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CLMP Publishers Literature & Fiction - Poetry

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Jam Sessions

ISBN: 9781934909652
Binding: Paperback
Author: Dick Lourie
Pages: 116
Trim: 6 x 8.75 inches
Published: 12/31/2020

The title poem is cast in the form of a dialogue between Blues and Jazz—two old friends whose paths have repeatedly crossed and diverged over the last hundred-plus years. They chat about their respective histories; about politics; about their music—what they share and how they differ; about race and racism, and the paradoxes of the Harlem Renaissance era. The conversation culminates in a good-natured though competitive card game of their own invention. In the course of the wide-ranging conversation between these friends, the poet pays special homage to, among others, Count Basie and Langston Hughes.

In the coda to the poem, Blues and Jazz explore the jam session itself as an element of their music that is critical to them both; the talk rises to philosophical heights as they discuss the Platonic ideal of the jam session and whether it has been reached by the work of the great Slim Gaillard.

The presence of music—frequently particular pieces from the canon of the American Songbook—is integral to other poems as well, where it serves often as a way of gathering in and focusing a wide range of what's on the poet's mind: "My Old Flame;" "Imagination," "Send in the Clowns" . . .

A section of elegies in the book pays tribute to such influences as Pete Seeger, Clarence Clemons, and the internationally renowned blues singer Big Jack Johnson, with whom Lourie performed for fifteen years.


Sax and trumpet player, poet, literary editor since 1966. Dick Lourie is the author of numerous works most recently JAM SESSION (Hanging Loose Press, 2020) and IF THE DELTA WAS THE SEA (Hanging Loose Press, 2009). "Fusion" and "Synergy" are overused terms, but they aptly describe the relationship between music and poetry in Dick Lourie's new book: these poems literally depend on the music for their existence; and the poems in turn have deepened the poet's relationship with the music as he takes to the stage and performs it. The book reflects his professional work over a half-century as both poet and musician.


" [Jam Session] is . . . a swinging, jazz-inspired book of poems. . . . There's nothing weary about Lourie's sweet blues in the night at a sidewalk café where the patrons are reminded that' jelly can shake but jam spreads over everything.'" - David Lehman

"Dick Lourie is a musician's poet and a poet's musician, moving us through the rhythm changes of gigs, friendship, love, and life. Sideman and bandleader, Lourie is the star of this jam session, each poem a reunion of grit and groove." - Yolanda Wisher

"I knew Dick Lourie as a saxophone player before I knew he was a poet. I ran into him in a bar in Boston, a church in Cambridge, a backyard in Mississippi; a quiet figure absorbing everything around him and blowing it through his horn. Reading his poetry, I still hear him as a saxophone player, blowing choruses that recall 'old friends and old days' and keep them vibrantly alive." - Elijah Wald