Writing Jazz

I write because I can’t be a jazz pianist. My grandfather, Jerry, who I never met, played piano in a band on the south side of Chicago in the 1920’s. To find him, I went to lunchtime jazz concerts at the Chicago Cultural Center. While modern musicians played midnight music for noontime crowds, I wrote a piece about Jerry, hoping he would appear in the pages and introduce himself. After months of writing and listening, he showed up with his band. The South Side Rhythm Boys were a drummer, a bassist and a man playing some kind of horn that looked like a backwards “J.” In the story I wrote, they played in a lilting, jaunty style. Sometimes Jerry would solo while the others kept time by shaking their heads or snapping their fingers.

If I could play jazz piano, or better yet, compose music, I would not have spent years trying to make words sound like music. In addition to Tuesday jazz, the Cultural Center hosted classical concerts on Wednesday and world music on Fridays. While many fine musicians played, I wrote on paper and in my head.

Writing led me to Writer’s Digest workshops in New York and Chicago and introduced me to a community of writers meeting their own challenges. Good luck to everyone writing on their own and participating in the October Platform Challenge.

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2 comments on “Writing Jazz
  1. djtfontana says:

    Great article, Eileen. So many of our stories come from life events, or possibly just life observations. It’s amazing how often these things show up as they’re pulled from the back of the mind somewhere and turn out to be a really good scene, or character.

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