I didn’t know how much I loved jazz when Dad played Bags Groove –
Milt Jackson, Miles – that slow anthem - almost every night during dinner.
Dad digs Modern Jazz Quartet too, so vibes filled
the sound track of our house above the Bay.
I didn’t know how much I loved jazz when my friend Pete put Monk on
at his parents’ place, and we were a little high,
so those crazy chords raced across my brain
spidering into patterns of synesthesia.
What was that?
I didn’t know how much I loved jazz when I took a class at American River College
to sing in Art LaPierre’s vocal ensemble.
I didn’t know we’d be swept away in waves of harmony
till we felt like Ellington’s sax section itself –
tight, tuned, swinging.
Working for Gary Vercelli in Studio A late at night, alone at the station,
listening to vocalists, the composers, the great soloists
selecting tunes for the next day’s show, I listened close,
but I didn’t even know then how much I loved jazz,
No, not until Addie Kelly passed away, and we went to the
African American Baptist Church in Vallejo, California and I heard the singing.
I heard the wailing and the interplay of God and humanity in the wild, sad
improvisation of gospel and blues, and there for the first time
I learned how much I loved;
I learned how much I loved jazz, too.
By Bob Stanley
Former Sacramento Poet Laureate, and a former intern at Capital Public Radio