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Sound Off: a book of jazz, a dance with The Muse.

Byline: Subterranean Blue Poetry

Title of Book: Sound Off: a book of jazz

Author: Stephen Bett

Publisher: Thistledown Press Ltd.

Date of Publication: 2013

Page Count: 117

" Painting, I think it's like jazz."
- Brian Eno (Musician, Composer, Singer, Visual Artist, Record Producer)

Sound Off: a book of jazz is the 12th book of poetry by Vancouver poet Stephen Bett. His work has been published extensively in literary journals in Canada and internationally. His personal papers are being archived by Simon Fraser University Library in British Columbia.

The Muse of the book is modern jazz musicians and their music. Jazz music as a genre evolved in the late 19th and early 20th centuries after the abolition of the American slaves in 1865. Black musicians created an interpretation of classical music with African and slave folk songs birthing “ragtime” played in vaudeville, clubs, bars and brothels. Jazz music is lightening and takes a high degree of skill to play. The genre has many different styles and each musician brings their own personal interpretation and improvisation.

78 jazz musicians, the name of the musician as the title of the poem often with a quote from a music review as an introduction to the stereographic riffs of the Poet perhaps as his personal experience of the music. I picture the Poet, late at night knocking back with a little something special, listening to jazz music recordings and with the Wurlitzer above his head in the clouds birthing the poem. The poetry forms like another layer to the music, half impressions, half review mixed in with pieces of the daylight world, metaphors to sports, physics, classic literature, humor, his personal life, a dance with the Muse. As if painting a picture, the poetry responds and is in response to the music, the poetry chops a mirror, you can almost hear the jazz music playing in the background, in quiet cacophony. (perhaps suggesting an art installation of poetry and music as an audiorecording).

Pat Metheny

Another Mr. Popularity

(& for good reason)

Profoundly sad &



joyous & sweet

(ad infinitum . . . )

Nice & easy

Easy is nice, too

Warm summer evenings

windows rolled down

Meth (lite) cranked up

Ride us to the town

called love

(it’s in the pink)

No tip, you know

better than that

The pleasure was always

both of ours

And don’t wait outside,

we’ll be up late

listening to it all

bleach out

white silence

Highly produced, yes

(Mr. Popularity, &

for good reason)

Julia Hulsmann Trio

A little ponderous, yes

- but in a totally good


a Manfred Eicher way

an ECM way

a Zen less-is-more


Here / There

in confident measure

Wander into each corner

to hear how

it sounds

Beauty will ponder


That’s what it

does best

- & in good


Influenced by minimalist poetry and the San Francisco Renaissance Poets, the style suggests a crucible for the loss of grace from the First and Second World War and the violent places of the war economy North America as it morphs into a new day. A poet from the postmodern school the poetry is an incantation of broken thought, captures The Muse, the jazz music as if a snapshot in a moment of time.

Stefano Battaglia / Michele Rabbia

Pure loveliness

(& throwing in Rilke, too,

Sonnets too Orpheus)

We have been

here before

But isn’t that

Jarrett shadowing

the trail?

Alright, The Anxiety

of Influence

- gotcha

And lovely


Ketil Bjornstad

Simply stunning

(but never simply

Stark, eye-shutting beauty

. . . is in the music

this music

Haunts us down

calls us to its brood,

to brotherhood under its

chill ground-swell sound

Like the sea itself

cresting our cross-over

voyagings & births

-Classical, World,
Norwegian rock

(& ambient jazz,

in the end

Does ECM ever take a miss?

Does cold water Nordic jazz?

A marriage made in oceans

we know so well

(on the other side

of the earth

Astonish us, deeply affecting



(& more*

This poetry is jazzspeak, as if on a cloud drawing down fragments of light in broken thought forms, a celebration of some of the greatest modern jazz musicians of our time. Sound Off: a book of jazz by Stephen Bett.

Genre: Poetry, New Age

Available @ Amazon Canada.

Available @ Amazon United States.

Available @ Amazon United Kingdom.

The Book Reviewer

© 2013