Near the end of the Whitley Bay International Jazz Festival, I left one session featuring a medium-sized band, preferring to be in a corner in the lobby of the “Cotton Club” bar. 

What awaited me there was a half-hour set of duets between clarinet goddess Aurelie Tropez (of the Red Hot Reedwarmers) and soft-spoken stride monarch Paul Asaro.  Their brand of chamber jazz was more than rewarding — but what amused me was the streams of people, leaving the “Cotton Club,” who paraded along while the music was playing, oblvious to the music or perhaps sated by what they had just heard. 

I wanted to call this post WALK ON BY or WALK THIS WAY, but decided that an excess of whimsy might be . . .  excessive.  So the first two performances here are punctuated by headless torsos ambling across the screen.  Viewers who are easily distracted by such things might choose to turn away from the monitor — but don’t be swayed, because the soundtrack is too good to pass by. 

They began with a slow-medium reading of SHOE SHINE BOY, much closer to Louis than to Jones-Smith, Inc.:

To change the mood, Aurelie suggested THEM THERE EYES:

A nearly ominous BLUES MY NAUGHTY SWEETIE GAVE (or GIVES?) TO ME, a la Jimmie Noone:


And, finally, SHINE (or (S-H-I-N-E), depending.  They stomp it off, don’t they? 


Two players having a good time, listening to one another, with nary a cliche in sight.  Paul made that slightly recalcitrant piano sing, and Aurelie is long overdue for her own CD.  What tonation and phrasing! 

P.S.  This post is for Bridget Calzaretta, Martin Seck, Stompy Jones, and Boris, of course . . .

8 responses to “AURELIE TROPEZ / PAUL ASARO (July 12, 2009)

  1. Pingback: AURELIE TROPEZ / PAUL ASARO (July 12, 2009)

  2. Stompy Jones

    Wow. The world needs to hear more, much more of Aurelie Tropez. Thank you!

  3. Mr. Google says “Gave” and offers Ted Lewis’ recording at the top of the list. BUT – that don’t matter nearly as much as how wonderful this duo is. Stompy Jones got it so right about Aurelie Tropez that I can move on to Paul Asaro and note that since we lost Dick Wellstood (Day of Infamy) this is the first stride pianist that made me really happy. As S. Jones said, “Wow !!”…sam p

  4. Bill Gallagher

    Kudos to Michael for capturing these moments. Aurelie and Paul deserve to be heard more and there is, most definitely, a bit of Wellstood in Paul’s playing. But, alas, here was a missed opportunity for our blogist to make a cameo appearance. With the many passers-by, it would have been exciting to see Michael going past, perhaps hunched over a la Groucho Marx, giving the camera an amused look.

  5. Ah, Bill, thanks . . . . but then I would have had to put the camera down! A poor use of energy, I think.

  6. It seems to happen every time I go to a Jazz Party, you go to see a particular favourite or two and come away knocked out by someone new or different. In New Orleans recently there was a street singer Meschiya Lake and a Trumpet/piano play Shaye who were exceptional – I later discovered (Jon-Erik Kelso) that Shaye is Joe Cohn’s daughter and Al’s granddaughter

    There were several moments like that at Whitley Bay and Jazz Lives has shown several with, I hope, more to come. AURELIE TROPEZ was, however, a bit special – all she needed was a sense of humour (probable but language barrier) and a love of cricket to make her perfect for this Englishman.

    I will hold the camera for ‘ALFRED’ on our next outing together

  7. Stompy Jones

    Just watched all these clips again – results same as first time. Heart racing. Pulse rate up. Feeling lightheaded. Symptoms suggest euphoria induced by discovery of sensational clarinetist (plus stride piano player with chops aplenty). Recommended treatment: additional large doses of Aurelie Tropez. Take daily.

  8. “Hello, Central, give me Doctor Jazz. He’s got what I need; I’ll say he has!” And there’s no paperwork and no co-pay.

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