This song — Vincent Youmans’ I WANT TO BE HAPPY — evoked small verbal comedies from two musicians I saw in New York years ago. Wild Bill Davison would announce the title and then leeringly say in his best W.C. Fields voice, “Don’t we all,” drawling the last word for four beats. Kenny Davern, on the other hand, was more academic, seeing the simple declarative statement as the opening for a basic ESL class, “I want to be happy, she wants to be happy, they want to be happy,” trailing off, an amused look on his face. But comedy isn’t the theme in this gathering of happy improvisers at the Manassas Jazz Festival: Billy Butterfield, trumpet; Spiegle Willcox, trombone, Davern, clarinet; Dick Wellstood, piano, Marty Grosz, guitar; Van Perry, bass; Spencer Clark, bass sax; Tony DiNicola, drums. See how Butterfield works hard, building and soaring; how Davern turns his familiar figures in every possible direction, animated by the thryhm deep inside; Wellstood’s opening jab at “Perdido,” and the way Marty Grosz, intent, relaxes when he can put his guitar down, take a sip of his drink, and revel in Wellstood’s playing. And the ensemble joyousness. We think of the Golden Age of Jazz — suggest your decade — but this performance is evidence that 1978 was a pretty good year for it, too.
- MAKE PLANS! The 30th ANNUAL REDWOOD COAST MUSIC FESTIVAL IS COMING (September 29 – October 2, 2022: Eureka, California)
- GEORGE AVAKIAN PRESENTS “ONE STEP TO CHICAGO: THE LEGACY OF FRANK TESCHEMACHER and THE AUSTIN HIGH GANG”: DICK HYMAN, KENNY DAVERN, DAN LEVINSON, PETER ECKLUND, DICK SUDHALTER, JON-ERIK KELLSO, DAN BARRETT, KEN PEPLOWSKI, BOB HAGGART, MILT HINTON, VINCE GIORDANO, MARTY GROSZ, HOWARD ALDEN, ARNIE KINSELLA, TONY DiNICOLA (Rivermont Records, recorded July 31, 1992)
- “ADMIT ONE”: LOUIS ARMSTRONG and his N.B.C. ORCHESTRA at PORT ARTHUR, TEXAS, November 15, 1940.
- “MUSIC THAT YOU DREAM ABOUT”: BENNY GOODMAN, BUDDY RICH, JIMMIE ROWLES, BUCKY PIZZARELLI, JACK SIX (Merv Griffin Show, October 15, 1979)
- JOPLIN, MARSHALL, SKJELBRED, UNLIMITED at SAN DIEGO (November 25, 2016) AND A DON’T-MISS GIG FOR RAY, MARC CAPARONE, CLINT BAKER, JEFF HAMILTON, and RILEY BAKER (JULY 5, 2022)!
- “ELECTRIC SPANISH”: JAMEY CUMMINS
- THE NEW YORK JAZZ REPERTORY COMPANY EVOKES BASIE and DUKE at NICE (July 1978 and July 1977)
- ON THE BANKS OF THE WABASH, FAR AWAY: JON-ERIK KELLSO, DENNIS LICHTMAN, JOSH DUNN, JARED ENGEL (Cafe Bohemia, December 12, 2019)
- GIANTS PLAY NICE: BENNY CARTER, GEORGE BARNES, RUBY BRAFF, MICHAEL MOORE, VINNIE CORRAO, RAY MOSCA (La Grande Parade du Jazz, July 25, 1975)
- MARTY GROSZ AND HIS CHICAGOANS, SWEET AND HOT: JAMES DAPOGNY, JON-ERIK KELLSO, DAN BARRETT, DAN LEVINSON, SCOTT ROBINSON, JON BURR, PETE SIERS (Cleveland Classic Jazz Party, September 19, 2014)
- “THE BEAN GUY” SINGS: INTRODUCING STEVE SANDO
- THE WORLD BENNY CREATED: “The New York Jazz Repertory Company” featuring BOB WILBER, DICK HYMAN, BUCKY PIZZARELLI, GEORGE DUVIVIER, BOBBY ROSENGARDEN, JIMMY MAXWELL, EDDIE BERT, ARNIE LAWRENCE, BUDD JOHNSON, PEE WEE ERWIN, MIKE ZWERIN, NORRIS TURNEY, HAYWOOD HENRY, ERNIE ROYAL, DICK SUDHALTER, BRITT WOODMAN, PUG HORTON, GEORGE WEIN (La Grande Parade du Jazz, July 1979)
- THE DUKE VISITS BUFFALO (November 27, 1943)
- HOT SERMONS: STILL MORE FROM THE NEW YORK CLASSIC SEVEN: MIKE DAVIS, ANDY SCHUMM, COLIN HANCOCK, SAM CHESS, VINCE GIORDANO, RICKY ALEXANDER, JAY RATTMAN (St. John’s Lutheran Church, New York City, May 18, 2022)
- “I HAPPEN TO LIKE BENNY GOODMAN”: DAN MORGENSTERN (August 30, 2019)
- SWINGING WEATHER FORECASTS: GABRIELLE STRAVELLI, MICHAEL KANAN, DAN BLOCK, PAT O’LEARY (Swing 46, December 14, 2021)
- WHERE THE RENO CLUB MEETS FILM NOIR: “BEALE STREET BLUES,” by The EarRegulars: JON-ERIK KELLSO, MATT MUNISTERI, DUKE HEITGER, HARVEY TIBBS, DAN BLOCK, NEAL MINER (The Ear Inn, June 7, 2009)
- RIGHT ON THE SPOT WHEN THE MUSIC IS HOT, or BEALE STREET’S PAVED WITH GOLD: MARTY GROSZ, JAMES DAPOGNY, DUKE HEITGER, BOB HAVENS, BOB REITMEIER, VINCE GIORDANO, ARNIE KINSELLA (Jazz at Chautauqua, September 19, 2009)
- The CHAMBER JAZZ CONSORT: TALENT DESERVING WIDER RECOGNITION!
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