The Spider Who Loved Jazz by Seb Duncan

Photo by Kevin McCutcheon on Unsplash

The tarantula tapped his front leg to the rhythmic scraping of Jimmy Cobb’s brushes. All Blues was his favourite tune on the album. It made his hairs stand on end  – all 1,234,569 of them. Combining the elegant swing of a 3/4 rhythm with the tight beat of the new modal style, it was minimal, hypnotic, easy. Bill Evans’ constant piano rolls reminded him of his mother’s web, shivering and flexing across the branches of the tree in the garden where they used to live. 

Miles Davis’ first solo sounded the way his brother joked with him about how his hair looked – mocking but in a kind, intimate way. The response of Cannonball’s sax was an extension of that playful tone but even more exuberant and less restrained than Miles’ coolness. Cannonball’s playing made him think of the way he once saw a clown pretend to fall over and gracefully get up again just in time.

Next, John Coltrane’s tone – so mournful – is in striking contrast to Cannonball’s. Starting in a low register and then firing off effortless volleys of staccato notes before settling down again into a slow cry.

As Bill Evans’ solo gets underway with light, cloud-like taps of his fingers, Jimmy Cobb’s drumming becomes more engaged, with syncopated rim shots that compliment Evans’ minimal blocked cords and bebop flourishes.

The song’s repeated refrain with its harmonic sustains of brass, came round again like the breeze blowing pollen into the air on a mild summer’s morning. All the tarantula’s eyes opened and closed, opened and closed again, resembling clapping hands in a basement dive bar.

This piece of flash fiction was featured in the 2022 Spring edition of GoldDust

4 Replies to “The Spider Who Loved Jazz by Seb Duncan”

  1. Really original ideas, and charming in the way that the tarantula (normally a frightening creature) is homely, with funny details. Bravo

    1. Thanks Doug,

      The story came about during a Covid lockdown daydream. Glad you liked it. GoldDust (Goldsmiths University) published it just this month.

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