Wakening in a small room,
the walls high and blue, one high window
through which the morning enters,
I turn to the table beside me painted a think white. There instead
of a clock is a tumbler of water,
clear and cold, that wasn't there
last night. Someone quietly entered, and now I see the white door
slightly ajar and around three sides
the light on fire. I remember once
twenty-seven years ago walking
the darkened streets
of my home town when up ahead
on Joy Road at the Bluebird of Happiness
I heard over the rumble of my own head
for the first time the high clear trumpet
of Clifford Brown calling us all
to the dance he shared with us
such a short time. My heart quickened
and in my long coat, breathless
and stumbling, I ran
through the swirling snow
to the familiar sequened door
knowing it would open on something new.
Philip Levine (b.1928) has written more than 18 books of poetry, two books of translations and a book of essays. He currently resides in Fresno, California. The poem was inspired by a Benny Golson tune of the same name. Clifford Brown was a masterful trumpeter and jazz master who died too young.
You can find video of Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers with trumpeter Lee Morgan playing I Remember Clifford here.
As far as I know there is no film of Clifford Brown but you can hear him with Max Roach playing one of his compositions (and one of my favorite tunes of all time) here.
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