Friday, May 06, 2005

Softly, as in a Morning Sunrise

If it is the force of words
upon the receding backs,
pushing them, tuxedo-clad
into realms unguessed,
then let us speak of them
well, in memoriam, in
rhythmic whispers, in
tones that linger in blue
but yet have the energy
that could guide them
so far, from roads mostly
dust, from those old days
when restrained fluids
flowed so well in
basement bars and
bathtub gin was enough
both for the saint and
the sinner, sitting
friendly-elbows close.

If, in these days when
none remember their
perfect synchronicity,
their quiet mastery,
their knowing nod of
the head toward us
who only half understood,
for they had flown
higher and farther
and faster, had been
shaken and rocked
with dizzy force,
in amongst giants and
yet accounted tall
as any—
if we are fit even to
send them softly on
their way toward
those greater
gigs further on,
then let it be made
so with whatever
meager grace we
can manage.

If our small storehouse
of words could manage
the telling of them—
yes, but listen, for
listening dispels these
rumors and dust-draped
syllables, and me,
foolish Don to tilt
at this windmill and
charge, they would
tolerate my ham fisted
linguistics as well
as any, for they
were nothing if not
modern, nothing if
not perfect gentlemen.

A world goes on
beyond the window
and beyond this
cluster of giants,
now lingering
only in their works
and legendary profile,
and bereft of them
we are less, less still
those who will
never hear that
bell-clear tone, that
seamless interplay
that made many minds
seem so like one.

With unworthy words
we provide the wind
for which there is no
need, these four kings
of old moving easy,
stately, and graceful
to the sound of that
golden striker.


Stranger Ken said...

This one I really enjoyed. I noticed the clever hommage to (D) izzy in there, too. Neatly done. Yesterday I listened to a double CD of the jazz ballads of Lionel Hampton. On the recordings with him: Oscar Peterson, Buddy Rich, Ray Brown. Say no more! You evoke the Jazz Age so well ... bathtub gin (which did for Bird, of course), "perfect synchronicity" and so on. I'm sure you don't need me to flag them up.

Mushster said...

"Unworthy words", this is what I'm imparting on you. Again you have touched my soul and even though I may not understand all that you're saying, I love it.

Oh and btw, (relating to a comment you made at my place) anyone who writes like you do is cool by me :D

Bill said...

Man.. once again a great read... these folks are with us as we're "alone with giants"...

Love the imagery!

Firehawk said...

Thanks, everybody, for your nice comments. I was sitting there last night and listening to Modern Jazz Quartet's "Last Concert" (one of the great live jazz disks, and everyone deserves to hear it). It got me thinking about how few of these great men we still have around, and how the music world is diminished in their absence. I tried to drop little snippets of history in, and I'm happy that they seemed to be evocative for you.

Ken, that sounds like a great record. Is it a Verve recording by Norman Granz? What a great band!

Mushter and Bill, thanks for your continued comments. Come over anytime.

Braleigh said...

Stunning imagery! I know my raves would seem more valid if I was somehow able to point out a weakness in your prose every now and then. But it's impossible. Your writing is impeccable. And I am being brutally honest.

In return to what you said: A giant grin and many thanks.

Stranger Ken said...

I was in Berlin recently and picked up quite a few nicely packaged 2CD sets of one thing and another. The Hampton one is on Membran Music 2004, 222541-311 /A & B. Info on: and email on: Total playing time: 63.02 minutes. By the way, I was wrong, it was Bix Beiderbecke who died young of bath-tub gin, wasn't it?

Firehawk said...


You got me. The bottle or the needle got so many of the great jazz men. It's hard to remember all the unfortunate stories. A bunch of these guys never made it to 30, and even then, they died with a lot of miles on the clock. Some of our brightest lights burn the heaviest fuels, and that keeps them from lasting long. Thanks for the info on the CD. Cheers!

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