Poet’s Beat ~ “Trumpet Player” by Langston Hughes Accompanied by Liner Notes on “Manteca” feat. Dizzy Gillespie

MJFO rehearsal 1965 I was blessed to be there wih Ralph J. Gleason
MJFO rehearsal 1965 I was blessed to be there wih  Dizzy, My Dad in front and  seated next to Ralph J. Gleason

Liner Notes


As we wrap up Poetry Month I selected my father’s arrangement for Dizzy Gillespie entitled  Manteca  with a 20-piece big band assembled on May 24, 1954 recorded a piquant 16-and-a-half-minute suite in five movements.  It is a metaphor for my life.  I was the “native” daughter of the Jazz world in the ‘60’s where the reining tradition was parents had the final word.  My father was a complicated man of contradictions.  Reading and writing poems was a break for freedom escaping the insuperable labyrinth of gender and race that consumed mixed little girls like me. I would hold up in my room for hours overhearing myself admit difficult truths that I could not hide from. I didn’t know how or when I would make my move.  This is my first rehearsal — a chance to explore the province of sound and as Kerouac coined it “beatitude”.  That is when I found my rhythm and started writing poems and improvised prose.  The rehearsal was now under way, it became an invitation to my imagination evoking my love for writing – cultivating a joy deep in my heart.  The studio was silent. My father taps the baton 3 times, the horns begin to play on the downbeat, the cymbal keeps time….Dizzy’s cheeks puffed, trumpet poised as he began to play…Man from Monterey.  Ralph J. Gleason from the Chronicle summed it up on the album’s liner notes…The 1965 Monterey Jazz Festival music clearly is designed to last.  This amalgam of the talents of Gillespie and Fuller are insurance that it will. The orchestra played the music at this session for all time, which is the way good jazz is always played. I had fallen in love with the sound of words, even though I had to keep my writing a secret.   Langston Hughes was an icon when I was growing up and he wrote this poem for all the unsung trumpet players…Hope you enjoy both and feel the way I feel every time I hear it… Peace Out~  JBC 😎




Trumpet Player

by Langston Hughes



The Negro
With the trumpet at his lips
Has dark moons of weariness
Beneath his eyes
where the smoldering memory
of slave ships
Blazed to the crack of whips
about thighs

The negro
with the trumpet at his lips
has a head of vibrant hair
tamed down,
patent-leathered now
until it gleams
like jet-
were jet a crown

the music
from the trumpet at his lips
is honey
mixed with liquid fire
the rhythm
from the trumpet at his lips
is ecstasy
distilled from old desire-

that is longing for the moon
where the moonlight’s but a spotlight
in his eyes,
that is longing for the sea
where the sea’s a bar-glass
sucker size

The Negro
with the trumpet at his lips
whose jacket
Has a fine one-button roll,
does not know
upon what riff the music slips

It’s hypodermic needle
to his soul
but softly
as the tune comes from his throat
mellows to a golden note

Langston Hughes

Submitted: Saturday, March 27, 2010


Japanese translation for meaning

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2 thoughts on “Poet’s Beat ~ “Trumpet Player” by Langston Hughes Accompanied by Liner Notes on “Manteca” feat. Dizzy Gillespie

  1. Dear JBC – I know the album well and it is wonderful music, a perfect setting for Dizzy. But I’m begging you — begging you: please change your post text font. Yes, it’s true that my eyes are giving my other faculties a spirited race to the bottom and to utter decline, but you could show pity, couldn’t you? Meanwhile, thanks for all of the wonderful photos and music. Dizzy was my mystery vocalist a couple weeks ago and I suspect that because he was singing a sweet song, not a novelty song, no one guessed him. I consider him much too soon forgotten. Take care.


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