Greater Shore Concert Band

Eric Machan Howd

Image of Eric Machan Howd

Eric Machan Howd

Greater Shore Concert Band was selected for MSUL’s themed call for work about Water, in coordination with the MSU Broad Art Museum’s fall 2023 exhibition, Flint is Family in Three Acts, featuring the photography of Latoya Ruby Frazier.

Asbury Park, New Jersey
reed players cursing the humid auditorium
hot halls and french hornists turning their spit 
out of their coils as disgusted flautists look on
summers in folding chairs with Tambora Colbert
playing jazz licks on lacquered horns
the Duke and the Count buzzing on soft lips, 
embouchures taking bebop lines and scat charts
to exit signs, Basie arrangements in Red Bank 
theatres and Tambora and I laughing 
at the oboist trying on blues, Tambora and I 
cracking up and cranking Perdido
from bells aiming notes over the band, 
ready to fire our music into the balcony, 
his finger shaking vibrato into valves, 
my finger shaking vibrato into valves, 
Tambora and I, Tambora and I, 
hanging out before rehearsals, 
leaning into each other's shoulders, 
laughing belly chants and making fun 
of brittle clarinets 
Tambora and I 
aiming higher than Dizzy's bell-bending forty-five degrees
past balconies and hot asphalt sand-drenched
parking lots, parched boardwalks
and dry-rot dock bandstands
over breakers and moonlit Atlantic tides
past shipping lanes, beyond slick tankers, 
along the submerged umbilical cords of Ma Bell, 
toward heritage continents and lineage borders, 
the Ghana jazz and British bop, 
we blow hard, sweet intervals played to these shores, 
our cheeks pregnant with Gillespie and Berrigan, 
Armstrong and Hirt, we Miles and Maynard, we
Clifford and Severinsen, we music 
and solo, a duet of diaphragms digging
this night, this weary night, we laugh 
and send notes to the stars
create our language of Beethoven brothers 
Tambora and I 
triple tonguing small silver cups
hot mouthpieces melting into 
the fermata, 
Tambora and I,
we wail to the heavens, we wail
each other's birth, we crib
each other's notes and eye
each other through side glances
and the wry corner of knowing
what music can be between rests
what tuning can do between races
what two friends can create on the edge
of an ocean on a summer break

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