Angel of Harlem

Lady Day, the truth
Still lingers with every new
Earful of “Strange Fruit.”


Portrait of a Love Chant

        For Charles Mingus

With the charisma
Of a cat with nine lives
The band meanders
About the melody
One solo at a time.

Then like an aural elixir
The singer scats sweet somethings
In the voice of every instrument

I’m in love with the bass
I love to flirt with the hurt
I hear vented from the valves of the horn
I love to dance with the drums
Sometimes I even think they are playing themselves.


Bird’s Flight: Ode to the Pyrotechnics of Charlie Parker

“You can tell the history of jazz in four words: Louis Armstrong. Charlie Parker.”
                                    -Miles Davis

What Charlie Parker brought
From Kansas City

To 52nd Street
Was the pyrotechnics

He used to school the world
In ornithology

& the blues.
He was the sole songbird

Of his kind, whirring

With his wings wrapped tight
‘Round the neck of his alto sax

Through choruses
& holes in the wall of night

Like the hum of the wind

Rustling through leaves, playing 
Pretty notes

That seem so perfectly placed, reprising

Himself in a pastiche
Of optimistic

Pandemonium, when every note was
An experiment

In experience

In anthems

Of his alter echo taking flight.


Chamber Music

        For Paul Chambers

The way he played bass
Reverberates in chambers
Of my memory
(Though he died at 33
Before I was even born).


Playlist: A Sweet Suite

(2400 Songs Strong)

The playlist
Riffs like the soundtrack of
My life, with melodies that recall
Even the most minute
Of details. 

©2020 MDSHall