Sunday, August 13, 2017


We return to Sunday music with this month’s featured artist, jazz harpist Dorothy Ashby.

Today’s selection is Ashby’s composition “Games” from her 1968 Cadet release, Afro-Harping. This album features Ashby backed by an apparently unknown orchestra (including theremin on some cuts). Allmusic reviewer Ron Wynn describes Afro-Harping as “the best and most complete album done by jazz harpist …Dorothy Ashby”; Joshua Weiner, writing for the all about jazz site finds the album more a product of its particular time, a proto example of acid jazz, but still describes the music as “fascinating”, & goes on to write:

Those interested in 60s mod will enjoy it for its own sake, while others will be provided with an interest-piquing introduction to a largely forgotten instrument, and musician, in jazz.

Hope you enjoy it.

Image links to its source on Wiki Commons:
“This is the cover art for Afro-Harping by the artist Dorothy Ashby. The cover art copyright is believed to belong to the label, Cadet, or the graphic artist(s).” Wiki Commons claims fair use for this low-resolution image.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Dao De Jing 16

Dao De Jing 16

Come to utmost emptiness,
preserve deep stillness.
The ten thousand things arise as one,
& as we see return to their source.
Returning to the source is called stillness—returning thus is unchanging fate;
where the unchanging is known there’s wisdom,
where the unchanging isn’t known, there’s lawlessness.
Knowledge of the unchanging embraces all, & embracing all is justice.
justice then is majesty, majesty then is divine, the divine then is the Way;
the Way endures through time.
One who follows the Way is free from peril even until death.

Laozi, 道德經
Translation by John Hayes
Unlike with my original poetry & poetry translations, I don’t asset a copyright claim on my translation of the Dao De Jing. It may be freely used under the terms of the Creative Commons license.

Image links to its source on Wiki Commons:
“Four Immortals Saluting Longevity”: Shang Xi, early Ming Dynasty, hanging scroll, Color on silk. (“The immortals are from left to right: Shide standing on a broom, Hanshan standing on a banana leaf, Iron-Crutch Li standing on a crutch, and Liu Haichan riding a 'Chan Chu' three footed toad. The being riding the crane is the Longevity Star God”).
Public domain.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Distant Footsteps

Distant Footsteps

My father’s sleeping. His august countenance
implies a gentle heart;
just now so sweet…
if there’s anything bitter in him, that will be me.

there’s loneliness in this household; praying;
and there’s no news of the children today.
My father wakes, auscultates
the flight into Egypt, the stanching goodbye.
He’s now so close;
if there’s anything distant in him, that will be me.

And my mother walks there in the orchards,
savoring a flavor already without flavor.
She’s now such softness,
such a wing, such an exit, such love.

There’s loneliness in the home without any racket,
without news, without green, without children.
And if anything’s broken this afternoon,
and falls and creaks,
it’s two roads, white, curved.
My heart moves along them on foot.

César Vallejo, “Los pasos lejanos”
Translation by Jack Hayes
© 2017

Image links to its source on Wiki Commons:
"Flucht nach Ägypten": Hans Sandreuter; oil on canvas; 1885.
Public domain.


Sunday, August 6, 2017

Nabu Corfa

Today we begin our August feature for Sunday music; this month’s feature artist is jazz harpist DorothyAshby. & when we say “harp” here, we don’t mean the slang for a harmonica; we mean an actual harp.

Ashby is an overlooked figure in jazz history; in general, the canon hasn’t given their due to women instrumentalists, & has rather focused on including vocalists. But Ashby was a true innovator, a composer, & a virtuoso player who was able to adapt the harp—an unusual instrument in a jazz context—to bebop. Indeed,the only other well-known jazz harpist being Alice Coltrane, who was also a pianist.

Today’s selection is “Nabu Corfa”, from Ashby’s 1965 Atlantic release The Fantastic Jazz Harp of DorothyAshby; interestingly, the recording session for the album took place in 1958. The session featured Ashby as leader on harp, backed by bassist Richard Davis, drummer Grady Tate, percussionist Willie Bobo, & a horn section consisting of Jimmy Cleveland, Quentin Jackson, Sonny Russo, & Tony Studd (though the latter’s trombone isn’t heard on this selection). “Nabu Corfa” is an original Ashby composition.


Image links to its source on Wiki Commons:
Autographed photo of photo of American musician Dorothy Ashby. Wiki Commons lists the source of the photo as this link, & claims “fair use”. There is apparently no public domain or copyleft photo of Ashby.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Walking Maranasati Double Octet


I’d like to forgive my lungs’ malfunction, ask
my lungs’ forgiveness too; cigarette smoke sky

billowing congestion all the way up to
the afterlife, its sequestered, collapsed stars:

coffee shop windows lined with brown paper, crow
gliding above the roof is the logical

outcome, a black breath emerging to after-
noon; one maple branch hangs broken, leaves expired—

I-5 traffic circulates under my feet—
the overpass quakes through its spine & rib cage—

three salsify stalks quake too on sunburnt grass;
is it traffic is it the north wind the crow

intersects gliding east into the past, in-
to overcast static in mutable flow,

this body walking west where the two trains pass,
my breath in sequence with the walk sign’s countdown

Jack Hayes
© 2017

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

The Gypsy Woman

The Gypsy Woman

The gypsy knew in advance
Our lives are crossed by nights
We bade her fare-thee-well and then
Hope withdrew from these wells

Clumsy as a tame bear love
Danced upright whenever we wished
And the bluebird molted its feathers
And the mendicants lost their Ave

We all know well enough we’re damned
But hope of love along the way
Makes us ponder hand in hand
What the gypsy had foretold

Apollinaire “La tzigane”
Translation by Jack Hayes © 2017

Image links to its source on Wiki Commons:
“Gitana de perfil” (“Profile of a Gypsy”): Isidre Nonell  (1872–1911). Oil on canvas; 1902. Public domain.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

July Moon

(8 quatrains)

1. new moon

swallowtail glides black through a cherry tree’s shade;
the parking strip’s California poppies:

an assemblage of orange decoupage suns—
whatever moon there is: blue in this high sky

2. waxing crescent

three lime-green trikes lined up on the concrete porch,
one faded red ride-on fire truck parked below

on the patio—playground gate’s still open:
crescent drifts off to sleep in gathering clouds

3. half moon

the hummingbird hovers, wings shifting between
what’s seen & what’s imagined; it balances

at sunset, a silhouette near the black plum:
half moon’s equilibrium in fading blue

4. waxing gibbous

the scrub jay’s plumage forms a map of the sky
except for the sunset’s yellow cirrus glow;

traffic seems invisible as the bird flies:
the moon’s silver eyeball is gazing higher

5. full moon

the clematis has unfurled its purple cross
in the shadow of the board fence, below the

string of prayer flags—one white flag soaks up white light:
moon rising through lattice into black heaven

6. waning gibbous

floor lamp casts a white oval against the wall,
white pedestal fan churns the living room air;

slats on the white blinds have been slanted open:
moon bracketed by clouds rises between them

7. last quarter

the sidewalk’s hump over the tree’s knotted root
is strewn with ripe cherries, some crushed, some intact;

a single fruit falls, rolls down the sloped pavement:
half moon tips toward the branches’ tangled curve

8. waning crescent

white daylily blossoms speckled orange nod
sleepy above the sidewalk in this noon breeze--

marigolds reflect an occasional sun’s
bloom between clouds that hide the moon’s last petal

Jack Hayes
© 2017