BLUE AND POIGNANT. FOR BIX. FOR US: THE EARREGULARS IN EUROPE (MATT MUNISTERI, JON-ERIK KELLSO, SCOTT ROBINSON, GREG COHEN in HUNGARY: MARCH 28, 2014)

This video celebrates one of many interlocked triumphs.  For one, the wonderful elastic small group known as the EarRegulars (most often spotted on Sunday nights at The Ear Inn, 326 Spring Street, New York, from 8-11 PM) made their maiden voyage to Europe.  They recorded a CD — something the faithful, like myself, have been waiting for . . . for a number of years) and they performed, as a justly featured ensemble, at the 23rd International Bohém Ragtime & Jazz Festival.

Here’s one of their performances — captured with many cameras in rapt silence (as opposed to the homespun videos I’ve shot at The Ear Inn) of a song always associated with Bix Beiderbecke, Frank Trumbauer, and Eddie Lang — SINGIN’ THE BLUES (by J. Russell Robinson, Con Conrad, Sam M. Lewis, and Joe Young.  Matt Munisteri, vocal and guitar; Scott Robinson, tenor saxophone; Jon-Erik Kellso, trumpet; Greg Cohen, string bass:

Recorded at the Bohém Festival in Kecskemét, Hungary, March 28, 2014.  More info about the Bohém Festival here.

Now, the beauties of that performance will be evident to anyone willing to sit still and listen. But a few things need to be said. One is the sustained sweet delicate understatement shown by all four players, singly and as an ensemble. No one weeps or carries on; no one has to step to the microphone and sing or play LOOK AT ME, I AM SO UNHAPPY. They trust themselves, and they trust the power of the notes and words to convey the complex messages of this song.

And — rather like the Willard Robison songs of which Matt is the master — the sadness has a slight tinge of wry self-awareness. I’m singin’ the blues, my baby is somewhere else, life is so sad . . . but I am going to make something beautiful out of my sorrows.

And since 1927, when Bix, Tram, and Lang (among others) recorded SINGIN’ THE BLUES, it’s been one of the most imitated recorded performances in classic jazz. Notice, please, that the EarRegulars are not in the business of xerography, of necrography, of exact reproduction. They know the recording; they could play the solos, but they have faith in the music . . . to carry them to beautiful new places that echo old glories.

Poignant and worth several visits.

May your happiness increase!

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8 responses to “BLUE AND POIGNANT. FOR BIX. FOR US: THE EARREGULARS IN EUROPE (MATT MUNISTERI, JON-ERIK KELLSO, SCOTT ROBINSON, GREG COHEN in HUNGARY: MARCH 28, 2014)

  1. Remarkable performance! I’ve never heard a vocal version before, and here Matt sings verse and chorus in C before modulating to Eb, the usual key. Scott’s tenor is eerily like a C-Melody saxophone in tone and using perfectly articulated and pitched “harmonic” notes to play above the tenor’s normal high note of F. Beautiful.

  2. jonerikkellso

    Thanks, Michael! We miss you out here on the right coast. I’ll be sending a copy of the new CD to you this week.

  3. Martha Elkins

    Wow! Lovely performance and so cool to hear the words. Love it!

  4. Matt and his guys always do a great job with anything they attempt…so intelligent and classy. This performance is no exception and a real beauty to boot. I’m enchanted by Matt’s guitar and voice and Scott’s willowy-wispy tenor sounding more like an alto on its way to becoming a C-melody. Jon-Erik is as solid as ever. And how nice to hear the verse!

  5. Don "Zoot" Conner

    A powerhouse performance from a very together group. This is the best version of this tune since Al Cohns in 1956.

  6. Pingback: “RIGHT ON IT”: The EarRegulars SHOW US HOW (Berlin, March 26, 2014) | JAZZ LIVES

  7. Pingback: “RIGHT ON IT”: The EarRegulars SHOW US HOW (Berlin, March 26, 2014) | Jazz Music Trends

  8. Phyllishalle

    Just as I enjoy the musical choices you share with me, just so I enjoy the rhythm and the music of your choice of words as you review and honor the composers and performers. I look forward to your reviews and wish you would share your name(s) with me! You are a most enjoyable, positive-minded critic!

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