Last Sunday, June 5, 2011, was an unsual evening at that Soho mecca of swing, The Ear Inn (326 Spring Street, New York City) in that a band that wasn’t The EarRegulars was playing.
It was a reunion of sorts for an inspired hot band of individualists that hadn’t played regularly for some time. In 2005-6, this band had a regular Wednesday-night gig at The Cajun (a now-departed home for jazz in Chelsea). The quartet was led by banjoist / singer / composer Eddy Davis, who called it WILD REEDS AND WICKED RHTYHM. The title was more than accurate, and I miss those Wednesday nights.
Eddy’s compatriots were most often Scott Robinson on C-melody saxophone; Orange Kellin on clarinet; Conal Fowkes or Debbie Kennedy on string bass. Sitters-in were made welcome (an extraordinary visitor was cornetist Bob Barnard) — but this little quartet didn’t need anyone else. It swung hard and played rhapsodic melodies, as well as exploring Eddy’s own compositions (they had a down-home feel but the harmonies were never predictable).
At the Ear, this band came together once again — Eddy, Scott, Orange (up from New Orleans), and Conal (catch him singing Cole Porter in Woody Allen’s MIDNIGHT IN PARIS) — as well as second-set guests Dan Block and Pete Anderson on saxophones.
Eddy had grown a fine bushy beard since the last time I saw him, but nothing else had changed — not the riotous joy the musicians took in egging each other on, the deep feeling, the intuitive ensemble cohesiveness, the startling solos . . .
Here’s a tune that all the musicians in the house love to jam! No, not really — it’s a fairly obscure Washboard Rhythm Kings specialty circa 1931 that I’ve only heard done by the heroic / illustrious Reynolds Brothers. It has a wonderful title — Eddy tried explaining it to a curious audience member when the performance had ended, with only mild success — FUTURISTIC JUNGLEISM:
Time for something pretty, suggested by Pete Anderson — MEMORIES OF YOU:
And a finale to end all finales — what began as a moody, building WILD MAN BLUES (running ten minutes) and then segued into a hilarious-then-serious romp on FINE AND DANDY . . . reed rapture plus hot strings!
If that isn’t ecstatic to you, perhaps we should compare definitions of ecstasy?