine
Because I will get off the 4:19 in Easthampton
At 7:15 and then go straight to dinner
And I don’t know the people who will feed me

I walk up the muggy street beginning to sun
And have a hamburger and a malted and buy

...

March 13th, 2014

“Archival Footage: The Apotheosis of Mary Lou Williams” — a poem by Mark J. Mitchell

It’s light on silver-black and white,
Grainy footage of a smoky room,
A woman at the keys. A spotlight
As perfectly round as the moon
Frames her form. She picks at a tune.
This is jazz, now, it’s uncertain.
Her fingers stop, hover, resume.
She stands, walks behind a curtain.

Years later — in color now –her
Faith allows her to break that long
Silence, permits her to

...

March 5th, 2014

“POTO” — a poem by Michael Keshigian

Show me a clarinet, teacher,
one from a distant continent’s wood
that has suckled nourishment
from a heated, morning sun
then show me the reed,
the dried, shallow, vibrating stick,
that will tickle sound
through many dark nights
when those with flicking tongues
articulate their passion
between panted breaths.
Show me the silver,
flailing fingers have mined
with a synchronized motion

...

February 18th, 2014

“On Divisadero” — a poem by Roger Singer

ON DIVISIDERO

A hill with faces
and sidewalks,
green shoes and sneakers
without laces,
chalkboard menus,
peppers and onions
and bicycles passing
apartments with yellow
shutters and
terracotta pots with
flowers reaching over
touching heads
as buses crawl
and street cars

...

February 2nd, 2014

“Bird Read Beckett,” a poem by Erren Kelly

In anticipation of our very soon-to-be-published interview with Charlie Parker biographer Stanley Crouch (see the preview below), poet Erren Kelly defends Parker from the caricature portrayed in Clint Eastwood’s 1989 film Bird.


Bird Read Beckett

bird read samuel beckett

he read novels and plays
he lived his life as one long
exstitential episode
he prided himself on being
intellectual
bird loved his fried chicken
and preferred his gin
to go down smooth
like his solos

mr. eastwood,
take that lie back
and apologize!

...

January 21st, 2014

“In Memory of George Lewis, Great Jazzman” — a poem by Lou Lipsitz


1

Man is the animal that knows
the clarinet

makes his living
on the docks, a stevedore,
110lbs., carrying what loads
he can

the Depression comes along,
his teeth rot, no money and
he has to accept silence

...

January 3rd, 2014

“Chet Baker in Paris” — a poem by Luis Lazaro Tijerina

Chet Baker In Paris

In September of that year
when Paris had not yet turned her leaves
into pigments of dry reds and burnt umber,
you played your melodious trumpet sounds,
no mawkish phrases, no murmurings
sinking into the false twists, just cool jazz.
When all is said and done, no one
loved you more than your trumpet,

...

December 21st, 2013

“For Miles” — a poem by Gregory Corso

For Miles
by Gregory Corso

Your sound is faultless
pure & round
holy
almost profound

Your sound is your sound
true & from within
a confession
soulful & lovely

Poet whose sound is played
lost or recorded
but heard

...

December 3rd, 2013

“my funny valentine” — a poem by Ed Corrigan

my funny valentine
by ed corrigan

Miles’ horn blows
thru my head
down to my toes
down baby down
i need to blow
my bleeding nose
a red note bleeding
dododowaaaah
a smile with my heart
she just tore me apart

...

November 12th, 2013

“Coltrane, Dig?” — a poem by Ed Coletti

Coltrane, Dig?

I suppose what it is with trane and me is
he takes all the time he wants to take
even outside of time, sidereal time,
stardust time, bessie blue time,
through-and-through-him time,
trancey groove time, even arranged time.

...

October 19th, 2013

Roger Singer: A Seriously Good Jazz Poet

For years, we have been publishing work by poets from all over the world who are dedicated to putting into words their relationship with jazz music. Our most prolific poet is Roger Singer, a living, breathing example of fire and love and brilliance. His contribution to the art of jazz is here – all 26 pages of it – in full glory, waiting for interested readers to discover.

Here is a new poem of his, just published today…

...

September 20th, 2013

In This Issue

Jeffrey Stewart, National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The New Negro: The Life of Alain Locke, is interviewed about Locke (pictured), the father of the Harlem Renaissance.

Also in this issue…A new collection of jazz poetry; "On the Turntable," a new playlist of 19 recommended recordings by five jazz artists; three new podcasts by Bob Hecht; a new “Great Encounters”; several short stories; the photography of Veryl Oakland and Charles Ingham; a new Jazz History Quiz; and lots more…

On the Turntable

This month, a playlist of 19 recently released jazz recordings, including those by Branford Marsalis, Joe Martin, Scott Robinson, Allison Au and Warren Vache

Poetry

In a special collection of poetry, eight poets contribute seventeen poems focused on stories about family, and honoring mothers and fathers

The Joys of Jazz

In this new volume of his podcasts, Bob Hecht presents three very different stories; on Harlem Stride piano, Billy Strayhorn's end-of-life composition "Blood Count," and "Lester-ese," Lester Young’s creative verbal wit and wordplay.

Short Fiction

We had many excellent entrants in our recently concluded 50th Short Fiction Contest. In addition to publishing the winning story on March 11, with the consent of the authors, we have published several of the short-listed stories...

“What are some of your all-time favorite record album covers?”

Gary Giddins, Jimmy Heath, Fred Hersch, Joe Hagan, Maxine Gordon, Neil Tesser, Tim Page, Veronica Swift and Marcus Strickland are among the 25 writers, musicians, poets, educators, and photographers who write about their favorite album cover art

Art

“Thinking about Homer Plessy” — a photo narrative by Charles Ingham

Jazz History Quiz #128

Although he was famous for modernizing the sound of the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra -- “On the Sunny Side of the Street” was his biggest hit while working for Dorsey (pictured) -- this arranger will forever be best-known for his work with the Jimmie Lunceford Orchestra. Who is he?

Great Encounters

In this edition, Bob Dylan recalls what Thelonious Monk told him about music at New York’s Blue Note club in c. 1961.

Art

Jerry Jazz Musician regularly publishes a series of posts featuring excerpts of the photography and stories/captions found in Jazz in Available Light by Veryl Oakland. In this edition, Mr. Oakland's photographs and stories feature Stan Getz, Sun Ra, and Carla Bley.

Interviews

Romare Bearden biographer Mary Schmidt Campbell discusses the life of the important 20th century American artist

Cover Stories with Paul Morris

In this edition, Paul writes about jazz album covers that offer glimpses into intriguing corners of the culture of the 1950’s

Coming Soon

Michael Cuscuna, the legendary record producer and founder of Mosaic Records, is interviewed about his life in jazz...Award-winning photographer Carol Friedman, on her career in the world of New York jazz photography

In the previous issue

Maxine Gordon, author of Sophisticated Giant: The Life and Legacy of Dexter Gordon, talks about her book, and the complex life of her late husband.

Also in this issue…A new collection of jazz poetry; "On the Turntable," a new playlist of 22 recommended recordings by seven jazz artists; three new podcasts by Bob Hecht; a new “Great Encounters”; several short stories; the photography of Veryl Oakland and Charles Ingham; a new Jazz History Quiz; and lots more…

Contributing writers

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