Thursday, September 12, 2013

Meeting John Lee Hooker...

On a cool Paris evening improvisational blues fills the air    
clouds of smoke linger, filling the basement night club
A crowd gathers, dampered voices float up to the wet sidewalk 
reflecting wavy reds, greens, yellow lamp light

He had sought the louder acoustical guitar 
after performing on Beale St...
drifted to Detroit where he joined up with piano 
Son of a sharecropperhis popularity grew quickly 
Live jazz in clubs crossed over then,                                                                     
from the heart of black and Latin entertainment
to what they called rock fusion 
But his style was 'talking blues'...
Then to white audiences, along with Miles Davis, Thelonius Monk, 
Sonny Rollins and Quincy Jones; he
even gave an early opportunity to the young Bob Dylan

I saw him when he was much older -
seated on a stool in an old watering hole
downtown, back to back with Fats Waller's
"Ain't Misbehavin"' and "Your Feets too Big"
Shuffling chairs to find a seat, we found a table
and sat close to him, his knee almost touching mine
Lips to the microphone, brow glistening with sweat
his eyes met mine and he winked at me 
His live show had a casual, rambling feeling
All who knew his songs moaned "Ahh- huh", "Yesir",
rocked their heads, tapped their toes, waved their hands....
bodies swayed to the beat
His music was also called the"front porch blues",
some were Boogie Woogie, others rock blues or Delta jazz

Music historians can easily place the time and
influences surrounding jazz from around the globe..
All I know is.... I know what I like when I hear it!
Antonio Jobim's genre of Bossa Nova 
 "The Girl from Ipanema"-
the smooth alto or tenor sax blended with deep bass;
there's a long list of names, each had their own style
Add an African or Cuban beat to kick it up a notch
Billie Holiday had it down..
I dislike loud crazy, to me nonsensical Jazz Funk
or leaps taken by fresh new groups I do not have an ear for - 
But with a cigar in his left hand, he talked right to me
..told me to "chill" (and chillen meant children) and "be cool",
my man wasn't going to do me no wrong
,.. long as I is good to him
"Blues before Sunrise" hit home for me

I was a little girl on his stoop that night -
 listening to my papa sing....
'bout slavery and the putting down of his family, 
lousy pay, how the summer heat won't let up...
Mama in her apron hummed right along
I knew him from a long time ago it seemed.. 
,,,and I just came by to say "hello"
Our souls took a ride through time and place that night
with folk who understand...enveloped by
music oh, so mellow

Gay at prompts us to write 'Jazz Poetry'...anything pertaining to it or even our own composition of a song or the mood it puts one into when listening.


  1. nice. cool story...what an opportunity as well...and to equate it to sitting there with daddy on the front porch...that is cool...enjoyed the listen to the music as well kkkaty....i like the casual rambling style

    fixed your link at dverse...smiles.

  2. Katy, really enjoyed this, and I sense that you are a real appreciator of jazz. It comes through strongly in this poem. (Liked all the history you shared as well....)

  3. Loved the story, Antonio Jobim was a huge influence on me as well as Reverend Gary Davis, enjoyed very much and the last stanza was the cream !! Thanks

  4. OMG ... Katy this is my fav piece that I read today ... Love John Lee Hooker and everyone else that you mentioned. What an exciting post! This made my day. Thank you!

  5. Very cool walk down history lane... have not been fortunate to see the legends.. and definitely Bossa Nova should not be forgotten... (though I love some modern Jazz Rock Fusion)...

  6. SO jealous. I love, love John Lee Hooker. I started buying his lps in the 60s. So cool to have had that experience; even cooler that you let us share it. Reading this was like being there. I've been to Preservation Hall in New Orleans a few times - always transcendent - but your poem did the same for me. Thanks for the ticket!

  7. paris and jazz...sitting so close that the knees almost touch..."front porch blues"... what wonderful magic you weave here..

  8. Story and jazz tribute all in one - extraordinary!

  9. This is so nice! I didn't do that prompt, and came across this later. So glad I did.


All comments, constructive and otherwise, are welcome and appreciated here. Thank you to those who show an interest in my quirky style of writing, photography, painting, and presenting a feeling or thought and for stopping by A Dwelling by the Sea..