Universal Canticle

if you had nothing 
but jazz
what would you choose
for the child in your womb
to listen to
before the spring of milk starts to flow?

only bill evans
playing glass beads
on a keyboard
of ice crystals and sugar?

only the frenetic clowning
of dizzy gillespie
puffing out his jowls behind the trumpet
like a prince
turned into a bullfrog?

only thelonious monk
crossing a tightrope
with a piano on his back?

only the coltranean leap over the lion's den
balancing with the ax of his sax?

but if all these lullabies
seem too neurotic
for the little one?
then why not
the blue-note-drenched rhapsody
launched in 1924
out of the cannons
of the battleship 

why not the flirting
of musical pontiffs 
with jazzy butterflies?


or the chords
under which
the discords
among genres
become extinguished

debussy dissolved in jarrett
janá∂ek's trumpets
absorbed in orgies
let loose on the organ
by keith emerson

scintillating-somber clusters detonated among the keys
under the aegis of charles ives
somber-scintillating clusters
wrenched out of the piano's gears
by merciless cecil taylor

dances from 
transylvania dobrogea and wallachia
transfigured in a divine trance
by theodor rogalski

genetically transmitted
good for instilling
vital energy in the embryo


stop: tango nuevo

aksak rhythms

break: fado

delirium or delicium –
the possible reality
real virtuality

hermeto pascoal
measures the vocal aura
of human beings
as well as of birds
or other creatures
left by providence
on terra firma

edu lobo can make even wolves
adore the samba

tom zé teaches
industrial tools
to croon

meu amor
(when so many women don't understand you
why should a whole country
return your love?)

brazil – enchantment of the unborn
chant of hope for those already born
aquarela do brasil
painted in golden sounds by ary barroso
in 1934

o, oi estas fontes murmurantes
oi onde eu mato a minha sede
e onde a lua vem brincar
oim, esse brasil lindo e trigueiro
é o meu brasil brasileiro
terra de samba e pandeiro
brasil! brasil!, prá mim . . . prá mim . . .

the column of singer-angels with gold wings
antônio carlos jobim and elis regina
chico buarque
joão and astrud gilberto
caetano veloso and maria bethânia
joão bosco
gilberto gil
egberto gismonti
nana vasconcelos
gal costa
baden powell
toninho horta

the man of the future
sheltered from this world's evil
until his birth

let him listen
to the hymns of intelligence and intuition
composed by joe zawinul and wayne shorter
when they led the group
weather report

swaddle him in the magic of the album
mysterious traveller

give him games invented on trombone
by alan tomlinson or yves robert

fill his ears
with contorted pianistic lines defying premature death
configured by vagif mustafazade

accustom him
to the sense of measure
immeasurable in the percussion of jack dejohnette
airto moreira
max roach and vladimir tarasov
the drum effervescence of
barry altschul
the explosion of vitality and
barbarous generosities of drum-god
corneliu stroe

ron carter's fingers
transmitting wisdom
on double-bass strings
to teach the little man in the womb
a sense of equilibrium

on the bass guitar
jaco pastorius's phalanges
silenced too early
bestow the right of flight
on the instruments in the background of the japanese 

when the fetus desires
to fall beautifully asleep
make him listen to
in a silent way
with miles davis and his cohort of joy-hoarders:
zawinul tony williams dave holland shorter
mclaughlin hancock chick corea

when he wants
to get beautifully up
play him
with ganelin-chekasin-tarasov

few are the masterpieces
protected by the gods
for the whole duration of a disk

do not refuse
also by miles
(the mirror in which
life and evil
melt together
leading toward exorcism)

don't forget
gaslini plays monk
or extrapolation – 1969 (mclaughlin's tricky compositions are 
handled with reckless abandon 
by john surman / baritone sax, brian odges / bass, and tony
oxley / drums)

don't wipe your tears except with the hands of
paul bley
(did he write plumb on the piano?
or did bacovia play tears in ancestral words?)

don't hide
hecho a mano
where chano dominguez
shaves chords from the piano
like the archetypal guitarist
paco de lucía
unchained over 
the volcano carles benavent – the catalan
unleashed over 
the eruption of his own bass guitar subsumed into
fiery streams of lava

remember ellington
already with his smoky-orchestral alloys
back in the jazz age
revived in the twenty-first century by mathias rüegg &
the vienna art orchestra

learn the frenzied aria
according to the italian instabile orchestra
contaminate yourself with the life jubilation
according to carlo actis dato
arkady shilkloper
anatol s¸tefa˘net¸
yuri kuznetsov
zurab gagnidze . . .

establish peace between the desperate exaltation of hendrix
and the celestial harmony of the vietnamese musical esoterica 
through nguyen lê and huong thanh

liberate yourself from tragedy
listening to richard oschanitzky –
mozart reborn in jazz
crucified for us in sound

transmit to the little baby
the feeling
of proto-indo-european linguistic relics
with the saxophones
of the lithuanian petras vysniauskas
or the latvian raimonds raubisko

the planetary euphony displaced by earth heaven and sea
from the adriatic-dalmatian archipelago
directly into the orchestrations 
of the quasi-clujean zagrebians
miljenko prohaska
or tomislav saban

the serpentines of the big bands
set in motion by the italian paolo damiani
teuton klaus könig
pole jan ptaszyn wroblewski
helvetian georg grunz
janissary okay temiz
viking pierre dorge
afro-japanese anthony brown

celestial drops through jan johansson's fingers
tavitian's shadow at ararat

the sophistries of quasi-erotic manipulations
negotiated by louis sclavis and michel portal
bennie maupin or willem breuker on bass clarinet
the gospel according to dolphy

i might convoke the magi
to invoke good omens
to provoke the growth of man – 
magi ahmad jamal & dollar brand
magus carlos barretto & magus uri caine
magus laurent filipe & magus joão paulo esteves da silva
the fates –
lauren newton
valentina ponomareva
maria ra˘ducanu
the archangels –
charles mingus
astor piazzolla
jesús chucho valdés
steven bernstein
the prophet –
vinicius de moraes

don't be afraid of
this litany of names
listen to the music
you'll be lifelong

the embryo floats in the musical fluid
just as our planet in the universal uterus

here i have scratched some names from
the constellation
the anonymous jazzophile yearns to reach
revealed only
to true believers
irradiated by rhythms
illuminated in sound
redeemed through the art of arts

Translations from the Romanian 
By Adam J. Sorkin and the author