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

Yevtushenko: The Torments of Conscience

Translation of Yevtushenko's "The Torments of Conscience" preceded by an introduction

 The Torments of Conscience Yevtushenko dedicated this poem to Shostakovich. He was initially approached by Shostakovich in 1961, when the Russian composer was writing a symphony based on Yevtushenko’s poem “Babi Yar.” The two men spent time together discussing both the project and literature in general. “Shostakovich completely changed me as a poet,” Yevtushenko wrote later. “He amazed me with his profound rendering of the poem.” (quoted in Ethel Wilson, Shostakovich, 385-4)_  

Jazz Covered in the 1938 Oxford Companion to Music

The four-page entry on jazz in the 1938 Oxford Companion to Music is discussed.

 I thought it would be interesting to see how this seminal 1938 OUP book of 1087 pages dealt with jazz, which was becoming increasingly popular with the Swing Era. Of course this publication reflects the British outlook of the time, when jazz was played primarily across the Atlantic Ocean. Nevertheless by 1938 jazz was familiar to the British scene. Indeed the Original Dixieland Jazz Band had performed in London as early as 1919. In 1923 Paul Whiteman’s Orchestra visited, to be followed by Louis Armstrong in 1932 and Duke Ellington in 1933. 

Yevtushenko: An Autumn Poem

Translation of Yevtushenko's 1965 poem "Autumn"

 A Yevtushenko  Autumn Poem Russian poets have always been attracted to autumn poems. Yevtushenko’s 1965 poem has an original autumnal theme: it uses the seasonal shedding of leaves to explore his own personality, which he wants to see in its “autumnal nakedness.” Autumn                                     To A. Simonov Within me is the autumn season.Within me transparently and coolly,And I’m sad, but not without cheer,And full of humility and good intentions.

Aleksandr Blok: Autumn Love

A translation of Blok's religious poem

  This mystical poem of Alexander Blok, written when he was almost 27, is not usually anthologized. It describes his relationship with Christ during his own crucifixion as he looks out over his homeland. Autumn Love When rowan clusters start turning redAmong the damp and rusty leaves, --When the executioner’s bony handHammers the last nail into my palm, -- When above the leaden ripple of riversOn grey, damp heights,Facing my harsh homelandI begin to writhe on the cross, -- Then—far and wide

Creed Taylor: Jazz Record Producer (Part One)

His early career as record-company employee

Creed Taylor: Jazz-Record Producer Since the career of record-producer Creed Taylor has been well documented, especially in interviews by Marc Myers and Devin Leonard (jazzwax.com and Wax Poetics #34), this first of two articles will focus on how Taylor worked with four major jazz musicians during the period before he ran his own company. The second article will focus on his work when he was running his own company, CTI Records. But first a brief survey of Creed Taylor’s career. After a degree in Psychology and a two-year military stint in Korea, Creed Taylor, a professional jazz trumpet player, found his way into record producing. It was 1954, a time when the LP was blossoming. After making a reputation with Bethlehem Records, he was hired by ABC-Paramount in 1956. At first he was producing mainly non-jazz records; then ABC-Paramount gave him the chance to start a jazz label: Impulse. After recording Africa Brass with John Coltrane, he was quickly recruited by Verve Records in 1961. Taylor was with Verve for three successful years. In 1964 Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss hired him for A&M Records and thence to his own label—CTI Records—in 1966. With CTI, Taylor rode the wave of success for a decade, producing jazz blended with soul and funk and often supported by string orchestras. However, despite continuing sales successes, Taylor made a serious business mistake in setting up an ambitious distribution network. Suddenly, in 1978, he was bankrupt. Despite several new ventures in the following years, he was never able to return to successful record production.

Frank O'Hara: The Day Lady Died

Poem "The Day Lady Died" by Frank O'Hara is analysed

 Frank O’Hara: The Day Lady Died It’s 12:20 in New York a Fridaythree days after Bastille Day, yesit is 1959, and I go to a shoeshinebecause I will get off the 4:19 in Easthamptonat 7:15 and then go straight to dinnerand I don’t know the people who will feed me I walk up the muggy street beginning to sunand have a hamburger and a malted and buyan ugly NEW WORLD WRITING to see what the poetsin Ghana are doing these days                                                            I go on to the bank