• In a critical essay, Matt Sweeney writes how John Coltrane and Dave Brubeck transform the blues into a musical experience way beyond its very simple three-chord structure

     

  • Eight poets connect their poems to the spirit of jazz in this eight page collection

     

  • In this edition, the writer Francis Paudras tells a short story about a backstage encounter between Bud Powell and Charles Mingus following a 1964 performance in Paris

     

     

     

  • “The Wailing Wall” is the winner of the 48th Jerry Jazz Musician Short Fiction Contest

  • "Transcending the Blues" - by Matt Sweeney
  • Poems by eight poets
  • Great Encounters #53
  • "The Wailing Wall" - a story by Justin Short
Features » Book Excerpts

“Should I sacrifice my life to live half American?”

While the civil rights movement may not have officially begun until the December, 1955 day that Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white man on a Montgomery, Alabama bus, the stage for it was set years before that.  Religious leaders and institutions, jazz and baseball all famously played important roles in building a foundation for the movement, but the hypocrisy of the United States during World War II, when African-Americans were expected to shed blood overseas to preserve freedom for those who often oppressed them in this country, increased pressure on politicians to desegregate the one institution at the center of American life – the military.

In my 2003 interview with David Colley, author of Blood for Dignity:  The Story of the First Integrated Combat Unit in the U.S. Army, he said that by World War II, “blacks had had enough of discrimination and segregation, and with the advent of the war and their continued relegation to second class citizenry — even while fighting allegedly for freedom while they themselves were subjugated — pressure for reform in American society was growing. More people in America were starting to realize that it was just intolerable to

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News about poet Michael L. Newell

     I am always happy to report when a writer published on Jerry Jazz Musician finds success with their work.  Michael L. Newell informs me that a new book of his poetry, “Meditation of an Old Man Standing on a Bridge,” is now available from Seattle’s Bellowing Ark Press.  This is particularly rewarding as I have proudly published many of the poems Michael has submitted to me since 2015 – two of which appear in this collection.

     Michael’s poetry is a gift to those of us who love and appreciate the culture inspired by jazz music.  His creative spirit is aligned with those musicians he writes about, maintaining a sensitivity critical to communicating the music’s cultural aesthetic.  

     Whenever I receive submissions from Michael, I know I will be reading the poetry of a well-traveled man whose work can lead me anywhere – a rainy window in Kigali, a snowy stroll in Tashkent, a Christmas spent alone in Jordan, a puzzling evening in

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Literature » Short Fiction

“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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“Whistlin’ the Bird” — Two True Jazz Stories by Bob Hecht

Part 1: Confirmation (1969)

 

     It wouldn’t be the first time my penchant for whistling jazz tunes got me in trouble…nor the last.

     I’d been crazy about whistling from my boyhood. Perhaps I inherited my obsession from my late father. He wasn’t a jazz fan like I am, and I barely even remember him whistling—he wasn’t around much when I was a boy and he died when I was twelve—but my mom later told me he was an outstanding whistler. “He could do triple tonguing and everything,” she said.

     So maybe it was in my DNA. But at any rate, after his death I determinedly taught myself to whistle. I have a good ear and decent sense of pitch, so I found I could easily get in sync with whatever music I was hearing. And then I practiced and practiced, whistling along with jazz compositions and solos for years until I got

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