Poetry by Samantha Noll

March 29th, 2011

Sarah Vaughan,

by Sherard van Dyke



Impromptu Blues



The bass player was out of synch
tonight while the singer was on fire.

But she had to wait while he shuffled
through page after page of music;

the drummer tap tap tapped his drum
as the pianist stroked the ivory notes,
so smooth and warm under fingertips;

They were waiting for the bass player
to let go and just feel the music, feel
the notes coursing through his being.

This night when the singer was on fire:
Wild notes rising like ashes to the sky,
embers in the air hanging there patiently,

so like those notes I wrote you long ago,
now flames to the fire of passion-

This night a wild Impromptu session
if only for the bass player…my heart
not quite finding the beat of love.
           We are lost in a wilderness of notes.


The Green Door



While sitting in a booth
at the back of
The Green Door,
an old blues club in
the heart of Michigan,

I watch a sea of
people between me
and the stage, dance
and sway and laugh
their troubles away,
if only for the night.

Here in heart of
Michigan- where the rot
of a failing economy fills
your nostrils as it eats away
the auto industry,

you can see people
along the highways
wearing trash bags in
the rain, clutching signs
dripping with desperation
that say simply: “Will work
for food. I have a family
to feed.”

So it’s no wonder,
that blues has come back
to this place- or rather
that people have come back
to blues- the music of
hard times and hard knocks
and, most of all, heart
in the face of it all.

As I sit here in a booth
at the back of The Green
Door, there is a sea of
people between me
and stage, dancing
and laughing and swaying
to the music, as if
this were a juke joint
of old-

           Heart and soul
           and audacity in the
           face of it all shimmering
           from the sequined dress
           of the singer on stage.

Share this:

Comment on this article:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

In This Issue

Michael Cuscuna, Mosaic Records co-founder, is interviewed about his successful career as a jazz producer, discographer, and entrepreneur...Also in this issue, in celebration of Blue Note’s 80th year, we asked prominent writers and musicians the following question: “What are 4 or 5 of your all-time favorite Blue Note albums; a new collection of jazz poetry; “On the Turntable,” is a new playlist of 18 recently released jazz recordings from six artists – Joshua Redman, Joe Lovano, Matt Brewer, Tom Harrell, Zela Margossian and Aaron Burnett; two new podcasts by Bob Hecht; a new “Jazz History Quiz”; a new feature called “Pressed for All Time,”; a new photo-narrative by Charles Ingham; and…lots more.

On the Turntable

This month, a playlist of 18 recently released jazz recordings by six artists -- Joshua Redman, Joe Lovano. Matt Brewer, Tom Harrell, Zela Margossian, and Aaron Burnett


In this month’s collection, with great jazz artists at the core of their work, 16 poets remember, revere, ponder, laugh, dream, and listen

The Joys of Jazz

In this new volume of his podcasts, Bob presents two stories, one on Clifford Brown (featuring the trumpeter Charlie Porter) and the other is part two of his program on stride piano, including a conversation with Mike Lipskin

Short Fiction

Short Fiction Contest-winning story #51 — “Crossing the Ribbon,” by Linnea Kellar

“What are 4 or 5 of your all-time favorite Blue Note albums?”

Dianne Reeves, Nate Chinen, Gary Giddins, Michael Cuscuna, Eliane Elias and Ashley Kahn are among the 12 writers, musicians, and music executives who list and write about their favorite Blue Note albums

Pressed for All Time

In an excerpt from his book Pressed for All Time, Michael Jarrett interviews producer Creed Taylor about how he came to use tape overdubs during the 1957 Lambert, Hendricks, and Ross Sing a Song of Basie recording session


“Thinking about the Truesdells” — 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.


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.


Maxine Gordon, author of Sophisticated Giant: The Life and Legacy of Dexter Gordon, discusses her late husband’s complex, fascinating life.

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

"The Photography Issue" will feature an interview with jazz photographer Carol Friedman (her photo of Wynton Marsalis is pictured), as well as with Michael Cuscuna on unreleased photos by Blue Note's Francis Wolff.

In the previous 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…

Contributing writers

Site Archive