Copyright © 2019 Antonio Forte

how to explain jazz to a live fish

how to explain jazz to a live fish

 

(for two voices, live electronics, and live fish)

 

 

 

[voice I:]

[voice II:]

and Jazz is a misanthrope

splayed out on the floor of America

crucified with nails

wrists and ankles and all

 

with arms and legs and lines

spread out and swung and swung and swung

 

the dregs of which where given to Bird

to Trane

to all

to all the birds

and to none

in the form of greasy fried chicken taxicab blow-jobs

young Miles Davis kid looks on

eyes the size of cymbals

and just as bombastic

whose notes cracked and shined

and destroyed

through new inventions and permutations

as wings outstretched

destroyed flight

and the Wright Brothers

destroyed racism

destroyed the white man

destroyed America

destroyed the Western Music Tradition

 

for Jazz makes dead white men in powdered wigs the size of Texas or Beethovenian Russia

roll over in their graves

roll over

roll over

Jelly Roll Morton rolls over and groans a malevolent groan

towards Titian

towards Titian

and groans

dotted eighth sixteenth

towards Titian

dotted eighth

dotted eighth

mathematically interjected triplet sixteenth notes

triplet sixteenth

triplet triplet

and bends

and blends

and harmonizes negative and positive space and time

into art history

western tradition

though we had no clue until now

until this very moment

when Jazz comes to an end

and now

and now

and Jazz is not

and is not

and

 

chasing boplicity through the middle of things

it's as if all the racism in the world disappeared

in the center of it all

and can exist without anything

without skin

without muscle

without bones

without bones

without bones

 

and Jazz is a misanthropic American love-child

begotten in the back of dirty smoke and drink clubs

and falls in line

in love

with harpsichords humped by Glen Gould

reinvented

like marching band tubas

jumped

humped

born to suffer

knocked like gone lobes

of even goner cats

hopped up

beat down

hipped out

flipped out

and flicking like Lord Buckley's tongue

until now

and now

 

 

and Jazz is a series of moments

Jazz is an old brass pinball machine

let to roll down a hill

on its own accord

 

Jazz is the movement of lily pads

set to motion by ripples from a small deserted child

throwing stones into a pond

 

 

 

and Jazz is a series of moments

but neither space nor time

here nor now nor ever

like stickball in the streets

or a bicycle

or a fish

fish are not fish

and birds are not birds

and Jazz is things

and Jazz is not things

and Jazz is

and Jazz is not

 

and Jazz is And.