Talking with Blake Ragghianti the other day about the extemporaneous nature that is sine qua non to jazz music brought my mind back to a piece he and I put together a few years back. Coupled with the bass stylings of Dave Busch and the venerable nature of Jerry Gaudi‘s trumpet playing we four put together a piece of jazz poetry that held, as its last stanza, the nature of that extemporaneousness; it is always to be spoken, as if the entirety of the preceding poem were its epigraph, on the spot and not rehearsed. The piece was to end, with each iteration, with something different inspired by the feeling and spirt one elicited from the poem.
Blake later pieced together all the video from the event and some images with a recording…
The Backside of a New Orleans Bandstand’s Got Its Insides on the Outs.
When at first I had the chance
To take the ski-ba-de-bop-do-opportunity
To bless these restless
Ears with years
of tangible voice from pipes
in nights of tattered paramour
And I found a fair enough pheromoaning
melody melismically tease out and spout
these tones so sound and so
beat [that I rose in tomes of sweet poems]
And Billie Holiday see, she lain bare
tongued across the bottom rungs of this ladder
I remember the first time that I heard that
(Sunday was gloomy and with shadows I spent them
all — my heart and I have decided to — )
I remember when Ma Rainey shined me her
big beautiful barraging black bottom her cow
hooves stuck in the muck and entrails of
the mud undoing the undone history
of the dance itself
And I remember the day that Nina Simone died.
I Standing flat and shirtless in a Southern heat to
[beat so hot that even my eyes were sweating]
On the decadent Decatur balcony
while old Johnny Boy violined a dirge
in the hallways all ways stringless.
He’d just horse hairedly hum a harmony
Orpheusly while clowns and umbrellas
umbraed the French Quarter
while Harlequin Hobos and hounds
howled and funeraled through the streets
to beats [I venerate the trumpet
and I deify the simplicity
of the blues] tone on one note wrote toes
tapping on Green Dolphin St.
Where I meet women who endlessly collapse into song.
In New Orleans where
(My baby never treats me, sweet and gentle,
the way she should)
I’ve still got it bad man, and that ain’t good.
But then again – my babies never treated me so gentle.
Now that wasn’t so bad now was it?
Alyssa – I remember her name and at 6 feet 2 inches tall
all brunette you could bet that you could find her
any night of the week blowing deep in a Jazz deep
tone in a one note club with its insides careening on it’s outs.
She’d spouts above the drums, the cymbals and all that guitar.
Above the drums, the cymbals and all that guitar.
She’d blow deep from that heart and that heart from that soul
and that soul blowing from that soul blowing from that
Suyam-bop-be-op-a-dum-bass that dropped my throat
to the chok-ing diaphragm and man –
I was in…
It probably wasn’t love, but from New Orleans on –
it was heels over head style while all the girls I fell for –
they were just Jazz songs in the singing.
And I fell for that brunette in the black dress with the whiskey grin.
The chain smoked Femme Fatale that riled my nerves
and dropped my heart to a single –
She was – every woman –
that Humphrey Bogart ever fell in love with.
[Make up the ending each time you do it..]
In the light of this conversation with Blake I was taken to one with Kitty regarding the irrelevance of the jazz when compared to the notes we choose and why we choose them.
Similar to the medium and forms within – the poem, the poetry, doesn’t matter. What matters is why – and this is why I continue to write this blog without just simply posting poems and, instead, post long rants regarding my connections to it and why I do it the ways in which I do.
Why, I wonder, are so few poets unwilling to share in this manner?