“A Jazz Thanksgiving of a Sort” — a poem by Michael L. Newell

November 28th, 2019

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“Polcat,” by Martel Chapman

 

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A Jazz Thanksgiving of a Sort
…………………….(late seventies, Los Angeles)

It was a rainy Thanksgiving when
everyone I was related to
or knew even somewhat
were out of town.

I found some semi-edible
turkey at Hughes Market, along
with frozen stuffing that proved
reasonably tasty, adequate

pumpkin pie slices, and discovered
leftover corn bread in my refrigerator.
I fumbled through jazz LPs and 45s in
a bin stashed against a wall and found

solace for a mournful afternoon: First,
Song for My Father. a fine upbeat
album by Horace Silver that led me
to beat my feet and play a drumbeat

on my dining room table while filling
my mouth with second hand food
from the supermarket; “Hang on Sloopy,”
the Ramsey Lewis jazz version of a pop hit,

had me bopping my head and scat singing
in my clumsy fashion; then Oscar Brown, Junior,
launched into his version of Nat Adderley’s
“Work Song,” and I was on my feet, singing along

at the top of my voice (not a problem as my
neighbors were all out of town), dancing,
stuffing my mouth with pumpkin pie, downing
rum and coke, and worrying my mutt, who found

a corner to curl up in.  .Some leftover turkey brought
her out of hiding.  .I put on Lou Rawls singing,
“Stormy Monday,” just as the storm outside unleashed
lightning, thunder, and a wild windblown burst

of rain that shook the apartment.  .The timing made me
laugh and sing in harmony (of a sort) with Lou Rawls.
I picked up the little mutt and danced her around the room.
She tolerated the dance, as long as I fed her more scraps.

When I put her down, she retreated to her corner. . I
finished my dinner serenade by playing a duet between
Ben Webster and Coleman Hawkins which led me to the couch
where I fell asleep, a pleasant ending to a solo Thanksgiving.

When I awoke, the wind was playing storm riffs outside my window,
rain was drumming on the building, and I embraced the darkness
with a grin, and a mumbled prayer of Thanksgiving.  .My hound climbed
onto the couch and curled up at my feet.  .My day was complete.

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Michael L. Newell is a retired teacher who imagines himself a poet.

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The artist Martel Chapman writes about his work:

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The re-issue of Blue Train came out in 1997, and that cover by Francis Wolf drew me in immediately. Coltrane in deep thought, with his saxophone resting… I needed to know about this! I replayed that intro twenty times in that short drive to work that afternoon, and that sound has been vibrating in my bones ever since. 

I have been investigating the music and the musicians ever since, my early paintings depicted them straight; in a sort of realistic state, as to share with those that didn’t know of the artistry and genius behind the sounds. I was letting those that didn’t know that the music is important!

As I had gone on, after reading anything I could on the artists, I felt I needed to do them justice by exploring my own individuality, my own voice, as to see if I had learned anything from the hours and hours of listening and reading of them. Twenty-two years since Blue Train was re-issued, while toiling away in various warehouse jobs, I’m still learning and giving back to the music that is most important to me.

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A sampling of Chapman’s work:

“Blues/Oscar”

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“Crepuscule”

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“Diz with Bird”

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To view more of Martel Chapman’s work, please click here

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3 comments on ““A Jazz Thanksgiving of a Sort” — a poem by Michael L. Newell”

  1. weird, wild, winding, and wacky. If you know Michael Newell like I do, you can bet on each and every word here being “fact”. Always a pleasure getting into the groove while reading your jazzy jib and jive –

  2. Michael. A good balance and blend of jazz music and what you were doing that day. You got across
    your feelings of loneliness, but also how you found your own place, for a “pleasant ending.” Very good for evoking the days feelings!

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