Friday, November 21, 2014

Monk & Iyer

Somewhere along the way I've lost a day, so I am hurrying to post Martin Willits, Jr.'s tribute to Monk, "Ugly Beauty," and Felino A. Soriano's "Underneath," a response to the music of Vijay Iyer, a contemporary jazz (and classical) pianist and composer.

Martin, in fact, wrote "Ugly Beauty" in response to a video of Monk's work that I posted on this site earlier this fall.

Ugly Beauty

                Based on the music by Thelonious Monk and written while listening to it, stopping where it stopped

Such ugly beauty underground, like an alto sax

tangled in piano keys, but necessary

for the times when timing is off, like say,

a woman says not tonight baby and winter

is cold as her cheek. The dripping faucet is a bass,

and someone is banging on the coils

of the radiator trying to bring heat to reason,

but like a landlord, there’s no reasoning with it.

I tried once, and I was evicted, acknowledging

the moon coming from the sax end of a bad day.

Black roses is ugly beauty, like a heart skip

before an attack, all nightshades drawn down

to the underground where subways lose time

and you got nowhere to go in a hurry

six feet under. No place to be. It is colder than snow,

colder than the woman walking away

with another man after saying no to your needs.

Are your needs ever met? I once forced a drip back

into its faucet, and it made bass notes

coiling into the sky, like snow falling upwards.

or heat rises, or heart rate escalates, or arguments.

I hear her stiletto shoes like radiator clangs,

like no place to shelter, and where she takes the night

is shady, black petals, and where you need not go.

These are some versions of "Ugly Beauty" to accompany Martin's words:

Kenny Drew, Jr. performs "Ugly Beauty":

Gretchen Parlato perform another version in Germany:

Here Monk dances:

I can't find a freely available picture of Monk dancing, but I thought you might like this below.  It appears to be a still from Straight No Chaser.

I also wanted to include links to some of Martin's many chapbooks.  As he is a former musician, a number of his poems are inspired by music.  You may enjoy  his *free* chapbook "Late All Night Sessions with Charlie "the Bird" Parker and the Members of Birdland, in Take-Three" (A Kind of Hurricane Press,2013)
Another recent book is "Playing the Pauses in the Absence of Stars," available from Main Street Rag:  Flutter Press has also published his "Before Anything, There Was Mystery," which includes, among other poems, the Celtic astrology series that initially intrigued me:


Here is Felino A. Soriano's "Underneath" in response to Vijay Iyer, whom Felino classifies as "one of my current favorite pianists--up there with Moran and Glasper."  "Underneath" is part of Felino's new, five-part project, Forms, migrating, specifically the section ""The circumference of silences", which consists of all short, prose poems."


I want to live, experiment with focuses, rearrange fragmentations.
Create alternate apparitions, converse across patterned puddles
attempting silent art into an acclimation of open structure.  I’d
live then, if each year didn’t curtail with predetermined fallacies of
bruised resolutions.  I listen, then; the perfect option among voices
hitching and holding onto stories delving, if by thrown, and the sequencing
of truth singing and louder, singing into the dark halls of my eyes’ misplaced

This evening Felino sent me another response to Iyer,this time as the pianist performed with his sextet.  Both the poem and performance intrigued me.

Morning, this

Swing diagram
deliberate grin.  Her
visual cue said
the crow never
rose higher than the 2nd
version of a moment’s
agonizing realization.
Toward verb my listening
altered.  Running.  Impulse
common her

                             intuition to inspire with voice modulations, concise diction
                             appropriate in the melody of a father’s roaming gather.  Here
                             we speak as do feathers’ neighboring conjoining—aligned or

                             halved in idea and function of purpose. 

Felino's most recent books include Of isolated limning (Fowlpox Press, 2014); Mathematics (Nostrovia! Poetry, 2014), and Espials (Fowlpox Press, 2014).  Links to each of these books and his others are available here:


Below is a picture of Vijay Iyer playing the piano.

This is the performance of the Vijay Iyer Sextet that inspired Felino to write "Morning, this":

It led me to revisit Iyer's work with guitar hero Prasanna and tabla player Nitin Mitta:

The Vijay Iyer Trio plays "Historicity":

They play "Accelerando" here:

We'll finish with their version of "Human Nature":


No comments:

Post a Comment