jazz me blues



those jazzers up there
you wonder
how they know –
you know
how they know
what they’re doing
you can’t follow the form
though maybe you can
without knowing

the thing is:
how do they relate
to each other
how do they keep time
know when to come in
or drop out
do they count the bars
by divination some
instinctive understanding
of form denied
those who only listen
have never played?

there’s a drum solo say
and the rest of the band
understand when it’s finished
and all join in again
on the beat in time –
intuitively contrived maybe
it makes sense
there’s a logic there
you can’t quite follow
you know it’s right though
but you don’t know how

so what goes on?
do we know more
than we know
understand more
than we understand?
what we do know now
is we all came from Africa
in the beginning
save what do we know of Africa
who’ve never been there?

well it’s the source of jazz
we know that
beyond doubt
spread by kidnap
and slavery
African lives saved
and sustained it’s claimed
by the music which becomes
America’s own original art

so do we connect
with the ancient heartbeats
of our distant black grandparents
when we listen to jazz
and understand
more than we know we know?
is that how –
does it matter?

oh yes it does:
credit where credit’s due
the whole world
saved by jazz
could occur
or might
if we all own-up
and join-in
before the final chorus
brings the house down


Jeff Cloves
Illustration: Claire Palmer

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2 Responses to jazz me blues

    1. Claire does it again
      ‘Beat out that rhythm on a drum’
      they sang in the movie Carmen Jones
      well actually they sang
      ‘beat out dat riddim on a drum’
      and Dorothy Dandridge – what a star

      Comment by jeff cloves on 29 June, 2018 at 9:30 pm
    2. Thanks Jeff!
      Viva Carmen J and Dorothy D!

      Comment by Claire on 1 July, 2018 at 11:51 pm

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