Thursday, April 19, 2007

A Poem for Sonny Kenner in Honor of All Those Musicians Who Travel and Sing

Sonny Kenner is another KC area blue musician who loved the American musical tradition so much he became a walking museum. Sonny played with Jay McShann and Charlie Parker and others. I glimpsed him as a side musician, uncredited, on the McShann segment of Ken Burns' jazz documentary. He greatly impressed on me the importance of passing on the best of our traditions to the next generation.

I Miss You, Sonny Kenner

A year dead and still

I miss those china-blue eyes

set in that wise master face

and those stories about Bird

and growing up Black and poor

and memorizing poetry

for sustenance.

I miss those all-night dances

and your band easing along

experienced like old lovers

knowing just what touch

to electrify our blood

as Mustang Sally rides

the sunny side of the street.

I miss the bass-line sermons

set in amongst the tunes

like rubies in gold.

I miss your stories

about where bebop came from

and singers who shouted

and all those music men

who held up Count Basie

and traveled long roads.

But you came home

to compose parables

to sing those lyrics

phrased just so right.

So natural you should be

always part of this world.