“Lake Bud,” a poem by Ishmael Reed

Lake Merritt is Bud Powell’s piano
The sun tingles its waters
Snuff-jawed pelicans descend
tumbling over each other like
Bud’s hands playing Tea for Two
or Two for Tea

Big Mac Containers, tortilla chip, Baby Ruth
wrappers, bloated dead cats, milkshake
cups, and automobile tires

...

May 1st, 2015

“Baseball’s Back” — a poem by Susan Dale

Baseball’s back

It’s crackling on a radio

Sitting by a canning jar filled with fireflies

A barefoot summer, always afternoon in voluptuous-full July.

The screen door slams and flies scatter


A stick and ball routine with umpteen possibilities

Written in the DNA of the Americas

...

April 6th, 2015

“¡Oh, Put On Another Record And Bring Me A Drink!” — a poem by Steve Williams

I like The Jazz
We listened to Roland Kirk
and Eric Burdon sing of
Roland Kirk

And the hum of the freezer

Roland borrowed a phrase from Coltrane
and I borrowed a phrase from

...

March 19th, 2015

“Bird” — a poem by Ed Coletti

I recall you
dream weaver
I remember you
You’re the one
who makes most dreams
come true
Sir Charles
just not your own
when the sax
ceases dreadfully
heroes fall
trumpets screech
Max Roach calls you
to attention
Sir Charles
listen to Diz
man just don’t fade man!

I hear Lover again
Bird you’re with me
like my mother’s voice

...

February 26th, 2015

“Just Another Punk Rocker Writing About Jazz” — a poem by Jon Wesick

They must have materialized at the open mike
out of carbon and nitrogen in the air,
those poets you’d never see in a jazz club.
A guy in Roman-helmet-like Mohawk
reads three-chord rhymes about Mingus,
an MC in Phat Farm jeans
fires machine gun words about Miles,
and a woman in high collar and sensible shoes
chops Art Blakey into fourteen lines of ten syllables.

Seems you can’t be a real poet
unless you

...

February 12th, 2015

“Pillow Worship” — a poem by Roger Singer

Lazy humid Lake Pontchartrain
breezes slip sideways
through turquoise louvered doors
past a cat, on a stool with its legs hanging
like green tangled moss
as the man, deep with pillow worship
lays still, breathing soft, his hands open and flat
holds court with dreams of last night
the jazz holding tight
the band cutting through

...

January 22nd, 2015

“Peace on Earth” — a poem by Michael Harper

Tunes come to me at morning
prayer, after flax sunflower
seeds jammed in a coffee can;
when we went to Japan
I prayed at the shrine
for the war dead broken
at Nagasaki;
the tears on the lip of my soprano
glistened in the sun.
In interviews
I talked about my music’s
voice of praise to our oneness,
them getting caught up in techniques
of the electronic school
lifting us into assault;
in live sessions, without an audience
I see faces on the flues of the piano,
cymbals driving me into ecstasies on my knees,
the demonic angel, Elvin,
answering my prayers on African drum,

...

December 11th, 2014

“Thelonious Monk” — a poem by Stephen Dobyns

A record store on Wabash was where
I bought my first album. I was a freshman
in college and played the record in my room

over and over. I was caught by how he took
the musical phrase and seemed to find a new
way out, the next note was never the note

you thought would turn up and yet seemed
correct. Surprise in ‘Round Midnight
or Sweet and Lovely. I bought the album

for Mulligan but stayed for Monk. I was

...

October 22nd, 2014

“The Bullocks Oriole Plays The Blue Note” — a poem by Eric Meyer

O you sweet be-
spectacled bird!
you’re too cool for me
sitting there perched
in your wild catbird seat
with your sleek black
beatnik goatee &
blindman’s shades
pulled down low over
your hot orange
djellabiya while you
spill out shrill jazz
riffs and raffs

...

October 3rd, 2014

“An Ode to Langston Hughes” — a poem by John Kaniecki

Great “black” poet?
Is Robert Frost identified as “white” as snow?
I devoured every heart fired revolutionary syllable
Each righteous rectifying rhyme a mountainous memorial in time
Barefaced truth like Emit Till’s open casket
A little Harlem hustle humor

...

August 22nd, 2014

“As Long As You Living Yours (For Keith Jarrett)” — a poem by Erren Kelly

not even schroeder from the peanuts
comic strip
is as dedicated to the piano
and he has a bust of beethoven
gracing his steinway!
you pull sounds out of the air
making something out of nothing

you call it improvisation:

i say, god’s just using you as
a transmitter for his thoughts…

...

August 8th, 2014

“10’s & Things; in memory of Carmen McRae” — a poem by Michael Harper

Fingerings,” she says, a nobody,
intermission pianist
for the likes of Anita O’Day;
but this is Chicago,
three plus years out of Harlem
resisting suicide recommended
by jealous musicians.

...

July 13th, 2014

“LESTER YOUNG” — a poem by Ted Joans

Sometimes he was cool like an eternal
blue flame burning in the old Kansas
City nunnery
Sometimes he was happy ’til he’d think
about his birth place and its blood
stained clay hills and crow-filled trees
Most times he was blowin’ on the wonderful
tenor sax of his, preachin’ in very cool

...

June 30th, 2014

“One O’Clock Jump” — a poem by Paul Zimmer

Still tingling with Basie’s hard cooking,
between sets I stood at the bar
when the man next to me ordered
scotch and milk. I looked to see who had
this stray taste and almost swooned
when I saw it was the master.
Basie knocked his shot back,
then, when he saw me gaping,
raised his milk to my peachy face
and rolled out his complete smile

...

June 18th, 2014

Langston Hughes reads “The Weary Blues”

“The Weary Blues” — a poem about the importance of music and the blues in everyday life — is a signature work of Langston Hughes, the Harlem Renaissance writer whose poetry helped change the way art created by African Americans was viewed, and influenced the writers of the beat generation. Written in 1925, the melancholy poem is set in a Harlem bar where a piano player plays the blues, and is one of the first poems to mix poetry and music.

Besides being a great writer, Hughes was an eloquent communicator, and it is a wonderful experience to hear him read his own poetry.. This 1958 film shows him reading “The Weary Blues” to the accompaniment of a Canadian group led by pianist Doug Parker.

...

June 3rd, 2014

“The Singer Will Not Sing” — a poem by Maya Angelou

The Singer Will Not Sing
(for A.L.)

A benison given. Unused,
No angels promised,
wings fluttering banal lies
behind their sexlessness. No
trumpets gloried
prophecies of fabled fame.
Yet harmonies waited in
her stiff throat. New notes

...

May 30th, 2014

“Vintage Gray” – a poem by Joshua Michael Stewart

The morning glory —
another thing
that will never be my friend.
— Basho

Rain has a way of darkening the bark on trees,
deepening the wood cracks in fences.
Grass appears softer, envious of clouds
that tease with their rootlessness,
their promise of travel and a good night’s sleep.
Normally, I’d have a little Johnny Hodges
playing in the background or Casablanca
splashing silvery-blue against a wall,

...

April 19th, 2014

“You Can Be a Genius and Be Sane” — a poem about Thelonious Monk, by Arlene Corwin

You Can Be A Genius And Be Sane

Watching Monk and watching self,
One senses that one can have genius
And be sane.
You can
Be odd,
The brain its own,
To nail the themes
Your thought-extremes deem right.

Monk plays and pounds
In rhythmic spasms;

...

March 30th, 2014

“The Day Lady Died” — a poem by Frank O’Hara

It is 12:20 in New York a Friday
Three days after Bastille Day, yes
It is 1959 and I go get a shoeshine
Because I will get off the 4:19 in Easthampton
At 7:15 and then go straight to dinner
And I don’t know the people who will feed me

I walk up the muggy street beginning to sun
And have a hamburger and a malted and buy

...

March 13th, 2014

“Archival Footage: The Apotheosis of Mary Lou Williams” — a poem by Mark J. Mitchell

It’s light on silver-black and white,
Grainy footage of a smoky room,
A woman at the keys. A spotlight
As perfectly round as the moon
Frames her form. She picks at a tune.
This is jazz, now, it’s uncertain.
Her fingers stop, hover, resume.
She stands, walks behind a curtain.

Years later — in color now –her
Faith allows her to break that long
Silence, permits her to

...

March 5th, 2014

“POTO” — a poem by Michael Keshigian

Show me a clarinet, teacher,
one from a distant continent’s wood
that has suckled nourishment
from a heated, morning sun
then show me the reed,
the dried, shallow, vibrating stick,
that will tickle sound
through many dark nights
when those with flicking tongues
articulate their passion
between panted breaths.
Show me the silver,
flailing fingers have mined
with a synchronized motion

...

February 18th, 2014

“Truth Comes Marching In –Remembering Albert and Donald Ayler — a poem by Mark Kerstetter

Names like
Little Bird & Bicycle Horn
missed your tracking
Parker solos faster
backward to the future,
higher than Shaker Heights,
further than armies marching
to spiritual masterlocks
missing the Trane
to the Future Truth
marching in.

French Mayonnaise
sustained journeys
to Sweden & Denmark
where pickup players
kept standard time
while you advanced

...

February 13th, 2014

“On Divisadero” — a poem by Roger Singer

ON DIVISIDERO

A hill with faces
and sidewalks,
green shoes and sneakers
without laces,
chalkboard menus,
peppers and onions
and bicycles passing
apartments with yellow
shutters and
terracotta pots with
flowers reaching over
touching heads
as buses crawl
and street cars

...

February 2nd, 2014

“Bird Read Beckett,” a poem by Erren Kelly

In anticipation of our very soon-to-be-published interview with Charlie Parker biographer Stanley Crouch (see the preview below), poet Erren Kelly defends Parker from the caricature portrayed in Clint Eastwood’s 1989 film Bird.


Bird Read Beckett

bird read samuel beckett

he read novels and plays
he lived his life as one long
exstitential episode
he prided himself on being
intellectual
bird loved his fried chicken
and preferred his gin
to go down smooth
like his solos

mr. eastwood,
take that lie back
and apologize!

...

January 21st, 2014

“In Memory of George Lewis, Great Jazzman” — a poem by Lou Lipsitz


1

Man is the animal that knows
the clarinet

makes his living
on the docks, a stevedore,
110lbs., carrying what loads
he can

the Depression comes along,
his teeth rot, no money and
he has to accept silence

...

January 3rd, 2014

“Chet Baker in Paris” — a poem by Luis Lazaro Tijerina

Chet Baker In Paris

In September of that year
when Paris had not yet turned her leaves
into pigments of dry reds and burnt umber,
you played your melodious trumpet sounds,
no mawkish phrases, no murmurings
sinking into the false twists, just cool jazz.
When all is said and done, no one
loved you more than your trumpet,

...

December 21st, 2013

“For Miles” — a poem by Gregory Corso

For Miles
by Gregory Corso

Your sound is faultless
pure & round
holy
almost profound

Your sound is your sound
true & from within
a confession
soulful & lovely

Poet whose sound is played
lost or recorded
but heard

...

December 3rd, 2013

“my funny valentine” — a poem by Ed Corrigan

my funny valentine
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

...

November 12th, 2013

“Coltrane, Dig?” — a poem by Ed Coletti

Coltrane, Dig?

I suppose what it is with trane and me is
he takes all the time he wants to take
even outside of time, sidereal time,
stardust time, bessie blue time,
through-and-through-him time,
trancey groove time, even arranged time.

...

October 19th, 2013

In Celebration of the LP’s Comeback

On the heels of news reported in the Huffington Post in April that LP sales “were the highest they’ve been in 15 years” comes word from a friend who owns one of the country’s great indie record stores that vinyl sales now account for over 30% of his store’s revenue.  And who is buying the vinyl? “Teenagers.”

In honor of this growing comeback, we present a poem by Michael Harper, one of America’s most celebrated poets.

...

October 12th, 2013

Roger Singer: A Seriously Good Jazz Poet

For years, we have been publishing work by poets from all over the world who are dedicated to putting into words their relationship with jazz music. Our most prolific poet is Roger Singer, a living, breathing example of fire and love and brilliance. His contribution to the art of jazz is here – all 26 pages of it – in full glory, waiting for interested readers to discover.

Here is a new poem of his, just published today…

...

September 20th, 2013

Poetry by Luis Lazaro Tijerina

Death is a Trumpet Note Away
(To the Jazz Trumpeter, Lee Morgan)

I hear your trumpet notes splitting the evening skies,
breaking up a piano solo, then a sparse hot guitar
opens the modal line for your slow bursts of almost
cornet sounds… a river flow of “Avotcja One”-
trumpet sounds “into a bed of plaints” and flurries

...

April 14th, 2013

Poetry by Tom Winer

MONK WAS RIGHT
( A letter to Thelonius Monk )

Dear Thelonius,

I first heard you
In the darkness of stinky music rooms, toe-tappers’ tombs
where out-of-tone tunes played,
and where you prayed to the God of old blue smoke
to please choke the life out of those who said jazz was a joke,

...

February 22nd, 2012

Poetry by Kathy Coman

Comprehension of Music

You understand me
every emotion that’s buried into my heart
that lives in my soul trying to find
the right way to express itself to a world
that lacks true understanding of someone’s feelings
so I turn to you to create life into misunderstanding
and o how I love how you grasp it

...

September 7th, 2011

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

We had many excellent entrants in our recently concluded 50th Short Fiction Contest. In addition to publishing the winning story on March 11, with the consent of the authors, we have published several of the short-listed stories...

“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 Charlie Parker" -- 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…

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