MIDTOWN HEAT: THE GULLY LOW JAZZ BAND

As I’ve written, I have a real need to capture the jazz performances I attend — they are precious to me.  My most recent techno-acquisition was enabled by my close friend Amy King (a brilliant poet and philosopher): it’s a Flip video camera, which I took to Birdland, that jazz club in midtown Manhattan — 44th Street between Eighth and Ninth Avenues — on Wednesday, October 8.

There, for many Wednesdays, tubaist David Ostwald has led the Gully Low Jazz Band (a/k/a Louis Armstrong Centennial Band) — a sextet devoted to the music of Louis Armstrong, always a good thing.  This version of the band boasted (from the back) the explosive percussion of Kevin Dorn, the only man I know who keeps Herman Hesse, both Lon Chaneys, and Cliff Leeman in exquisite balance; pianist Ehud Asherie, who knows all there is to know about Bud Powell but has become a spiritual devotee of Francois Rilhac, Teddy Wilson, and Donald Lambert; clarinetist Anat Cohen, enthusiastically swinging; Jim Fryer, gutty and sweet on trombone and a wonderfully heartfelt singer; Jon-Erik Kellso, driving and profound, with mute in or naked to the world.

Dan Morgenstern, George Avakian, and photographer Lorna Sass were in the audience — if you needed any more evidence that this was a first-class gig!  Here’s the GLJB doing “Lover, Come Back To Me”:

and a steadily persuasive “Everybody Loves My Baby”:

and here Jim Fryer sings “Dream A Little Dream Of Me,” a song that goes back to 1931 — from the heart:

Jim comes back for one of Fats Waller’s most tender creations, “I’ve Got A Feelin’ I’m Falling:

Finally, a closing blowout on “Swing That Music”!

Charlie Parker told Earl Wilson that music speaks louder than words: how true that was last Wednesday, when these musicians showed off their rare eloquence.

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2 responses to “MIDTOWN HEAT: THE GULLY LOW JAZZ BAND

  1. Nice camera work! I’m swinging out over here now – thanks for kicking off the weekend properly!

    xo,
    Amy

  2. Bill Gallagher

    It’s great to see groups like this. I am reminded of what my father used to tell me as he described going to the Dawn Club in Annie’s Alley in San Francisco to listen to Lu Watters and his Yerba Buena Jazz Band (with Bob Scobey, Turk Murphy and Wally Rose). The tuba player used to sit on a high stool in the back of the band, swaying back and forth like a metronome to the music. Behind the band was a lattice and the patrons used to set up drinks for the band on the 2×4 that ran across the lattice. All this happened before I was born but I always wished I could have been there because, as Dad described it, it was the happiest place on earth, long before Disney copped the phrase. It sure is great to see that these places still exist and that the music lives on.

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