“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

“An Ode to Langston Hughes” — a poem by John Kaniecki

Great “black” poet?
Is Robert Frost identified as “white” as snow?
I devoured every heart fired revolutionary syllable
Each righteous rectifying rhyme a mountainous memorial in time
Barefaced truth like Emit Till’s open casket
A little Harlem hustle humor

...

August 22nd, 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

“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

“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

Poetry by Luis Lazaro Tijerina

Death is a Trumpet Note Away
(To the Jazz Trumpeter, Lee Morgan)

I hear your trumpet notes splitting the evening skies,
breaking up a piano solo, then a sparse hot guitar
opens the modal line for your slow bursts of almost
cornet sounds… a river flow of “Avotcja One”-
trumpet sounds “into a bed of plaints” and flurries

...

April 14th, 2013

Poetry by Kathy Coman

Comprehension of Music

You understand me
every emotion that’s buried into my heart
that lives in my soul trying to find
the right way to express itself to a world
that lacks true understanding of someone’s feelings
so I turn to you to create life into misunderstanding
and o how I love how you grasp it

...

September 7th, 2011

Poetry by Bill Freedman

Something You Can Count On

I had, once, a Captain Midnight ring
that told the weather, or so they said.
Frankly, I don’t remember Captain Midnight,
didn’t listen to him much.
Don’t know what made him special,
what made him Captain Midnight, for that matter.
But I didn’t need to, knew in my 1947 heart of hearts

...

December 27th, 2009

Poetry by Tim Greenwood

THE BUNKER

An overgrown trail is abruptly halted by a set of rusting metal gates,
Secured to a crooked post by a battered padlock and feeble chain.
A grey guard tower lies out of sight, studying the unfolding scene intently,
From the dense undergrowth where fresh raindrops glisten in the new-born sunlight.

...

January 22nd, 2009

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…

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