Jazz is there and gone. It happens… That simple. — Keith Jarrett

  • Scent of Shalimar, perfume from my youth.
  • No one wears it anymore, but someone does tonight
  • and it’s a jazz smell — sultry and amber sweet — all Billie
  • and Ella and shadow-lit nightclub. Maybe someone at the upright
  • in the dining room noodles around a standard, say
  • Green Dolphin Street. A drum kit in front of the fireplace,
  • a young woman with a stand-up bass.
  • A guy hangs a sax around his neck, slides into the rhythm,
  • a couple of phrases, the melody. One takes off on an improv,
  • others come and go, jam and groove, hot and cool, ballads and bop,
  • blues and free-styling scat. Someone sits at the keyboard, sets up
  • a Latin beat. Congas and bongos pick it up, a guitar riffs. Dave,
  • on flute, steps to the mic, jumps into Girl From Ipanema,
  • and Luisa sings in Portuguese.
  • The old, round dining table fills with bottles of wine, salad, a pizza,
  • taquitos, a carrot cake — offerings to friendship and music. Listeners
  • perch on laps and sofa arms, squeeze up next to the musicians,
  • crowd around the potluck table, spill out to the front porch,
  • the concrete steps, the lawn, this warm June evening.
  • No one can stand still. Heads bob, hips swivel, random
  • partners dance, others pick up tambourines or maracas.
  • Whiff of sweet marijuana in the night air.
  • They call it a jam, what happens Sunday nights
  • in this little Craftsman house in South Park.
  • I, who can neither sing nor play, I call it magic.

Sylvia Levinson moved to California in 1962 and to San Diego County in 1974. Her poetry life began when she worked in marketing at the Old Globe Theatre for several years. She is the author of a chapbook, Spoon, forthcoming from Finishing Line Press (Nov. 2013) and Gateways: Poems of Nature, Meditation and Renewal (Caernarvon Press, 2005). Her work has been published in the Christian Science Monitor, several journals, and anthologies. She does volunteer work at KSDS Jazz 88.3 FM and attends many theater and jazz performances each year.

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