Surely as Jim Bowie or Jim Bridger, Mrs. Johnson’s son Jimmy was an American pioneer, cutting his way through uncharted forests of primeval bebop. He followed the changes blazed by Prez among the reeds, taking a trombone out of the safety of big bands and sliding into little combos exploring the frontiers of sound.
The cool cats howled, “How you gonna plunge that deep without a valve, how you gonna match the tempo of the train without a key?” But J. J. Johnson took the road to the coast and back, riding the trail beside Sonny Stitt and Bud Powell. In 1954, he started walkin’ with Miles Davis.
And they all changed their tune, saying, “J is for Jazz! Blow from the Blue Ridge and play across the plains. Make that trombone moan like an autumn wind high in the lonesome treetops!”
Posted for dVerse Jazzing it up on Prosery Monday on Jul 20, 2020 by lillian. The prompt required use of a quotation from “Jazz Fantasia” by Carl Sandburg, in this case “Make that trombone moan like an autumn wind high in the lonesome treetops”
Episode 3 of the PoJo Show — a podcast mixing poetry, spoken word, music, and sound — is now up on the Sound Files page and on my YouTube channel.
22 thoughts on “T-bone Trailblazer”
I like that you’ve placed the Jazz Fantasia line into the jazz scene itself. Well done!
Jazz poems, or the blues; I love and write both. This piece is a toe-tapper, a hummer, a fevered blast, a silver slide; so cool.
A man after my own heart. Thanks for reading!
What a wonderful story built around the line. A musical innovator on the jazz train!
My dad had a copy of “Dial J. J. 5” and I believe it was the first jazz album I ever heard.
I hear that trombone now! What a clever bit of writing. Applause from here.
Lot of music going on in there. Even in the windy treetops
p.s. Just finished listening to your podcast on youtube. Very enjoyable podcast!
I really appreciate you listening. We’ll be doing one a week for a while, and we’re really hoping for feedback on what people would like to hear or can contribute. I’ve been collecting poetry records, tapes, and CDs for about 30 years and have a lot to play.
Hearing the poetry set to music or other enhancing sounds is wonderful. I like that little rant you went on about halfway through about how long jazz poetry has been around. lol. Please tell your co-host I have no bongos to send. Will try to remember to look for your newest ‘cast. Sounds like you have enough material to keep you going for awhile 🙂
Love this! Such fantastic prose and writing.
Thanks so much!
I enjoyed this jazzy piece, Jedediah, especially the thought of Jimmy as ‘an American pioneer, cutting his way through uncharted forests of primeval bebop’ with his trombone, ‘sliding into little combos exploring the frontiers of sound’. You even jazzed up the line from ‘Jazz Fantasia’! I’m saving the podcast for later. 🙂
Thanks for reading and I hope you like the podcast.
Kim alerted me that we both stayed with the jazz theme! And we used the same line but they are quite different.
Nice to meet you!
Read your memory piece and enjoyed it. I lived 1 year in NYC just two blocks from the Blue Note. But too pricey for me, so I would loiter outside the door as long as I could, listening to legends still playing there in the 80s.
lol perfect way to spend your time! I was earning well in those days and used to fly down to Melbourne to hear our best there 🙂
What a wonderful and jazzy-happy take on the prompt, Jedediah. Made me want to be there to hear it all.
“an American pioneer, cutting his way through uncharted forests of primeval bebop.” Stellar line
A story about Jazz that puts Jazz in the story! Excellent write!