Some of Adrian Green's Jazz Poems



At the Essex Poetry Festival 2006 – photo by Derek Adams



Pink Champagne - Published in "Chimera" no 1
The Tenor Man - Published in "Openings" 18 (OU Poets)
Bluenote Time - Published in "Openings" 17 (OU Poets)
Free Music - Solo - Published in "Southend Poetry 2002"
Playing the Armchair Blues - Published in "Chimera" no 1
String Bass - Published in "Chimera" no 4
Afraid of the Silence - Published in "Read the Music” no 6
The Debutants   Published in “The Interpreter’s House” no 60



Pink Champagne
(for Digby Fairweather)

Not blues in twelve
but there is joy
and pink champagne,

the maker’s music
trading eights
in syncopated synergy
from Dixieland to Rock ‘n’ Roll,

and here the cornet-master
leads in tones
a trumpet cannot blow.

The sidemen nod their harmonies,
their music coursing
through an energy of swing;

piano-player’s fingers
dancing round the tune;
a lover’s touch
caressing melody from bass;
and sax, deep throated tenor
shouting counterpoint
above the drums’
percussive ricochets.

Not blues in twelve,
but upbeat late
and shimmying
like Sister Kate.

The cornet-master
an emptiness away.

                  Adrian Green

Note: - Pink Champagne is a track on Digby Fairweather's Half Dozen CD Twelve Feet Off The Ground. Check Digby's website here.


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The Tenor Man

Pottering around the stage,
a hyperactive ancient in his own backyard -
independent of the band it seems.

Disrhythmic shuffling of ashtray,
beer, a pack of cigarettes,
adjusting microphones,

then in the middle eight
he draws, exhales, and catches breath,
stoops forward to the mouthpiece

and blows,
a tumbling counterpoint,
scales soaring from his horn.

The melody flows

until the break,
and then he shoulders arms,
a truce between the music and his ailing lungs.

Between choruses he sits apart
to light another cigarette,
a sideman counting out the bars
until he rises for the coda -
this Lazarus of swing.

                              Adrian Green


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Bluenote Time

in the soft jazz and midnight hour
your eyes are dancing close to mine
a sway of hips, a touch of lips

while on the stand
piano player’s fingers
dance around the tune
above a gentle touch
caressing music from the bass

your fingers up and down my spine

in the soft jazz and midnight hour
we lose ourselves in bluenote time

                                    Adrian Green



Free Music - Solo
for Lol Coxhill))

with disconnected scales
drawing us
into his own madness

the longer we listened
the more co-
herent he became

trapped by freedom
and the promise of poetry

but doubting
the world
we each inhabit

Adrian Green


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Playing the Armchair Blues

Playing the armchair blues,
clarinet held horizontal,
the old man's music
from the Blue-Note club
cheerfully remembers a time
when the suits fitted
and the shoes danced
lightly round the stage.

Now, sitting out the rests,
his inward gaze is focused
on the Ragtime years -

their strutting rhythms
jiving through his head.

Adrian Green

The Débutants

Half-an-hour into the set
and no-one noticed
when tuning ended
and playing began

the conversations
                        didn’t stop
but focus shifted
as scattered drumbeats
coalesced to rhythms
underpinning counterpoint

and chords
resolved to harmonies
sustained among the riffs
and runs
of lead and bass guitars
a rushed profligacy of notes

while tenor sax
maintained an anchor
to the chords
a binding piper’s tone
repeated on a falling scale.

Encouraged by their friends
and buoyed with youthful confidence
this was their first
                                    a début gig

they didn’t notice
the old musicians shuffling
out into the night.

Adrian Green


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String Bass

Some like to dominate,
others caress
a voluptuous rhythm
on pliant strings.

This pulse drives life
through wanton counterpoint,
the heart and harmony
of things.

Adrian Green


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Afraid of the Silence

The night
the chops aren’t there

the embouchure’s gone
or arthritic fingers
snatch discords
from the keys

marking time
and counting out the bars
while music flows
from someone else’s horn

or sitting-in
with someone else’s band
until there’s no-one
willing to risk
the cracked top C
and broken counterpoint.

Afraid of the night
the spotlight moves

and rests go on
and on.

Adrian Green


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