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Archive for April, 2015

LATE OBITUARY TRIBUTES TO COME

Friday, April 24th, 2015

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Because I’m eyeing fresh web design possibilities and rethinking the purpose and mission of AlYoung.org, I’ve lagged in paying personal tribute to some beloved friends, acquaintances and culture-heroes whose lives link closely and meaningfully to mine. Reflections will follow.
— A.Y.

Carl Djerassi (October 29, 1923 – January 30, 2015), biochemist/fiction writer

Philip Levine (January 10, 1928 – February 14, 2015), poet

Orrin Keepnews (March 2, 1923 – March 1, 2015), jazz writer & record producer

Günter Grass (October 16, 1927 – April 13, 2015), novelist

and others

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Philip Levine A

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Orrin Keepnews jazzwax

 

 

 

 

Gunter Grass

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APRIL IN PARIS

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015


“April in Paris” — Sarah Vaughan (singer), Clifford Brown (trumpet), Herbie Mann (flute), Paul Quinichette (tenor saxophone), Jimmy Jones (piano), Joe Benjamin (bass), Roy Haynes (drums) | 1954

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paris_logo41508.jpg click on the eiffel tower

JJWebb/Cruzio Blues Café

To animate the avatar of Al Young reading and singing with the Dartanyan Brown Trio, click here.
Dartanyan Brown, bass | Jorge Molina, piano | Sly Randolph, drums

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APRIL IN PARIS

after Yip Harburg & Vernon Duke

It was here in that one-time, one-step, lighted blue
of Paris at ease, close to the Cluny, in splendid,
straight-up noontime shadow that your slow and
measuring eyes met more than their burning match.

The smooth warmth of your whisper along my neck,
the nappy back of it, where you’d peeled back
its soft, excited collar to tell me everything you’d learned
or discerned in a city where love and prices flirt.

A product of standstill winters, sudden summers, sultry
prejudice, and heartland steak-and-whiskey afternoons,
you’d blown in from the States, an orphan of the arts —
Mary Cassatt
, Josephine Baker, Mary Lou Williams,

Jean Seberg. What breathlessness overtakes me here?
Brushing and combing out memories of your touch,
in a season as uncertain as coastal fog moving inland
from the loveless edges of that country we’d both fled,

I shiver. Whom could we run to if not one another?
Back home we knew what it was like to be the other —
displaced, despised, imprisonable. We watched and fought.
The colors of loss deepened. Yearning to break free,

unconsciously American, we counted our chickens, certain
that the ships we’d always banked on would sail in.
In Paris, our adopted country of each other’s arms,
whose borders blurred all time, all common market sense,

we saved the slow but steady squeeze of night, of time,
the way it smothered darkness, the way it mothered light.
The April of your frightened French was like that, too;
you had no words for holiday tables, for chestnuts in bloom.

Parisian light, like light at home — Detroit, Des Moines —
lit up your waifish eyes. I said, “Think twice before you speak.”
Over here you mostly knew the blues; rue rhymed with blue.
There couldn’t be too much light, too much touch.

Al Young
© 2001, 2006, 2008 by Al Young

Meet the Poet-Animator

Animation and design
© 2008 by J.J. Webb a.k.a. Beau Blue

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