In THE SPIRIT OF LOUIS, 2009, not long ago, I posted three video performances where the Scandinavian Rhythm Boys were joined by one of the remaining Elders, clarinetist Joe Muranyi. (http://jazzlives.wordpress.com/2009/11/02/the-spirit-of-louis-2009/)
If those videos eluded you, or the SRB are new to you, here they are, in Toronto, playing BLUE (and BROKEN-HEARTED). The “Boys” in this incarnation are Hans Jorgen Hansen, bass saxophone and other reeds; Robert Hansson, trumpet; Paul Waters, bass; Michael Bøving, banjo and vocal. And the nicely-done video is by Flemming Thorbye, who has preserved so much fine jazz on YouTube.
I find this very affecting. It takes experience to play with such emotion yet to be so restrained. As the late Leroy “Sam” Parkins often said, a group like this is in no hurry; they are taking their time. And they get there!
A package arrived the other day, STARDUST, a CD with two sessions by the SRB — one with Joe Muranyi. I had been impressed with the YouTube clips I had seen, but they were nothing compared to the sound of the SRB in the recording studio. For one thing, the studio itself is spacious — I would guess that the musicians get to see each other and hear other without baffles and headphones. Thus the result is like being very close up to a live performance in a space with ideal acoustics and ambiance.
And the SRB plays its collective heart out, without strain. Waters’ bass is propulsive without being pushing; his slap-technique is never monotonous or wooden. Hansen has a fine, eloquent facility on all his horns, and he is a masterful ensemble player. Boving is a steady, serene banjoist without the excesses of enthusiasm often connected to that instrument, and he is a compelling singer — idiosyncratic but with a huge, exuberant voice and attack, a heroic vibrato that made it seem as if every song was his own personal, passionate utterance. And Hansson is simply a magnificent trumpeter — with a casual daring that honors Louis and Bix, without copying their phrases. His easy mountain-scaling reminded me of Hackett, Cheatham, and Bob Barnard — and it’s supported by a sophisticated harmonic and rhythmic awareness. Muranyi, the guest star, brings his own amused fervor to the proceedings, whether playing or singing his own gleeful I DIG SATCH. And the SRB, with or without Joe, is clearly having fun without being self-consciously silly. They are a wonderfully rewarding band, and this CD is just delightful, with repertoire that goes from Handy to Lyttelton to Jobim and back to Bix-associated tunes without anything sounding forced. (A prize goes to listeners who recognize the Armstrong ending that brilliantly concludes SMILES!)
And my title? It’s how Michael Boving signed his little note along with the CD. The music it contains shows that he and his colleagues are keeping the faith.