© 2014, omowale-ketu oladuwa
preamble ~ they got so sophisticated that it seemed like they were afraid to play the blues, like it was demeaning to be funky. and i tried to bring that. i didn’t do it consciously at first. but it started to happen.
—horace silver, 1994, newsday interview
if there was ever a man who was generous, gracious and good,
that was my dad, the man . . .
—song for my father, horace silver, music;
leon thomas, lyrics
was there a time when your smile hid, horace?
a place where the smile lines framing your gentle mouth ~ crinkling the corner of your eye went missing? it’s hard to see eyes w/o the smile of you boppin’
boppin’ ~ head swaying
at the tip of your fingers’ dancing stroke
the black and white of it. the all-american music of it.
the muscular blues. the simple jazz.
the sweet piano music rushing from your soul
seer(d) the where of us, of our movement
thru this time of reckoning
of age coming on up into grownfolk business.
outta the eisenhower years ~ a korean war
manifest dumping ground of world war ii vets
who’d had enuf and wasn’t ‘bout to take
no mo’ shit.
the sister sadie juicy lucy urban blue-gospel-bebop
dizzy licks liting fires under feet
that had to dance
to blakey-silver jazz messenger music
the tempo-tempered tones —birth of cool—
modern classical formation
reconstituting our usness
to a shed-no-tear for centuries downpressed
suburban ‘50s ready to forget us.
not ready to be forgot.
so you composed
the natives was restless tonite: reminded us
you was blowin’ the blues away.
and we believed you as you rolled out
the preacher, sanctimonius sam, and filthy mcnasty.
folk we all knew.
we re-membered plow and mule
~ the jimcrow angst lynchings outta season ~
plantation stolen labor and acres we never got.
we be the funk come north, senor blues, come
to where you always been
straight outta norwalk to new rochelle
by way of harlem,
by way of your daddy’s cape verdean
rhythms. song for my father signature of a young man come
to season reason
doing the thing, with
our dodgers still in ebbets field, and
say hey kid basket-catching flyballs in the polo grounds.
you was the re-ligion we needed, horace
the tieback to titer times, leanin’ on one another
making a way thru the integrated firestorm
vexating spirit. the social mixup
loss of identity.
brother said he caught you at the gate
in the village ~ 1961
with blue mitchell spittin’ trumpet, junior cook’s sweet sax
and that phat taylor-brooks rhythm section.
me was underage, couldn’t be there
but sure heard ‘bout it.
i gotta thank you for all you left, horace
cause i still be listenin’
feet tappin’, head swayin’,
and the kicker
i be still grounded in the tradition ~ learnin’ . . .