The Three Pods of Pepper (reedman Norman Field, plectrist and singer Spats Langham, and bass saxophonist Frans Sjostrom — hot wizards all!) got together at the Whitley Bay International Jazz Festival just a few days ago. Gracious hosts, they invited my hero Bent Persson to join them for a set. I originally thought of calling this post THE PEERLESS QUARTET, and you’ll see why. They were in a Bixish mood, with four of their six performances songs he recorded, and the other two related by many degrees of separation.
They began their set with an easy, Rollini-flavored SOMEBODY LOVES ME:
And the first of the Bix-related classic Twenties songs, which I first heard in a live performance by Dick Sudhalter, WAIT TILL YOU SEE ‘MA CHERIE,’ its French conclusion perhaps being something coming from the First World War. (Was she a pretty war bride?):
Usually the requests (bidden or unbidden) come from the audience: the next song was one Norman Field wanted to play — a good old good one from the repertoire of the Louis Armstrong Hot Seven, WEARY BLUES, in a performance that easily gave the lie to the title:
After an erudite discussion of the original recording (I didn’t know that the 78 played in the wrong key — too fast!) the band took up the self-imposed challenge of making the entire 1927 Paul Whiteman band (with vocal chorus by a young, exuberant Bing Crosby) occupy the “One Cent Club,” a cozy room in the Newcastle Village Hotel with room for forty — on YOU TOOK ADVANTAGE OF ME, courtesy of Rodgers and Hart. Norman, by the way, shows himself a reed master of the most humble of instruments, the penny whistle:
If they could do Whiteman, why not Jean Goldkette? CLEMENTINE (FROM NEW ORLEANS) — and I was thrilled when Norman launched into the lyrics, which I’d never heard before, including the saga of “a boy named James,” who, when Clementine kissed him, “his roman collar burst into flames.” Worth a trip from anywhere! I had known that the lady’s name didn’t rhyme with “lemon thyme,” but let everyone now know it:
Finally, this wonderful quartet decided to play that rarity, a Fats Waller composition recorded by Bix and Tram (as “The Chicago Loopers”) in 1927, which I’ve taken as the title of this post, I’M MORE THAN SATISFIED:
P.S. About my chosen title: it wholly conveys my feelings about the Whitley Bay experience: people listened intently to the music, and the atmosphere was jubilant without being raucous. The festival made it possible for me to hear musicians I never knew existed, and to meet and admire those I had known only through recordings. All of this was created by trumpeter Mike Durham and his wife Patti — people you’d like and celebrate even if there was no music involved. Festival promoters put their emotional stamp on the proceedings, and the Durhams are witty, diligent, and perceptive folks. “More than satisfied” is vigorous understatement.
P.P.S. the Three Pods of Pepper have their own marvelous CD — HOT STUFF! — on the WVR label (1003) which also features guest appearances by pianist Keith Nichols and Mike Durham Unabashedly recommended!