Saturday, August 9, 2014

Jazzman...and other poems by Jerry A. Scuderi

This evening, as a change of pace, I am going to post my former student Jerry A. Scuderi's more formal verse.  Although jazz is linked with modernity and therefore free verse, rhyme emphasizes the musical quality in poetry and the form inherent in music.    

Let's start with Jerry's "Jazzman."  The picture above is of Coleman Hawkins playing the saxophone with a young Miles Davis in the background.  The poem below also has a certain bluesiness, perhaps because of the speaker's emotions but also because of the form that the poet follows.


Play for me, oh Jazzman. My love has left me cold.
My soul aches from her lies and deceptions bold.

Wail away, oh horn man. Blast me with your shrills.
Drive away my tear drops and these unfaithful chills.

Scream at me, oh Jazzman. Blare out your melodies.
Her hollow heart discarded me. My broken heart’s now free.

Blow, tenor man, blow away. Dissipate my pain.
Your music comforts shattered hearts. I have loved in vain.

Blues me down, oh Jazzman. Cast off decadence.
Search for me a love so true of mystic flowery scents.

Whisper trifles, velvet man, as cool as a summer’s mist.
Seek for me a beauty; one yearning to be kissed.

Murmur sleek groans, Jazzman. You’ll find me all alone.
Your sounds reach deep into me, sounds of your saxophone.

Barry Cockcroft of Reed Music just emailed me that I have permission to post the stunning photograph below by Seacroft (  Thank you.  It really fits "Jazzman" and the poems below, and the soprano saxophone in the picture is Barry's own instrument!


Jerry also sent some poems inspired by the beach and ocean.  Enjoy your end-of-summer jazz cruise.  Our ship is the best of both worlds -- sturdy yet sprightly.


Grasses line a guardian strip
along a sandy shore .
From saplings strewn o’er rolling dips
a barrier dune is born .

Sticky roses hosts dwarfish bees
out for a morning treat .
Breeze tossed flowers sway and heave ,
glow radiant in the heat .

Scrawny cacti takes its place
in flesh of yellow green .
Dagger thorns bring deliberate haste ,
about this salty scene .

Scurry long legged fleeters
flicker in the foam .
Surf crustaceans seekers
shake dinner then head home .

Grasses thick as a wooded forest
accent the wind and tide .
Bring serenity , oh ocean lurist .
Draw us to abide.


Wave striped sentinels
from every building post .
Remind us of our fidelity
from inland scenes to coasts.

Pulse your inlaid cornered field
of stars upon a sea .
Derived from global diversity
our character shows us free .

Beckon us from courthouse steps ;
our discordants settle there .
Are we to grasp very life and breath ;
the wind and the air ?

We fly you on our vessels ;
on all we create and love ;
to those we send to the ocean’s depths ,
to those to the stars above .

Annunciate our unity ,
how peoples blend to one .
Show us our true treasure ,
through every setting sun .

Volley the wind on sturdy staff ;
e’er remind us of our call ;
to bring freedom, love, and justice ,
and liberty to all.

Sun City

White lodgings stand stories tall
in the coastal heat .
Railings sprawl towels for all
at summer’s broiling peak .

The Rising glares a city stretched
over endless miles of shore .
City dwellers smeared and fetched
by sands of beaches lured .

Wake and rise night wanderer
to clothes and bedding tossed .
With child on hip a stair climber’s
worried concerns seem lost .

Fill those arms with ‘brella chairs
the morning coots are calling .
An ocean scene for endless stares
its roasting sands find haulings .

Relax city dwellers enjoy your times
of frolicking in the waves .
Soon to leave the smell of limes
for structured urban caves.


Beach house city condo one week there
bright sun ocean fun warm air glare

Scamper abouts screech and shout seeking fascination
boredom beat riding feet wanting intervention

Middle child not so wild wears an army suit
goes along for a song wise, quite, cute

Adolescence most impressive doll of the block
walks about skip and shout primping perfect locks

Mama dove bound in love gives all attention
stays in motion rubbing lotion offers inspiration

Painted eyes casual guise strong willed and able
peopled floored A M lured she sleeps on our table

Sleeping gal seeking foul head in the walkway
never knew has no clue sound till mid­day

Life is lent college spent damsel graced
young man here join in beers sleeps face to face

Grandpa’s down looking round been life whacked
seems content though life’s spent sirens on his sax

Grandma’s here through the years caring on tradition
in her heart a meadow lark guiding love’s condition

Nine A M condo dim sleepers cover floor
out I creep front porch seek heading for the door

Beach house city condo one week there
Drizzling rain life is gained Bye party house

Below is Flickr mjurn's picture of the late Wayman Tisdale and Dave Koz from a (smooth) jazz cruise from 2006.  

I also want to include some songs for you as well.  We'll start with a video from Wayman Tisdale's jazz cruise in 2007:

These videos from NYC may put you in the mood to listen to Awilda Rivera's Tuesday night show on WBGO in Newark.

We'll finish off with a sampling of saxophonists from Coleman Hawkins to Gary Bartz to the World Saxophone Quartet to Melissa Aldana, winner of the 2013 Thelonious Monk Institute Jazz Saxophone Competition.

I think that I may have posted this song by Gary Bartz in another entry, but I am not sure.  In any case, I enjoy it quite a bit.

If you would like something that I know is new, here is another video:

Below are two performances by the World Saxophone Quartet.

And here is Melissa Aldana's performance.  A picture of her at the Jazz Gallery is below.

I do want to finish with links to the standards that Jerry mentions in his bio:
Coleman Hawkins covered "Stardust" many, many times:

Here is Charlie Porter's version:

Guitarist Royce Campbell who played with Henry Mancini performs here:

If you would like some commentary on the music, this version of Chattanooga Choo Choo is fun to listen to:

This version has the vocals, though:

To conclude, here is Jerry's bio:

"I learned to play the saxophone from my father at the age of 12. My mom would play with us on her piano. Our house would rock on autumn Sunday afternoons. Now , with my brother who also plays the sax, we visit nursing and retirement homes. They delight in our music. The songs are the very same songs we played years ago. Some of them are Chattanooga Choo Choo ,Star Dust, Moon River, and The Alley Cat Song. In closing we shake their hands and enjoy their big smiles."  Jerry, by the way, participated in the Montgomery College Poetry Slam when he was enrolled in my poetry-writing class.  I am hoping that he will join us at the D.C. Poetry Project at some point.

As we disembark from our jazz cruise, I hope that it has inspired you to write and to listen to even more music.  The LPs, CDs, YouTube videos, and concerts are endless!

Just a reminder that the contest will be over soon and that voting will begin on September 1!  The new contests will begin after September 15.

1 comment:

  1. Jazzman perfectly describes the healing power of music. Very good!