Two poems by Robert Nisbet

From red kite country, driving South,
Dai Grandpa, fresh from yesterday,
such yesterday. Only when the
June sun sank, had Dai – dudein’
up my shirt front, puttin’ on
the shirt studs – reached evening’s land
– and such a yester-e’en. (Dai caught
the breeze, his ship came home.)
He breakfasts now in wild kite

...

November 13th, 2017

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

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

...

November 10th, 2017

“Coldest Winter Night” — a poem by Ed Coletti

When Miles Davis gets back into his mood
I go where I need to be in my own
somewhere in or near Mal Waldron’s Love Span
over the River Tender where moons flow
reflecting piano keys rippling night

...

October 17th, 2017

“Harry Inspired by the Preservation Hall Jazz Band” — a poem by Michael L. Newell

 
rattlin’ bones rattlin’ bones just the cost an old man pays
dancin’ round his livin’ room tryin’ to enjoy life alone
but full of zest ripplin’ with vim vigor and hot sauce fuelin’
...

September 28th, 2017

“Portugués (for Astrud Gilberto)” — a poem by Ed Coletti

This truly foreign language
              absorbs me into its differences,

rosetta stone hidden
              in a cave of similarities

certain words share
              with those of spanish

...

September 16th, 2017

“A Brubeck Landscape” — a poem by Michael L. Newell

all day a light breeze baptizes the landscape
gentle and captivating as a Paul Desmond solo
bushes rap windows and walls with rhythms

unusual and unexpected that Joe Morello would

approve would groove to and trees sway with

...

September 1st, 2017

Poet Jack Hirschman’s “Rifficals” and memories of Keystone Korner

In an enlightening essay found in Kathy Sloane’s entertaining history of Keystone Korner, the famed ‘70’s – 80’s North Beach San Francisco jazz club, the poet Jack Hirschman writes that “post-World War [II] jazz, abstract expressionism, and what I call field composition in poetry represent for me the trinity of essential American idioms that really are the foundation of not merely my work, but the work of virtually a whole generation of writers and musicians.”  Hirschman writes that he found inspiration for his poetry in the music of Monk (“he was like a poet writing in musical notes”), Charlie Parker and Cecil Taylor (“also a writing poet [who] fills the plane up and all the spaces”) and produced what he called “rifficals,” countless improvisations inspired by jazz that he passed out to the audience at the Keystone.

Like many of us, Hirschman believes jazz is a centerpiece of our cultural history.  “The African American dimension has been a major influence on virtually all the artists in this country,” he writes, “even if people

...

August 29th, 2017

“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

“The Runner” — a poem (for John Coltrane) by Freddington

The purpose of motion begins,
A clear mind, aware and in focus,
Ahead, the optical pathway lies empty and silent,
Slow at the start, breathing steady,
Stepping through the changes,
Favouring a motif,
Blowing hard,
As the intensity builds,

...

June 18th, 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

“Rich at 100” — a poem by Michael Keshigian

At the abandoned jazz club,
where I once debuted,
only spiders and rodents
reside behind the acoustical panels
that once resonated my dreams.
I see my distorted image
reflected upon the scarred ride cymbal
of a headless drum set
and feel like an intruder,
disrupting a Buddy Rich riff
when he

...

December 16th, 2016

“Living the Blues” — a poem by Michael L. Newell

Her voice shredded, turned to gravel
by cigarettes and whiskey, she navigates
grocery aisles and checkout lines

as sotto voce she sings old songs
both jazz and country. People stare
in amazement as her ruined voice

elicits tears from listening bystanders.
In her living room she croons with

...

December 10th, 2016

“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

“Color Blind (For Real?)” — a poem by Marc Livanos and Quincy Hull

Why is my race your foe needling you to lord over me, saving me from my own savagery?

Why is my skin color a phobia gnawing at your innards,
making door locks snap as I approach?

Why is my punishment swift revealing deep seated prejudices, exposing unrecognized biases?

Why is my street flashing “blue”
when verdicts and fines from the 2008 meltdown are reversed?

Why is my excessive “heat” normal

...

July 7th, 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

Two poems for Billy Strayhorn and Stephane Grappelli — by Larsen Bowker

Grabbing the blue basket of bottles I’d promised
to take to a recycle plant and then forgotten,

I drove too fast down a twisting mountain road,
safe in a young man’s faith that death is abstract

truth until a radio voice — speaking over Johnny Hodges’
sweet tenor on his “Take the A Train” — intones,

...

May 17th, 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

“Senor Blues, Why is Your Opus de Funk?” — a poem by Michael L. Newell

Oh, Mister Silver, please please please,
don’t make me beat my feet
no more no more no more.

I’ve been finger poppin’, thinking
about Juicy Lucy, dreaming
of some sweet stuff,

wanting to come on home to some

...

April 9th, 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

“Baseball’s Back” — a poem by Susan Dale

Baseball’s back

It’s crackling on a radio

Sitting by a canning jar filled with fireflies

A barefoot summer, always afternoon in voluptuous-full July.

The screen door slams and flies scatter


A stick and ball routine with umpteen possibilities

Written in the DNA of the Americas

...

April 6th, 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

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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