“The Passing of a Poet” — an appreciation for Mike Faran

Poetry is a courageous art form.  No poet can possibly succeed without the willingness to create a completely transparent window into his or her soul.  A poet rarely achieves by faking it.

A successful poet’s thoughts are naked to the world, and this full-on exposure — because it is so often blunt and painful for the poet — leaves the reader with a reasonable understanding of lives led and footsteps taken (or not).  These revelations build a rewarding and intimate connection.

I have never met or spoken to Mike Faran, whose poetry I occasionally publish on Jerry Jazz Musician.  I only outwardly know him by the short biography he sent me — retired lobster trap builder from Ventura who has had some work published in journals around the country.  That’s it, really.  I don’t even have a photo of him. 

He has periodically sent me emails with a poem or two attached to them, seeking my interest in publishing them.  (“Here is another poem that I hope will meet with your approval.”) Although I haven’t published them all, they almost always

...

January 17th, 2018

“Christmas Alone 1992” – a poem by Michael L. Newell

The slow tumble of snow past
my partially open window
recalls the year in Amman
I sat for hours watching
a bleak whiteness deepen

all through the abandoned farm fields
surrounding my apartment
while the cool sound of Miles
gave shape and form to my grief
thousands of miles from

...

December 19th, 2017

“One Evening Walking in London, December 2002” — a poem by Michael L. Newell

 

Just off Oxnard Street (littered with last minute shoppers
two days before Christmas), an old man decked out
in a ragged trench coat and a torn stocking cap
played a slow mournful jazzy interpretation
of “Time after Time” on a battered flute.
 
The flute echoed through neighboring streets,
...

December 6th, 2017

“Beehive Records” — a poem by Michael Yellin

Tonight I’m spinning
the ugly, unhip
jazzmen of Beehive records,
sweating in their transition shades,
mustaches sincere and wide,
collared tapestry shirts,
hair erupting from ears and noses

and they’re killing—
bellicose ogre grunts

...

November 22nd, 2017

Two poems by Robert Nisbet

From red kite country, driving South,
Dai Grandpa, fresh from yesterday,
such yesterday. Only when the
June sun sank, had Dai – dudein’
up my shirt front, puttin’ on
the shirt studs – reached evening’s land
– and such a yester-e’en. (Dai caught
the breeze, his ship came home.)
He breakfasts now in wild kite

...

November 13th, 2017

“Hearing Dizzy Gillespie at Dino’s Club in St. Louis for the First Time” – a poem by Alan Yount

we all were
three fifteen year olds
along with one of our fathers.

we were
the only white guys
in the club.

it was at dino’s club
in st.louis, in the fall of 1962
at the corner of

...

November 10th, 2017

“Harry Inspired by the Preservation Hall Jazz Band” — a poem by Michael L. Newell

 
rattlin’ bones rattlin’ bones just the cost an old man pays
dancin’ round his livin’ room tryin’ to enjoy life alone
but full of zest ripplin’ with vim vigor and hot sauce fuelin’
...

September 28th, 2017

“Portugués (for Astrud Gilberto)” — a poem by Ed Coletti

This truly foreign language
              absorbs me into its differences,

rosetta stone hidden
              in a cave of similarities

certain words share
              with those of spanish

...

September 16th, 2017

“A Brubeck Landscape” — a poem by Michael L. Newell

all day a light breeze baptizes the landscape
gentle and captivating as a Paul Desmond solo
bushes rap windows and walls with rhythms

unusual and unexpected that Joe Morello would

approve would groove to and trees sway with

...

September 1st, 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

“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

“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

...

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

“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

“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

“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

“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

“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

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

“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

“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

“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

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

In this 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…

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

Short Fiction

photo by Alysa Bajenaru
"Crossing the Ribbon" by Linnea Kellar is the winning story of the 51st Jerry Jazz Musician Short Fiction Contest

Poetry

photo of Stan Getz by Veryl Oakland
Seventeen poets contribute to the Summer, 2019 collection of jazz poetry reflecting an array of energy, emotion and improvisation

“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

Pressed for All Time
In an excerpt from his book Pressed for All Time, Michael Jarrett interviews producer John Snyder about the experience of working with Ornette Coleman at the time of his 1977 album Dancing in Your Head

Art

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

Poetry

Painting of John Coltrane by Tim Hussey
“broken embouchure” — a poem by M.T. Whitington

Art

photo of Chet Baker by Veryl Oakland

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 Yusef Lateef and Chet Baker

Interviews

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.

Poetry

photo from Pixabay
“The Fibonacci Quartet Plays Improv” — a poem by Gerard Furey

Short Fiction

photo by Gerd Altmann
“In Herzegovina, near the Town of Gorjad,” a story by Nick Sweeney, was a finalist in our recently concluded 51st Short Fiction Contest.

In the previous issue

Michael Cuscuna
Michael Cuscuna, Mosaic Records co-founder, is interviewed about his successful career as a jazz producer, discographer, and entrepreneur...

Contributing writers

Site Archive