Monday, July 16, 2012



Buy neither gun nor blue-edged blade.
Avoid green rope, high windows, rat
poison, cobra pits, and the long vanishing point
of train tracks that draw you to horizon's razor.

Only this way will another day refine you. (Natural death's
no oxymoron) Your head's a bad neighborhood:
Don't go there alone, even if you have to stop 
strangers to ask the way, and even if

spiders fall from your open mouth.
This talk's their only exit. How else 
would their scramble from your skull

escape? You must make room first
that the holy spirits might enter. Empty
yourself of self, then kneel down to listen.

Mary Karr

Tuesday, June 26, 2012



A Tale of two guitarists: Jimmy Raney and Scott Henderson

    Bach’s “Goldberg’s Variations” poured from the stereo speakers in jazz guitarist Jimmy Raney’s East End apartment.

    Sitting on a couch between the speakers was guitarist Scott Henderson, shaking his head and marveling at the music’s intricate patterns. “Scott’s about the only young jazz guitarist I know who likes to come over here and listen to classical music with me.” Raney said.

    But Raney and Henderson have a lot more in common than their love of classical music.

    Henderson, 27, has been an ardent fan of Raney’s music ever since Henderson’s family moved to Louisville during the early 1970s. Back then, he sought out the world famous guitarist and became one of his pupils. Last week, Henderson and Raney began playing together as a guitar duo on Sundays at the Phoenix Hill Tavern, 644 Baxter Ave.

    Henderson, who graduated from Westport High School in 1976, has come a long way since the days when he was so enamored by Raney’s playing he transcribed an entire book of his recorded solos.

    In recent years Henderson has traveled all over the United States and Europe playing and teaching jazz - but Raney is still his favorite guitar player.

    “I’ve always wanted to make my guitar sound clean and precise like a trumpet. I think Raney was the first jazz guitarist to get that kind of sound and feel,” Henderson said.

    Raney, who is a Louisville native, patterned his revolutionary guitar style after the bebop lines of alto saxophonist Charlie Parker. Raney’s “horn-like” improvisations on recordings with jazz greats like Stan Getz, and Red Norvo during the late 1940s and early 1950s were an important part of the evolution of the jazz guitar.

    Henderson said that Raney’s style is very compatible with his own.

    “I’ve studied a lot of Jimmy’s music over the year’s,” Henderson said. So, I’m very familiar with his technique. One of my friends said the other day that when we play together we almost sound like one guitar. That’s really the effect we’re shooting for.”

    Raney added, “It’s a traditional  thing for two guitars to play together. I even made an album in Jamey Aebersold’s play-along series called “Play Duets with Jimmy Raney,” for guitar players who live out in the boondocks and don’t have another guitar player to play with.

    “The guitar is a ‘complete’ instrument like the piano. But it doesn’t have a piano’s overbearing tonal qualities. Two guitars blend well together,” he said.

    The music Henderson and Raney create can be compared to classical chamber music, Henderson said. “We play a lot of standards like ‘There Will Never Be Another You’ and ‘Our Shining Hour,’ plus a few originals. But it’s different from a lot of jazz you hear. We play many lines in counterpoint. And the volume is down real low.”

    Henderson just returned from New York City, where he led a trio with another Louisvillian, drummer Mark Plank. “Since I’ve been back in town, I’ve been playing all the Broadway Series shows. I get a lot of calls for those jobs because I read music well and can fit right in,” he said.

    But Henderson never intends to become just another everyday studio musician:

    “I know if I got involved with that studio nonsense it would hurt my playing. I think that it’s important that there are people around like me determined to play jazz. Jazz is the most significant art form of the 20th century, and someone has to keep it alive,” he said.

    In the near future Henderson hopes to go back to New York City and record a jazz album with an all-star rhythm section.

    Raney said he was very happy to see his former pupil doing so well. “He’s really come through the process perfectly. He has good phrasing and ideas, plus originality,” he said.
    Henderson, who has eclectic musical loves, has composed a ballet; his tastes in classical music range from Bach to Charles Ives. He said that jazz is an international language.

    “Last year when I was teaching jazz in Europe with Jamey Aebersold, some of the musicians I encountered couldn’t speak English well, but they knew all these jazz tunes. We couldn’t communicate verbally, but as soon as we started playing, bang! They were right on it. They were familiar with the jazz style, the stock endings, everything.”

Danny O’Bryan
The Louisville Times “SCENE Magazine
Sept 7, 1985

From the up-coming book “Derby City Jazz.”

Monday, May 14, 2012

( I Think The Strange, The Crazed, The Queer)

I think the strange, the crazed, the queer
will have their holiday this year,
I think for just a little while
there will be pity for the wild....

Tennessee Williams

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

"His mother said, "Are you going to Sunday school this morning, Sugar?" Sugar Mecklin said, "Haven't decided." His mother said, "I wish you would put on a clean shirt and go to Sunday school once in a while." Not today. Today was a Sunday, this was a whole summer, in fact, in which magic might prove once and for all to be true. It was summer in which Sugar Mecklin noticed many things, as if they had not been there before, like the mice in the mattress, like Elvis on the Philco. This summer Sugar Mecklin heard the high soothing music of the swamp, the irrigation pumps in the rice paddies, the long whine and compliant, he heard the wheezy, breathy asthma of the compress, the suck and bump and clatter like great lungs as the air was squashed out and the cotton was wrapped in the burlap and bound with steel bands into six hundred pound bales, he heard the operatic voice of the cotton gin separating fibers from seeds, he heard a rat bark, he heard a child singing arias in a cabbage patch, he heard a parrot make a sound like a cash registar, he heard the jungle rains fill up the Delta outside his window, he heard the wump-wump-wump-wump-wump of bi-planes strafing the fields with poison and defoliants, he read a road sign that said WALNUT GROVE IS RADAR PATROLLED and heard poetry in the language, he heard mourning dove in the walnut trees. And for a moment, when he arrived at the edge of the water, Sugar Mecklin almost believed that he had found whatever magical thing he had come looking for... Lewis Nordan "Music of the Swamp"

Sunday, February 5, 2012


"There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening
That is translated through you into action.
And because there is only one of you in all time,
this expression is unique.
If you block it,
it will never exist through any other medium
and be lost.
The world will never have it.
It is not your business to determine how good it is.
Nor how valuable it is,
Nor how it compares with other expressions.
It is your business to keep it yours, clearly and directly
to keep the channel open.

You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work.
You do have to keep open and aware
directly to the urges that motivate you.

Keep the channel open.
No artist is pleased.
There is no satisfaction whatever at any time.
There is only a queer, divine dissatisfaction,
a blessed unrest that keeps us marching
and makes us more alive than others.


Martha Graham to Agnes Demille

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Pay Attention to the Miracle

the click of miracle

by Charles Bukowski

at the quarterhorse meet
at Hollywood Park

around 5 p.m.

if you are sitting at
ground level

in the

the track appears

above you


in the strange

the silks

the color

fresh paint


the faces of


it's a


a perfect



such small



such small








Thursday, January 19, 2012

Life is a Carnival

Poem: "Sunday Night In Santa Rosa," by Dana Gioia from Daily Horoscope
(Graywolf Press).

Sunday Night In Santa Rosa

The carnival is over. The high tents,
the palaces of light, are folded flat
and trucked away. A three-time loser yanks
the Wheel of Fortune off the wall. Mice
pick through the garbage by the popcorn stand.
A drunken giant falls asleep beside
the juggler, and the Dog-Faced Boy sneaks off
to join the Serpent Lady for the night.
Wind sweeps ticket stubs along the walk.
The Dead Man loads his coffin on a truck.
Off in a trailer by the parking lot
the radio predicts tomorrow's weather
while a clown stares in a dressing mirror,
takes out a box, and peels away his face.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Money Can't Buy You Love


Money is a kind of poetry.
-Wallace Stevens

Money, the long green,
cash, stash, rhino, jack
or just plain dough.

Chock it up, fork it over,
shell it out. Watch it
burn holes through pockets.

To be made of it! To have it
to burn! Greenbacks, double eagles,
megabucks and Ginnie Maes.

It greases the palm, feathers a nest,
holds heads above water,
makes both ends meet.

Money breeds money.
Gathering interest, compounding daily.
Always in circulation.

Money. You don't know where it's been,
but you put it where your mouth is.
And it talks.

Dana Gioia