For the first two volumes of HIDDEN IN PLAIN SIGHT (featuring Hot Lips Page, then Stan Getz and Teddy Wilson) click here.
Then, proceed with appropriate reverence and delight to the musical treasures below . . . .
THERE WILL NEVER BE ANOTHER YOU (February 4: probably Johnny Glasel, trumpet; Lucky Thompson, tenor saxophone; Joe Castro, piano; Oscar Pettiford, string bass; Ron Jefferson, drums. Duke Farms, Somerville, New Jersey):
My title, I think a borrowing from Poe, refers to those musical performances, rare and surprising, that have gone unobserved on YouTube for months and years. Volume One can be found here.
Doris Duke is usually identified as tobacco heiress, philanthropist, and socialite. She’s less well-known as a fervent supporter of jazz and an amateur pianist. She and pianist / singer / composer Joe Castro had a lengthy relationship, and Doris’ devotion to jazz led her to stage and record jam sessions in studios on both coasts. Two CD box sets on the Sunnyside label, under Castro’s name — LUSH LIFE and PASSION FLOWER — collect astonishing recordings in first-rate sound, the participants relaxed and eloquent. Here, Castro is not the pianist, but Doris’ friend Teddy Wilson is.
Teddy and Stan Getz only recorded together on one other occasion — the soundtrack of the BENNY GOODMAN STORY, but nothing quite so personal as this quartet, where they are supported splendidly by Bob Berteaux, string bass; Jimmy Pratt, drums. I hear parallels to PRES AND TEDDY (which had not yet happened) and the Lester Young – Nat Cole – Buddy Rich date, but Stan is very much himself here, and the quartet soars and muses beautifully.
FALCON BLUES (BLUES IN G):
SOMEONE TO WATCH OVER ME:
JUST ONE OF THOSE THINGS:
OUT OF NOWHERE:
I WANT TO BE HAPPY:
“Hidden in Plain Sight”? When I assembled these titles for this post, I noted that the music had been on YouTube for three years and none of these performances had received more than a hundred views. Surprising is the most gentle way I can put it. Some digging on YouTube often yields treasure.
“Star Breathing Caterpillar” by Elene Chichashvili
I first encountered Elijah Shiffer a million years ago — no, 2016 — when he sat in, on piano, for a session at Michael Kanan’s “Drawing Room,” featuring Ted Brown and Brad Linde, and I’ve encountered him since with his first instrument, the alto saxophone, at gigs. So when I encountered his new Bandcamp release, STAR JELLY, I was more than intrigued. And I think you will be also.
Candor compels me to write this. Listeners who like their music constrained and timid, music that never wanders from the script, will be puzzled by this CD. Those who like their jazz fit neatly into well-defined critical boxes (“1960s Blue Note hard bop”) will find STAR JELLY too expansive for their tastes. Finally, those who like solos-with-rhythm-section-on-familiar-lines will scratch their heads. But all of that is to the good. Sheffer has assembled a group of eloquent soloists not afraid to say their piece in their own ways, and he has a truly orchestral sensibility: something is always going on in each track, wit, passion, and audacity to the fore. And each of the eight performances has its own unfaltering funky heartbeat.
By the way, I asked Elijah for his definition of the title, and was delighted by the amorphousness of his reply:
I’d say “star jelly” is up for interpretation- I encountered this term to mean an unidentified jelly-like substance but as many have pointed out it could refer to starfruit jelly, or some sort of star-shaped candy. Beyond this it could also imply a sort of astral music- “trad jazz from space”- which perhaps applies to that song in particular but not the whole album.
I use the term “avant-trad jazz” sometimes but I’ve also said that this is a cool-jazz take on the New Orleans brass band. Certainly a combination of seemingly unexpected influences.
I hear a Trinidad Saturday-night party in the distance, Ellington early and late, Fifties’ rhythm-and-blues, 1958 Johnny Hodges small groups, Mingus at play, Gil Evans orchestral textures, Morton’s GANJAM, and more.
The brilliant players are Elijah Shiffer – alto sax; Jon De Lucia – tenor sax (#4, 5, 6, 8), soprano sax (#2, 3), flute (#2), clarinet (#1, 6, 7); Xavier Del Castillo – tenor sax (except #6); Ryan Weisheit – bass sax (#1, 3, 4, 5, 6); Nolan Tsang – trumpet (except #2 and #6); Pete Wikle – trombone; Sana Nagano – violin (#2, 3, 6); Sam Day Harmet – banjo (1, 3, 5, 7), mandolin (#6); Olli Hirvonen – guitar (#2, 4, 8); Ben Rolston – bass (#2, 3, 7, 8); Rishav Acharya – drums (all tracks), caxixi (#6). And the compositions (all Elijah’s except the first) are BLUES MY NAUGHTY SWEETIE GIVES TO ME / FULL OF WONDER / THE LONGEST NIGHTS / RED ROOTS / CRUSTACEAN CELEBRATION / STAR JELLY / GOWANUS BLUES / THE RAREST BIRD IN CANTRAL PARK.
From first to last, the CD gleams with its own cockeyed lyricism, and wondrous collective improvisation. I admire it tremendously and hope you will also. Visit STAR JELLY at Bandcamp here.
You already have enough music that sounds like the music you have, so venture, however bravely, into the worlds of STAR JELLY. I;ve listened several times and find new things to admire with each listening session.
A site called Hello Music Theory posted this morning “21 Of The Best Songs About Nature And The Environment.” I was delighted to see that they led off with Louis Armstrong, although less so that their selection was “What a Wonderful World.”
And the biographical sketch that follows is sympathetic — but couched in language that would have Louis either laughing or furious (I can’t tell):
Born in 1901 and raised in New Orleans, Louis Armstrong knew firsthand the disastrous effects of climate change and global warming. Despite that, his song, “What a Wonderful World,” is a ballad that lauds the beauty of nature.
From “trees of green” to “clouds of white,” this is a song that mentions forms of nature. Here, Armstrong sings about the beauty of the world around him. However, it’s not just the nature he praises. He also brings attention to friendship and care among people.
The song is a testament to Armstrong’s love of nature and his native city, a Southern oasis home to great oaks and Spanish moss. The song also has a deeper meaning. Armstrong struggled most of his life with trauma and addiction, yet he maintained a cheerful, positive attitude through it all.
I suppose you could call Louis’ poor childhood traumatic. I wouldn’t call his use of marijuana an addiction, and wonder at that censorious term. As to his awareness of global warming and climate change . . . I am more ready than most to give him credit for being omniscient and prescient, but I couldn’t think of his commentary on those subjects. Until the light bulb went on and I realized that his 1927 OKeh recording was not simply an improvisation on the chords of TIGER RAG, but a scientific commentary on rising temperatures. Hear it in a whole new light:
Thanks to Ricky Riccardi, who is, even as I speak, writing the definitive book on Louis’ early years — from New Orleans to Chicago, from fireworks and coal cart to fame and recordings. It will be the first volume of his trilogy which already covers Louis from 1929 to the end, with new stories on every page.
Music first. Then, words. Many words: suitable for lovers of jazz mysteries.
HONEYSUCKLE ROSE Teddy Wilson Sextet at the Fats Waller Memorial Concert, April 2, 1944, [mis-dated as May 4, all issues] Carnegie Hall, New York City: Wilson, piano; Edmond Hall, clarinet; Emmett Berry, trumpet; Bennie Morton, trombone; Al Hall, string bass; Sidney Catlett, drums:
GET THE MOP:
LADY BE GOOD Mezz Mezzrow Septet at the Fats Waller Memorial Concert, April 2, 1944, [mis-dated as May 4, all issues] Carnegie Hall, New York City: Mezzrow, clarinet; Ben Webster, tenor saxophone; unknown, tenor saxophone; Trummy Young, trombone [mis-identified as Dicky Wells on all issues]; unknown, piano; unknown, string bass; Sidney Catlett, drums:
and from the Carnegie Hall archives:
Sunday, April 2, 1944 at 8:30 PM
Main Hall PRESENTED BY American Youth for Democracy A Salute to Thomas (Fats) Waller
Selections (unspecified) Raymond Edward Johnson, Actor Will Geer, Actor Mezz Mezzrow, Clarinet Jimmy Savo, Comedian Al Hall, Double Bass Oscar Pettiford, Double Bass Pops Foster, Double Bass Cozy Cole, Drums Sid Catlett, Drums Slick Jones, Drums Josh White, Folk Singer Ralph Cooper, Host Al Casey Trio, Jazz Ensemble Count Basie and His Orchestra, Jazz Ensemble Teddy Wilson and His Band, Jazz Ensemble Art Hodes, Piano Bob Howard, Piano Count Basie, Piano Hazel Scott, Piano J. C. Johnson, Piano Mary Lou Williams, Piano Pat Flowers, Piano Teddy Wilson, Piano Willie “The Lion” Smith, Piano Edith Sewell, Soprano Muriel Rahn, Soprano Howard Da Silva, Speaker Paul Draper, Tap Dancer Ben Webster, Tenor Saxophone Trummy Young, Trombone Erskine Hawkins, Trumpet Frankie Newton, Trumpet Hot Lips Page, Trumpet Teri Josefovits, Unspecified Instrument Xavier Cugat, Violin Baby Hines, Vocalist Billie Holiday, Vocalist Jimmy Rushing, Vocalist Mildred Bailey, Vocalist Thelma Carpenter, Vocalist
A little history, a little mystery. I first encountered these three selections on two Jazz Archives microgroove issues in the early Seventies. Jazz Archives was the creation of the assiduous collector Jerry Valburn, whom I met in person a few times because we lived only a few miles away. His label issued live recordings, alternate takes, rare issues, and more. But in this case his documentation was not completely accurate, or it may have been the fault of the person identifying the source material. All issues have placed this concert as May 4, which couldn’t have happened, because that night A. Philip Randolph and others were speaking at Carnegie. The issue mis-identified the trumpet player on HONEYSUCKLE and MOP as Hot Lips Page, a logical error, but it’s very clearly Emmett Berry, who also recorded with the almost-identical Wilson band in 1944. Finally, the trombonist on LADY BE GOOD was identified as Dicky Wells, but it’s very plainly Trummy Young.
There are several other blank spaces in the identification of the Mezzrow Septet: Mezz, Sidney, Ben, and Trummy are completely recognizable. But the oom-cha pianist and anonymous string bassist? Since the concert drew on musicians connected to Cafe Society Uptown and Downtown, I wonder if the first tenor saxophonist is Kenneth Hollon. Teri Josefovits composed and played “novelty piano,” rather like a modern Zez Confrey. But I also want to know how Xavier Cugat fit in. And if you are wondering, “American Youth for Democracy” was the youth group of the Communist Party: not at all surprising, for in 1944 “the left” was vigorously in support of jazz, African-American art, and interracial presentations.
All of this is understandably minutiae, “into the weeds,” as our friend Matthew Rivera calls it. But the three recordings above are professionally done. (A fourth performance from this concert, AIN’T MISBEHAVIN’ by the Basie band, was issued on lp, not CD — Valburn’s “Everybody’s” label — but I don’t have that disc.) I want to know what happened to the other discs. Where are the performances by Newton, Lips, Mildred, the Lion, Pettiford? I did go down a few alleys in my quest: I asked the wonderful musician-archivist David Sager if the discs resided in the Library of Congress (Valburn had donated his Ellington collection there, I seem to recall) and the answer was no. I have a vague memory of leaving a phone message with Lori Valburn, Jerry’s daughter, whose artwork decorated more than a few Jazz Archives covers, but she never called back.
If anyone knows, I’d be thrilled to learn more. Until then, three more performances that many of you may not have heard.
It isn’t heralded with drums, parades, fireworks, and headlines, but sometimes the miraculous happens. Musically, I mean.
It did two Sundays ago, May 7, 2023, at The Ear Inn (326 Spring Street, Soho, New York) when a singular version of the EarRegulars assembled in the corner that has been their stage and pulpit for about sixteen years now.
They were Danny Tobias, trumpet and Eb alto horn; Dan Block, clarinet and tenor saxophone; James Chirillo, guitar; Rob Adkins, string bass. And here’s an example of their gliding lyrical mastery: the Count Basie-associated pop tune, I’LL ALWAYS BE IN LOVE WITH YOU, written in 1929 (Bud Green, Sam H. Stept, and Herman Ruby). Did the Basie musicians play and sing it in Kansas City then? I can’t say, but it certainly enjoyed a renaissance in 1936 . . . and in 2023.
But let us consider the source material, a very pretty waltz:
It came from a pioineering sound film, with an enticing one-word title:
so I assume that musicians as well as civilians went to see the film and had the song in their minds. But when Count Basie picked it up again, perhaps seven years later, it was not to be a waltz, but a swing number for the dancers. And the Basie way — sly, understated joy through swing — lives on here:
But “the Basie way” is a beautiful paradox: taking life and art with the greatest seriousness while refusing to be perceived as doing so. Literary people will recognize Castiglione’s sprezzatura, or nonchalance . . . grooving without sweating over it, making the most difficult work appear easy. Messrs. Tobias, Block, Chirillo, and Adkins know how in their cells, and show it here. Bless them as they bless us.
More to come. And you’ve never been to the Ear Inn on a Sunday night?
P.S. as of today, May 25, I am still exiled from Facebook, thanks to a hacker. So please share this with people who will get its spirit. Thank you.
By now, perhaps ten thousand people have seen Neal Miner’s extraordinary film documentary of the remarkable musician Bill Crow, JAZZ JOURNEYMAN. That’s a good start but more people need to see it. Not simply because Bill turns 95 this year and is still gigging; not because it chronicles Bill’s 75 years in music; not because it is a splendidly understated yet effective film portrait . . . but because both Bill and the film are so inspiring.
Bill comes across in the film as he is in real life: unassuming, funny, gentle, heartfelt. And a simply entrancing storyteller, with great stories to tell. He is center stage, leaning against the fireplace in his home, and completely at home, comfortable in his own skin with no need to boast of his accomplishments.
Speaking of accomplishments: Neal Miner, who’s justifiably famous as a spectacularly eloquent string bassist, shows off once again his subtle art as a film-maker, staying out of Bill’s way to frame him with quiet love. Neal’s camera work is never flashy, and his narration does the job beautifully. And before the film is fifteen minutes in, we have heard about Bill’s intersections with Quincy Jones, Sammy Davis, Jr., Lennie Tristano, Charlie Parker, Dave Lambert — later, Stan Getz, Gerry Mulligan, Marian McPartland, Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington . . . up to the present-day and current gigs.
Neal’s film is also consistently illuminated by photographs from Bill’s library and, even better, interludes where we get to see and hear Bill at his bass, his beautiful choice of notes, his thoughtful phrasing, his resonant tone.
I will stop here lest I spoil all the surprises: but it’s a wondrous film portrait, entertaining even for people who don’t know how much it cost to get into Birdland in 1950. How wonderful that we can celebrate someone who’s unique while they’re alive. And while we’re at it, how wonderful to see someone who is so active with such a positive outlook. Happiness depicted, happiness shared.
Bless you, Bill: thank you, Neal.
May your happiness increase!
P.S. I am in temporary exile from Facebook, having been hacked on May 7, 2023 — so if you feel the spirit and are an active Facebooker, please share this for me.
The young guitarist from Tasmania, Josh Dunn, knows how to make melody come alive and shimmer in front of us. Although many technically-assured guitarists wear the fingerboard slick with their assertive many-noted approach, Josh knows how to let a lovely melody breathe. Here are some recent solo interludes from his YouTube channel. Chimes at sunset. Birdsong at sunrise.
I KNOW WHY (And So Do You):
SMOKE GETS IN YOUR EYES:
MIDNIGHT, THE STARS AND YOU:
POLKA DOTS AND MOONBEAMS:
THE WORLD IS WAITING FOR THE SUNRISE:
If you find Josh on a gig, I assure you that you will be rewarded by his subtle approach to Song. And he swings expertly also.
If you were in school before Google, you know what reference books look like. Dark cloth bindings fraying at top and bottom, thin yellowed pages, tiny type, a dusty smell, heavy in the hand. Useful to find an errant fact but not in the least entertaining.
Mark Cantor’s two-volume book —
THE SOUNDIES: A HISTORY AND CATALOG OF JUKEBOX FILM SHORTS OF THE 1940s (forewords by Leonard Maltin and Will Friedwald) published by McFarland, is a vibrant contradiction of the stereotype. It’s full of lively information, photographs, and vibrant stories. And its cover is a bright orange.
Here’s an eleven-minute film interlude: a tour through Soundies themselves, with Mark as guide:
The publisher writes:
The 1940s saw a brief audacious experiment in mass entertainment: a jukebox with a screen. Patrons could insert a dime, then listen to and watch such popular entertainers as Nat “King” Cole, Gene Krupa, Cab Calloway or Les Paul. A number of companies offered these tuneful delights, but the most successful was the Mills Novelty Company and its three-minute musical shorts called Soundies.
This book is a complete filmography of over 2,500 Soundies: the musicians heard and seen on screen, recording and filming dates, arrangers, soloists, dancers, entertainment trade reviews and more. Additional filmographies cover more than 80 subjects produced by other companies. There are 125 photos taken on film sets, along with advertising images and production documents. More than 75 interviews narrate the firsthand experiences and recollections of Soundies directors and participants. Forty years before MTV, the Soundies were there for those who loved the popular music of the 1940s. This was truly “music for the eyes.”
I first encountered the Soundies through the famous ones by Duke Ellington (with Ben Webster, Ray Nance, Rex Stewart, and Sonny Greer) and Louis Armstrong (with precious glimpses of Sidney Catlett driving the orchestra) — then I found Mark Cantor’s invaluable website, https://www.jazz-on-film.com/. (He also calls it “Celluloid Improvisations.”)
Now, I can hear some of you saying, “I like jazz, and I like to see my heroes on film. I can see these Soundies on YouTube. Whatever do I need this book, these books, for?”
It’s true that the bulk of the book is, as its title states, a catalog of these film shorts. But what a deeply researched catalog! To explain the book’s many virtues, let us imagine someone seeing this Soundie for the first time:
Certain things are obvious: the title, director, and producer. Ellington announces Ben Webster, and it’s clear the band and he are playing COTTON TAIL. But who are the dancers? And when was this filmed?
THE SOUNDIES has the answers and more. On page 226 of the first volume, even a casual reader would learn that the Soundie was released on February 2, 1942, that the legendary dancers are Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers, featuring Frankie Manning and Norma Miller. Cantor’s book also includes contemporary press reviews and the one-word description on the Soundies production sheet, in this case, “Colored.”
Then the book can reveal more, even to someone paging through casually.
The very first Soundie, thus the first entry in the listing, is SWEET SUE by Six Hits and A Miss, accompanied by the Lorraine Page Orchestra but the music is provided by composer Victor Young’s Orchestra and he is briefly seen on screen. In addition, the orchestra includes Andy Secrest, trumpet; Arthur Schutt, piano; Bill Rank, trombone; Spike Jones, drums.
Not all the performers listed for every Soundie are audible; Mark has dug out information from union contracts and recollections of the musicians. In one case, Dave Tough is playing drums in 1946 Soundies by Gracie Barrie, accompanied by Jerry Jerome’s Orchestra, but he’s not recognizable.
THE SOUNDIES will add information to what we know about Eddie South and Henry “Red” Allen, but the shorts were not restricted to jazz, which makes the volumes even more valuable as a cross-section of musical taste from 1940 to 1947. But for every solo by Don Stovall, there is comedy, vaudeville, war propaganda in song, mild double-entendre, calypso, and more. (A student of popular culture of the time could dive into this book and never come up for air.)
And more. The book begins with a history of the companies that made these films, the machinery that played them, and — in the process — offers priceless information about singers, dancers, and night spots. “Jaw-dropping” is not a usual phrase in my vocabulary, but it describes my reaction to page 84, where Mark has included a small advertising card from Small’s Paradise — the band then appearing was Charlie Johnson’s Paradise Orchestra. New to me, and thrilling.
And even more. One of the most delightful sections of the book is a thirty-plus-page compendium of interviews of people connected with the Soundies. Not surprisingly, the stories spring off the page. Some of the people Mark has spoken with are Van Alexander, Tony Mottola, Les Paul, Ray Anthony, David Raskin, Abe Most, Jane Harvey, Hugh Martin, Joe Wilder, Mary Osborne, Martha Tilton, Kay Starr, Liza Morrow, Tiny Grimes, Pete Candoli, and more.
Saxophonist Jay Migliori tells of making Soundies with the Gene Krupa band when Roy Eldridge was a member and the director saying that Roy could not be seen in the trumpet section. Gene’s reaction? “Pack up, boys,” and Roy stayed.
Mark himself tells the story of watching a Lucky Millinder Soundie — with a trombonist he couldn’t identify — with trombonist Benny Powell and reedman Joe Farrell:
They both watched attentively and seemed stumped. But then Joe asked Benny, “Could that be Trombonesky?” Yes, said Benny, it was a legendary Harlem trombone player everyone listened to, but who mysteriously vanished without a trace. I dutifully took notes and always told audiences about this amazing, unknown musician. “Ladies and gentlemen, please note that this is the only film, or recorded evidence, of the legendary Trombonesky, a Harlem musician briefly on the scene, influencing others, then disappearing in 1941 and not heard from since.“
It was years later that I realized I had been conned by these two wonderful gentlemen , who didn’t recognize the soloist as Floyd Brady and decided to put me on. Hats off to their superb improvisation and acting skills. Trombonesky, R.I.P.
And an expurgated comment from the exuberantly profane Henry Nemo:
“Kay Penton [who appears with Nemo in the Soundie Hip Hip Hooray (entry 907)] was really hot. She was what we used to call a real dish, had a great pair of tits. I wanted to get something going with her, but she didn’t have eyes for me.”
“Shit, man, I can’t recall hardly anything from back then. It was just something to make a little money. You don’t really carry that type of thing with you through the years. Let’s see another movie!”
Anything done carefully and with passion is in itself indelibly intriguing. For forty years, Mark Cantor has been doing the hard work that makes this book remarkable. And although his website already has space for additions and corrections, no other book will replace this one. And it’s fascinating, whether the reader starts dutifully at the begining or dips in here and there.
By the way, my title — approved by Mark — refers to a reviewer’s praise for the substantial singer, June Richmond, in a Soundie. But it surely applies to these volumes: enlightening, full of surprises, and great fun.
May your happiness increase!
P.S. As I write this, May 23, 2023, I am still exiled from Facebook because of a hacking two weeks prior. If you are on FB and know someone else who would like to read this, please pass it on. Thank you.
While the rest of us are sleeping, doing laundry, openng cans of cat food, Colin Hancock is busy creating. And here’s som recent evidence that shows he is as wonderfully consistent (or is it consistently wonderful?) as always. The videos come from his YouTube channel, which you can find in the link above.
First, Colin among Austin, Texas friends, “the Joymakers.” They are Colin Hancock, cornet, baritone saxophone, vocal, director: David “Jelly” Jellema, clarinet, C-melody saxophone / Lauryn Gould, tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone, clarinet / Westen Borghesi, banjo / Shane Dickens, piano / Ryan Neubauer, druns / Ryan Gould, string bass:
and just this morning, I found the newest effusion of music from Colin’s “Semper Phonographic Co.” Look closely at the credits, for the nimble Mr. Hancock plays all the instruments and sings, sometimes his own compositions, sometimes less-performed songs by well-known composers, all in beautiful energetic idiomatic style:
CAN’T YOUR FRIEND FIND A FRIEND FOR ME?
IT BELONGS TO YOU:
SOB SISTER SADIE:
LIVIN’ IN THE SUNSHINE WITH YOU:
KANSAS CITY KITTY:
IF YOU CAN’T HOLD THE MAN YOU LOVE:
Spectacular creativity. And I will leave it to erudite listeners to trace Echoes and Influences.
All I will say is that we have more than enough evidence for Great Artist / Loathsome Person. Colin knocks that formulation flat, for he is a remarkable human being even when all the instruments are in their cases. May he always keep going! (And, Colin, New York misses you, by the way.)
The jazz histories don’t tell us that jazz came up the river to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, but it would have been more than delightfully plausible on the afternoon of Sunday, April 23, 2023, when the Pennsylvania Jazz Society put on a rewarding program at Congregation Beth Sholom in that city.
The Stars (or perhaps the Wise Men?) who came there were Danny Tobias, trumpet and Eb alto horn; Arnt Arntzen, vocal, banjo, guitar; Randy Reinhart, trombone, euphonium (or baritone horn); Vince Giordano, vocal, string bass, tuba, bass saxophone, lowboy cymbal.
I posted the first half-dozen performances from this session here. Delicious.
And here’s more!
Vince sings TAKE YOUR TOMORROW:
Berlin’s ALL BY MYSELF:
The Twenties roar again, with CRAZY RHYTHM:
WHEN I GROW TOO OLD TO DREAM (I’ll have this band to remember):
For Bix, the ODJB, and Eddie, AT THE JAZZ BAND BALL:
I CAN’T GIVE YOU ANYTHING BUT LOVE, with our without BABY:
and finally (for this posting) a little educational interlude that I’ve titled (after Danny) SHOW AND TELL:
There will be a Part Three — just as lovely as this. Stay tuned. And thanks to the generous people of the Pennsylvania Jazz Society for making this happen.
I started collecting jazz records in childhood and can still recall the thrill of the pile of 78s at the antique store, the Salvation Army, and from the Seventies on, visits to jazz collectors’ meetings. Before there was YouTube or eBay, if you wanted to expand your collection, you went where the collectors assembled — perhaps monthly — and you went home with treasures. I can point to records that are dear to me: an autographed Eddie Condon Decca, a Teddy Wilson V-Disc with Joe Thomas, Ed Hall, and Sidney Catlett — that came from the once-yearly Record Collectors’ Bash. And it’s back!
Recollections by my friend Dave Weiner . . . .
GETTING BASHED FOR (ALMOST) A HALF-CENTURY I first attended the NJ Jazz Record Bash in 1975 at a hotel on Route 1. I think that was the second year it ran. Jazz film expert Ken Crawford had started it as a way for vintage record collectors to buy, sell, trade and schmooze over a weekend in June. The highlight of each event would be an evening of jazz movies, chosen by Ken from his massive collection. To me, it was an amazing experience, the first time I saw vintage 78s and LPs for sale in quantity. Previously I had found such discs occasionally in thrift shops and flea markets. My first purchase there was a Bunny Berigan 78, which still looks better today than I do.
I made many friends of long standing as the years passed. Numerous celebrities, musical and otherwise, visited over time – actor Matt Dillon (a formidable Latin jazz collector), Michael Feinstein, bandleader Vince Giordano, writers Charles Delaunay, Stanley Dance, Frank Driggs, Dan Morgenstern and Russ Connor. As the decades passed, other collectors stepped up to run the yearly event – Russ Shor, Joe Lauro, Howard Berg and Art Zimmerman. The Bash continued regularly until Covid hit in 2020.
Three years passed with no Bash – until now. My partner Barry Miller and I have picked up the threads and have scheduled the latest Bash for June 22-24. Maintaining the tradition, schmoozing and film showings are still in the mix. Many older collectors will attend along with a happily growing contingent of younger folk, who dig the vintage jazz and pop music we all love.
Hey! Hey! Hey! Only FIVE WEEKS to go before the sensational NJ JAZZ RECORD COLLECTORS BASH returns for its 47th year!
The Bash runs from Thursday evening, June 22nd through Saturday evening, June 24th, at the Hilton Garden Inn in Edison, NJ.
If you’re a vendor, let us know soon if you’d like to reserve 1, 2 or more tables, because space is limited. Below you’ll find complete details.
If you’re a collector, you’ll find thousands of vintage 78s, LPs, 45s, cylinders, CDs, DVDs, books, sheet music, catalogs and more.
Three exciting two-hour vintage film and TV programs have been scheduled for Friday evening and Saturday afternoon & evening.
Check the jazzbash.net website for details and don’t hesitate to contact David Weiner at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions. You can also visit the “NJ Jazz Record Bash” Facebook page for regular updates.
Dave Stuckey (“Pappy” to his intimates) is a rewarding example of something the Ancients knew well . . . the Ancients being Louis Armstrong, Bob Wills, Wingy Manone, Fats Waller, and a hundred others: that good music is also by definition entertaining, that even people who had never heard of Clarence Williams or Hilton Jefferson should be patting their feet and grinning if the people onstage understand their purpose.
And he doesn’t only know that truth, he lives it — in his rocking rhythm, his congenial vocalizing, and the friendly environment he and the Hot House Gang bring to live in performance.
Here’s some delightful evidence from his second set at the Redwood Coast Music Festival, where his Gang was the very best. They were Marc Caparone, trumpet; Nate Ketner, clarinet and tenor saxophone; Katie Cavera, string bass; Josh Collazo, drums; Carl Sonny Leyland on a piano-shaped object — and guests Jonathan Doyle, clarinet and tenor saxophone; Dawn Lambeth, vocals.
Dave asks the musical (and non-musical) question, HOW COULD YOU?:
It’s true: THE MUSIC GOES ‘ROUND AND ‘ROUND:
Sonny celebrates a Chicago shero, MY GAL SAL:
Dawn explores the night skies, with WHAT A LITTLE MOONLIGHT CAN DO:
Amanda is indecisive at a crucial juncture in her life: MANDY, MAKE UP YOUR MIND:
A banquet of joyous sounds. Dave and the Hot House Gang will also be appearing at the 2023 Redwood Coast Music Festival . . . a head-spinning all-you-can-experience weekend.
Clarence Williams would be so happy, and so are we. Here’s the multi-talented T.J. Muller and friends, telling the story once again of Sister Kate, who attracts friends wherever she goes. T.J. sings, plays kazoo and banjo; Ryan Keonig, jug; Adam Hoskins, guitar; Jacob Alspach, banjo, slide whistle; Joey Glynn, string bass; Ethan Leinwand, piano; Kellie Everret, harmonica. Later in the set, Valerie Kirchoff, sings (always a good thing).
Good time music in St. Louis!
Your homework for today? Find someone to shimmy with.
P.S. When Ricky Riccardi’s first volume of his invaluable Louis Armstrong trilogy, STOMP OFF, LET’S GO!, is published, you’ll find out even more about the genesis of this song . . . and its original, even less polite title — not the one the insiders know. Stay tuned.
Jazz festivals, by their very nature, lean heavily on all-star groups of musicians who don’t work together often — sometimes resulting in a gathering of brilliant names that is less than the sum of its parts. This set, nearly an hour, is an exception. Benny Carter and Teddy Wilson had associations going back to 1933; Bobby Hackett appeared memorably on a few of Teddy’s recording dates in 1938. Larry Ridley was a versatile player, often called in for such gatherings (he supported Benny, Bobby, and Teddy at the Newport Jazz Festival in New York for a jam session at Radio City Music Hall). Sometimes his bass is not caught well by the microphones, but when it is, it is lovely.
Those four players did not travel in the same orbits in the Seventies, so it is a wondrous thing that they were caught together, not only in performance, but for posterity by French radio.
I’ve left the drummer, David Lee, Jr. (1941-2021) for last, because initially he seems distant from the rhythmic feel of the other players, even though his working associations were with Dizzy Gillespie and Sonny Rollins, who understood swing, if in their own idiosyncratic ways. But Lee adapts himself more as the session continues and his hi-hat, initially relentless, is less distracting.
In 2023, only Larry Ridley (born 1937) survives. Bobby would die of a heart attack less than a year later. Note that Bobby, always gracious, calls a Carter composition for his feature. Easy medium tempos and arching lyrical solos are consistent beauties here.
Bobby Hackett, trumpet (or cornet?); Benny Carter, alto saxophone; Teddy Wilson, piano; Larry Ridley, string bass; David Lee, Jr., drums. Grande Parade du Jazz, July 18, 1975. Broadcast on French radio: audio only.
I MAY BE WRONG / LOVER, COME BACK TO ME / CAN’T WE BE FRIENDS? / ON GREEN DOLPHIN STREET / BLUES IN MY HEART (Hackett) / BODY AND SOUL (Carter) / WHAT IS THIS THING CALLED LOVE?
I’m not sure that great art ever points the way to a “moral,” but two occur to me. One is to bless these adaptable musicians, so sweetly durable. Their lyricism did not age and will not. The second is to tip our hats in the direction of Thomas Edison’s lab in New Jersey . . . and bless all recording equipment. Yes, “recording” brings us TikTok, but it also made these notes and tones eternal, undying.
One of the most pleasing things about having a blog, and there are many, is that people find me who wouldn’t otherwise know my “contact information.” I met the singer Kristina Ray in 2015 — perhaps in Mezzrow, or at Michael Kanan’s Willoughby Street studio — and she impressed me as a cheerful warm person. But at that time I’d not heard her sing.
That lack has been remedied, and I wanted to let you hear her also. Her approach isn’t abstruse or complex; rather, she gives melody and words a friendly embrace, and swings them over to us:
and an even older standard made real through sincerity:
Kristina hails from Slovenia and her current home base is Paris, but she has spent time in New York, studying with Barry Harris and singing with Steve Ash and other notables. A more extensive biography is here.
She has plans for the future — as well as New York gigs — and such things are expensive, so I am spreading the word:
The world never has a surfeit of light-hearted melody, so I encourage you to help Kristina on her swinging path.
The bare facts: Charles Henry Christian, electric guitar (July 29, 1916 – March 2, 1942).
I’m not sure that much could be sadder than that. But Charlie had one piece of good fortune in his brief life. However you write the story of his “discovery,” he was well-known, heard by many, and captured by various microphones for our listening and that of future generations. From August 1939 to June 1941, he appeared in the recording studio, the concert hall, radio studios, and after-hours jazz clubs. Tom Lord’s standard online jazz discography lists 94 sessions on which he appears, and his recorded oeuvre can (loosely) be contained on ten compact discs.
Between 1992 and 1994, the French CD label “Masters of Jazz” attempted to present his recorded work complete on eight discs. Nearly a decade later, they issued a ninth volume which presented music that had eluded them, plus three performances that had never appeared on record . . . which it’s my pleasure to present here. The preponderance of Charlie’s recorded work was with Benny Goodman, who was generous in featuring his brilliant young sideman. (Not only that, but had Christian been working with a less-famous organization, how much of his work would have been lost to us?) Two of the three performances, alas, incomplete, are with Benny’s Sextet. But Charlie had another life, one blessedly captured by Columbia University student-archivist Jerry Newman . . . so we can follow him to Minton’s Uptown House.
The blissful music.
POOR BUTTERFLY, April 27, 1940 (Christian, Goodman, Lionel Hampton, Johnny Guarnieri, Artie Bernstein, Nick Fatool):
STOMPIN’ AT THE SAVOY, May 8,1941 (Christian, Lips Page, Joe Guy, Don Byas, Kermit Scott, “Tex,” Nick Fenton, Kenny Clarke):
STOMPIN’ AT THE SAVOY, June 1941: the last recording we have of Charlie, “Monte Prosser Dance Carnival,” Madison Square Garden, New York City (Christian, Goodman, Cootie Williams, George Auld, Guarnieri, Walter Iooss, Fatool):
Charlie, we miss you. Thank you for the jewels you left us: they still shine so brightly.
And if you are, like me, fascinated by Benny Goodman, you’ll want to read this. Enthralling.
Here is the music from New York Jazz Repertory Company’s half-hour “Tribute to Jean Goldkette”: Jimmie Maxwell, Bernie Privin, trumpet; Dick Sudhalter, possibly cornet; Eddie Bert, Al Cobbs, trombone; Bob Wilber, Johnny Mince, clarinet, alto saxophone; Budd Johnson, Eddie Barefield, clarinet, tenor, baritone saxophone; Dick Hyman, piano, transcriptions, arrangements; Bucky Pizzarelli, guitar; Milt Hinton, string bass; Bobby Rosengarden, drums.
SUNDAY / ‘WAY DOWN YONDER IN NEW ORLEANS / I’M GONNA MEET MY SWEETIE NOW / IN A MIST (Hyman) / CLEMENTINE (From New Orleans) / SINGIN’ THE BLUES [with vocal break at 17:45!] / CLARINET MARMALADE [Solos abound, with wild Hyman and reed section trades] //
French radio broadcast from the Nice Jazz Festival, “Grande Parade du Jazz,” July 14, 1976:
Beautiful music, splendidly played: simultaneously historical and timeless.
One of the added pleasures of the past year has been the opportunity to hear Cait Jones sing in a number of contexts. She can sing sad songs with deep awareness but she is a born joy-spreader, Red Riding Hood with a basket of happiness.
I was fortunate enough to hear her and two instrumental stars at the second-floor piano room of Fraunces Tavern on Pearl Street (‘way downtown in Manhattan) on April 26, and I present four selections from that night for your pleasure. Cait was brilliantly accompanied by Tal Ronen, string bass, and Peter Yarin, piano. Tal is one of the most eloquent musicians I know, every phrase, every long line. I’d only known Peter as a brilliant member of Vince Giordano’s Nighthawks but was delighted by his limber, swinging accompaniment and solos.
But. Before you dive in, a parental advisory, a caveat, a trigger warning. No naughty words or lewd subjects. But the audience didn’t stop talking — that volatile mix of alcohol and self-absorption bubbling over the sides of the cauldron. And my microphone, although narrowly focused, captures all the sounds present at the time. I see it as the clash between Beauty and Ignorance, and for me — someone who can focus on Beauty — the lovely music wins. But if you are outraged by the audio quality or by the presence of goofy drunken yap, scroll down past these four performances to the bottom of this posting, where the sound is pristine.
And I reiterate: Cait is a marvelous singer. Her handling of the lyrics is wise yet light-hearted. She glides. Her first choruses saunter through the melody and words, fairly respectfully but stretching the line here, pausing or playing rhythmic games. Her second choruses (now that everyone knows the way through the woods) are fun and free: at points during this evening’s performance, I thought, “That’s the way Sweets Edison or Shorty Baker would play the melody, gently making us hear it for the first time.” See if you don’t agree.
The second song of the night, the pretty THAT’S ALL, usually a closing choice:
DON’T BE THAT WAY was once a sly sweet request but big bands took it more quickly. Harking back to Ella and Louis, Cait woos us in the best way:
Without trying to be Billie, thank goodness, Cait sails through ME, MYSELF, AND I:
nd for something more rueful, mournful, SMOKE GETS IN YOUR EYES:
But wait! There’s more! From a few months ago, Cait and Michael Kanan in duet on I HADN’T ANYONE TILL YOU:
Cait is not only singer and bandleader but also lyricist, a talent most vividly out in the open with her lyrics to music by Mathieu Najean. Here’s their collaboration on A MOMENT IN TWO:
Cait and Mathieu have recorded a whole CD of these collaborations, OUTTA THE BLUE WITH YOU, and here’s a thoughtfully charming one, DOWN AND ROUND CAROUSEL:
“Gang Busters!” says Joe Boughton, the commander-in-chief of Jazz at Chautauqua and many other jazz offerings. More about that quaint expression of praise at the end of this post.
The hot heroes are Jon-Erik Kellso, trumpet; Bob Havens, trombone; Bobby Gordon, clarinet; Rossano Sportiello, piano; Vince Giordano, string bass; Arnie Kinsella, drums, performing at the 2007 Jazz at Chautauqua weekend (September 14, 2007) at the informal Thursday-night jam session. The songs are ROSETTA / LOUISIANA / HINDUSTAN / WRAP YOUR TROUBLES IN DREAMS / MY HONEY’S LOVIN’ ARMS.
All of this was recorded illicitly: my digital recorder may have been in my jacket pocket or brazenly on the table. I didn’t yet have a video camera, but this is a precious souvenir of days gone by.
Happily, Jon-Erik, Rossano, and Vince are thriving and gigging worldwide.
GANG BUSTERS was a radio program that ran from 1936 to 1957, with film and comic book spinoffs. It had a very dramatic opening, which gave rise to the slang phrase “It came on like GANG BUSTERS” for something memorable, the very finest. Here is the program’s opening: imagine this roaring out of the Atwater-Kent in the living room:
Although this ad hoc group of jazz crime-fighters can be pensive and subdued when the song calls for it, they certainly do come on! (I define “jazz crime” as formulaic, dull, badly-played music. So there.)
Those of us who were part of Jazz at Chautauqua and its offspring have the finest memories of great music and happy encounters; if you were never there, this set will give you a small idea of the heights that were scaled. Bless Joe Boughton, the peerless musicians, and those who kept the enterprise afloat.
Yes, the title of this post may seem a blasphemy. But it’s true.
On April 23, 2023, four musical stars came — thanks to the Pennsylvania Jazz Society — to Congregation Brith Sholom on West Macada Road in, yes, Bethlehem Pennsylvania, and filled the room with lovely joyous sounds. They are Danny Tobias, trumpet and Eb alto horn; Arnt Arntzen, vocal, banjo, guitar; Randy Reinhart, trombone, euphonium (or baritone horn); Vince Giordano, vocal, string bass, tuba, bass saxophone, lowboy cymbal.
I caught all the sights and sounds in my video camera, and will share them with you in three installments. My hope is that you follow the pleasant activities of the Pennsylvania Jazz Society, and that you follow these eminent musicians.
Here are a half-dozen beauties.
AS LONG AS I LIVE:
LOVE ME OR LEAVE ME:
Arnt sings WHEN YOUR LOVER HAS GONE:
Randy’s feature, ON THE SUNNY SIDE OF THE STREET:
And, to make a neat half-dozen, HAPPY FEET:
Unpretentious swinging music, whatever name you wish to hang on it (mostly the “Great American Songbook” treated with love and heat). And there will be more to come: watch this space.