A collection of Short Fiction — May, 2019

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…

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May 12th, 2019

“Live a Little,” a short story by Anisha Johnson

Stelle eyed herself in the bathroom mirror, nodded firmly at her reflection, and tore her wig off.
Her new shingle cut was so sharp it could have sliced through paper like scissors, and it gleamed the same glossy hue as ink. She smoothed the pads of her thumbs against her head to straighten the curls that had bloomed beneath the wig, and examined herself with satisfaction.

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May 9th, 2019

“D-Natural Blues” — a short story by Salvatore Difalco

Galinsky was killing my buzz. I could not see his face behind a fuming joint, clenched between his tarry teeth, but I could see his hands—one holding a deck of playing cards, one opened gesturally. They wove with the languid rhythm of a Greek rhetorician as Galinsky droned on about the pratfalls of legalized cannabis: how the government had screwed up a good thing, how the government was greedy, how the government had put the kibosh on a thriving subculture—a tribe to which we after all, at this game, belonged. The black market had provided a beautiful service, in his words, without all the red tape and

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April 13th, 2019

“Before the Sky Was Blue” — a short story by J. Lee Strickland

It is tempting to say that this story took place a long time ago, but that would not be accurate. The place where this story unfolds did not suffer Time as we know it—the linear time of beginnings and endings, of what once was, of what might never be.

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March 20th, 2019

Short Fiction Contest-winning story #50 — “And so we left for Paris,” by Sophie Jonas-Hill

And so we left for Paris, you in the green jacket I’d made you with the picture collar and turned back cuffs, and I in my blue pinstripe, which made me look like a handsome young man.
“You look like a boy,” you said, laughing as we stumbled to our carriage on the train.
“I suppose it would be easier if I were.”
“Not at all, darling,” you said, and pulled the window shade down so you could kiss me. “Anyway, who wants it to be easy?”

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March 11th, 2019

Jerry Jazz Musician Short Fiction Contest — Winning Author Profiles, Group 9

On March 11, 2019, .Jerry Jazz Musician.will publish the 50th.winning story in our thrice-yearly Short Fiction Contest. To celebrate this landmark event, we have asked all the previous winners (dating to 2002) to reflect on their own winning story, and how their lives have since unfolded.

This week’s edition covers authors of winning stories #’s 45 – 49

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March 4th, 2019

Jerry Jazz Musician Short Fiction Contest — Winning Author Profiles, Group 8

On March 11, 2019, .Jerry Jazz Musician.will publish the 50th.winning story in our thrice-yearly Short Fiction Contest. To celebrate this landmark event, we have asked all the previous winners (dating to 2002) to reflect on their own winning story, and how their lives have since unfolded.

This week’s edition covers authors of winning stories #’s 39 – 44

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February 25th, 2019

Jerry Jazz Musician Short Fiction Contest — Winning Author Profiles, Group 7

On March 11, 2019, .Jerry Jazz Musician.will publish the 50th.winning story in our thrice-yearly Short Fiction Contest. To celebrate this landmark event, we have asked all the previous winners (dating to 2002) to reflect on their own winning story, and how their lives have since unfolded.

This week’s edition covers authors of winning stories #’s 35 – 38

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February 18th, 2019

Jerry Jazz Musician Short Fiction Contest — Winning Author Profiles, Group 6

On March 11, 2019, .Jerry Jazz Musician.will publish the 50th.winning story in our thrice-yearly Short Fiction Contest. To celebrate this landmark event, we have asked all the previous winners (dating to 2002) to reflect on their own winning story, and how their lives have since unfolded.

This week’s edition covers authors of winning stories #’s 29 – 34

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February 11th, 2019

Jerry Jazz Musician Short Fiction Contest — Winning Author Profiles, Group 5

On March 11, 2019, .Jerry Jazz Musician.will publish the 50th.winning story in our thrice-yearly Short Fiction Contest. To celebrate this landmark event, we have asked all the previous winners (dating to 2002) to reflect on their own winning story, and how their lives have since unfolded.

This week’s edition covers authors of winning stories #’s 24 – 28

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February 4th, 2019

Jerry Jazz Musician Short Fiction Contest — Winning Author Profiles, Group 4

On March 11, 2019, .Jerry Jazz Musician.will publish the 50th.winning story in our thrice-yearly Short Fiction Contest. To celebrate this landmark event, we have asked all the previous winners (dating to 2002) to reflect on their own winning story, and how their lives have since unfolded.

This week’s edition covers authors of winning stories #’s 17- 23

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January 28th, 2019

Jerry Jazz Musician Short Fiction Contest — Winning Author Profiles, Group 2

On March 11, 2019, .Jerry Jazz Musician.will publish the 50th.winning story in our thrice-yearly Short Fiction Contest. To celebrate this landmark event, we have asked all the previous winners (dating to 2002) to reflect on their own winning story, and how their lives have since unfolded.

This week’s edition covers authors of winning stories #’s 7 – 11

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January 14th, 2019

“The Wailing Wall” — a short story by Justin Short

. . “The Wailing Wall” by Justin Short was the winner of the 48th Jerry Jazz Musician Short Fiction Contest.  It was originally published in July, 2018, and is one of six pieces published on. Jerry Jazz Musician. in 2018 nominated for the prestigious Pushcart Prize   . .     __________ . .   photo … Continue reading ““The Wailing Wall” — a short story by Justin Short”

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January 11th, 2019

“Arabesque” — a short story by Anisha Johnson

. . “Arabesque,” a story by Anisha Johnson, was a finalist in our recently concluded 49th Short Fiction Contest. It is published with the permission of the author. . . “Jayme” by Luann Walsh . Arabesque by Anisha Johnson .   ___ .   …..The first notes of Debussy’s First Arabesque soared through the air, … Continue reading ““Arabesque” — a short story by Anisha Johnson”

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December 27th, 2018

“The Man Who Lives in My Head” — a short story by Luke Bergvist

  “The Man Who Lives in My Head,” a story by Luke Bergvist, was a finalist in our recently concluded 49th Short Fiction Contest.  It is published with the permission of the author.   The Man Who Lives in My Head by Luke Bergvist   ___     {A handwritten manuscript, fished from the waste … Continue reading ““The Man Who Lives in My Head” — a short story by Luke Bergvist”

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December 13th, 2018

“Uncle Joey Blows Trombone at Le Jazz Hot” – a short story by Lawrence J. Klumas

    Uncle Joey Blows Trombone at Le Jazz Hot by Lawrence J. Klumas   _____   You would think that for such a momentous occasion my memory would be crystal clear.  This is not so. I have no personal memory of hearing my Uncle Joey at Le Jazz Hot, that Friday night on August … Continue reading ““Uncle Joey Blows Trombone at Le Jazz Hot” – a short story by Lawrence J. Klumas”

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December 4th, 2018

“High Notes” — a short story by Shan Richardson

     I drifted off into the best sleep I’ve had in weeks. In months even. It’s been a while since I’ve been able to get into Fat Daddy’s as a regular. It’s the hottest – no, it’s the coolest jazz club there is. On any given night you’d find the club cradled with sweet melodies and rocked by spoken word poetry. And on Friday nights, you used to be able to catch us…

     Thing is, my band and I got banned last year. But before then, we had lines out the door with folks wanting to hear us play. The whites, the blacks, the browns and those that fell in between because their parents had jungle fever. The attention can become quite addicting. There wasn’t any fortune though, it’s a small town.

     Fast forward to now – a year later. I managed to befriend

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November 26th, 2018

Short Fiction Contest-winning story #49 — “Will You Play For Me?” by Hannah Draper

     The first time I saw her, she was puffing softly on a cigarette in the girls’ bathroom. She looked all too much the devil incarnate, with tattered jeans and a band shirt that left no doubt at all that their songs would consist of guitar smashing and angsty screaming. She had dyed her hair this brilliant shade of blue that was almost black it was so dark. Upon her exhale, a long strand of smoke twirled from her ruby stained lips and curled around a nose ring that

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November 7th, 2018

“The Best Dancer at St. Bernadette’s and Me” — a short story by Tricia Lowther

     Nothing can spoil today, not even our Sue. It’s the third Saturday in September, 1978. I’m 11 years old and like every other girl in our street, (and some of the boys), I’ve waited months for this. I know all the singles off by heart, I’ve watched the videos on Top of the Pops, posters of John Travolta have replaced Starsky and Hutch on my bedroom wall, and finally, FINALLY, after hearing the songs all Summer, the people of England can go to the cinema and watch Grease.

     All the Brook Street lot are going; kids from six different families with four of their mums; The Thompsons, the Maguires, the Connollys, the Yips, the Browns and us. I’m as excited as the rest of them, but the difference is, I can’t tell anyone who the flutters in my stomach are for.

     We all get the bus together. It’s packed and we have to stand in the aisle, fingers slippery on the

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September 18th, 2018

“Umbrella: A Play in One Act” — by Emilia Getzinger

Baltimore, Maryland. 1960. DAVID, a white boy in his late teens, is standing in the rain under an umbrella, waiting for the morning school bus. There is a bench behind him. Enter CLARE, a black girl his age.

 

CLARE

It’s so cold.

 

Long pause. DAVID is uncomfortable.

 

CLARE

Would you mind sharing your umbrella?

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September 11th, 2018

“Lay Out” — a short story by Barnaby Hazen

            You’ve played this gig at the Tennyson Lodge at least a hundred times by now you figure—three years times twice a week, Wednesdays and Thursdays. You just took a solo and now The Kid is thumping on his oversized instrument, oversized by comparison to his body. He’s a five-foot-nothing of a chubby student bassist having joined the quartet two weeks prior. His dark, stylishly teased hair is stuck in place by product, his eyes just barely open and he rocks left to right in a manner offensive to you for some reason.

            You don’t need a reason. You’ve been doing this long enough to call it like you see it and The Kid is nothing more than a vaguely promising hack. You might want to talk to him on break, get a better idea where his head is at, but meanwhile he’s wiggling around and you kind of hope he gets caught under a

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August 28th, 2018

“The Piano Whisperer” — a short story by Arya Jenkins

     In the underground of how it used to be, in days long ago when things were quite good, when the only bad thing, if you want to call it bad, was poverty, which was longstanding, a dull ache of years that traveled with you through good times and bad and sometimes sang you to sleep like a sad horn, bwa la la la (high note) bwa la la la (high note) bwa la la, in that time, the song of poverty that belonged to everyone belonged also to Noname.

       Noname, pronounced Noh-nameh,  ran the bleak streets then 60 years ago when the world was kinder, a better place, where murder was just, well, murder, and horror, ordinary, conceivable, and every person, regardless of how they appeared, who they were, part of a diverse evolving unique American gyroscopic system. Even the most jaded soul understood being different was natural, even if your difference was made of so many facets, no one thing stood alone and nothing alone could capture it–save poverty herself, true interpreter of shades and depths of differences, which we celebrated on saxophone streets, in piano bars and when looking to the heavens for inspiration in the form of

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August 14th, 2018

“Blue Venus” — a short story by Rhonda Zimlich

            Gas lamps lined the street lifting their warmth out into the world to stave off the night.  Their flickering orange reflected in the puddles along the curb and the cobble still shiny with rain long gone.  A storm had passed.  Leaves now settled in clumps along the gutters and at the feet of a slumped musician folded forward on a stoop.  The curve of his instrument’s dark case towered above him, concealing an elegant bass within.

            Brownstones framed the scene extending stoops from hidden entryways.  A newspaper fat with rain hung over a wrought-iron rail, the upside-down words “Congress Overrides Veto of Taft-Hartley” visible even in the obscurity of predawn.  A five-and-dime, closed for business until morning, hosted a shadowy window display advertising dry shampoo and

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August 6th, 2018

“Silent Soundtrack” — a short story by Bari Lynn Hein

Chris Chisholm’s suit jacket landed beside his foot in a black pinstriped heap. He studied his fragmented reflection in a mosaic of mirrors, raised his eyebrows and his glass and said, “A toast!”

            There was only one other person within view, within earshot. Phil the bartender stood beneath a clock whose hands were both pointed to the number one. “What’re we toasting, Chi Chi?”

            Chris opened his mouth to say, “To Reggie!” But what came out were the lyrics of a Led Zeppelin song: “The cup is raised, the toast is made again…” He trailed off, humming, as if he’d forgotten the rest. He hadn’t.

            Phil smirked and reinserted a rag into the glass he’d been drying. “Thanks a lot. Now I’ll have that love song stuck in my

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July 25th, 2018

Short Fiction Contest-winning story #48: “The Wailing Wall” by Justin Short

     When they came to build the wall, I played Mingus.

     I stood in the blistering sun, watched them arrive, and did my best to blow my lungs clean out.  They climbed down from hissing dew-sprinkled trucks, adjusted their hard hats, and went to work setting up the barricades.  They ignored me completely.

     They didn’t ignore me long.  I was off-key, and I was loud.  Ain’t always about hitting all the right notes, man.  A clarinet’s gotta be raw.  Real.  None of that philharmonic fast food commercial stuff.

     I could almost hear Tony taking the high notes right beside me.  He would have, too.  He always loved a good

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July 13th, 2018

“The Blues Museum” — a short story by Jay Franzel

      Camp looked through glass doors and across the shoulderless highway. A patch of grass across the road was covered with white trailers washed clean by the rain. He stared out a side window at the brown back of a gas station. A red and yellow sign, mounted so high he had to twist his neck to see it, seemed like it should have been turning but sat still against a gray sky.

      What do you find in a bus station? Long waits under dirty fluorescents, grimy floor and seats, gloom on scattered faces. Soup, coffee and candy vending machines. If someone could gather it up, all the pieces a bus station’s handed down through the years, you could start a museum. You could cover the walls with black and white photos, pictures of a million people. Pick out any one person, nobody special, just someone with some

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June 27th, 2018

“No Hiding Place” — a short story by Chris LaMay-West

     Seen from above, the motion probably exhibited some coherence. Like how the particles on the surface of a liquid jiggled around each other. What did they call it? Brownian motion. Seen from a distance, the mass of people no doubt also swirled in patterns that had a great deal of regularity. Was there perhaps even a meaning in the group activity, a secret swaying cadence that couldn’t be discerned just from watching the constituent parts? 

     Carl found how he engaged in metaphysical speculations when in these situations distressing.

     But God, you had to do something.

     Or else this dance club, The Edge of The World, the apotheosis of all that he had come to hate during this year and a half spent in

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June 18th, 2018

“The Launch” — a short story by Amy Tagle

     “How dare you play it like that!”

     I look up from my sight-reading piece, certain I had correctly executed all of the rhythms and notes, all of the articulations and embellishments. My questioning eyes found a passionate face, lined with wrinkles that were now quivering in angst.

     “I don’t care if you play a couple wrong notes here and there, but to play it so flat like that… so dull… that is inexcusable.”

     “Play it again.”

     I started again, trying to sense the life behind the ink, and I felt like the blind fool who

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June 8th, 2018

“The Improvisational Distance” — a short story by Justin Reynolds

Everyone is afraid to knock on the door when they hear the trumpet behind it. A closed door is like an On Air sign or a red light outside a dark room. Still, they have to talk to him. Sonny is nowhere to be found. And Thibodeau is too busy

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May 24th, 2018

“Piano Hands” — a short story by Charis Shin

  He had beautiful hands — hands with long, slender fingers meant to caress ivory piano keys. Knuckles, she knew, were never the most flattering part of anyone’s body — gnarled and raisin-like skin stretched over delicate bones. And yet, there was a certain beauty in the way his knuckles bent and flexed over the piano, so she protested bitterly when he became a mechanic to make ends meet.

     “We’ve got bills to pay,” he said with a matter-of-fact shrug, “And I can always

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April 28th, 2018

“Full Moon New Year” — a short story by Debora Ewing

     This is one of those parties I’ve heard about, thrown by people with new money in a house they don’t own; like Hipster Gatsby. This is not to disparage our host: he is a sincere human. When one finds one’s self in a cliché, the moment should be chronicled. I’m sitting on a mausoleum chair in the foyer of an upscale Seattle home with my glass of vodka perched on a music stand, chronicling.

      The jazz musicians in the living room are playing “Some Day My Prince Will Come.” 

      “Oh, good, it’s the Disney segment,” I say to nobody in particular. The drunk woman who earlier complimented my

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April 10th, 2018

“Plainsong” — a short story by Joyce Becker Lee

     Tansy steps up to the microphone, and the world shifts into slow motion. Behind her, the band pulsates, big brass, booming beat, and howling saxophones like foreplay. Before her, the shadowy movement of caliginous figures, backlit to opacity, a murky mob breathing as though one, daring her to entertain with the melodies stored in her throat and heart, perversely seeking the pleasure to be derived from her anticipated failure to enthrall.

            The mike’s silver orb becomes her focus, its aura a tight dome that pulls at her breath, sucking the notes from her depths, the rushing air inverting her

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April 3rd, 2018

“Speakeasy” — a short story by Matt Hayes

     I was recently at a speakeasy in Tbilisi, drinking wine and tapping my foot in time with a jazz quartet, when I noticed a dishevelled French magician approach the mysterious black-haired girl I’d had my eye on for the past ten minutes. This irked me less than it might have, because the Frenchman was clearly a drunkard of dubious repute, and the girl was plainly uninterested in him, not deigning to respond to his advances with so much as a word. He performed endless coin tricks and card tricks for her, and loudly complimented her exotic

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March 26th, 2018

Short Fiction Contest-winning story 47: “The Happy Thing of Bayou de Manque” by Erin Larson

     “Repeat after me: I will not hunt alligators while Désirée runs deliveries.”

     Léon blinks at me, rich hickory eyes peering up from a face darker than any glancing touch of the sun could produce. He wriggles in a barely-perceptible fashion, bare heels grinding ringlets into the muddy deck, a creature of obstinacy and faux innocence whose smile mystically exiles all suspicion from my mind.

     “’course, Dezzy,” he says. “There aren’t any alligators around right now, you know—they ain’t come out ‘til nighttime.”

      “They don’t come out ‘til nighttime,” I correct him, swiping a hand over the top of his

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March 15th, 2018

“Alto Saxophone” — a short story by Joe DiBuduo

      In a little town in Illinois, in a bar near the Wisconsin border, one man blew honey-dripping sounds from his saxophone. A woman’s body swayed in time with the sweetness emitting from that horn. She kept time with the beat and moved like melodic notes going up and down the scale. I imagined blowing musical sounds into her ear.

      I crossed the wooden dance floor where she whirled, grabbed her hand and began to spin. Like musical notes, one black, one white, we danced all night. I softly sang into her ear, “Imagine how we’d dance in bed.”

      She laughed in a low contralto voice, and changed it to a soprano when the high notes flowed.

      Later when we were in bed and music played on her expensive speakers we continued our

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February 25th, 2018

“Cipher” — a short story by Colleen Anderson

     It had been warm all day, the type of day where the heavy air presses into you and makes it hard to move. It didn’t help that her shift had been spent calling customers and listening to endless streams of why they couldn’t make their hydro payments. And they would yell, swear at her as if she had caused their loss of job, their alcoholism, their way of life. She absorbed it all, the words sinking through the membrane in her ear and resonating within the membrane of her mind long after the calls had stopped.

     If there’d been a breeze, or a slight coolness to the air, then those words could have lifted from her. They heated her, churning and boiling within so that by the time she got the apartment door open

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February 11th, 2018

“Coloring Outside the Lines” — a short story by Debora Ewing

     I like the jazz because it plays in different colors: deep green and blue, translucent purple, ivory black; city storefronts, magenta sunsets; watercolor splashes here and there like a yellow crocus on snow or an orange goldfish tail — sudden, surprising, but always carefully placed.

     …Like the way people come in different colors — they just don’t know it. People walk along in darkness daily, ignorant of the color that’s surrounding them or the beat their music plays. That’s what I’m lying here thinking about, in my dark bedroom between the folds of cotton sheets. Africans, Asians, Seminoles…they all come in different colors — not their skins, but their insides. Each person glows from deep within, from a well that springs out of

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February 2nd, 2018

“Lulu and Me” — a short story by Arya Jenkins

     The winter I ran away, I moved into a garret in Provincetown, where I wrote poetry under the light of a candle far into the wee hours. Out my window, two stories up, I could see snow glistening on slanted rooftops that led like an uneven staircase to the bay. Below me, a twisted narrow path led to Commercial Street, peaceful and stark as an unwritten page. It was 1973 and I had run to the end of the world as I knew it to find freedom.

       I knew Provincetown from spending summers with my dad and Grandma Tess in her cottage in Truro. It seemed she’d lived most of her life since Grandpa’s passing as a beachcomber. I liked following behind her when we collected

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January 8th, 2018

“Icarus” — a short story by Ian MacAgy

     Near the end of high school I thought myself sophisticated, a fan of Pink Floyd and King Crimson and Kevin Ayers, but at a Weather Report Concert in 1972 I had a nearly religious conversion.  It was as though a stranger had run up to me and said, “hold this for minute” and ran off. Then the music exploded. I had never heard anything like this. Everything changed. 

      It was as though I grew hair in secret places and a new appendage.  I became a different creature.  After that night few of my suburban DC white friends’ guitar and lyrics-oriented ears could hear what mine could; the joy and heartbreak in this unfamiliar and ebonic timbre, this canvas painted in horn, acoustic bass, and polyrhythm; this blues, this brokenness, this homesickness.   

     There it was, though, for anyone who had ears for it—there, in the absence of verse, in the uncertainty and unpredictability of lengthy solos, in the timelessness of power beyond the moment from which

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December 1st, 2017

“Improv” — a short story by Lorna Wood

     This was all her fault, Sarah thought, as she watched the Victory Lounge clear out. She should have known Branchville wasn’t ready for improv jazz. But the bass player, Tommy Williams, had been so supportive after the workshop with the graduate wind students. Sarah had gotten so interested in the group’s ideas about jazz and improvising that she had gone straight to the practice room after the workshop and found their website. Earbuds in both ears, she was improvising to one of the rhythmic bass tracks there when she happened to raise the bell of her clarinet on a long high note the way she’d seen the quartet’s wind players do, and there was Tommy knocking on the door.

            He had been so just what a jazz bass player from Chicago should be, Sarah thought, with his dusky skin and his smoky voice, and his rakish fedora tipped over one eye. And at the same time he had been so genuinely

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November 18th, 2017

“One Suitcase” — a short story by Wayne Cresser

     Henry Bell wished the actress on the TV interview show wouldn’t smile so much. Most show folk, he thought, were not memorable. They were things, as he had written in one of his songs, made on the cheap from neon and crepe. Sometimes he believed it too. Then he’d remind himself that human beings wrote all kinds of wonderful tunes, like “The Wind” — the number that had made his mind reel when he was very young and made him think he could write songs.

     “The Wind” was eight, maybe nine, minutes of continuous jamming colored in with jazzy chords, an understated vocal and poetry. As a kid, listening to Dick Summer’s Subway show late at night on his transistor radio, stuck under the pillow to muzzle its volume, he thought he could trek into “The Wind” and the journey through its changes would be endless.

     Now, nearly forty, he wasn’t a kid anymore, and jazz-inflected rock music wasn’t his thing. At some point too, he’d decided that Circus Maximus was a pretty dumb name for a

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November 11th, 2017

Short Fiction Contest-winning story #46 — “Cotton Candy on Alto Sax,” by Julie Parks

At first, I simply sit on the front steps of my building, letting the summer sun bake my knees while I’m planning my getaway, trying to decide which subway to take to get to Caroline’s place faster. I know nobody will miss me. Nobody will even notice. Not like the first time I ran away.

The first time I ran away – OK, maybe I didn’t exactly run away, as the only thing I did was leave my house in the morning to go down to New Utrecht Avenue to sit in a subway station. But I didn’t come back. I wasn’t going to. I sat there all day, until it got late and dark, and eventually even darker and so late that it was time for my mom to come home. And when she did and saw that I’m gone, she called the cops and they found me instantly. Picture a pink haired girl sitting on a bench in an all Hasidic neighborhood. Not a rocket science to spot my cotton candy stack of hair even in the middle of a dark subway station. So I was brought home that same night, safe and sound, and feeling like an

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November 5th, 2017

“Voodoo Run” — a short story by Arya Jenkins

Allie drove her taxi with a smart ass attitude, smacking gum ceaselessly, and wore a Yankees cap backwards on her head on the job, even though she’d never watched a baseball game in her life, didn’t even like the game. Her dad had named her after a pitcher who’d won five straight World Series and Allie was always grateful that pitcher hadn’t been named Lefty or something like that.

Allie’s father had been the true baseball fan and Allie wore his cap in his memory. His real gift to her was love of music, jazz in particular. In her cab, she listened to WBGO, 88.3, remembering times she hung out with her dad in the garage listening to Miles Davis, Chick Corea, Wayne Shorter, experiments in sound, beautiful chaos while he fixed things. The garage was Bert’s space and his peace, or rather, the music was, and the smoke and silence that rose between them accentuated this. Whenever the strangers she drove around asked about her father, Allie always told them, “He went the way of the Marlboro man.” Cancer.

It surprised people to hear that she, a Millennial should enjoy jazz. “Jazz was like my Gerber food,” she liked to say. As a teen she dug hip hop enough to explore its fusion with jazz, but the fusion didn’t

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September 8th, 2017

Short Fiction Contest winning story #45 — “Last Stop with Louis Armstrong,” by Laura Hawbaker

            Wade missed the sweat. The sticky air that hugged you like a fat friend. The languid, dirty stench of swampy gutters. Of Bourbon street piss and puke. Of Dat Dogs at three in the morning, and the street mutts that cawed at the Mississippi. The rats and cockroaches scuttling around your shoes. The humidity. The heat.           

            He missed all of it.

            New York was cold. Not just the weather, but the people, too. Hardened pedestrians crushed the MTA platforms like stone statues, eyes glazed onto their phones or the wall or the floor. No smiles. No inward space given away to strangers. They hugged into their

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July 18th, 2017

“As good as it will ever get” — a short story by Julie Parks

Swoosh! Shhh. Shhhhh! I hear the ear numbing screech and the train finally stops moving. Nine seconds and the loud beep will announce the door opening. Heels clack against the icy early morning pavement. The mass of cigarette smoke hazes my sense of direction until we finally reach the end of the Binario 12 and my ears welcome the familiar sound of strings.

It’s distant and quite mellow but I can still make out the song. It’s a new one. He’s only played it a few times. I know it. Everyone loves it because it’s from that movie. The one with

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June 15th, 2017

“Foolish Love” — a short story by Arya Jenkins

     That winter we lived among mice in the Berkshires, in a little cabin set not far from a large white clapboard house that belonged to the owner Betty, who was a widow. Two steps up to the cabin did nothing to keep the mice away. Their constant tweaking and bustle made me feel I was living in an indoor forest. Betty, who was a nice old lady, warned us. “You’ll never be able to keep the mice out. If you can stand them, the place is yours.”

 

      We had come up to the Berkshires figuring we might have to rough it, but had no idea. Van and I had been together about two years then. The summer before we had been married on a beach in

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June 6th, 2017

An excerpt from “A Moment of Fireflies” — a novella by John McCluskey

     Michael continued down the darkening street.  A gust of wind blew off the Lake.  His eyes watered.  He turned his back to the wind, and the wind blew hard, unfurling his coat and his pant legs. He bent into it to soften its assault, but he soon turned his back to protect his face against the onslaught.   A man and a woman hurried across the street, almost bumping into him, holding hands as if one would fly away.  The lid blew off of a trashcan and crashed wildly into the street; a car rattled by up ahead at the intersection.  When at last the street was empty with no more cars and no more men or women about, Michael found himself alone but for a few

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May 24th, 2017

“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

“Like a Pigeon in the Park” — a short story by Arya Jenkins

“What a shame,” people always said whenever they saw the two of them, Jeremy and Jade. What a shame the beauty of the boy had escaped the girl, who had her mother’s small oval face and father’s prominent nose and small dark eyes that were filled with a peculiar, almost unnatural intensity. “Such a shame,” relatives observed unabashedly at family gatherings. The remaining phrase that hung in air unspoken was, ”that she isn’t the beautiful one. “

To herself in the mirror, Jade’s own face and visage seemed fine, just a part of her, not even all that consequential. Didn’t brains and character matter more? She was striking much in the way Zelda Fitzgerald had been—a beauty you could not capture in photographs, more in movement, gesture, articulation. Somewhere, not far from the small, provincial town where Jade lived, where people stared at you if you did not fit a mold, there were people like her who were different and proud of their differences and she looked forward to meeting them one day. In the meantime, she would have to deal with challenges.

Growing up, many of them had to do with her brother, who was two years older. Although Jade garnered high marks in school, not much was made of it so

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December 8th, 2016

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

“THE BLUE KISS” — a short story by Arya Jenkins

She stood in a room at The Met glancing at the painting on the wall, which was of two women kissing. From her vantage point, standing slightly away and to the side, the two women lying together interlocked in bed appeared cushioned awkwardly in space, free-floating yet connected.

The painting was by Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, the alcoholic French dwarf artist, and she tried to imagine what it was like living when he did in Paris at the time of the painting, 1892, and what it might have been like for these two prostitutes and others like them who often turned to one another for relief from a world of men then.

Mireille, it was reported, was one of the girls in the brothel in the Rue d’Amboise, when Lautrec was commissioned to create a series of panels about the lives of the girls there, and she was one of his favorites. He visited the salons of the brothels in the Rue des Moulins and Rue d’Amboise many times to study and paint the women, who felt very free to be

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February 2nd, 2016

Short Fiction Contest-winning story #40 — “The Blues Museum,” by Jay Franzel

Camp looked through glass doors and across the shoulderless highway. A patch of grass across the road was covered with white trailers washed clean by the rain. He stared out a side window at the brown back of a gas station. A red and yellow sign, mounted so high he had to twist his neck to see it, seemed like it should have been turning but sat still against a gray sky.

What do you find in a bus station? Long waits under dirty fluorescents, grimy floor and seats, gloom on scattered faces. Soup, coffee and candy vending machines. If someone could gather it up, all the pieces a bus station’s handed down through the years, you could start a museum. You could cover the walls with

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November 16th, 2015

“Woman Plays Horn” — a short story by Arya Jenkins

She was born into a family of musicians. Her father had played bass in a jazz band and traveled with Dizzy until an accident had cost him his arm and his career. Getting out of a limousine that had stalled on the highway en route to a gig in Chicago, he opened the car door to get out at the wrong time, just as a truck was passing.

“C’est la vie” he always said about that, as if it meant something. He had to go on, a musician without a limb, without his instrument, because he was a man and had children and a legacy to uphold through them, but inside, where nothing touched him, he felt as torn as his shoulder had been that night. Something had shifted. Only his wife, his gentle, meek and attendant wife who saw him sitting at the edge of their bed each night head bowed counting his blessings, all but one, only she knew what

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November 1st, 2015

“Songs for Sometime Losers: A Bebop Suite” — by Beth Spencer

Slow slow slooooooooooooooow; the river was practically dry, a river in name only, a few puddles on the mudflats where standing water reflected the cottony clouds that moved perpetually east, dropping nothing anymore but empty promises. Unsettling in the most literal sense. Many people sold their houses or just abandoned them, heading north, and those who stayed finally got serious about

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August 22nd, 2015

Short Fiction Contest-winning story #39: “The Lot,” by John Hyde Barnard

Three times a year, we award a writer who submits, in our opinion, the best original, previously unpublished work.

John Hyde Barnard of Los Angeles, California is the winner of the 39th Jerry Jazz Musician New Short Fiction Award, announced and published for the first time on July 3, 2015.

*

“The Lot”

by John Hyde Barnard


He brought the cigarette up to his lips. As he took a hit the orange
glow briefly lit his face and faded back into shadow as he slowly exhaled
a cloud of blue smoke. He crushed the butt on the windowsill, sparks and
dying embers leaving a trail that quickly became black and cold. As he
flicked the butt into the night air he glanced over the rooftops. It
seemed the horizon was a shade lighter. Had he been sitting there that
long?

Unable to sleep since arriving at the apartment some hours earlier,
he sat at the open window: musing, arguing, longing and laughing with his
thoughts. He had not discovered an epiphany or revelation, only a comfort
with the warm night. It was the first warm night of the season; the
unmistakable promise of

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July 3rd, 2015

“Don’t Threaten Me with Love, Baby” — a short story by Arya Jenkins

Chantal Doolittle wasn’t like anybody else she knew. Who else, for example, would stand transfixed before a record player or stereo, still as stone while listening to music — not merely attending to it — her very cells taking in the song, calculating and absorbing. “That girl is special,” Nana Esther always said.

When she was a kid and Motown was the thing, Chan would sing Marvin Gaye’s tunes to her grandmother in their high ceilinged apartment, where, more often than not it was soul music, the harmonizing voices of The Four Tops, The Temptations, The Supremes, drifting in from the surrounding windows and disappearing into the sky that was perennially a washed out gray, as if there was an invisible flag always at half mast, hanging outside heaven. From the time she was five or six, all Chan had to do was hear a song once and she would know it. She knew all the Motown tunes word for word, and sang them right on key, perfectly, which is why Nana Esther dubbed her, “my little songbird.”

Of course, there was nothing little about Chantal, but, being her grandmother’s one and only, she was “a little one” to her. Chantal was tall, big for her age, and when she developed as a young woman, busty too. She stood out even before she opened her mouth, due to her attitude. Her nana had taught her to be “confident as a man,” and she had seemingly

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May 30th, 2015

“Mystery in C Minor” — a short story by Bruce Golden

The winner of the November, 2006 Short Fiction Contest, Bruce Golden’s story looks at the mystery surrounding the death of Major Glenn Miller.

_____

January 30, 1946 — Allied Headquarters, Paris, France


“What is it, Captain? I’m very busy.”

“Sorry to disturb you, Colonel, but you said you wanted a report as soon as I completed my investigation.”

Colonel Washburn searched his desk muttering, “Yes, yes. I’ll read your report as soon as you’ve filed it.”

Captain Mercer didn’t move. He was hesitant to annoy his superior officer when the man was so obviously distracted by other concerns, but he was convinced it was necessary.

“Pardon me, sir, but I know the directive for this investigation came from the top, and I believe you should hear my findings before any official documents are filed.”

The colonel looked up at his subordinate for the first time. “What do you mean? What did your investigation reveal?”

“Well, sir . . . .” Captain Mercer hesitated. He’d rehearsed this, but now wasn’t certain where to begin.

“Come on, son, I don’t have all day. Major Miller’s plane went down somewhere over the Channel — correct?”

“Well yes . . . and no.” Mercer cringed at how it sounded.

“What do you mean yes and no? It can’t be both, Captain. What exactly did your investigation conclude?”

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May 18th, 2015

“Dizzy Moods” — a short story by Daniel Alvarado

Three cars honked almost in union. Then successively, each a blare in order, one two three, then two three one three four with the line through, beat ripitum boom, ba, riptum boom, now hear it a little faster, just a little faster, lips to instrument, trumpet, three valves, infinite notes to jot to sing to blow, perched lips, fat cheeks, cosmic energy of the union, the intertwined with keys of ivory.

Marcus Breck was recalling stepping on stage the first time. Nervousness rising from toes to a tingling head. Dry mouth, the initial silence of the room that precedes the beginning of

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March 31st, 2015

“Traveling Magic” — a short story homage to John Coltrane, by Kay Sexton

In anticipation of the publication of our soon-to-be announced Short Fiction winning story, I reached back into the archives and re-discovered this excellent story by Kay Sexton, “Traveling Magic,” which is a series of scenes all linked by train travel, and an homage to John Coltrane.

_____

Frannie Moore lifts the sax. In the moments before they swing in behind her, the band hear the train sliding its way through the windy city. The noise is subliminal, visceral: if you play here much it becomes part of the music. Frannie breathes deep and opens her heart to the world …

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February 27th, 2015

“A Man’s Hands En Clave” — a short story by Arya Jenkins

Club Havana was known for hosting decent Afro-Cuban jazz bands. There was dancing Thursdays through Sundays, and Sunday afternoons, the management handed out free cigars. Hector became close to the house band, whose rhythm section inspired him. He thought the drummer Manny was off the charts. Completely bald, he wore leather bands that cinched his pump wrists as if to keep his hands from flying off his body whenever he played fast and furious. A skinny, short guy played bongos, and a drunk worked the tumbadoras. Jorge, Carlos and Javier, all dapper guys, played horns. As if to distinguish themselves, one wore a mustache; another, a hat; and the other, wire rimmed glasses. Additionally, there was a young Julliard graduate on piano, a white-haired Cubano on flute, and a sax player who looked exactly like Lester Young. One afternoon, before their gig, Manny and Hector got to talking, and Hector started messing around on the tumbadoras, imitating what he had so often seen and heard. Manny raised his eyebrows and cocked his head. He liked this kid, and his sound was good.

“Why don’t you come hang with us this weekend. A few of us like to jam at Columbus Circle. Come along and let’s see how you work those congas in a group.”

Over the course of the summer, Hector hung out in the park. It was there he met

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February 18th, 2015

“Masters of the Jazz Kazoo” — a short story by Con Chapman

“Masters of the Jazz Kazoo” is a short story by Con Chapman about a man whose goal was to make it in New York’s cutthroat world of the jazz kazoo!


_____


Like all jazz kazoo players, getting to New York City was always my goal. To turn the Sinatra song on its head, until you made it there, you hadn’t made it anywhere.

Yes, I’d cut every kazooist in the Quad Cities, the sub-metropolitan area of Iowa that from the air appears to be what it is full of — squares. Then I’d moved on to Chicago, like Louis Armstrong, where I found a wider audience for my “kool kazoo” stylings. It may be America’s “Second City” (actually third, but who’s counting) but landing on my feet there was like a

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February 4th, 2015

“Father Kniest, Jazz Priest” — a short story by Con Chapman

“Father Kniest, Jazz Priest” is a short story by Con Chapman about “a man of the cloth…deputized by a higher power to save jazzmen’s souls from the lures and wiles and temptations of bad taste.”

_____

I’m getting too old for this, I thought as I made my way down Boylston Street, my tambourine in one hand, the Good Book in the other. I started ministering to the jazz scene in Boston back when Estelle Slavin and Her Swinging Brunettes were the house band at Izzy Ort’s Coney Island Club on Essex Street. Floogie Williams and the Unquenchables were ensconced at the Tip-Top Lounge, which didn’t sit well with the sconces that came with the place as trade fixtures, but so what? We were young and crazy for jazz — we didn’t care.

But now I’m closing in on eighty, and eighty’s looking over its shoulder, nervous as hell. I’ll catch it soon enough — if I don’t die first.

Back in ’55 I was just out of the seminary and was assigned by my

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January 7th, 2015

“In a Blue Moon, Once” — a short story by Richard Herring

“Night of the living dead,” a voice screamed in Tom’s head. A softer voice pointed out it was still late afternoon. It sure wasn’t life as he wanted to know it. In reality, it was just another long Thursday afternoon of monthly staff meetings, with new mandates and standards flowing downhill from the top. All the nodding mannequins around the conference room would take it all in, shoot a few inane, brown nose comments back at the presenter, then go back to do their jobs tomorrow the same as always.

Sylvia’s attention was on the crochet hoop in her lap. Jack’s eyes had been closed for the better part of 45 minutes. Tom’s life support system came through the cord fed neatly up beneath the lapel, to the headphones partially obscured by thick sideburns and abundant head of hair. A collection of earpieces was present among these old codgers, but his was connected to the brand new cassette player in his suit coat pocket.

The tape Mikki turned him on to seemed to emanate from a place beyond his routine, tired existence. It was as if the music offered a

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December 16th, 2014

“HEAT” — a short story by Arya Jenkins

1. Savoy Blues

Mercies would have put blues on the menu if it could, but that was a province of the kitchen, where I worked four and a half months too many. I heard actual blues music and caught a gust of air conditioning whenever I snuck through the dining area early in my shift to use the guest bathroom before customers arrived, passing the line of booths next to the orange and black walls on which hung colorful modern paintings of jazz musicians and the

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December 3rd, 2014

“Silent City” — a short story by Adam Murray

Although only one story wins our thrice yearly Short Fiction Contest, since we typically receive well over 100 entrants, often times there are several worthy of publication. Our last competition, our 37th, was won by Kenneth Levine. His short story “Homage” — about the effect Chet Baker’s drug addiction had on a father and son relationship — was published on November 4.

A finalist in the competition was Adam Murray’s “Silent City,” an excellent story about “how we can’t have the things we can no longer have because they no longer exist.” In this case, what we can’t have again is the 1940’s jazz laboratory known as Minton’s Playhouse. When I sent an email to Murray requesting his permission to allow me to publish “Silent City,” he wrote back and agreed, informing me that he had written this story specifically for Jerry Jazz Musician and “from there just kinda’ crossed my fingers.” In that same email, Murray wrote; “I’m currently homeless in Australia and penned this piece with my back to the brickwork behind a little jazz joint here called Ellington’s, digging on the swing, the night and the street, so your acceptance is a fitting coda for me. I’d be honoured to appear in your publication with like minded souls and voices.”

Murray’s email is an extraordinary reminder

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November 19th, 2014

Short Fiction Contest-winning story #37: “Homage,” by Kenneth Levine

New Short Fiction Award

Three times a year, we award a writer who submits, in our opinion, the best original, previously unpublished work.


Kenneth Levine of Wethersfield, Connecticut is the winner of the thirty-seventh Jerry Jazz Musician New Short Fiction Award, announced and published for the first time on November 5, 2014.


Homage

by

Kenneth Levine


_______________________________

I deplaned in Amsterdam to confront my father. In 1990, the year I was born, after the likes of Stan Getz and Freddie Hubbard dubbed him “the reincarnation of Chet Baker,” he quit his part-time job repairing cars in Gilbert, Iowa to go on a worldwide tour from which he never returned.

From the airport I boarded a train to Centraal Station, across from which the Prins Hendrik hotel is situated at the Northern end of Zeedijk Straat, and by early evening I had navigated through the designated lanes over which walkers, bicyclists, and motorists coursed to stand before a bronze tablet on the hotel’s brick front that featured a haggard Chet Baker playing the trumpet over an inscription that read: “Trumpet player and singer Chet Baker died here on May 13th, 1988. He will live on in his music for anyone

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November 5th, 2014

“Broad Street” — a short story by Arya Jenkins

The publication of Arya Jenkins’ “Broad Street” is the fourth in a series of short stories she has been commissioned to write for Jerry Jazz Musician. For information about her column, please see our September 12 “Letter From the Publisher.”

For Ms. Jenkins’ introduction to her work, read “Coming to Jazz.”

__________

The day I moved into Broad Street, the roiling waters of the Long Island Sound burst over sea walls along the Connecticut coast from New Haven to Greenwich, flooding Bridgeport so badly, a poor, emotionally disturbed man actually drowned in a sewer. At Seaside Park, water rushed across two parking lots, swirled around a few skimpy trees and headed straight for the historic set of row houses that included my basement apartment. It was early December as I arrived, two knapsacks in tow, only to find my new landlady Rosie and my neighbor Alice knee-deep in galoshes in muck, hauling out my furniture.

A week earlier, Alice had lured me with, “There’s a vacancy next door and it’s yours. Everybody’s an artist here. You belong.” I had felt that the studio with its cozy rooms

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August 5th, 2014

Short Fiction Contest-winning story #36 — “Fever” by Yvonne McBride

Three times a year, we award a writer who submits, in our opinion, the best original, previously unpublished work.

Yvonne McBride of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is the winner of the thirty-sixth Jerry Jazz Musician New Short Fiction Award, announced and published for the first time on July 12, 2014.




Fever


by

Yvonne McBride

_______________________________




Royal had studied her from the bandstand each and every night since their first gig. Such a little thing she was. Nicely curved, tightly packaged — but such a small little thing he had a notion she would break if even his fingertips glazed her. And he had tried. To touch her. Had been trying to get close to her for the past two and all night long.

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July 12th, 2014

“Epistrophy” – a short story by Arya Jenkins

The publication of Arya Jenkins’ “Epistrophy” is the third in a series of short stories she has been commissioned to write for Jerry Jazz Musician. For information about her column, please see our September 12 “Letter From the Publisher.” For Ms. Jenkins’ introduction to her work, read “Coming to Jazz.”

__________

Disenchanted leaves fell early through the trees the summer I left my life for an ashram. The path to the ashram snaked into the woods not far from Tanglewood and reminded me less of where I had been than where I was going with its rotund emphasis on kindness and formality-Within a year I would be studying Buddhism in a monastery and teaching English at Cornell in Ithaca.

I was attempting to put a punto finale to the moneyed nonsense in which I’d lived too long in Fairfield County, and wanted to quell my fulminating instinct, my destructive fires and find some kind of peace and stability, even at the expense of boredom–which may have been expecting too much.

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April 16th, 2014

Short Fiction Contest-winning story #35: “The Usefulness of the Blues,” by Sam Lieberman

I’m lonely most nights. It’s part of my job. You can’t be happy if you want to play the blues. But there were some nights that made my misery worth it, where I felt light for once and everything fit together. I’m sure it was the absence of thought that did it. When I think about things, I realize how awful they are. But when I float out of my chains, having known what they were like, the freedom is all the sweeter.

January 8th was such a night.

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March 15th, 2014

“The Bluest Train,” a short story by Arya Jenkins

My friend Carl lived in a house full of ghosts with an evil sonofabitch brother who stole his shit, I mean all of it. But Carl himself, man, Carl was good as gold. He would give you the shirt off his back–everything, and did.

I moved in with my ex-old lady across the street from him in the late 80s when I was drying out and desperate for change. Marcy took me in, even after I had been such a dick. She knew it was the booze made me sleep around, and even though she kicked my drunken ass out on the curb, she took me in once she saw I was sober and clean. By then, she was already shacked up with a polite, fat, slob who was everything I wasn’t or would ever be.

Homestead Avenue, where we lived, was a pleasant street in a nice section of Fairfield called Black Rock, near the water. At the time, people were starting to navigate to the hood, although since then real estate prices have dropped due to the many storms–there have been too many storms in the area, man. But because of Black Rock’s proximity to the sound, which is like the sea, artists and strange people gravitate there.

I noticed Carl right off the bat. You couldn’t help but see him sitting on his porch with his supersized feet, head and limbs, a Franken monster. So I crossed the street one day to meet my neighbor, who looked a sorry sight–blackish long hair

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January 14th, 2014

“Sonny’s Blues,” by James Baldwin — “The most famous jazz short story ever written”

In the introduction to The Jazz Fiction Anthology, editors Sascha Feinstein and David Rife cite James Baldwin’s short story “Sonny’s Blues” as “the most famous jazz short story ever written,” and is pointed to by Baldwin biographer David Leeming as “the prologue to a dominant fictional motif in the overall Baldwin story, the relationship between two brothers that takes much of its energy from the close relationship between James and [brother] David Baldwin.” The story, originally published in Partisan Review in 1957, centers on the narrator’s need to, in Leeming’s words, “save his brother [Sonny] from the precariousness of his life as an artist.” Sonny, in turn, finds his voice by playing bebop in the Village, which results, according to Leeming,

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December 6th, 2013

Short Fiction Contest-winning story #34: “Alto Saxophone,” by Joe DiBuduo

In a little town in Illinois, in a bar near the Wisconsin border, one man blew honey-dripping sounds from his saxophone. A woman’s body swayed in time with the sweetness emitting from that horn. She kept time with the beat and moved like melodic notes going up and down the scale. I imagined blowing musical sounds into her ear.

I crossed the wooden dance floor where she whirled, grabbed her hand and began to spin. Like musical notes, one black, one white, we danced all night. I softly sang into her ear, “Imagine how we’d dance in bed.”

She laughed in a low contralto voice, and changed it to a soprano when the high notes flowed.

...

November 19th, 2013

In Anticipation of Announcing the New Short Fiction Contest Winner

We are edging closer to the announcement of the Jerry Jazz Musician Short Fiction Contest winning story #34. It is our expectation that we will be publishing it by November 10. Meanwhile, here are some recent previous winning stories we think you’ll enjoy:

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October 29th, 2013

Connecting Fiction with Music

While in the midst of reviewing the stories from the over 100 entrants in our current Short Fiction Contest, I have been impressed by the spirit of creativity that shines through in virtually every submission. No matter the story theme, the creative energy and spontaneity is as frequently evident in the writer’s turn of a phrase as it is in a jazz musician’s harmonic progression.

The other day I got into a conversation about how jazz musicians of the 1950’s and the Beat era writers shared an artistic language and had similar creative values that showed up in a variety of examples. The one that came to mind first was in Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road,” where Kerouac is inspired by a jazz performance in Chicago…This is what he writes:

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October 15th, 2013

“Soliloquy,” by Arya F. Jenkins

I am a bastard son of the late great Chogyam Trungpa, a Tibetan Buddhist teacher who came to this country in 1970, amassed many followers and bedded many women, among them, my dear mother. My parents never married. My mother left my father and moved with me to the Big Apple when I was still a toddler. While my mother met and married a broker named Irv and had my sister Pearl, my own father went on to become a famous teacher and big lush.

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September 15th, 2013

“Coming to Jazz,” by Arya Jenkins

On the occasion of my 12th or 13th birthday, my father presented me with my own copy of a favorite album of his, Dave Brubeck’s Time Out and said, “This music is going to change your life.” The music sounded like nothing I’d ever heard. It was original and different and piqued my curiosity although I would not embrace it until later in my life. In the early 90s, when I was reading my poems in cafes that often played jazz in Connecticut, New York and Massachusetts, I started really listening to the music, and found it captivating.

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September 15th, 2013

A Letter from the Publisher/Introducing Jazz Fiction writer Arya Jenkins

For 11 years, Jerry Jazz Musician has sponsored 33 Short Fiction Contests resulting in 30 different contest winners. During that time, I estimate that I have read and considered over 3,000 short stories.

The stories vary in content and quality, of course, and it has been my goal to publish the best story regardless of its theme. This has at times led to confusion by some writers over the years who believe that, since Jerry Jazz Musician’s focus is on jazz history – and in particular within the confines and culture of mid-20th Century America – the winning story should always be about jazz or a character within that setting.

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September 12th, 2013

New Short Fiction Contest-winning story #32: “The Valley of Ashes,” by Anna Dallara

She didn’t dance to the music; she danced with it. The melody wrapped his arms around her and the chords ran ivory fingers through her curls. Harmony whispered in her ear and she laughed at all his jokes. She twirled up and down scales with him, the hem of her skirt swirling a single syncopated beat behind her. Her form in her red dress was as curvaceous as the treble clef, and her quick smile flashed staccato at the other dancers and drinkers, lingering largo in the hearts of those who were gifted with the lively beats.

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March 8th, 2013

New Short Fiction Contest-winning story #31: “Night Cafe,” by Joe DiBuduo

When my doctor released me from the asylum in Saint-Remy, he warned me to stay away from absinthe or my hallucinations would worsen. I didn’t tell him I had no need for absinthe to hallucinate. I often had company, even when there wasn’t anyone with me.

I’d spent some of my time in the asylum playing billiards. Everyone assured me that I was a natural, the best player they’d ever seen. Maybe, instead of painting, I’d play billiards for a living. As soon as I walked past the gates of the asylum,

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November 8th, 2012

Short Fiction Contest-winning story #30: “So What,” by Arya Jenkins

Whenever I’m pissed off, I escape to the pit. Out the kitchen door, fists deep in the pockets of my tight ass jeans, I head towards the woods back of the house.

I cross the backyard, past Moreno, the poor chained up son-of-a-bitch boxer. Rosa clinches his leash, pulling him close like a kid. The poor son-of-a-bitch tenses as I go by, his spindly legs and stubby tail shivering at my wrath, ears perked, head cocked – Was up girl, grounded again?

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July 15th, 2012

Short Fiction Contest-winning story #29: “Inspiration,” by Gabriella Costa

The garden by the sea is just beginning to grow into itself. Its green has started to spill out over the fence and tumble onto the walk that lines the side of the shore house. The weather is warming, and combined with the rich soil of the ground, the plants reap the favor of the earth, led to grow lush and vibrant across the expanse. The tendrils of the cucumbers have travelled far up their trellises, continuing to curl out into the air, while the bushes of basil nearby explode into a happy, bright leafed green.

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March 8th, 2012

Short Fiction Contest-winning story #28: “Resolution,” by N. Barry Carver

It’s a shame that, in the 21st century, there are still men of my age who do not know who fathered them. Setting aside the moral issues, I need to know about my family medical history and bloodlines. What if, through twisted fate, my one true love were revealed to be my half sister? Or find out, while facing an ill-informed press, that I am the progeny of some great hero, or desperate criminal, and under the presumption of similar habits. At forty-eight, I still don’t know if I should be honoring the birth of a savior, celebrating the miracle of lights or dancing naked in the woods on the dark of the moon.

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November 8th, 2011

Short Fiction Contest-winning story #26: “The Improvisational Distance,” by J. A. Reynolds

Everyone is afraid to knock on the door when they hear the trumpet behind it. A closed door is like an On Air sign or a red light outside a dark room. Still, they have to talk to him. Sonny is nowhere to be found. And Thibodeau is too busy eye-fucking the women at the hotel bar to practice. And Baldwin is just tired.

They wait for a lull, a break. Three minutes waiting outside the door, and it comes. They knock soft, one of those we didn’t want to have to bother you but didn’t see any other recourse knocks; a musician has a way of using sound, its timbre, its breadth, to say everything. Knocking is no different.

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March 4th, 2011

Short Fiction Contest-winning story #25: “Fahrenheit,” by Danny C. Knestaut

A trumpet squealed in the hospital halls. The note, like a brass rabbit, zipped past room 334. Moments later Mr. Fahrenheit watched two orderlies jog past the open door: not too fast, not real slow. It appeared to be the speed of indicated hurry. A few more notes from the trumpet whizzed down the hall before they too slowed to a jog, and then drew themselves out into expressions of gold, blue, green – then stopped before Mr. Fahrenheit could call the name of the song to mind. The next few notes he tapped out on the back of the hand he held in his own. His wife did not respond. Even he had begun to forget to expect a response. She inhaled. She exhaled. The eyes beneath her blue lids quivered and shimmered.

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November 1st, 2010

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 #127

Before his tragic early death, this trumpeter played with Max Roach, Abbey Lincoln, and John Coltrane, and most famously during a 1961 Five Spot gig with Eric Dolphy (pictured). 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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