Short Fiction Contest winning story #45 — “Last Stop with Louis Armstrong,” by Laura Hawbaker

            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

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July 18th, 2017

“When You Fell Out of a Window” — a poem (for Chet Baker) by Alan Yount

when you fell out of a window
… you made me give up on you.
(maybe I shouldn’t have).

when the movie about you
recently came out: all of us
believed ethan hawke
was you, in “born to

...

June 22nd, 2017

“The Runner” — a poem (for John Coltrane) by Freddington

The purpose of motion begins,
A clear mind, aware and in focus,
Ahead, the optical pathway lies empty and silent,
Slow at the start, breathing steady,
Stepping through the changes,
Favouring a motif,
Blowing hard,
As the intensity builds,

...

June 18th, 2017

“As good as it will ever get” — a short story by Julie Parks

Swoosh! Shhh. Shhhhh! I hear the ear numbing screech and the train finally stops moving. Nine seconds and the loud beep will announce the door opening. Heels clack against the icy early morning pavement. The mass of cigarette smoke hazes my sense of direction until we finally reach the end of the Binario 12 and my ears welcome the familiar sound of strings.

It’s distant and quite mellow but I can still make out the song. It’s a new one. He’s only played it a few times. I know it. Everyone loves it because it’s from that movie. The one with

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June 15th, 2017

“You Bring Out the Jazz in Me” — a poem by Erren Kelly

You bring out the jazz in me
The art blakey, max roach the roy haynes in me
Seeing you  shake your hips like
Congas…the way you move your hips to a mamba
My heart pounding like drums inside my head
But this fever won’t put me in bed
Instead I get out on the dance floor

...

June 11th, 2017

“Foolish Love” — a short story by Arya Jenkins

     That winter we lived among mice in the Berkshires, in a little cabin set not far from a large white clapboard house that belonged to the owner Betty, who was a widow. Two steps up to the cabin did nothing to keep the mice away. Their constant tweaking and bustle made me feel I was living in an indoor forest. Betty, who was a nice old lady, warned us. “You’ll never be able to keep the mice out. If you can stand them, the place is yours.”

 

      We had come up to the Berkshires figuring we might have to rough it, but had no idea. Van and I had been together about two years then. The summer before we had been married on a beach in

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June 6th, 2017

An excerpt from “A Moment of Fireflies” — a novella by John McCluskey

     Michael continued down the darkening street.  A gust of wind blew off the Lake.  His eyes watered.  He turned his back to the wind, and the wind blew hard, unfurling his coat and his pant legs. He bent into it to soften its assault, but he soon turned his back to protect his face against the onslaught.   A man and a woman hurried across the street, almost bumping into him, holding hands as if one would fly away.  The lid blew off of a trashcan and crashed wildly into the street; a car rattled by up ahead at the intersection.  When at last the street was empty with no more cars and no more men or women about, Michael found himself alone but for a few

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May 24th, 2017

“Jazz” — a poem by William Chene

Somewhere between the wide open spaces
And those tiny, secret places in the heart,
The sound of nursery rhymes and temple chimes
Mingle with incense and nonsense
Until even the air has to smile.
That’s where you’ll find me, in my hiding place,
Making up rhymes and trying to keep time
To the pace of the

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May 4th, 2017

“There With Anita Baker” — a poem by Russell MacClaren

Watch her closely; loosen your clothes.

Her quiet storm makes love to listeners

in the heat of each performance,

cuts through crap, produces mystic music…

 

She’ll seduce you with contralto soul

until you lose your mind,

...

April 19th, 2017

“All Aboard” — a short story by Susandale

    The dank and chilly hall echoed with a Marksmen rehearsal taking place. Lea and her spanking-new group rehearsed their music on a stage bordered by tables holding overturned chairs. And as David sat unnoticed in the dark hall, Lea’s caramel voice melted to run down the walls, and warm the empty pockets in his heart.                             

                                *Daydreams, I’ve got daydreams galore.

                                Cigarette ashes, there they go on the floor.”

     Scooting around, he wrestled with the chair’s wooden slats and wobbly legs versus his long limbs.    

     And while Lea was singing the third stanza, *”Let them laugh, let them frown … “ David was plotting his exit from the trailer. He was so engrossed with his plans that he didn’t notice the

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April 5th, 2017

“Watching La La Land” — a poem by Erren Kelly

Unlike New York City
L.A. is a woman who will love you back
But she gives her love freely and often

On a not so beautiful morning,
I went to the movies and thought
about you as the credits rolled.
Tried to wash you out of my hair,
but love lingers like a

...

April 2nd, 2017

“At Del Rey Rooms” — a short story by Tim J. Myers

            Years later he became a professor, a scholar—wrote a well-received book on epistemology.  But back then he was just a guy in love.

            They’d taken a cheap room in Venice for the summer, a run-down place a couple of blocks from Dockweiler Beach.  You could always smell the sea, its powerful mix of salt freshness and rot.  He’d never lived with a woman before; she’d had other boyfriends.  She was from back-county San Diego, told him she’d come to L.A. looking for a real life.  He’d just graduated from

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March 11th, 2017

Short Fiction Contest-winning story #44 — “Da Capo al Fine” by J. Lee Strickland

     I wake up when the door opens. Instant-awake, alert. I’m staring at the ceiling, at the ornate medallion in its center. Late-night city glow from the windows casts awkward shadows on the plaster. The light clicks on, and I hear a gasp. I feel a sympathetic shot of adrenaline hit my chest. I look toward the door, and there’s a woman there, a stranger. A beauty, too, dressed in a black pants-suit, purse slung over a shoulder, the jacket cut and fitted to her slim waist matador-style. Beneath the jacket, she’s wearing a white blouse with an enormous collar that flares out over her shoulders and breast, like gull wings. Her hair is loose, brown, shoulder-length, streaked with bits of blonde, her face around her dark eyes a mix of fear and puzzlement.

     “Who are you?” she says, her hand still on the light switch. “What are you doing here?” Her voice quivers.

     I look around. The ceiling looks like my

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March 4th, 2017

“Alabama: Jack DeJohnette, Ravi Coltrane, Matthew Garrison” — a poem by John McCluskey

                Yes, it is hot,
     night sweats beneath
     Spanish moss and the terror in trees
     now knowing no cover of darkness
     to greet a Sunday morning

     10:22 a.m.
                      under the stairs
                                     16th Street Baptist Church.

     “Three minutes”
     and the siren wails

...

February 19th, 2017

“Storyville” — a short story by Matthew Peel

Jeffrey’s fingers hovered inches above the ivory. His heart pounded. The oak bench creaked as he leaned forward, only the toes of his scuffed leather shoes making contact with the floor. The hand-written notes on the page in front of him bounced up and down with every panting breath. He recognized most of the squiggles and lines cascading up and down the staff, but he couldn’t read a single word that surrounded them. Ms. Joetta’s voice echoed in his head, reverberated out of the hole in his threadbare fedora. Play, son. The first chance you get, and don’t look back. He could feel lightning in his fingers, almost driving him past the fear deep in his

...

January 28th, 2017

“Rich at 100” — a poem by Michael Keshigian

At the abandoned jazz club,
where I once debuted,
only spiders and rodents
reside behind the acoustical panels
that once resonated my dreams.
I see my distorted image
reflected upon the scarred ride cymbal
of a headless drum set
and feel like an intruder,
disrupting a Buddy Rich riff
when he

...

December 16th, 2016

“Living the Blues” — a poem by Michael L. Newell

Her voice shredded, turned to gravel
by cigarettes and whiskey, she navigates
grocery aisles and checkout lines

as sotto voce she sings old songs
both jazz and country. People stare
in amazement as her ruined voice

elicits tears from listening bystanders.
In her living room she croons with

...

December 10th, 2016

“Like a Pigeon in the Park” — a short story by Arya Jenkins

“What a shame,” people always said whenever they saw the two of them, Jeremy and Jade. What a shame the beauty of the boy had escaped the girl, who had her mother’s small oval face and father’s prominent nose and small dark eyes that were filled with a peculiar, almost unnatural intensity. “Such a shame,” relatives observed unabashedly at family gatherings. The remaining phrase that hung in air unspoken was, ”that she isn’t the beautiful one. “

To herself in the mirror, Jade’s own face and visage seemed fine, just a part of her, not even all that consequential. Didn’t brains and character matter more? She was striking much in the way Zelda Fitzgerald had been—a beauty you could not capture in photographs, more in movement, gesture, articulation. Somewhere, not far from the small, provincial town where Jade lived, where people stared at you if you did not fit a mold, there were people like her who were different and proud of their differences and she looked forward to meeting them one day. In the meantime, she would have to deal with challenges.

Growing up, many of them had to do with her brother, who was two years older. Although Jade garnered high marks in school, not much was made of it so

...

December 8th, 2016

Short Fiction Contest-winning story #43 — “Pandora’s Sax” by Robert Glover

In the back of a closet, on top of a shelf, under two empty shoeboxes, and behind a small, carry-on bag lurked a humped, black, plastic case. Years of knocking about in the backs of vans and offstage in smoky clubs had etched lines into its surface. Every song had scuffed another memory: Dewey Redman’s “Imagination” or Clifford Brown’s “Night in Tunisia”. An accidental kick from a ska fan had left a dent even after the shell had popped back into place. For twenty years, it had remained closed, a relic of temptation, while inside a saxophone slumbered, waiting for its silent call to beckon again. It was patient. It had time.

Nathan Gold heard the call. It was a Saturday morning in mid-spring as he returned from racing his mountain bike along the Long Beach boardwalk. Pumping the pedals, he glided up the

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November 1st, 2016

“Visionaries,” a poem by Michael L. Newell

A marsh harrier soars above the Norfolk broads
circling higher and higher

rather like a Gillespie trumpet solo that rises and rises
to dizzying heights of pitch and volume

eventually the bird slides behind billowing clouds
and vanishes into distance

so the trumpet reaches and

...

October 4th, 2016

“Requiem For Ishmael” — a short story by Jeanine DeHoney

There had to be hundreds of people standing in the rain, waiting to get into Misty’s Supper Club on Lenox Avenue for my brother Ishmael’s memorial. I swallowed the lump of grief in the back of my throat and surveyed the crowd, fans and protégé’s of his music, as varied as a pot of jambalaya.

Some people recognized me from seeing

...

September 20th, 2016

“The Quick Hands of Hampton Hawes” and two other poems by Daniel Shapiro

For years, the autobiography proved elusive,
speeding east like the double-jointed run
that skipped from white keys to black,
soldiers chased from Central Avenue battles.
Then the book took a rest, hiding out
in a nondescript store among academic texts,
tomes whose covers bore geometric shapes.
Cardboard screamed orange, red, and white,
the slow burn of a

...

September 13th, 2016

“Psalm” — a short story by Ian Rictor

     I watch my hand remove the phone from the wall above the couch’s arm and there is a sweat in my ear as I hear a distant Miles Davis. I am called by the distorted voice of Miles Davis rasping my name.

     John, he says, are you busy?

     I let my eyes blur into my mother’s sofa, melting a monotonous no out of my mouth toward the receiver. I feel the room sloshing peacefully in waves around me and the buzzing of my lips from my mouthpiece and reed. My saxophone sits strewn across the floor along with my

...

September 3rd, 2016

Two poems by Michael L. Newell

Rikki spun, spun
and leaped, twirled
and dipped,
                 James Brown
on the jukebox, the small
bar filled with smoke, clinking
glasses, Filipinas in short dresses,
and a couple dozen G.I.’s profane,
obscene, and three-quarters in the bag;

Rikki, half-black, half-
Filipino, ten, living
in alleys and under bars, danced

...

August 25th, 2016

“Our Perspective” – a short story by Joy Bergman

“I don’t know…I still don’t see it.” I grumble to myself, sloping my head down in a perfectly coordinated position with the rest of my body. Slope. Coordinated. It all just makes me think of math. Math. “That’s it,” I tell myself silently, still looking around the empty halls, though no one is there. I sigh. I suppose it may not really be a fact, but everyone knows that statistically minded people, like me, see numbers. But people like her – well, I guess they see what I’m looking at. “No,” I run a hand through my gelled hair. She would see it all differently. What did she say again? I check my phone and then casually hold up what she said it would look like to the picture. “A black parked car with white windows near the dock in a blazing sunlight overlooking the ocean.” I focus on the

...

August 13th, 2016

“Louisiana Pearl” — a short story by Bokerah Brumley

The faraway trumpet’s trill drifted into the home we shared. The tune stirred the heavy air. It should have been spring weather, but a heatwave had taken over our parish. It made the air heavy and made us languid during the days.

Mama hummed along with the hand-me-down song while she worked, stirring the wash or cooking supper or mixing herbs. Her mama taught her to hear it, same as she taught me. It was as constant as the wind.

Mama’s gray strands peeked from beneath a dark blue kerchief, the majority braided then twirled in an age-thinned bun. She didn’t know how old she was. Best she could figure, she was

...

August 1st, 2016

“Intergalactic Language” — a short story by James E. Guin

I was playing my weekly gig at Café Reinhardt when Bella, one of the waitresses, whispered in my ear, “They want you out back.”

She had disturbed me from a zone. I had been through all of my arrangements and was improving on the chords to “Minor Swing.”

“They?” I asked.

She shrugged her shoulders. Straight to the point, no small talk, Bella was my kind of gal. In the second it took to place my guitar on my guitar stand a million thoughts circled around in my mind. Did Chad, the drummer, want to borrow money again? Had the musician’s union caught on to the fact I wasn’t paying my dues? Another one of the agent Jimmy’s scams? Groupies? Oh yeah, jazz musicians haven’t had groupies under the age of forty-five since the 1940s.

I stood up, and as Bella was strolling to a table near the front door, she said, “Take your guitar.”

Ah, nothing complicated just someone wanting to test out my chops before a gig. People can be peculiar when it comes to inviting musicians into their home. They want to meet you, form a relationship, and get the feel for

...

July 20th, 2016

“Looking for Charlie Parker” and other poems by Matthew Johnson

I wonder if it will take another body to stream into the Infinite….

For this was the odd idea that stirred me eerie

Like a push into the wild past from my future spirit to relive my final day,
Or a siren calling me to steal the virtuose of fire.

I was looking for Charlie Parker that night,
Improvising my footsteps under porch lights which spotted

...

July 13th, 2016

“Innovator” and “…And it Comes with Rain and Jazz” — two poems by Mike Faran

T-Bone Williams was the first
to use the
double-D harmonica &

he employed some lyrics that
seemed compatible —
this was way before Bobby
Dylan

sometime in the late ‘40s when
he did his 12-string
guitar experiments

...

July 11th, 2016

Short Fiction Contest winning story #42 — “Playing for Tips,” by Kevin Bennett

It was a persistent and gentle nudge—always was. He knew who was prodding him and what she would say without turning, so he continued to run his fingers up and down the keys—there was a major seventh followed by a fifth interval; repeat several times, arpeggiate, transpose—

“Sir? I’m sorry sir—”

The nudging again. He spoke as if distracted—which he was: “Yes?”

“Some of the people are trying to work,” she said.

“Have them come and talk to me,” he replied, and continued to play.

The barista was put-off for a moment, but she jostled him again. “If you could just play a little quieter—”

The words were like daggers. They weren’t new, they weren’t original, and they brought hate like bile to his mind and body; coursing in and throughout him like a thousand

...

July 9th, 2016

“Color Blind (For Real?)” — a poem by Marc Livanos and Quincy Hull

Why is my race your foe needling you to lord over me, saving me from my own savagery?

Why is my skin color a phobia gnawing at your innards,
making door locks snap as I approach?

Why is my punishment swift revealing deep seated prejudices, exposing unrecognized biases?

Why is my street flashing “blue”
when verdicts and fines from the 2008 meltdown are reversed?

Why is my excessive “heat” normal

...

July 7th, 2016

“Young and Gifted and Little Girl Blue” — a poem (for Nina Simone) by John McCluskey

Young and Gifted and Little Girl Blue

wants only to play classical ways of
Bach, Chopin, Rachmaninoff, Beethoven,
but Curtis – Philly, perhaps Carnegie too, whether prejudice or preference,
doesn’t think her particular hue
belongs with the masters, so she skips circus tents, every star in the sky,

...

June 24th, 2016

“Satchmo” — a poem by Russell MacClaren

Barnacles scratch the hull of a voice
that grinds coral to grit in salty water
while a tune plays the tide
which whispers sandy beaches
and blows free on the wind.

Ships far from port halt in the night
to hear the fog-horn song,
to feel, to know and share

...

June 7th, 2016

Two poems for Billy Strayhorn and Stephane Grappelli — by Larsen Bowker

Grabbing the blue basket of bottles I’d promised
to take to a recycle plant and then forgotten,

I drove too fast down a twisting mountain road,
safe in a young man’s faith that death is abstract

truth until a radio voice — speaking over Johnny Hodges’
sweet tenor on his “Take the A Train” — intones,

...

May 17th, 2016

“Liner Notes for ‘Stardust’ — In Seven Choruses,” a cycle of short poems by Doug Fowler

“Liner Notes for ‘Stardust’ — In Seven Choruses” is a cycle of short poems framed as imaginary liner notes and prompted by poet Doug Fowler’s favorite musical covers of Hoagy Carmichael’s “Stardust.” In essence, according to Fowler, they are “imaginary liner notes for a real song about an imaginary song about love.”

The cycle is also partially a tribute to Chu Berry, who died as the result of a car accident in Conneaut, Ohio, in 1941, not far from where Fowler lives.

...

April 25th, 2016

“In Search of an Elegy” — a poem (for Bill Evans) by Larsen Bowker

I’ll have it spare as the reverence you feel for silence
in your long melodic lines, where the music cries

in the sacred spaces you leave between the notes…
I’ll have the long curve of your back bending over

your shadow on the keys as you play “Turn Out
the Stars”, written for your father when he died,

Blue Notes stretching out as if you’d have them last

...

April 15th, 2016

“Senor Blues, Why is Your Opus de Funk?” — a poem by Michael L. Newell

Oh, Mister Silver, please please please,
don’t make me beat my feet
no more no more no more.

I’ve been finger poppin’, thinking
about Juicy Lucy, dreaming
of some sweet stuff,

wanting to come on home to some

...

April 9th, 2016

“The Horn: Whispers of eternity in F major” — a short story by Mi West

Some lives turn out healthy and long, some more fulfilled than long. Bro was sick and much older. He passed away last spring, so his voice sounds both new and familiar to me, as it whispers,

Go to my place and visit my old room.

“Why?”

I’ll let you know.”

An ascending airliner outside wakes me up, and I realize I was dreaming. I’m still yawning as I look up a weekend bus, but the online timetable shows more blanks than connections.

It’s dry September weather, so I grab my key to his door, fill up my water bottle, and make this a bike trip in heat haze instead, like the

...

April 6th, 2016

Short Fiction Contest-winning story #41 — “You Blows What You Is,” by Ruth Knafo Setton

The port of Casablanca was crammed with Vichy officers, soldiers, cops, thieves and criminals. Each night I slept behind sand dunes, and each morning, washed in the freezing sea and shook myself dry in the winter wind. My shirt and trousers were stiff with salt and stuck to my chest, arms and legs. I figured it would be easy to steal a sweater or coat, grab it off a café chair while its owner ate and drank. But each time I stuck my head inside a restaurant and started weaving between tables, the owner threatened to call the cops.

No cops, no officers, no father whipping me, never again. I’d lie low, steal what I needed, and owe no one a damned thing.

Ten days after I arrived in Casablanca, a shipload of

...

March 2nd, 2016

“my funny valentine” — a poem by Ed Corrigan

Miles’ horn blows
thru my head
down to my toes
down baby down
i need to blow
my bleeding nose
a red note bleeding
dododowaaaah
a smile with my heart
she just tore me apart
wuwuwuwaaaah
don’t know myself no more

...

February 12th, 2016

“THE BLUE KISS” — a short story by Arya Jenkins

She stood in a room at The Met glancing at the painting on the wall, which was of two women kissing. From her vantage point, standing slightly away and to the side, the two women lying together interlocked in bed appeared cushioned awkwardly in space, free-floating yet connected.

The painting was by Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, the alcoholic French dwarf artist, and she tried to imagine what it was like living when he did in Paris at the time of the painting, 1892, and what it might have been like for these two prostitutes and others like them who often turned to one another for relief from a world of men then.

Mireille, it was reported, was one of the girls in the brothel in the Rue d’Amboise, when Lautrec was commissioned to create a series of panels about the lives of the girls there, and she was one of his favorites. He visited the salons of the brothels in the Rue des Moulins and Rue d’Amboise many times to study and paint the women, who felt very free to be

...

February 2nd, 2016

Poet Myra Litton writes of Rita Hayworth and Sophia Loren

Put the Blame on Mame Rita Hayworth in Gilda (1946)

There was never quite a dame as hot as Rita in Put the Blame on Mame
Gilda with luscious red locks
And strapless slit dress
We can imagine her while dancing in a state of undress -but I digress
Hair wanton and free expressing sexuality
In ample quantity
Gilda/Rita undulating to jazzy accompaniment in sultry climes
A time capsule of those forties’ times

...

January 25th, 2016

“Finding Night” — a poem by Roger Singer

Songs overflow from doors
opening to the sidewalk
where neon lights
baptize the weak, stirring the curiosity of
a night strung tight
while others pray in alleys
whispering their sins
under a celestial curtain as
stars cross behind the black
of space where not
a molecule is out of place

...

January 16th, 2016

“what i’d say…” — a poem by Erren Kelly

ray’s voice
is what a brotha
feels like after he’s had
a good piece of
pussy
i know now why mama didn’t want us
playing secular music in her home
and why white kids love
r and b so much
it was heroin
for your ears
ray was the only brotha

...

January 15th, 2016

“Chet Baker and his Abandoned Shadows” — an essay and poem by Arya F. Jenkins

We like to immortalize talent in this culture, and in so doing, often decontextualize it, absolving it of complexity and stains. Media especially likes to make angels out of demons, and vice versa, stripping the truth out of images and ideas.

In the case of Chet Baker, William Claxton’s photographs helped especially to immortalize the singer and trumpeter, fixing him in time and space, freezing an idea of him as beautiful, ethereal, ideal.

Chet Baker is almost always remembered as the

...

January 10th, 2016

“Midnight Listening to Dexter Gordon” — a poem by Michael L. Newell

the pain contained within those
seemingly effortless sounds
lifts us from our couches
to applaud years
after the event

the tone arches stretches slinks struts
leaps to fence tops and deftly prances

...

December 18th, 2015

Short Fiction Contest-winning story #40 — “The Blues Museum,” by Jay Franzel

Camp looked through glass doors and across the shoulderless highway. A patch of grass across the road was covered with white trailers washed clean by the rain. He stared out a side window at the brown back of a gas station. A red and yellow sign, mounted so high he had to twist his neck to see it, seemed like it should have been turning but sat still against a gray sky.

What do you find in a bus station? Long waits under dirty fluorescents, grimy floor and seats, gloom on scattered faces. Soup, coffee and candy vending machines. If someone could gather it up, all the pieces a bus station’s handed down through the years, you could start a museum. You could cover the walls with

...

November 16th, 2015

“Woman Plays Horn” — a short story by Arya Jenkins

She was born into a family of musicians. Her father had played bass in a jazz band and traveled with Dizzy until an accident had cost him his arm and his career. Getting out of a limousine that had stalled on the highway en route to a gig in Chicago, he opened the car door to get out at the wrong time, just as a truck was passing.

“C’est la vie” he always said about that, as if it meant something. He had to go on, a musician without a limb, without his instrument, because he was a man and had children and a legacy to uphold through them, but inside, where nothing touched him, he felt as torn as his shoulder had been that night. Something had shifted. Only his wife, his gentle, meek and attendant wife who saw him sitting at the edge of their bed each night head bowed counting his blessings, all but one, only she knew what

...

November 1st, 2015

“A Night in Havana,” a poem by Doralee Brooks

Dizzy in Thurston Howell garb steps samba-like
through the airport exit. On film, he and his entourage
move like dancers tapping clave in a Las Vegas
revue called A Night in Havana. His embrace
of space defies ground and grounding.
Amiri, you called him high priest, royalty,
a monarch who flew you from dusty bebop

...

October 24th, 2015

“Songs for Sometime Losers: A Bebop Suite” — by Beth Spencer

Slow slow slooooooooooooooow; the river was practically dry, a river in name only, a few puddles on the mudflats where standing water reflected the cottony clouds that moved perpetually east, dropping nothing anymore but empty promises. Unsettling in the most literal sense. Many people sold their houses or just abandoned them, heading north, and those who stayed finally got serious about

...

August 22nd, 2015

Three new poems by Roger Singer

Roger Singer, our most prolific and accomplished contributing poet, recently submitted three new poems for our consideration, which we proudly publish here. Singer reports that he has now had almost 800 poems published in magazines, periodicals and online journals — 400 of which are jazz poems — and has recently self-published a Kindle edition of his book of jazz poetry called Poetic Jazz.

“Jazz poetry flows out with such ease,” Singer writes on his blog. “The people and places, the alleys and sawdust jazz clubs. The stories that bring jazz alive with horns and voices, from sadness and grief to

...

August 18th, 2015

“Chet Baker” — a poem by Jack Peachum

Tumbling out of the second story window —
an accident, I swear — passing the first floor,
and, “You’ll never make it as a musician, Chet!”,
an endless string of notes plays by my ear,
one solo interlude strung out forever,
reaching, reaching, for the ultimate chord,
my sideman lost in a tinkle of piano keys,
the percussion of the vibraphone,

...

July 10th, 2015

Short Fiction Contest-winning story #39: “The Lot,” by John Hyde Barnard

Three times a year, we award a writer who submits, in our opinion, the best original, previously unpublished work.

John Hyde Barnard of Los Angeles, California is the winner of the 39th Jerry Jazz Musician New Short Fiction Award, announced and published for the first time on July 3, 2015.

*

“The Lot”

by John Hyde Barnard


He brought the cigarette up to his lips. As he took a hit the orange
glow briefly lit his face and faded back into shadow as he slowly exhaled
a cloud of blue smoke. He crushed the butt on the windowsill, sparks and
dying embers leaving a trail that quickly became black and cold. As he
flicked the butt into the night air he glanced over the rooftops. It
seemed the horizon was a shade lighter. Had he been sitting there that
long?

Unable to sleep since arriving at the apartment some hours earlier,
he sat at the open window: musing, arguing, longing and laughing with his
thoughts. He had not discovered an epiphany or revelation, only a comfort
with the warm night. It was the first warm night of the season; the
unmistakable promise of

...

July 3rd, 2015

Poetry by Paula Hackett


Paula Hackett’s four newly published poems include pieces on Max Roach, Billie Holiday and Milt Jackson…

_______


Billie Holiday
(lullaby)

Sometimes when nature is quiet
and the moon shines just where you are
I can hear you singing the spirit world to rest
I remember as a child, your voice would
wrap me in cotton
as you felt the blows for all of us
Born into a country that tried to
make your voice illegal
poise and elegance was your response
And tonight like so many

...

June 20th, 2015

“Don’t Threaten Me with Love, Baby” — a short story by Arya Jenkins

Chantal Doolittle wasn’t like anybody else she knew. Who else, for example, would stand transfixed before a record player or stereo, still as stone while listening to music — not merely attending to it — her very cells taking in the song, calculating and absorbing. “That girl is special,” Nana Esther always said.

When she was a kid and Motown was the thing, Chan would sing Marvin Gaye’s tunes to her grandmother in their high ceilinged apartment, where, more often than not it was soul music, the harmonizing voices of The Four Tops, The Temptations, The Supremes, drifting in from the surrounding windows and disappearing into the sky that was perennially a washed out gray, as if there was an invisible flag always at half mast, hanging outside heaven. From the time she was five or six, all Chan had to do was hear a song once and she would know it. She knew all the Motown tunes word for word, and sang them right on key, perfectly, which is why Nana Esther dubbed her, “my little songbird.”

Of course, there was nothing little about Chantal, but, being her grandmother’s one and only, she was “a little one” to her. Chantal was tall, big for her age, and when she developed as a young woman, busty too. She stood out even before she opened her mouth, due to her attitude. Her nana had taught her to be “confident as a man,” and she had seemingly

...

May 30th, 2015

In this Issue

Art by Russell Dupont
Twenty-eight poets contribute 37 poems to the Jerry Jazz Musician Fall Poetry Collection, living proof that the energy and spirit of jazz is alive — and quite well.

Short Fiction

Photo/CC0 Public Doman
Short Fiction Contest-winning story #52 — “Random Blonde,” by Zandra Renwick

Interview

photo by Michael Lionstar
In a wide-ranging interview, Nate Chinen, former New York Times jazz critic and currently the director of editorial content for WBGO (Jazz) Radio, talks about his book Playing Changes: Jazz for the New Century,, described by Herbie Hancock as a “fascinating read” that shows Chinen’s “firm support of the music

Great Encounters

photo by William Gottlieb/Library of Congress
In this edition, Con Chapman, author of Rabbit’s Blues: The Life and Music of Johnny Hodges, writes about Hodges’ early musical training, and the first meeting he had with Sidney Bechet, the influential and legendary reed player who Hodges called “tops in my book.”

Jazz History Quiz #132

photo of Dizzy Gillespie by Brian McMillen
This legendary saxophonist has worked with Lionel Hampton, Johnny Hodges, Dizzy Gillespie (pictured), Art Blakey, and Art Farmer, and has become known as much for his compositions as the greatness of his horn playing, having written standards like “I Remember Clifford,” “Killer Joe,” and “Along Came Betty.” Who is he?

Essay

photo of Esbjorn Svensson Trio/Pkobel/Creative Commons
“The Trio That Should Have Reshaped Jazz” — an essay by Scott Archer Jones

Photography

Veryl Oakland’s “Jazz in Available Light” — photos (and stories) of Mal Waldron, Jackie McLean and Joe Henderson

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

"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

"Jazz Samba"/Verve Records
In this edition, excerpted from Michael Jarrett's Pressed For All Time, legendary producer Creed Taylor remembers the 1962 Stan Getz recording, Jazz Samba

Interview

Photographer Carol Friedman
In an entertaining conversation that also features a large volume of her famous photography, Carol Friedman discusses her lifelong work of distinction in the world of jazz photography

Art

"Dreaming of Bird at Billy Bergs" - by Charles Ingham
“Charles Ingham’s Jazz Narratives” — a continuing series

Humor

photo by William Gottlieb/Library of Congress
"Every Soul is a Circus," by Dig Wayne

Interview

photo by Francis Wolff, courtesy of Mosaic Records
Maxine Gordon, author of Sophisticated Giant: The Life and Legacy of Dexter Gordon, discusses her late husband’s complex, fascinating life.

Short Fiction

photo/Creative Commons CC0.
Con Chapman, author of Rabbit's Blues: The Life and Music of Johnny Hodges, contributes a humorous short story, "Father Kniest: Jazz Priest"

In the Previous Issue

photo of Sullivan Fortner by Carol Friedman
“The Jazz Photography Issue” features an interview with today’s most eminent jazz portrait photographer Carol Friedman, news from Michael Cuscuna about newly released Francis Wolff photos, as well as archived interviews with William Gottlieb, Herman Leonard, Lee Tanner, a piece on Milt Hinton, a new edition of photos from Veryl Oakland, and much more…

Contributing writers

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