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

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

Norma Winstone’s Somewhere Like Home: Must-Have Album #4

Part of a series recommending jazz albums

    Norma  Winstone’s Somewhere Called Home is not for those who think that “It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing.” All eleven tracks are slow, sometimes almost rhythmless. Rubato is probably the best word here.  This 1987 ECM album features three English jazz musicians at the peak of their careers and at the top of their form. Vocalist Norma Winstone, the leader, had been performing for 20 years in the UK with such musicians as Joe Harriott, Mike Westbrook, Ian Carr, Michael Gibbs and Kenny Wheeler. For this album she chose a wide variety of ballads: two standards (“Tea For Two” and “Out of this World”), three compositions by contemporary British jazz musicians, two by South Americans, one by an American, one from a 1953 movie (Lili) and one by Bill Evans. All nine tracks have been carefully planned but still leave plenty of room for improvisation. Winstone herself wrote lyrics for four of the compositions.

Tyutchev's "When...": A Warning to Grumpy Old Men

Translation of a Tyutchev poem, with an introduction

   Basically, this Tyutchev’s poem is a warning to grumpy old men. It is written in five quatrains with abab, cdcd, etc. rhyming. The poem is notable for its repetition of  “from” five times in the last four stanzas—all of them starting lines. None of the translations I could find is faithful to this repetition, except for Eugene Kayden’s very loose translation in his Poems of Night and Day. And in this translation Kayden replaces “from” with “by”: “I pray we’ll keep ourselves untainted by…” instead of  my “Save us then, good genius, from.”

Lorand Gaspar: Extract from The Aegean Sea

Translation of an extract from Lorand Gaspar's The Aegean Sea

   EARLY MINOANThe hand spells out to the drowsiness of the rocksthe names and rhythms for an incantation. And this voice drawn from the opaque is so clear,the throat so simple that it opens what matters,that the hand trembles on the grooved slopes.Leaning against the night, it pauses again,so many subtle noises of water in the fingers,it follows a line still unknown in the world,from point to point where its touch breathes,where the wave of stone unbuttons its body,                                                10