Poet’s Beat ~ Solo Finger Solo by Jayne Cortez feat. Count Basie & His Orchestra playing “Strike Up The Band”


Photo of Count BASIE and Buck CLAYTON
Photo of Count BASIE and Buck CLAYTON


This is an excerpt from the Memoir/Running Chapter Title:  “The 1968 Newport Jazz Festival

The sixties were the age of youth, as 70 million children from the post-war baby boom became teenagers and young adults.  It was considered a movement away from the conservative fifties resulting in “revolutionary ways of thinking” effectively creating a real change in the cultural fabric of American life.  No longer content to be a stain of the age of depression and cultural stagnation because young folks wanted change. The changes affected education, social mores and values, lifestyles, laws and social justice, and more importantly the entertainment.  American culture underwent a revolutionary change in ideas, creativity, diversity and lifestyles that are continuing to evolve today.

….It was early April 1968 when dad burst into our family room announcing that we are going to move back to New York City.  I am fourteen years old and I thought I was going to attend Hollywood High.  The wind was knocked out of my sails.  I even asked if I could stay in L.A. and dad looked at me as if I had lost my mind.  Shaking his head and smiling “I am responsible for getting the MJFO with Dizzy rehearsed and ready to perform at the Newport Jazz Festival in June.  Of course you are my lead assistant as you were for Monterey and the opening of the Los Angeles Music Center right, Jan?  I was on cloud 9.

We travelled with the musicians and families via Greyhound and we stayed by the shore.  I was an amazing experience to witness for me as a young girl being a part of our backstage and onstage story.  The musicians were so polite and oozed a familial warmth and deep respect for one another.  The rehearsals were intense and lasted for hours with breaks for lunch.  I saw the discipline these artists had and their pursuit of exploring their passion and dedication to perform jazz with utmost perfection. They were well traveled and welcomed the opportunity to share jazz with everyone.  Dad said that he was arranging and orchestrating with Count Basie and His Barons of Rhythm who were well known to audiences across the Midwest through radio broadcasts from Kansas City’s Reno Club.  Dad brought me to the stage and Count Basie was rehearsing his orchestra and was sitting at the piano, he turned and motioned for me to sit next to him on the bench.  I shot a look at Dad, “What are you waiting for?  I ran and jumped up onto the bench.  He played this song…  Thanks for letting me share this moment with you.  The poem by Jayne Cortez perfectly captures my experience!  Peace Out!  JBC8-)


 Solo Finger Solo

by Jayne Cortez


When evening goes down into its jelly jelly jelly

into drain pipe cuts and stitches and vaccijations

protruding from arms


And spirit of the five by five man pushes

his sweet potatoes in the air

feather daddy leaps into a falcon of tropical bird squats

rubber legs swing into off beat onijos onijos

then into your solo finger solo

the blues chantrees jumps up and

repeats her nasal volcanic chant calling


Count Basie     Count Basie     Count Basie


And Count Basie

you burn through this timbale of goose flesh rhythms

a drop of iodine on your starfish lips

the intonation of your kiss of melodic trilling

into a labyrinth of one o’clock jumps

into corpuscle flashes of the blues torpedo

the erupting volcano of the blues shouters chanting your name


Count Basie     Count Basie     take ‘em to Chicago Count Basie


And Count Basie

you punctuate this strong bourbon mist of gamma globulin breath

a mixture of chords like serpentariums coiling

from the deep everglades of your body

and when the luscious screams of three headed root doctors split

Kansas City reeds in unison with this triple tapping

double stopping   slow grinding    loosey butt night swinging

with the blues chantress

erupting volcano of the blues torpedoes chanting your name


Count Basie

you reach through the bottom of the music

way down beneath cross rhythm vamps

below air stream of the lowest octave

into depths of a sacred drum

and Count Basie     Count Basie     Count Basie     Count Basie

how powerful and dignified and exquisite and direct and sharp

your solo finger solo is


Courtesy of The Jazz Poetry Anthology Eds. Sasha Feinstein & Yusef Komynyakaa

©  1991 Indiana University Press  All rights reserved


Japanese translation for meaning

Copyright 2011-2014  by Jannat Marie/Jazzybeatchick. All rights Reserved.

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