Jazz Fan Looks Back

Jazz Fan Looks Back

by Jayne Cortez
Pub. Date:
Hanging Loose Press


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Jazz Fan Looks Back

Poetry. African American Studies. "If you haven't read Jayne Cortez you're missing some of the best that life has to offer. Here is always a compelling voice of fire and freedom. Her surrealism-the hottest on record. If you think you're a revolutionary, read Jayne Cortez and you'll be ten times more revolutionary"-Franklin Rosemont, Surrealism. Noted performer and poet Cortez is the author of twelve books of poems, among them Scarification and Mouth on Paper, and has performed her poetry with music on nine recordings. Her awards include the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York Foundation of the Arts, the International African Festival Award, the American Book Award, and the Langston Hughes Award. Her latest CD recordings with her band The Firespitters are Taking the Blues Back Home and Find Your Voice. "Jayne Cortez understands beter than most how to make spoken words and images swing and rock"-Gene Seymour, Newsday.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781931236096
Publisher: Hanging Loose Press
Publication date: 02/19/2002
Pages: 116
Product dimensions: 6.08(w) x 8.96(h) x 0.37(d)

Read an Excerpt



    (For Baby Laurence and Other Tap Dancers)

When i pat this floor
        with my tap

when i slide on air
        and fill this horn intimate with
the rhythm of my two drums

        when i cross kick
scissor locomotive

        take four for nothing
four we're gone

when the solidarity of my yoruba turns
joins these vibrato feet
        in a Johnny Hodges lick
a chorus of insistent Charlie Parker riffs

        when i stretch out for a chromatic split
together with my double X
        converging in a quartet of circles

when i dance my spine in a slouch
        slur my lyrics with a heel slide
arch these insteps in free time

        when i drop my knees
when i fold my hands
        when i decorate this atmosphere
with a Lester Young leap and
        enclose my hip-like snake repetitions
in a chanting proverb
        of the freeze

i'm gonna spotlite myboogie
        in a Coltrane yelp

echo my push in a Coleman Hawkins whine

i'm gonna frog my hunch in a Duke Ellington strut

quarter-stroke my rattle
        like an Albert Ayler cry

i'm gonna accent my march in a Satchmo pitch

triple my grind in a Ma Rainey blues

i'm gonna steal no steps

i'm gonna pay my dues

i'm gonna 1 2 3

        and let the people in the apple
go hmmmp hmmmp hmmmp


Lord Nelson
Star dusted on
Santa Barbara
in Max's free-town

You and Lord
preacher Brown
stroking prayer bells
as you ate the horn up
you did

Moist fleshy lips
weeping willows
under a blue moon
on a new day

Kissing the foot of
Oh Woo Wee Doo
smacking Blackies
heart in a
flashy mass spittle
of fire
stompin pride
from muted cries
on the truth hunt

Some of us heard
the delivered word—Clifford

Keeper of the horn
Young sputtering deacon
in the spiritual choir
singing with Fats & Freddy

Untouched by bets 
and other Chets

even full-fledged taps
wouldn't begin to cut
the tone-blown love
flung from
the mack-mans bad tongue


        Tell me about the good things
you clappin & laughin

Will you remember
or will you forget 

Forget about the good things
like Blues & Jazz being Black
Yeah Black Music
all about you

And the musicians that
write & play about you
a Black brother groanin
a Black sister moanin
& beautiful Black children
ragged ... underfed laughin
not knowin —

Will you remember their names
or do they have no names
no lives — only products
to be used when you wanna
dance fuck & cry

You takin — they givin
You livin — they
creating starving dying
trying to make a better tomorrow
Giving you & your children a history
But what do you care about
history — Black History
and John Coltrane

All you wanna do
is pat your foot
sip a drink & pretend
with your head bobbin up & down

What do you care about acoustics
bad microphones or out-of-tune pianos
& noise
You the club owners & disc jockeys
made a deal didn't you
a deal about Black Music
& you really don't give
a shit long as you take

        There was a time
when certain radio stations played all Black Music
from Charlie Parker to Johnny Ace
on show after show
but what happened
I'll tell you what happened
they divided Black Music
doubled the money
& left us split again
is what happened

John Coltrane's dead & some
of you
have yet to hear him play
How long how long has that Trane been gone

and how many more Tranes will go
before you understand your life
John Coltrane who had the whole of
life wrapped up in B flat
John Coltrane like Malcolm
True image of Black Masculinity

Now tell me about the good things
I'm telling you about
John Coltrane

A name that should ring
throughout the projects mothers

Mothers with sons
who need John Coltrane
Need the warm arm of his music
like words from a Father
words of Comfort
words of Africa
words of Welcome
How long how long has that Trane been gone

John palpitating love notes
in a lost-found nation
within a nation
His music resounding discovery
signed Always
John Coltrane

Rip those dead white people off
your walls Black People
Black people whose walls
should be a hall
A Black Hall of Fame
so our children will know
will know & be proud
Proud to say I'm from Parker City — Coltrane City — Ornette City
Pharaoh City living on Holiday Street next to
James Brown Park in the State of Malcolm

How long
how long
will it take for you to understand
that Trane's been gone
riding in a portable radio
next to your son who's lonely
Who walks walks walks into nothing
no city no state no home no nothing
how long
How long
have Black People been gone


    Blue Stone in Memphis
    Stony blue cries
    in honky-tonk taverns
           on the road
           from K town
           to K town
                  the road
    the same road that downed
    Bessie in the ground
    and amputated round — way over in London Town
    Where another Hank moans
    Stony Lonesome
    Bessie's arm was torn
    when the Blues came down mean
    Them Lowdown Dirty Blues
           Dancing Round
           Whining in Bessie
    "Get Back Blues"

Excerpted from JAZZ FAN LOOKS BACK by Jayne Cortez. Copyright © 2002 by Jayne Cortez. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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