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

March 4th, 2019

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Carson McCullers

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…..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.

…..Beginning on January 7 – and on every Monday through March 4 – we will publish five or six profiles of participating authors, along with their winning story.

…..For this feature, authors were provided with a list of the following questions as a guideline for creating their profile:

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What do you remember about your winning story?

Did winning this contest impact your writing career? 

What did the publication of your story mean to you?

Are you still writing?

What are five books you have recently read that you would recommend to others?

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…..Many writers responded in a short essay, and others did so via a “question and answer” format.

…..These profiles are an entertaining, enlightening, and at times emotional look at the stimulating, rewarding process of creative writing, and the people whose work has made important contributions to this publication over the years.  Many thanks to everyone who took the time to so thoughtfully participate.

…..I would also like to thank everyone who has thought enough of this publication to submit their work for consideration.  In 49 contests spread out over 16 years, we have chosen 46 winners from over 7,000 stories submitted — a stark reminder of the challenges of this art form.

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

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To read the edition for winning stories #’s 1 – 6, click here

To read the edition for winning stories #’s 7-11, click here

To read the edition for winning stories #’s 12 – 16, click here

To read the edition for winning stories #’s 17 – 23, click here

To read the edition for winning stories #24 – 28, click here

To read the edition for winning stories #’s 29 – 34, click here

To read the edition for winning stories #’s 35 – 38, click here

 To read the edition for winning stories #’s 39 – 44, click here

 

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Laura Hawbaker

Winner…Jerry Jazz Musician. Short Fiction Contest #45

“Last Stop with Louis Armstrong”

Published July, 2017

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Ms. Hawbaker responds in Q and A format:

 

What do you remember about your winning story?

 

“Last Stop with Louis Armstrong” is about displacement and dreams lost. A brief recap: Wade Griffin, a professional New Orleans trumpet-player, has relocated to New York City. He works as an MTA subway conductor. For reasons only hinted at, we know he’s been displaced from New Orleans and had to give up the gigging life.  He then meets a subway rider–a high school band member from Queens. The teenager stole his school-issued trumpet because the music program was cut. The two bond over their shared love of the music they’ve lost.

 

What did the publication of your story mean to you?

 

This was a particularly personal story for me. At the time of its writing, I was still living in New Orleans–a city I loved in my .bones. The art, music, and writing communities I was a part of in New Orleans were some of the best, most creative, crazy-wonderful people I’d ever met in my life. With its second lines, krewes, Carnival festivities, parades and street festivals, sense-of-humor and embrace of the crazy mess that is life: New Orleans floats in a dream-state. As a local, New Orleans gets into your blood.

Unfortunately, you can’t stay in the dream. I realized I would have to move north because of outside, systemic forces. My house kept flooding; waters are rising and the city’s pumps were in a constant state of disrepair. Funding for public education has been completely gutted, so the school I taught at was on the brink of collapse.

I’d just made the decision to leave, to move, to abandon a city I love more than anywhere else, and I was so sad. I had coworkers and friends–some of them working musicians–who told stories about living a displaced life in other cities after Katrina. Their stories and my own sadness about leaving inspired the creation of “Last Stop with Louis Armstrong”–a lament for a beloved place left behind.

 

Are you still writing?

 

Of course! I’ve been writing for a long time. I will continue to write. I will always write. Now that I’m up north in Chicago, I’ve gotten into this city’s storytelling scene. Chicagoans are all about finding a cozy warm brewery to curl up in, listening to writer’s read stories aloud. Makes sense. It’s freezing up here!

 

What are five books you have recently read that you would recommend to others?

 

Parable of the Sower, .by .Octavia Butler
Carter Beats the Devil,.  by Glen David Gold
Coming Through Slaughter, . by Michael Ondaatje
The Bees,. by Laline Paull
Educated, . by Tara Westover

 

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Last Stop with Louis Armstrong

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Laura Hawbaker

(Winner…Jerry Jazz Musician Short Fiction Contest #45. Published July, 2017)

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…..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 hoods and parkas, their hats, gloves and scarves. Bundled away from everyone else.

…..Designer shoes and thrift store boots sank in the dirty snows of city winter.

…..Wade wanted swamp mud, not street slush.

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Click here to continue reading the story

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Julie Parks

Winner...Jerry Jazz Musician. Short Fiction Contest #46

“Cotton Candy on Alto Sax”

Published November, 2017

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The first short story I ever submitted was back in 2009. It was one of those big and very official short fiction contests. I didn’t win anything. The story that won the first prize was a five page depiction of a middle aged racist watching porn. I was so shocked that for a while I thought I’d never have it in me to submit anything ever again.

I’m not sure exactly why I submitted my story to Jerry Jazz last year. It was early January when I accidentally stumbled upon the contest notice and started reading the Jerry Jazz Musician website. It felt different. Inspiring instead of intense, I think. I simply woke up early the next day, had way too much coffee, blasted some good old jazz that I found in my husband’s files and wrote a story. And with a big resolution to start my new year differently, full of aspiration and determination, sent it away before I could change my mind.

The night I woke up to check on my son and found Joe’s email on my phone informing me that I’d won the contest was completely surreal. I think it was all in the Subject line – “As good as it will ever get” is the winning story. But I was so groggy; all of my family were down with flu. And yet the feeling was there. That moment of sudden awareness that your life is about to change in a completely unknown way.

That story couldn’t even win as it was already posted in another journal. But it didn’t matter. I was hooked, high on success and encouraged to try again. I started writing one story per week and submitting them all across the Internet.

By the time Jerry Jazz announced its 46th short fiction contest I knew exactly the story I wanted to write. I’d already managed to get a few of my stories published in other journals, and had even been shortlisted for Best New Writing anthology. I knew that if I try long and hard, I’ll get there.

I know it was me who wrote the stories. Me who submitted them continuously. And me who went through hundreds of rejections before I started seeing any acceptance letters. But I probably wouldn’t have had the courage and ambition to do all that if not for Jerry Jazz, and especially Joe Maita, the best editor I’ve ever worked with. Jerry Jazz Musician has become something of an ongoing inspiration for me, and a home for my first steps to look back to.

The biggest thank you ever! For reading my words, and for writing yours. I’ve been writing regularly ever since and when I finally publish my first book, yours will be the first name I will list on my acknowledgement’s page.

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My big five when it comes to book recommendations.

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Memory Wall by Anthony Doerr. It’s a short story collection that centralizes around the concept of death in the most gracious ways possible. The language this author uses truly defines the expression makes your soul sing.

 

Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart. Think of it as a teenage version of “The Talented Mr. Ripley” told backwards. This is one writer that really knows how to tease with a poetic flair. When I read “We Were Liars” I thought there couldn’t be a more innovative and mind-blowing young adult book, but she’s outdone herself with this one.

November 9 by Colleen Hoover. Two young people decide to meet only on November 9th for five years straight in order to let each other grow up, experience life and other relationships before committing to each other. Sounds like an easy concept, right? Not really, especially when each passing year more and more secrets start coming out that lead to way back when before they even met, supposedly accidentally for the first time.

Unraveling Oliver by Liz Nugent. This should be a book about a monster of a man. And it would be if it was written by anyone other than Liz Nugent who has a rare talent to spot the most beautiful and fragile things even in the darkest depths of the worst of people. I had to empty a bottle of Port wine (it makes sense if you’ve read the book) and cry all night to get over Oliver’s story.

Get in Trouble by Kelly Link. If there ever was an intergalactic beauty pageant that judged its contestants based on the dimensions of their souls and acres of their imagination, Kelly Link would take the prize every year. She’s a true genius, every single story she’s written brings me that much closer to believing that I can fly in literary space.

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My published credits include articles in The Baltic Times and short stories in Veto, The Quill Magazine, Jerry Jazz Musician, daCunha, New Pop Lit, The Fear of Monkeys, The Same and Best New Writing anthology.

My short story “Cotton Candy on Alto Sax” won Jerry Jazz Musician short fiction contest in November 2017 and has been nominated for The Pushcart Prize. And “Off-springs” was longlisted for Stirling Publishing short story competition in January 2018.

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Twitter: @JParksWriter

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Cotton Candy on Alto Sax

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Julie Parks

(Winner…Jerry Jazz Musician Short Fiction Contest #46.  Published November, 2017)

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…..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 outcast just like before.

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Click here to continue reading the story

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Erin Larson

Winner…Jerry Jazz Musician .Short Fiction Contest #47

“The Happy Thing of Bayou de Manque”

Published March, 2018

 

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Ms. Larson responded via Q and A format:

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What do you remember about your winning story?

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I actually wrote this piece as an assignment for a creative writing course in my second-to-last semester of undergraduate school. I had never really written any short stories prior to this one because I struggle with crafting endings, so it seemed rather daunting at first. All I knew was that I wanted to write about the bayou and its community-central culture, and a boy with a pet alligator seemed like an interesting trait. I remember writing this with a clear setting in mind, and all I wanted to do was try and capture as much of the imagery as I could. Focusing on that helped shape the characters that lived there, and everything just started flowing. It’s undeniably one of my favorite finished pieces of writing to date, and I’ve considered extending it into a short story collection.

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Did winning this contest impact your writing career?

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It didn’t affect my career directly, though it certainly helped my confidence in regards to my writing. Since then I’ve been dabbling in short story composition quite a bit more. I’m not currently in a job related to creative writing, but I’m hoping to move in that direction and the contest helped motivate me to continue writing and practice it daily.

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What did the publication of your story mean to you?

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It was thrilling. I had never submitted my creative writing anywhere other than school publications and contests, but then I happened to find this one mere days after finishing “The Happy Thing of Bayou de Manque.” I thought, why not?  The answer being a total, all-encompassing fear of rejection that I’ve harbored ever since I started writing. But I took the plunge, and when I received the email that I had won, I had a moment of stomach-flipping, hands-shaking elation. I was in the middle of hiking through New Mexico’s Petroglyph National Monument when the notification popped up on my phone, and I ignored my dad’s explicit ban on cellular data just to open it. I had to read it three times, I was so shocked!

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Are you still writing?

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I write as much as I can – some days it’s just a bit of dialogue that I overheard in the store, some days a paragraph on what I saw in the clouds, and other days a couple thousand words on my current novel. I’ve challenged myself to do this because I often get stuck in ruts and I’ll fail to write for weeks on end, which obviously won’t get my writing anywhere. I read some quote about how if you wait for a “mood,” you’ll never succeed in your endeavors. So I’ve taken it upon myself to initiate practicing each and every day, and finding a “mood” is becoming less and less of an issue.

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The Happy Thing of Bayou de Manque

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Erin Larson

(Winner…Jerry Jazz Musician Short Fiction Contest #47.  Published March, 2018)

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

….. 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 head. “Stay out of Dad’s room, okay?”

…..He dips his chin obediently and thumbs the bamboo shaft of his frogging gig. Though his subtle grin persists, keeping my skepticism at bay, I am certain he is deceiving me. Recently he has talked about a new friend named Ruth, but my theory is that she is not a two-legged sort of friend.

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Click here to continue reading the story

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Justin Short

Winner…Jerry Jazz Musician .Short Fiction Contest #48

“The Wailing Wall”

Published July, 2018

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This story was my answer to a certain president’s repeated promise to “build the wall.”  When I consider his words, and when I read Emma Lazarus’ The New Colossus, I’m amazed at the contradiction.  The Statue of Liberty invites and welcomes; our leader does the opposite.

As I wrote this story, and thought about walls and fences, the image of a prison yard eventually came to mind.  I realized the narrator would be someone who faced several “walls” in his life.  His weapon would be music.  And most importantly, he would be fighting a battle he knew he couldn’t win.

I was thrilled when I found out Jerry Jazz Musician had selected “Wailing Wall” as the winner of the 48th Short Fiction Contest.  It’s such an honor to win.  This story is very close to my heart, and it means a lot to be able to share it with the world.  I’m grateful for everyone who has read it and been affected by it, and I’m so thankful for the opportunity this contest gave me.

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Five recent books to recommend:

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Kindred, by Octavia Butler

Meddling Kids, Edgar Cantero

Welcome to the Monkey House, Kurt Vonnegut

The I Chong: Meditations from the Joint, Tommy Chong

Waiting to Be Heard, Amanda Knox

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Justin Short recently had a poem published in . Star*Line, . and his fiction has appeared in places like .The Arcanist, . The NoSleep Podcast,  .Broken Pencil, .and Dear Abby.  He can be found online at www.justin-short.com.

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The Wailing Wall

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Justin Short

(Winner…Jerry Jazz Musician Short Fiction Contest #48.  Published July, 2018)

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…..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 revolution. But they really gave it to him this time. Ten years, man. Ten years for a couple measly grams.

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Click here to continue reading the story

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Hannah Draper

Winner…Jerry Jazz Musician .Short Fiction Contest #49

“Will You Play For Me?”

Published November, 2018

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Ms. Draper responds via Q and A format:

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What do you remember about your winning story?

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As my story was last year’s winning piece, I remember it quite well. It follows the story of a girl named Ophelia: she lives in a strict Catholic household and is a classically trained pianist. Upon meeting Gracie, a rebellious jazz musician, she begins to explore her own personal identity through music…as well as her developing feelings for her new found friend. I remember that this story was a difficult to piece to write, as I have no real jazz experience myself. I also wanted to do justice of portraying the internal conflict Ophelia has with breaking out of the cookie cutter mold her mother has raised her in, and the teenage age of self-exploration. I remember being really nervous about submitting this piece because, despite having read numerous other winning stories, I had no idea if this piece would be well-received!

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Did winning this contest impact your writing career?

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Absolutely! As a 17-year-old aspiring author, this was an incredible experience. I certainly didn’t expect to win, so winning this contest was a fantastic addition to my slowly growing resume, and of course for my portfolio as well. It’s not my first publication, but it’s certainly one of the bigger ones. My writing career still has a long way to go, however, I think that winning this contest has positively impacted it and I’m very proud to talk about it.

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What did the publication of your story mean to you?

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This publication certainly meant a great deal to me, as it was the first time any of my work had ever been published outside of Ontario. I entered the contest on a bit of a whim, primarily focusing on improving my skill and writing with word limits and a prompt or theme (in this instance, jazz). Being published also meant to me that my writing was better than I thought it was. I’m sure most other writers will agree that they are their own harshest critics, so being published has certainly increased my confidence a great deal.

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Are you still writing?

I’m still writing, and I hope that I always will be. While with my studies I don’t have as much time to write as I would like to, I still hope to eventually write a novel and have continued to enter in numerous short fiction contests! I also still writing reviews of local theatre through the international Cappies program, some of which have been published in the Ottawa Citizen newspaper.

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What are five books you have recently read that you would recommend to others?

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Hmm, that’s a tough one! Flux by Orion Carloto (poetry), Divina Comedia by Dante Alhigerie (poetry/philosophy), The Republic by Plato (philosophy), Chameleons and Codas by Patricia Conrad (short story), and Go Ask Alice by Anonymous (YA fiction).

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Hannah Draper is a 17-year-old high school student in Ottawa, Ontario (Canada). She has been writing reviews of local theatre in the  .Ottawa Citizen . for four years, and has had a short story (“Lord of the Dance”) published by  .Open Book . in their “Write Across Ontario” provincial competition. She is the 49th  .Jerry Jazz Musician .Short Fiction Contest Winner, and is planning on pursuing her undergraduate degree in psychology 

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Will You Play For Me?

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Hannah Draper

(Winner…Jerry Jazz Musician Short Fiction Contest #48.  Published July, 2018)

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Alone on stage, I sat down on the provided bench before the applause had fully died down. I took a deep breath, surveying the audience. The harsh lights blinded me, and I found that I couldn’t see the faces looking up at me. Good. Because I had a decision to make, and I knew I wouldn’t want to be able to see some of their faces when I made it.

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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 I didn’t know if it was a real one or a fake one. I thought she would be too young to have a real one, but then again, I also thought she was too young to be smoking so I don’t know where that left her.

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Click here to continue reading the story

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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

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