First a slap on the upright bass
not uptight, plays soooo right
Then a snippet of snare and a
clink on the ride cymbal, yeah
Dust off a classic, “St. James Infirmary”?
Nope, too melancholy mournful
This lineup deserves a quick trip
on Route 66, flying down that road
on wings of azure razor-sharp steel
In an instant, the crowd really feeling it
One deep breathe and she does the whole
trip, all destinations, in one breath:
St. Louis, Joplin, OK City, Amarillo,
Gallup, Flagstaff, Winona, Kingman,
Barstow, San Bernadino… and then,
with a gasp, winds down to the final line:
“Get your kicks – on Six-Six”
Sure, it’s Nat’s line, but it’s homage
to the King of cool, of keys, ivories
We’re all Cole miners in this club
© 2013 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil
Photo of Amy sitting in with Madison’s All That Jazz, used by permission.
NOTE: The links below lead to YouTube videos – check out Krupa, Sinatra, and especially my girl Dusty.
For the Sunday Whirl and Poets United’s Poetry Pantry. The word “Blue” shouted to me in the Whirl Cloud – then the snare and ride, both essentials in any drum kit. The snare most folks know – it’s the smaller drum up front; the ride cymbal is one of two in most kits, and it gives a light tapping sound, while the “crash” cymbal does exactly that! There’s also a “high hat,” that gizmo with two small cymbals facing each other, connected to a long rod and controlled with a foot pedal, sometimes hit with sticks during a solo. Add a bass drum controlled with a kick pedal and a tom-tom (or “tom”), which has a deeper tone than the snare, and you’re about fixed. The toms get a workout on Gene Krupa’s classic, “Sing, Sing, Sing.”
Of course, REAL jazz players use more than sticks; for singers who have a ballad to share, they should have brushes for that swooshing sound in the rhythm. Some players use bundled bamboo sticks, which give a sharp, crispy tone to the skins (drum heads). But the most important part of any drummer’s kit? THE BRAIN. Good drummers have taste, a knowledge of the tunes (not just the pace, but the flavor of the song). The best musicians I know, the non-singers, learn the whole song, including lyrics. This gives a distinct flavor to any solo, knowing what word goes with what note, so when they streeeeeetch out on Johnny Mercer’s “Laura,” say, they can slide into “footsteps that you hear down the hall” with meaning. (Mercer wrote the words after David Raksin provided the theme for the Gene Tierney movie, “Laura.” The tune was so popular, they hired Mercer to write lyrics, and the song took off, especially the version by Frank Sinatra. any others. Same goes with “Satin Doll,” the Ellington classic – lyrics later provided by Mercer.)
Good example of tasteful sax soloing: Listen to Dusty Springfield’s version of “The Look of Love.” Stan Getz, who went to Brazil to pioneer the samba with Gilberto and Jobim, plays the sparest, breathiest solo to back up Dusty’s menthol cool. Tasteful piano? Listen to Bill Evans back up Tony Bennett years ago, two giants in one studio. Another vocal-sax pairing of note, Billie Holiday and Lester “Prez” Young.
I could go on, but how about this: Tell us YOUR example of taste in a song, where all planets were in alignment! Peace, Amy
Baskets of weeds
Seeds fall to soil
Toil with the tiller
Clay ground first
Curse of my garden
Hardens like rock
Mocks my feeble shovel
Red, this level
Beveled by tilling machine
Green detritus mixes
Fixes a greyer hue
Potting soil on top
Prop myself with a rake
Stakes then reposted
Toasted from our labors
Add soil meant for pot
Plot now proper brown
Garden set for sleep
Steep some tea and rest
© 2012 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil
Of course, the damnable ironweed of earlier in the season (CLICK HERE) refused to disclose the center of its evil web of roots, and the pye wede followed suit. Monica planted some spring bulbs in front; a failed daisy plant finally sprang into life in late autumn, surprise! More daisies will be planted, as well as tiger lilies, the bulbs go in now. Next spring, we hope to have a plethora of pots: Herbs, petunias, Sweet William, lobelia, and Johnny Jump-ups (my favorite).
Babes in Toyland
We weren’t spoiled kids
my sisters and I
under the tree
One year I got
my first and only Barbie
That summer, we got
all our Barbies together
and made them into
Nazi hunters, bringing
bad Germans to justice
(no wonder I married a Jewish guy)
Best of all, my sis
made me a dollhouse
Really, a trollhouse
back in the days when
you could score a troll doll
for a buck, back when
inside the house was
my favorite playground
She worked with balsa
and with crates
with ornate curtains
and cool furniture
She also made them clothes
She toiled in secret and
when she unveiled it,
I gotta tell ya,
it was the biggest present
I had ever received…
and the best.
After all these years,
I have this to say:
Thanks, Jo, for
giving me the gifts
of your time and
your loving heart
© 2012 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil
For the Thursday Think Tank at Poets United: Playground
The Monster paid me an unannounced visit today.
It let itself in through the locked and bolted back door
on its way to another grief.
It took me in its arms as I,
limp as linguine and just as strained,
offered no resistance.
Its cowl became my heavy hood;
the weight of its robe dragged me to half-staff…
lugging laundry downstairs,
crying as I failed to muster strength to open a jar,
wracked with fear I’d be discovered here alone
with Same Old:
Telling me I’m worthless, a drag on my loved ones,
why bother with it all? Run away to a
thin spot on the icy lake…
Only my Boxing Gym of the Soul saved me.
My Trainer whispered spoke shouted in my ear,
“Slough off the robe, ooze off the couch.
Flop to the floor and exercise.
EXORCISE THE MONSTER!”
After my walk outside, the demon slunk in a corner.
Finally giving up, it didn’t bother to say goodbye,
But I make sure the door hit it in the ass
as it left to cripple someone else.