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Category: Jazz

Happy arrival day!

It’s been 108 years since Sun Ra arrived from Saturn. Not sure where to start with his massive discography? Try this one:

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haiku: 1 April 2022

driving drums
Fender Rhodes
the sharp angles of melody

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1 April 2022
Latham NY

inspired by
“Morning Song”
by Matt Aronoff

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audio poem: hum

The other day I wrote a piece called “Hum.” My friend Patrick said it needed some noir saxophone behind it. He’s a saxophonist, so I recorded myself reading the piece and sent it to him to add sax to. He did, and this is the result:

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POEM: Listening To Claude Thornhill’s “Snowfall”

Listening To Claude Thornhill’s “Snowfall”

The band announces itself with a flourish
before fading into the soft white of the piano.
It sounds better because it’s old,
a half-remembered audio phantasm
floating just out of reach.
Sure it would be nice to hear
every nuance, every breath, every
subtle shift in tone or timbre.
But given the choice, I’ll take
the crackles and static,
the muted highs and lows,
the mid-range heard as if
underwater, perhaps from
the bottom of a pool
while the band
plays on the
patio
above.

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6 January 2021
Albany NY

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The Drowning Pool playlist

I’ve been reading Ross MacDonald’s The Drowning Pool today and listening to music as I read. Here’s the playlist:

Dizzy Gillespie — Night In Tunisia
George Shearing — Lullaby Of Birdland
Cecil Taylor — Looking Ahead
Gerry Mulligan — The Gerry Mulligan Quartet
Zoot Sims — Zoot Sims Avec Henri Renaud
Glenn Gould — Bach: The Two And Three Part Inventions
Emerson String Quartet — Beethoven: The String Quartets
Elvin Jones & Richard Davis — Heavy Sounds

I also made this into a Spotify playlist.

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POEM: Good afternoon, Stan Getz.

Good afternoon, Stan Getz.

Good afternoon, Stan Getz.
I used to know what most of these
Portuguese words mean but now I don’t.
As I was typing the lines above I remembered
that you (not you, Stan, the other you)
also liked this album a lot.
In fact when I made us a nice dinner,
timed for the moment you got home from work,
it’s what I’d put on in the background.
My son is down the hall now,
listening to hip hop that’s fighting
with the soft drums of Milton Banana.
What a great name: Milton Banana.
I don’t know if his last name is said
like we’d say the fruit but I sure hope so.
Anyway back to my son:
Last night we had a long conversation
about the nature of happiness & security
& it turns out he has his own ideas
on those subjects & many others.
I love being surprised by what & how he thinks.
(Now Astrud is singing & I’m missing you.)
(Not you, Stan. Again, sorry.)
There’s a dog tucked up behind me on the sofa.
I chose “sofa” there because it sounds more
sophisticated than “couch” & this
is sophisticated music, you know?
Anyway, Stan, what was I saying?
I think the point is there’s a little snow on the leaves
on the ground on this little patch of planet &
that always means it’s time to dig into the vaults
for the good stuff from back in the day.
You’re one of the good things, buddy, so out you come.
Ha! Good one, Stan. Now you’re playing “Summertime.”

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27 November 2021
State College PA

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POEM: Revenge!

Revenge!

Mingus! Dolphy!
Elderly people doing yoga!
Park pavilions full of
downward dogs & the upper class.
The Buick owners realigning their chakras
before heading off to brunch.
Everyone has a dog or else no one does.
There’s ozone in the air but the sun is out.
Where’s the promised thunder?
The desert is a dirty liar.
The bass clarinet will have to do.

///

21 January 2021
Oro Valley, AZ

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POEM: For McCoy Tyner

[McCoy Tyner at the 2013 Detroit Jazz Festival. Photo: Jason Crane.]

For McCoy Tyner

McCoy Tyner died today.
He was 81.
Honestly that surprised me;
I’d thought he was older.
Aren’t all masters ancient?
Or maybe timeless. Ageless.
Achieve a certain level of fluency
& you pass beyond the reach of the clock’s hands,
slip through Death’s grasping arms.
Now all four are gone: John, then Jimmy,
Elvin next, now McCoy.
A baby born tomorrow will never have
breathed the air at the same time
as any member of Coltrane’s classic quartet.
I wasn’t born when Trane died.
I was two when Jimmy left us.
Once I shook Elvin’s hand.
Another time I heard McCoy play.
McCoy Tyner died today.
He was 81.

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Jason Crane
7 March 2020
Tucson, AZ

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POEM: Playing The Fania All-Stars At My Retail Job

Playing The Fania All-Stars At My Retail Job

Takes me back to my early days playing
latin jazz and salsa in Tucson bars.
When we were all the way on
whole rooms full of sweating dancers
would cheer, spinning, singing along. ¡Baila!
Me, a 20-year-old white kid with no business
among these grizzled Mexican and Puerto Rican
veterans of the local music scene. Playing the claves
like an elementary school kid with woodblocks.
“If you’re going to play them,” Ismael said, “PLAY THEM.”
Later he would tell me, during a flamenco tune:
“Clap like my mama’s making tortillas.”
(He offered me cocaine, drank Scotch during every set
till the tempos were elastic as putty.)
Later I would lay jazz melodies over the dance rhythms.
Will, the bongocero, said to a new trumpeter:
“Can you play them jazz songs like my man Jason?”
I floated off the floor in my cap-toed spectators.
MCA Records offered us a deal, so we got together
at Izzy’s house to lay down a bunch of music.
Izzy got coked up, missed the meeting with the execs,
the deal was off. But when we were on, man,
we were all the way on.

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Jason Crane
27 December 2019
State College PA

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POEM: Real

Real

I watch John Tchicai dance lightly
through the minefield of “supposed to.”
He’s far ahead but I can see him,
and though the way is full of danger,
I take one step—

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Jason Crane
12 December 2019
State College PA

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