Daily Archives: March 22, 2009

HAVING THE TIME OF HIS LIFE

Who else could it be?  Louis, obviously delighting in the rocking propulsion of saxophonist Max Greger’s big band, enjoying himself on German television.  Although the routines Louis created with the All-Stars made him extremely comfortable, he outdid himself when fronting a first-class big band.

I saw it happen on American television — perhaps the Merv Griffin Show, circa 1970, when he did “What A Wonderful World” before the commercial break, and came back to perform a truly exultant “Jeepers Creepers” afterward — in front of a studio band full of jazz players (Jimmy Cleveland and Bill Berry among them).  I hope someone finds that clip, which begins with the band warming up after the break, Louis telling them, “That’s the scales! The fish will come later!”

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“SOLITUDE”: BRAFF-BARNES QUARTET

Thanks to Bob Erwig for posting this clip of the Ruby Braff-George Barnes Quartet, perhaps in Berlin in 1974.  The other heroes here are the Wayne Wright and Michael Moore — singing their way through Ellington’s “Solitude” as if it were a hymn and they were divinely inspired.  I remember seeing this quartet accomplish artistic miracles in Bryant Park, outside the New York Public Library on 42nd Street.  To say their performance was unforgettable is simple accuracy.

MICHAEL McQUAID’S RED HOT RHYTHMAKERS 2008

This is a wonderful young stomping band from Australia, playing PANAMA (a homage to the ferocious Luis Russell Orchestra of 1929-30) at a gig in Ireland.  If that doesn’t say that jazz is thriving, internationally, I don’t know what evidence would do it.  McQuaid is one of those youthful heroes who can play a shopful of instruments, in the fashion of the late Tom Baker.  Someone to watch (on YouTube, MySpace, and Facebook — he’s the very model of modernity even though he knows his jazz history from the inside)!