“NEW YORK CITY HAS A RHYTHM ALL ITS OWN”: GORDON AU’S GRAND STREET STOMPERS’ DEBUT AT DIZZY’S CLUB COCA COLA / JAZZ AT LINCOLN CENTER (October 22, 2014)

I was there, and I saw it for myself — five floors up, against a glorious dark Manhattan skyline, closer to the stars than any jazz club I know.

On Wednesday night, October 22, 2014, courtesy of the New York Hot Jazz Festival (thank you, Misha Katsobashvili!) and Jazz at Lincoln Center, Gordon Au and the Grand Street Stompers made their debut appearance — two sets, two sold-out crowds — and thrilled everyone.

Those who have been following the GSS weren’t surprised, but I think some of the international visitors in the room went away with a new appreciation for New York hot.

Here are two highlights: Gordon’s own RIDGEWOOD STOMP, and Tamar Korn’s ecstatic performance of DO THE NEW YORK.* The band was Gordon, trumpet, arrangements, compositions; Josh Holcomb, trombone; Matt Koza, clarinet / soprano saxophone (subbing for the temporarily under-the-weather Dennis Lichtman); Nick Russo, banjo / guitar; Andrew Hall, string bass; Rob Garcia, drums, with vocals by Tamar and by Molly Ryan.

Thanks also to Danielle Bias of JALC and Desmond Prass (a jazz scholar who recognized Big Sid Catlett!) of Dizzy’s for making it possible for me to video and share these with you. (Among friends, too — Neal, Dennis and Mary, Kelsey, and a number of new converts.)

What next, O Stompers?

*There is a singularly unsubtle edit in this video, linking one song to another. You’ll know it when you stumble over it.

May your happiness increase!

LAURA HITS THE ROAD: CHICAGO SALTY DOGS (October 5, 2014)

My friend Laura Beth Wyman, flutist and videographer, is blazing new trails, with camera, microphone, tripod, and notepad, boldly capturing hot jazz in Michigan and bringing it back alive for everyone.

Her YouTube channel is still in its youth, but the music she’s captured so far is deliciously mature.  Vintage, in fact.

I encourage you to subscribe, and after doing so you can enjoy two performances from an October 5, 2014 West Shore Jazz Society concert by the Chicago Salty Dogs, who were for this occasion Kim Cusack, leader and clarinet; Art Davis, trumpet; Frank Gualtieri, trombone; James Dapogny, piano; Mike Walbridge, helicon tuba; Jack Kuncl, banjo; Steve Torrico, drums. These performances took place at the Oak Ridge Golf Club, Norton Shores, Michigan.

Something for Jimmie  Noone and Earl Hines (honored but not imitated by Cusack and Dapogny), APEX BLUES:

And for Mister Morton, a rollicking version of the WOLVERINE BLUES complete with two piano and one tuba solo:

Thanks to the Dogs and to the intrepid Ms. Wyman, climbing apexes and on the lookout for wolverines.  I hear tell there will be more music captured in its native Michigan habitats in future.

May your happiness increase!

HONEY IN THE GARDEN: CHRIS DAWSON, MIKE LIPSKIN, ROBERT YOUNG, PAUL MEHLING at FILOLI (August 10, 2014)

Sweet, hot, romantic, and vernal: another delicious performance from Mike Lipskin’s Stride Summit at Jazz at Filoli on August 10, 2014, featuring Chris Dawson, piano; Mike, piano; Robert Young, soprano saxophone; Paul Mehling, guitar.  The song is MY HONEY’S LOVIN’ ARMS, which I first heard on Bing Crosby’s recording (“A cozy Morris chair / Oh, what a happy pair!”) and later in various Eddie Condon joy-fests (trombonist Cutty Cutshall called it MAHONEY for short, I have heard).

But here’s some honey-love in the garden for all of you:

For more performances from this wonderful concert (some featuring Dick Hyman) and more information about Jazz at Filoli, click here.

May your happiness increase!

RAGS, STOMPS, BLUES, JOYS, and a CRAVE: MORTEN GUNNAR LARSEN’S RED HOT PEPPERS at the WHITLEY BAY CLASSIC JAZZ PARTY (Nov. 2, 2013)

Care for some Jelly Roll?  I certainly do.

Both as pianist and scholar, Morten Gunnar Larsen knows his Jelly Roll Morton, and his knowledge and love show in his playing.

This Morton tribute comes from the 2013 Whitley Bay Classic Jazz Party, and it is an especially rewarding one because it gently and effectively combines a reverent approach to the originals with on-the-spot improvisation.  So what you experience is more than a series of scroll Victor 78s played live

Morten was able to assemble a fine band: Josh Duffee, drums; Frans Sjostrom, bass saxophone; Jacob Ullberger, banjo; Lars Frank, clarinet / soprano; Kristoffer Kompen, trombone; Bent Persson, cornet; guest star Aurelie Tropez*, clarinet.

THE SUPERIOR RAG:

MILENBERG JOYS*:

DEAD MAN BLUES*:

WOLVERINE BLUES* (a quartet of Morten, Lars, Aurelie, and Josh):

KANSAS CITY STOMPS:

Another previously unknown Morton composition, a “SLOW STOMP” called CROCODILE CRAVE:

BLACK BOTTOM STOMP:

Morten plays Morton.  What could be nicer?

And to make the point I have been making throughout this year: at the 2014 Whitley Bay Classic Jazz Party, starting on Thursday, November 6, sessions like this are the rule, not the exception.

May your happiness increase!

IN THE GARDEN OF SWING: MIKE LIPSKIN, DICK HYMAN, PAUL MEHLING at FILOLI (August 10, 2014)

Take a contemporary evocation of Eden, add some inspired jazz in front of an enthusiastic, attentive audience . . . and you have the 2014 Stride Summit at Jazz at Filoli, featuring Mike Lipskin and Dick Hyman, guitarist Paul Mehling, and a few other like-minded friends.  Here are a few more highlights from that wonderful afternoon, where the swinging music honors the present artists’ originality while casting affectionate glances back to Fats Waller, Art Tatum, Al Casey, and Django Reinhardt.

HANDFUL OF KEYS (Mike and Dick):

COULD IT BE YOU’RE FALLING IN LOVE? (Mike and Paul):

CARAVAN (Dick):

WILLOW WEEP FOR ME (Dick):

JUST YOU, JUST ME (Mike and Dick):

AFRICAN RIPPLES (Mike):

Thanks to the inspired gentlemen of the ensemble for such glowing pastoral music, and special thanks to Merrilee Trost for making Jazz at Filoli a happy, memorable gathering year after year.

May your happiness increase! 

BECOMING ENLIGHTENED: CECILE McLORIN SALVANT and DARYL SHERMAN SING ELLINGTON at WHITLEY BAY (Nov. 3, 2013)

Here’s an energized romantic song, a Forties Ellington hit, performed by two “hip chicks” and a swinging band (unfortunately off-camera) at the 2013 Whitley Bay Classic Jazz Party.

They are Daryl Sherman (in mauve) next to Cecile McLorin Salvant, and the band is Richard Pite, drums; Malcolm Sked, string bass; Jacob Ullberger, guitar; Morten Gunnar Larsen, piano; Duke Heitger, trumpet; Kristoffer Kompen, trombone; Matthias Seuffert, reeds.

I’m posting this not only because of its delightful savor, but because I can count the days (about fourteen) until the next Whitley Bay Classic Jazz Party. It begins on the evening of Thursday, November 6, and runs until late Sunday night, November 9 . . . possibly into Monday morning.  Tickets may still be available: you can check here. It might be costly for those not close to Newcastle, UK, to attend, but it is eminently worth the trip. There’s no festival like it, nor (in my decade of serious study of the matter) has there ever been.  In the ancient dialect of the area, “Get thee hence, if thou canst.”

May your happiness increase!

NOT TO THE SENSUAL EAR

Collectors of sheet music know that famous artists allowed their portraits to be part of the cover design of songs the artists never got to record.  (I believe some artists paid for the privilege of having their portrait in the little box — as good publicity.)  In fact, one may have a dozen copies of a song sheet with a dozen different artists portrayed on the covers.

The artists may have performed the song without recording it, or may simply have negotiated something to have their portrait on the cover.  It doesn’t stop people like myself from dreaming, though.  What if there were, for instance, a recording of Louis singing and playing LIGHTS OUT, a 1936 song I saw once with his picture.  Or Bobby Hackett playing LITTLE SKIPPER?

Or these two, by these three Sisters:

OLD SPINNING WHEEL BoswellsThis could have been another record much like HAND ME DOWN MY WALKING CANE, a “folk song” (Billy Hill made a good deal of money in the rural-song line, as in THE LAST ROUNDUP).

Or this, a much better song:

I DON'T KNOW WHY BoswellsI can almost hear the collaboration now — possible but evanescent.

I also understand, in some vague way, why there aren’t a hundred more Boswell Sisters recordings (the whole story awaits it in Kyla Titus’ book and the upcoming Sisters’ documentary) . . .  but I can refuse to acknowledge their absence, can’t I?

May your happiness increase!