Archives for posts with tag: jazz

My Mother Gives Me a Tape of My Father’s Dance Band
by Marjorie Maddox

My dead father plays boogie-woogie
throughout the house. Even in the back
yard, emptying the garbage, I hear his hands,
sixteen and agile, thumping, plinking, and do-wopping
along the thin tape that whirs in its recorder. What years
wind up in that casing, in the canal of my ear, in the curving aorta
pumping out his beat in my veins, in this aging staff of a body.
At sixty he still loved
his songs and stretched a broken pinkie to hit the notes.
My hands only snap and tap,
the bones bumping up against age. Still,
underneath flesh I know
something’s jumping. Joy cracks
his rhythm in notes too strong to stay
in the grave, too staccato to listen
to sounds good-daying
in the bass of a previous page,
two-stepping still, though long
long since played.

SOURCE: Previously published in The Montserrat Review and in Transplant, Transport, Transubstantiation (WordTech Editions).

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: With my father, William C. Maddox, around his sixtieth birthday (circa 1987) in Columbus, Ohio.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My father had his first heart attack at the age of 38. He lived until 65, dying after an unsuccessful heart transplant. (I write about this in detail in my book Transplant, Transport, Transubstantiation). Despite all this, he was a person overflowing with joy, adventure, and humor. This was especially evident when he thumped out tunes from his old dance band, filling the house with boogie-woogie and be-bop. After his death, my mother made me a tape of his teen dance band from an old record. It remains a most prized possession!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sage Graduate Fellow of Cornell University (MFA) and Professor of English and Creative Writing at Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania, Marjorie Maddox has published 11 collections of poetry—including True, False, None of the Above (Poiema Poetry Series); Local News from Someplace Else (Wipf and Stock); Wives’ Tales (forthcoming 2016 Seven Kitchens Press), Transplant, Transport, Transubstantiation (Yellowglen Prize); and Perpendicular As I (Sandstone Book Award)—the short story collection What She Was Saying (2017 Fomite Press), and over 450 stories, essays, and poems in journals and anthologies. Co-editor of Common Wealth: Contemporary Poets on Pennsylvania (Penn State Press), she also has published two children’s books with several forthcoming. Visit her at

“Blues for Alice” is a 1951 jazz standard, composed by Charlie Parker. The song is noted for its rapid bebop blues-style chord voicings and complex harmonic scheme –an example of what is known as “Bird Blues.” Parker first recorded the piece in August 1951 for Verve Records. The lineup consisted of Parker, Red Rodney (trumpet), John Lewis (piano), Ray Brown (bass) and Kenny Clarke (drums). (Source:

Recorded August 16, 1956. Ella sings and Satchmo sings and plays.

Lawrence University Jazz Poetry Quartet performs Lawrence Ferlinghetti‘s classic poem “I Am Waiting.”

Happy 95th birthday, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, born March 24, 1919 in Bronxville, New York.

by Philip Levine

Some days I catch a rhythm, almost a song
in my own breath. I’m alone here
in Brooklyn Heights, late morning, the sky
above the St. George Hotel clear, clear
for New York, that is. The radio playing
“Bird Flight,” Parker in his California
tragic voice fifty years ago, his faltering
“Lover Man” just before he crashed into chaos.
I would guess that outside the recording studio
in Burbank the sun was high above the jacarandas,
it was late March, the worst of yesterday’s rain
had come and gone, the sky washed blue…

SOURCE: Read “Call It Music” in its entirety at The poem originally appeared in Poetry (September 2000).

IMAGE: “Blue Sky and Jacaranda Blossoms” by Kaye Menner. Prints available at


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Philip Levine (born January 10, 1928, Detroit, Michigan) is a Pulitzer Prize-winning American poet best known for his poems about working-class Detroit. He taught for more than thirty years in the English department of California State University, Fresno, and held teaching positions at other universities as well. He was appointed Poet Laureate of the United States for 2011–2012. (Read more at

by Philip Bryant

I heard the
locomotion behind
the album by Monk my father
was playing.
The finely tuned
machine humming like
a top, purring like a kitten.
The first time I
saw the Santa Fe “Super Chief”
at Union Station in Chicago,
gleaming as a silver bullet
carrying the blue uniformed
conductor who gave a low whistle
and “All Aboard” for places as far away as Kansas,
Laredo, Tucson, Las Vegas, Palm Springs.
At that point
I knew it all had
something to do with jazz music.
The slow hiss of
the engine, the steam
let out by the jowls of the locomotive,
and the massive, muscular wheels turning
slowly counterclockwise to the engine’s beat
Come on Baby Do the Locomotion
Come on Baby Do the Locomotion With Me
heading out onto the open tracks,
that smoke-blown phrase repeated
over and over in my head through the years,
as miles of the real American landscape
began, slowly, to unfold.

Photo: ”Santa Fe Super Chief at Chicago’s Dearborn Station”  (closed in 1971) by Harold A. Edmonson, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Music mentioned “Locomotive” by Philip Bryant: “Locomotive” byThelonius Monk – from his album Straight, No Chaster (1967) – listen to “Locomotive” here“The Loco-Motion” (1962) written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King led to a dance craze of the same name — watch Little Eva perform “The Loco-Motion” at this link.

by Gerald Locklin

My son has kept his Sunday afternoon
Free to go hear jazz with me.
I swim from noon to two,
Lift a few weights,
Pick him up at quarter-to-three.
I put Sketches of Spain on the
Tape deck of the Taurus as we
Head north on the San Diego Freeway.
He reads his Hemingway—mine too.
Coming over La Cienega, haze and
Glare rise from the whitened basin
But the hills of Hollywood still
Catch one’s breath. Miles moves
Into Solea and my son puts down
His book, broad boulevards almost
Deserted, a corner taco stand,
The side street rows of California
Bungalows: at times L.A. is still
The town of Philip Marlowe,
James M. Cain,
Nathanael West if he had not
Been a New Yorker.

“Not Sunday Afternoon” appears in GERALD LOCKLIN: New and Selected Poems (1967-2007) (Silver Birch Press, 2013), available at

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Gerald Locklin is a professor emeritus of English at California State University, Long Beach, where he taught full-time from 1965-2007. He has published fiction, poetry, essays, and reviews prolifically in periodicals and in over 150 books, chapbooks, and broadsides. Recent books include a fiction e-Book, The Sun Also Rises in the Desert, from Mendicant Bookworks; a collection of poems, Deep Meanings: Selected Poems, 2008-2013, from PRESA Press; three simultaneously released novellas from Spout Press; and a French collection of his prose, Candy Bars: Le Dernier des Damnes from 13e Note Press, Paris. Event Horizon Press released new editions of A Simpler Time, A Simpler Place and Hemingway Colloquium: The Poet Goes to Cuba in 2011; Coagula Press released the first of two volumes of his Complete Coagula Poems; and From a Male Perspective appeared from PRESA Press.

Photo: “The Famed Hollywood Sign from Bronson Canyon” by Corey Miller, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Dave Brubeck:  Indian SummerLondon Flat, London Sharp
Poem by Gerald Locklin

I picked up Dave Brubeck’s latest CD
For two reasons:  Because it’s Brubeck
And because it’s Indian Summer.
He’s 20 years older than I am,
And I came to him, as my generation did,
Via Time Out, fifty years ago.
I’m still playing it, of course;
We all are.
And I’m not sure if I’m in
My Indian Summer or The Winter of my Discontent.
Or Discombobulation.
Dave is aging much more gracefully
And gradually than I am.  He has a less complicated
Existence, perhaps:  more focused on
His music and one woman.
Somehow the fingers of the great pianists
Seem never to get stiff.  I guess there’s a lot
Of truth to “Use it or Lose it.”  I use mine
For writing poems longhand, cupping water
In the YMCA pool, and carrying in those
Plastic bagfuls of groceries.  And frankly,
They hurt like hell.
He’s done the same with his brain,
Still writing  works as different yet pleasing
As the title tune of London Flat, London Sharp,
With the chromatic flats in the descending left hand
And the chromatic sharps (in the other direction: Up)
In the left;   whereas on the new CD we get,
On “So Lonely,” first an eleven-tone row,
And later the full twelve.
This was the same principle
That made Time Out and Miles’ Kind of Blue
Such perennial successes:
Immediately Accessible Innovation.
Sounds simple?
Try to achieve it yourself.
A year ago he wowed me
At a packed Cerritos Center.
Would have “knocked my socks off,”
If they were not compression hose.
Just about killed his only slightly younger sidemen,
Trying to keep up with him,
Trying to figure out what the devil
He was up to.
Tonight he’ll be playing to a sold-out
Hollywood Bowl.  I’m too old to even want
To drive there, deal with the parking,
Climb the concrete stairs to the cheap seats,
Let alone perform there!
He is an inspiration to me, to us all.
I’ll never last as long as he has,
But I’ll do my best to pack all that I can
Into what years Darwin or the Deity
Have set aside for me.
And maybe that will prove to be
The Zen of it:  that you’re too busy
Doing what you’ve always done
To count the passing years.
And thus the Autumn in L.A.
Turns into one long Indian Summer,
And when the Winter comes at last,
It explodes as one last blast
Of Arctic Ecstasy, from the Headmaster of
The School of West Coast Cool.

Originally published in Thank You, Dave: A Brubeck Tribute, Zerx Press, Albuquerque, New Mexico, copyright ©Gerald Locklin. Reprinted by permission of the author.

Read more of Gerald Locklin‘s poetry in Gerald Locklin: New and Selected Poems (1967-2007) (Silver Birch Press, April 2013), available at

by Al Lowe

My drummer helped me
Count the syllables
In this haiku. 


Painting: “Jazz Drummer” by Claire Stringer,, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.


by Etheridge Knight

Making jazz swing in
Seventeen syllables AIN’T
No square poet’s job.

…From The Essential Etheridge Knight (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1986). Copies available at

Illustration: “Colorful Music Notes” by FunnyMusic. Postcards available at