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Jazz is a Sacrament of Substance


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4 Eddie Jefferson

jazz is a sacrament of substance

and Eddie was a preacher spreadin' the word

the cat used to swing it

singin' syncopated lyrics

word-scattin' while trackin' convoluted tones

I tell you, the cat used to sing it

mixin' words with the music

floatin' and explodin' from a smokin' saxophone

in the solos, he heard colors

a peacock of be-bop —

Prez, Hawk, Trane, Bird

and a whole host of others

with the solos, he laced words

a sensuous weave, of voice and reed —

tongue and lips, flippin' quips

sound side-slippin'

lyric quick-trippin'

squeezin' words into a herd

            a stampedin' surge

modal maxes swingin' with the saxophones

just a-wailin' while the axes

fed the hearts of every soul

jazz is a sacrament of substance

a sweet honey nectar just for the ears —

it's the sound of sheer delight

the music the magic

set your soul to flight

bringin' out the stars to light the night

jazz is a sacrament of substance

a lyrical music that ain't got no peers

jazz is a sacrament of substance

with no words in the way to nasty up your ears

'til Eddie came along

mixin' words in the song

— words over Bird just had to be wrong

'til you heard it

'til he stirred it

mixin' up a bitchin' brew

singin' it out to all of you

the stage was a ring

with Eddie in his corner,

humbly acknowledgin' the sax as king

across the way, the latest contender

the new holder of the throne

wieldin' his mighty saxophone

with each round,

the sound began to swell

each man came out swingin'

throwin' to beat the bell

hurlin' notes, in combos and jabs

riffs racin' 'round the scale

the horn was just a-screamin'

but the words never failed

swingin' wild, slingin' hot

neither knew the meaning of stop

and every night
      every flight

a frenzy of endless delight

a scintillatin' hit

it was the shit!

jazz is a sacrament of substance

Eddie always knew just where to go

he wasn't walkin' on the music

he wasn't changin' the flow

he'd slip in a niche, and just blow

he always sings the way it swings

dancin' all 'round and through that thing

Eddie Jefferson was known

as a vocal saxophone

riffin' words to notes he heard

renewin' the past

in raw torrential jazz —

the horns produced the sacrament

and Eddie told us what they meant

with words we know were heaven sent

through this genius of the time —

a miracle, an oracle, an epistle on the move

and every word that Eddie'd vent

just added to the groove

jazz is a sacrament of substance

a lyrical silk to lightly wrap your ears

jazz is a sacrament of substance

and Eddie was a teacher with rhythm and rhyme

jazz is a sacrament of substance

jewels of joy of every kind

jazz is a sacrament of substance

and Eddie blew

what Eddie knew

'til he got through to your behind

jazz is a sacrament of substance

and Eddie Jefferson was a feast for the mind

17 january 1996

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