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  • Writer's pictureNathan Nicolau

The deleted author's note...

While writing Nights at the Turntable, I originally wrote an author's note detailing my intentions for writing the collection. Right before publication, I decided to scrap it per request of my editor. Below is the entire unedited note to gain a better understanding of my history and love for jazz music.

I never met Clifford Brown. I never met Chet Baker. I never met Duke Ellington either. I never met any of the people in this collection of poetry, sadly. This may raise eyebrows and turn heads. "You’re writing a jazz poetry collection, then?" Why yes, yes I am. Though I have struggled with this myself. The reason why I wrote this collection is simple: I adore the music. I’m infatuated by its history, its culture, and its people. I love jazz so much that I often struggle to find ways to express that love. I decided the best way to do so would be through poetry.

This raised a question as I wrote this collection. Am I qualified to write about jazz? I am not a jazz scholar by any means. I have only dabbled in jazz drumming in my spare time. My knowledge of jazz theory won’t get me into Julliard either. I’m just a guy in his mid-20’s living in North Carolina. What do I know about this music? I just know that jazz has been with me since I was literally born. My parents were inspired to name me after Nat King Cole when one of his songs played on the radio and my parents wondered, “Who just names their child Nat?" That’s when they figured it must’ve been short for something like "Nathan."

Ironically, my love of jazz did not start until I was 14 when I first heard Louis Armstrong’s recording of St. Louis Blues. I stumbled upon it, honestly. I collect vinyl records as a pastime, not really paying attention to what kind of music was on them. Just collecting and spinning them as background music while I did laundry or other chores. I was in the middle of some chore when the first notes of St. Louis Blues played. Something strange happened that moment: I stopped whatever I was doing and listened. I'm not sure what drew me to the song, but I ended up listening to the entire three-minute track with chills all across my body and my heart racing. I distinctively remember thinking to myself, “What on earth have I been missing?” Since then, I’ve been listening to every jazz recording I could get my hands on. I’ve researched this music diligently, learning as much as I can about its past, its present, and its future.

So, am I qualified to write about jazz? As I write this, I am still unsure. What I am sure of is that if someone were to ask me how I feel about jazz, I would simply point them to this book. With all this being said, I would like to make my intentions of this book clear: This is MY interpretation of the music, the jazz music as I see it. It may be different than how others see the music, and that is perfectly fine. My goal for this book was not to create “end all, be all” statements on jazz, but to craft unique poems based on my perspective on the music.

On one of my favorite live jazz recordings, drummer Art Blakey exclaims “Wow! First time I enjoyed a record session!” I feel the same about this book. Writing these poems felt like the first time I enjoyed writing and my only hope is that readers enjoy them as well.

It was decided to delete this since it comes off as apologetic for writing something, which does not really need to be said as anyone can write about anything. It was also just filler and not related to the theme of the collection. Whatever the case, I am posting here for curiosity's sake.

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