On June 26, 2009, SFRaeAnn, that generous jazz videographer, took her camera to “America’s Festival,” in Lacey, Washington, and captured cornetist Bob Schultz’s Frisco Jazz Band playing the now-rare Irving Berlin song, “I’ll See You in C-U-B-A.”
Berlin wasn’t an anarchist; this 1920 song teasingly proposes a visit to a country where Prohibiition wasn’t law. (Other songs looked to Montreal for rehydration.)
The performance has an easy, tango-inflected swing, helped immeasurably by Hal Smith on drums — a master chef behind his set, mixing and flavoring with his wire brushes, swinging without getting louder or faster. I thought of Walter Johnson, among others: watch the way Hal moves! Cornetist Schultz has a fine Spanier-Marsala passion, matched by trombonist Doug Finke, whom I associate with rousing Stomp Off CDs by his Independence Hall Jazz Band.
I recently reviewed a Fifties jazz-goes-medieval effort where the participants earnestly jammed on recorders: they should have studied Jim Rothermel, sweetly wailing away. Thanks to Scott Anthony on banjo, who delivers the song stylishly, Chuck Stewart on tuba, and another one of my heroes, pianist Ray Skjelbred, for keeping the ship rocking but afloat.
Our travel plans for the summer have us heading north, not south — so I’ll content myself with this YouTube clip, spicy and sweet.