MAKING IT NEW: DAWN LAMBETH, CARL SONNY LEYLAND, MARTY EGGERS, JEFF HAMILTON (Jazz Bash by the Bay, March 9, 2014)

“Make it new” was the compact artistic manifesto of Ezra Pound, and jazz has always taken it to heart.  “What can you do with that very familiar song?” has always been the question I imagine improvisers asking themselves, whether the time-honored material is a Bb blues (Basie and his flock, Bessie Smith), JINGLE BELLS (Fats Waller), or a hundred other standards in danger of being obliterated through repetition.

Dawn Lambeth has always understood the artist’s responsibilities — a delicate balance between honoring the original’s lyrical impulse, both melody and lyrics and at the same time illuminating it from within so that audiences can say, “Yes, I’ve heard I’M CONFESSIN’ a thousand times, but Dawn actually sounds as if she is telling the story of the words — and behind the words — with sweet convincing grace.”

Here, Dawn is joined by Carl Sonny Leyland, piano; Marty Eggers, string bass; Jeff Hamilton, drums, at the 2014 Jazz Bash by the Bay — for three favorite songs she and they make new:

BABY, WON’T YOU PLEASE COME HOME?:

I’VE GOT A FEELING I’M FALLING (with a little comedy to start):

I’M CONFESSIN':

Even though it was the first set of the day, the trio sounds superb.  And Dawn has a faithful following — as she should — but there’s always room for new admirers! She’ll be appearing at Jazz Bash by the Bay next March 6-7-8, 2015.  To find out more about her upcoming gigs, visit her website or become a Facebook friend.

May your happiness increase!

BY POPULAR DEMAND: MORE FROM RAY SKJELBRED AND THE CUBS (Napa Valley Dixieland Jazz Society, July 13, 2014)

Every time I post some new videos of music by Ray Skjelbred and the Cubs they get an enthusiastic response . . . so here’s some more, recorded on July 13, 2014, as part of their Northern California tour.  These performances happened thanks to the Napa Valley Dixieland Jazz Society (which met at Grant Hall in Yountville, California) — with dancers!  The performers, the creators, are Ray, piano; Clint Baker, string bass; Kim Cusack, clarinet; Katie Cavera, guitar; Jeff Hamilton, drums.  And they swing.

We begin with a bit of early Thirties meteorology — asking Aeolus to bring one’s baby back, or BREEZE:

Lessons in remorse, contrition, and forgiveness.  WHO’S SORRY NOW?:

A slow-drag, cozy version of MY HONEY’S LOVIN’ ARMS for the happy pair:

That venerable invitation to hedonism, DARKTOWN STRUTTERS’ BALL:

Even if funds are low, you can still woo with this declaration, I CAN’T GIVE YOU ANYTHING BUT LOVE:

I think it was appropriate to play SWEETHEARTS ON PARADE when the Society members broke out their parasols, but then again this song is one of my favorites, no matter how simple the chord sequence:

SOMEBODY STOLE MY GAL, with vocal by Clint:

SQUEEZE ME, Mister Waller’s first hit:

JAZZ BAND BALL, which is what we were having:

Another bit of Wallerizing, KEEPIN’ OUT OF MISCHIEF NOW:

And the Whiteman-and-Henderson rouser, HAPPY FEET:

Ordinarily I don’t post so many videos from one performance at the same time, but these sounded so good that I couldn’t help myself.  You understand. (I send the usual apologies to Jeff and Katie for making them invisible, but they certainly are delightfully audible — which is what counts.)

May your happiness increase!

THE INK HAS FADED BUT THE MUSIC REMAINS (1948-9)

From an eBay seller — here is the link to the picture below — comes this photograph of Louis Armstrong, Jack Teagarden, Barney Bigard, and Sidney Catlett in action, autographed by Louis, Sid, Earl Hines, and Barney . . .

LOUIS HINES BARNEY SID autographsI can hear them loud and clear.  Can’t you?

May your happiness increase!

“IT’S A WONDERFUL WORLD” AT THE SAN DIEGO JAZZ FEST: TIM LAUGHLIN, CONNIE JONES, MIKE PITTSLEY, CHRIS DAWSON, KATIE CAVERA, MARTY EGGERS, HAL SMITH

You don’t have to write Odes to Nightingales to be lyrically poetic. In this century, we have Tim Laughlin, clarinet; Connie Jones, cornet and vocal; Mike Pittsley, trombone; Chris Dawson, piano; Marty Eggers, string bass; Katie Cavera, rhythm guitar; Hal Smith, drums, to prove this.

The song on which they wax poetic is IT’S A WONDERFUL WORLD, performed at the 2012 San Diego Jazz Fest:

(Connie — a great unheralded singer — embodies a special optimism. Bless him and his colleagues.)

While you are basking in the good sounds and good feeling, think of this: Tim and Connie, with their New Orleans All Stars — Doug Finke, trombone; Chris, Marty, Katie, and Hal — will be playing more than a few sets at this year’s San Diego Jazz Fest, November 26-30.

And they are certainly not the only band: click here.

If you can live joyously, it’s always a wonderful world.

May your happiness increase!

TEN MINUTES OF SPIRITED PLEASURE: RAY SKJELBRED and THE CUBS at SACRAMENTO (May 24, 2014)

Just that.  Ray Skjelbred, piano; Kim Cusack, clarinet; Katie Cavera, rhythm guitar; Clint Baker, string bass; Jeff Hamilton, drums.  Recorded at the Sacramento Music Festival on May 24, 2014 — in a cozy room where I sat so close to the band (my preferred position) that I couldn’t get all of the quintet in at one time.  I hope Jeff Hamilton will forgive me for rendering him temporarily invisible (is this his superpower?) but he surely is delightfully audible.

The tunes — a 1922 Vincent Rose pop-song-turned-jazz-standard, LINGER AWHILE, and a pretty song that we might not have known had not the Jean Goldkette band recorded it, at a faster tempo, a few years later — IDOLIZING:

There’s no other band quite like this one, and we are so fortunate that they exist.

May your happiness increase!

“A BIT O’HARLEM” 1933

The acetates have not turned up, but, thanks to an eBay seller, we have the program that documents the 1933 appearance of the Earl Hines Orchestra at the Chicago World’s Fair.

EARL at 1933 Worlds Fair 1

The Hines band was identified by their prestigious radio broadcast affiliation — but that they were only one act of a long evening:

EARL at 1933 Worlds Fair 2

The seller describes this as “Original program from a concert titled “A Nite of Centuries” at the Auditorium Theatre, Chicago, June 12, 1933, four pages, 8.75 x 5.75 in. One clipped corner (not affecting any text), and a very faint vertical crease, otherwise clean and very good.”

EARL at 1933 Worlds Fair inset
A “Sizzling Study in Sepia” indeed.  I won’t be content with the home-recorded discs of this; I want to see the newsreel footage as well, so that I can enjoy “3 Lightning Flashes and an ensemble of singers and dancers.”

It must have been a spectacular evening: note the appearance of Sophie Tucker, Martha Raye; Vincent Lopez; The Radio Rubes, “radio’s famous hill-billies”; Baby Rose Marie, “remarkable child artist of the stage, screen, and radio”; World’s Fair Frolics, “a dazzling ballyhoo of Chicago World’s Fairest”; and others.

I doubt that anyone who saw this show still walks this earth, which is (to me) a sobering thought.

May your happiness increase!

THEY’RE SWEET ON SUE: CARL SONNY LEYLAND, MARTY EGGERS, JEFF HAMILTON (JAZZ BASH BY THE BAY, March 8-9, 2014)

I admire improvisers who can return to familiar material and approach it with freshness — in the way the great forebears did, playing the same tunes night after night.

Here are two very energizing examples of that kind of creative improvisation — performed in 2014 at the Jazz Bash by the Bay in Monterey, California, by Carl Sonny Leyland, piano; Marty Eggers, string bass; Jeff Hamilton, drums — variations on a 1928 pop tune, Victor Young’s SWEET SUE, JUST YOU.

The first gallops, nearly violently; the second (offered in the first set of the morning) is more gentle but no less swinging. Carl said he had played SWEET SUE at every set: had there been no other bands competing for my attention, I would have liked to record and present all six or seven versions. These two will act as evidence of the beautiful living music that Carl, Marty, and Jeff offer so generously.

SWEET SUE (late in the evening of March 8, 2014):

SWEET SUE (perhaps fourteen hours later, March 9, 2014):

I remind you that the Jazz Bash by the Bay is delightfully in gear for March 2015. Here is their Facebook page, and here is their band lineup for that happy event, with the Carl Sonny Leyland trio fourth from the top.  A good thing.

For those who have no intention of waiting until March, Carl and his trio will be at the San Diego Jazz Fest a week from now — details here. Hope to see you in both places.

May your happiness increase!