Free Write Friday ~ 50 Shades of JazZen Poetics ~ Jazz Is My Religion by Ted Joans featuring a short snap of Jazz Is My Religion by Django Novo


When folks thought Jazz, religion was not the first consideration that came to mind back in the Roaring Twenty daze.  The new American sound called “Jazz” dropped into American life in the 20’s by challenging what it felt like to live in America as a Jazz musician.   Civil Rights, Poverty, Women’s Rights and ultimately the emancipation from society’s deadly moral clutches.  Especially impacting the Cultural Revolution through the Literary Arts, i.e., Poetry, fashion, lifestyles and mass media were transformed by this so called “basement” music  that took the United States and the World by a storm of “Tsunami” magnitude. Jazz music also exacerbated the racial tensions in the post war period.  Jazz improvisation is different in the sense of learning the process of being a musician, for instance sight singing, music theory and improvisational styles.  Well the part we never see nor realize is the reason why Monk, Miles, Coltrane, or Herbie Hancock make improvisation look so easy and simple is that they practiced till their fingers and lips bled; they listened, learned and emulated their idol’s sound to near perfection; studied jazz improvisation techniques and last but the most important ingredient is EXPERIENCE and the wisdom they gained along the way.  The thing is jazz was like studying life and the process of expressing it is where all the practice and time pay off, but you would never know it.  Why?  Because it’s their passion.  So the job, home, family took on a whole new meaning.  As always, society can’t help itself but to judge what they don’t understand.  That applies to Jazz and its literary expressions.  They are filled with the same elements of music theory like timbre, cadence, color, rhythm just to name a few and are expressions of American Life.

Ted Joans (1928-2003), a poet and artist dropped into the scene achieving notoriety as a graffiti artist spray-painting “Bird Lives” on city walls immediately after the death of Charlie Parker in 1955, he spent his entire career writing poems about jazz or that imitated jazz playing. The most popular and well read jazz poem of his is “Jazz is My Religion.” In this brief excerpt, devotion to a pure, non-commercial jazz is seen as a form of piety, the purity of the commitment matching the purity of the art, a common feeling among many jazz fans and musicians of the post-World War II era.

Also emerging at the same time as Joans was Beat poet Bob Kaufman (1925-1986), whose poetry was often improvised on the spot, frequently not written down, in much the spirit of the jazz musician.  Free Jazz was emerging and Jazz lead the way in terms the phenomenal women, the Harlem Renaissance and Free Jazz.  Religion and Spirituality has always been at the heart of all Jazz.



Jazz Is My Religion

by Ted Joans


JAZZ is my religion and it alone do I dig the jazz
clubs are my houses of worship and sometimes the concert halls

but some
holy places are too commercial (like churches) so I
don’t dig the
sermons there I buy jazz sides to dig in solitude Like
Harlem U.S.A. used used to be a jazz heaven where most of
the jazz
sermons were preached but now-a-days due to chacha
cha and
rotten rock ‘n’roll alotta good jazzmen have sold their
souls but jazz
is still my religion because I know and feel the message
it brings
like reverend Dizzy Gillespie/Brother Bird and
Armstrong/Minister Monk/ Deacon Miles Davis/ Rector
Priest Ellington/ His funkness Horace Silver/ and the great
John, John COLTRANE and Cecil Taylor They
Preach A Sermon
That Always Swings!!

Yeah jazz is MY religion Jazz
is my story
it was my mom’s and pop’s and their moms and pops
from the days of Buddy Bolton who swung them blues to Charlie
Parker and
Ornette Coleman‘s extension of Bebop Yeah jazz is my
Jazz is unique musical religion the sermons spread
happiness and
joy to be able to dig and swing inside what a
wonderful feeling

jazz is/YEAH BOY!! JAZZ is my religion and dig this:
it wasn’t for
us to choose because they created it for a damn good
reason as a
weapon to battle our blues!JAZZ is my religion and its
international all the way JAZZ is just an Afro-American
and like us its here to stay So remember that JAZZ is
my religion
but it can be your religion too but JAZZ is a truth that is
black and blue Hallelujah I love JAZZ so Hallelujah I
dig JAZZ so


Thank you for swinging by…Laissez les bons temps rouler!


Copyright © 2016 by JM Fuller/Jannat Marie/Jazzybeatchick/. All rights Reserved.

This material has been copyrighted, feel free to share it with others; it can be distributed via social media or pingbacks or added to websites; please do not change the original content and please provide appropriate credit by including the author’s name or visual artist @  Readers shall not be charged by you under any circumstance for any or all of this content.




Published by Jan Marie ("JM")

I love to take culinary, yoga philosophy and acoustic snapshots of the spaces that have filled my life. Jazz has functioned as a communal bond, ritual and form of social interaction. It has become more than just sounds. It has become a way of living in this world. Jazz has never been about music, it is the touchstone of modern cultural imagination, archiving mythical images and an aesthetic paradigm for new modes of writing, seeing, hearing and moving. I like to use the improvisational elements experienced for a different creative literary tapestry that uses all sensory input. Improvisation is the willingness to connect to every aspect of life. Jazz Imitates life through self expression and improvisation. When I was 18, my dad arranged for me to work as a research/ writer intern on an ABC-TV Emmy-winning television documentary special on Jazz Music in 1972. I was assigned segments that focused on Big Band sound and Bebop. I discovered that the jazz tradition has stood up against the backdrop of racial strife, language, class and gender issues which is defined in literature and criticism for over 75 years in America. I have always had a fascination with creating works that would allow me to blend sound with words and abstract art. It is my desire to create a mosaic sensory experience using imagination, culinary, audio and visual experiences that are filled with the richness of childhood memories that shaped and inspired my thoughts.

2 thoughts on “Free Write Friday ~ 50 Shades of JazZen Poetics ~ Jazz Is My Religion by Ted Joans featuring a short snap of Jazz Is My Religion by Django Novo

Share Your Thoughts & Insights....

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: