a site by John Cobley

a coppice gate


Welcome to A Coppice Gate, a non-profit site that explores music, poetry, drama and art.


Sharing. I’ve always enjoyed sharing my interests with friends and like-minded acquaintances. This website will be dedicated to sharing aspects of music and writing that have moved or interested me.


As this site develops, it will cover jazz, modern classical music, poetry (especially  Russian), drama (stage, film and television), art and photography, and writing (novels, magazine articles, reviews).


I hope to be able to stimulate you to explore some of the topics I will write about. And I look forward to feedback.


John Cobley

Most Recent Articles

Ingmar Bergman: Sound Techniques in The Passion of Anna

An investigation into the innovative sound techniques in Ingmar Bergman's The Passion of Anna

                                                                                                   It is a powerful film and shows a break from accepted film practices.                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Ingmar Bergman

Aloysius Bertrand: Two Books from Gaspard de la nuit

Translation of two books from Bertrand's Gaspard de la suit

 Gaspard de la nuit, Book III   The Night and Its Marvels I.  The Gothic Room Nox et solitudo plenae sunt diabolo      [The night and my bedroom are full of devils.]The Church Fathers  “Oh!” I murmured to the night, “The earth is an scented calyx whose pistil and stamen are the sun and the stars!” And eyes heavy with sleep, I closed the window inlaid with a cross of the Calvary, black in the yellow aureole of the stained glass. *** Still, if it were only at midnight—the hour emblazoned with dragons and devils!--that the gnome gorges on the oil of my lamp!

Miles Davis: Recruiting the Sixties Quintet

An account of the fours years Miles Davis took to recruit for his sixties quintet

In 1960 Miles Davis was on top of the jazz world. With five brilliant albums in the previous three years (three with Gil Evans, Milestones and Kind of Blue), he was in great demand and winning many jazz polls. But life caught up with him; for the next four years he had to deal with problem after problem as he tried to recruit the right musicians for his next band.The first crisis was the departure of John Coltrane. Although this wasn’t a great surprise to him, Davis took four years to find an acceptable replacement. He tried out at least eight saxophone players (Jimmy Heath, Sonny Stitt, Sonny Rollins, Hank Mobley, Frank Strozier, George Coleman, Rocky Boyd, and Sam Rivers) before getting the right one--Wayne Shorter.

Ellingtonians Play While Duke's in Bed

Description and evaluation of Johnny Hodges' "Duke's in Bed" album

This little gem from 1956 has not received much attention over the years, but it contains some Billy Strayhorn arrangements, many fine solos, and much of interest for Ellington admirers. When Johnny Hodges rejoined the Ellington orchestra in 1955 after a 4½ year hiatus, he must have continued with Ellington’s longtime agreement that he could still record separately with members of the Orchestra. Less than a year later, Hodges was leading a group of Ellingtonians for a Columbia recording. For this recording his nonet had to fly from Chicago to New York and back during an extended Ellington Orchestra engagement at the Chicago Blue Note. This New York trip must have interfered with Duke Ellington’s engagement, but he was clearly happy to let his players go off with Hodges. He even wrote a composition (“Duke’s in Bed”) for the session.

Paul Reverdy: "Toujours la" translated

Translation of a well-known poem by Paul Reverdy

This well-known poem describes a failed attempt to achieve self-knowledge. It has three mostly unrhymed stanzas of 10,12 and 8 unequal lines. Like Apollinaire, Reverdy doesn’t use punctuation. The first stanza describes the chaos in the poet’s mind as he tries to come to terms with himself. This can only be done if the noise of the world, especially from people, can be shut out or left far away. But life can’t be shut out or escaped; despite all efforts, “unforgotten memories” like cold draughts can still be felt. Throughout all this suicide lurks. Ultimately the poet fails in his attempt but lives on to try again.

Fet’s Two Late Poems on the Rose

Translation of two poems of Fet, with notes

Autumn Rose The forest has speckled its peaks,The garden has bared its brow,September has died, and the dahliasHave burned in the breath of night. But in the draught of frostAlone among the dead,There’s still you, queen rose,Fragrant and magnificent. Despite some cruel ordealsAnd the malice of fading days,You waft to me the imageAnd the breath of spring. 1886 September Rose After the morning sigh of frost,How strangely the rose smilesWith a flush of parted lipsOn a fleeting September day!