Poetry by Michael Keshigian

April 1st, 2013

 

JAZZ SOLOIST


He stood alone on the small stage
in front of the dance floor at the club
with his saxophone in hand,
spying hundreds of eyeballs
that glowed
the reflection of spotlights,
all anticipating
an inspired musical improvisation.
But his sweaty palms keenly conspired
to inhibit his deliverance
as foot soldiers crossed his tongue,
kicking up the sand
in his arid mouth,
clogging the crucial input
of his salivary glands
which craved the cascading fountain
at the rear of the hall.
Frenzied thoughts floated in his head
and instigated a breathlessness
that rebounded rhythmically
off the acoustical tile behind him.
He feared that this hoax
as a soloist and performer
would soon be unveiled.
He dallied with the downbeat
as the audience coughed,
excruciating moments tensed
his trembling fingers.
Then, as if by instinct, he inhaled
a mammoth gasp
that chased away the uncertainty
while his expanding diaphragm
prompted velocity, vibration then sound,
a passionate, soothing sound
that filled the golden horn
as his jumbled spirit ascended off the floor.

 

 

JAZZ FACE


There’s not just one, it depends on the style,
the performer and his instrument.
Like the one that’s the favorite
of trumpet players, you know,
the one with the crumpled face
and the pained look of focus
just before he blasts high C.
Every note in the upper range
becomes a new source of agony.
Then there’s the face
of philosophical perplexity,
the one used by trombone players
when they reach higher than they should,
eyebrows lifted against the hairline,
chin extended and tucked into the throat,
usually during a technical lick in numerous positions.
Of course, there’s the sax players
and their ballads, eyelids nearly closed,
head in a languorous droop
that sometimes lolls back
and swivels side to side
to help kick in an arousing vibrato.
And then the drummer
with his classic wild man look,
crazy faced with the fixed grin
and scary stare, like he’s about
to lurch off his seat, unlike
the piano player, the aristocrat
with his proud, confident posture,
convinced that for the next few hours
he and his ensemble own your soul,
how he notices you’ve immersed yourself
in the excitement and emotion of the music,
with your intense squint and locked grin,
that empathetic grimace
especially obvious when your head bobs feverishly
in a contagious yet effusive sign of approval.

 

 

CLARINETISTRY


Exhale a powerful breath
into its mouthpiece
and the gentle vibrations
upon its reed
create a timbre
which resonates
through the polished
ebony tube
and under fingers
deftly caressing
dull silver keys,
an audible enchantment
begins to spiral
into an array of colors
and transports body and mind
beyond the boundaries
of daily turmoil
to cure the soul of ills
and deliver a message
from the heart.

 

 

CONCEPTION


Barefoot in white slacks
and her husband’s sweater,
she plays the piano most seriously,
bungling Mozart with a grimace
then a grin,
the lamplight
flickered unnoticed upon her fingers.

The field from where her progeny
once thrived has withered,
grown voices and opinions
have fled the confines of the arena
where music,
like a tranquilized tiger,
swerves again.

Her foot presses pedals,
fingernails carelessly flit keys,
and in her womb
a musician is conceived.
The house is no longer empty,
half full with sound,
she nourishes herself.

 

 

DIXIELAND MAN


His fingers blur
grenedilla wood
and improvises
ebony with silver
as the sweet colors
of a clarion call
pulsate the room
with a staggered step
and the rhythm
gets your body swaying
and fingers tapping
to the incantations
from his black magic wand
pointed skyward
like a unicorn’s horn
even the dim lights bop
to the two beat bounce
on the dark dance floor
while the Dixieland man
lost in his world
excites your soul.

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

Poetry

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

Art

“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.

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

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