gary brower | ella and joe in westwood


Alone on stage: Ella and Joe, guitar and voice,
pick and pitch, rhythm and song.

Joe’s hands: Fingertip-toeing down the strings,
digits like tightrope aerialists balanced
on vibrato chords.

Ella’s voice: Acrobatic notes swinging in the air,
somersault scats, grabbing the bebop trapeze,
jazz riffs, sound-glyphs.

The dead still make music.

Ella with her big, thick glasses,
Joe’s balding pate, half-pick strum,
feeling my front-row seat still warm from years ago,
the audience ascending like a cloud in musical sky
as a voice travels up the string
asking How high the moon?

*For Ella Fitzgerald (1917-96) and Joe Pass (1929-94), and a concert at the Westwood (now Geffen) Playhouse, Los Angeles.

Ella Fitzgerald and Joe Pass “Gee Baby Ain’t I Good to You” 1974

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