LES RED HOT REEDWARMERS, OH MY! (July 11, 2009)

By popular demand, here are five more hot numbers from Les Red Hot Reedwarmers, the band that lives up to its name, caught live at the 2009 Whitley Bay International Jazz festival, featuring Aurelie Tropez, Stephane Gillot, Martin Seck, and an enthusiastic rhythm section.  (I’ve posted a few performances from this set where Bent Persson joined them — see RED HOT AND BENT. . . ) 

From the book of their idol, Jimmie Noone, they perform IT’S TIGHT LIKE THAT (a phrase of enthusiastic celebration that has nothing to with Manhattan parking spaces or constricting waistbands):

And a rhetorical question anyone can answer in the affirmative, even if you’re an only child: OH, SISTER!  AIN’T THAT HOT?:

I’LL SEE YOU IN MY DREAMS is now sometimes used to signal that the evening’s entertainment is over and that it’s time for well-behaved listeners to go to bed.  But in the Twenties, it was a brisk dance tune (think of the Henderson version with Louis), so the RHR weren’t ready to stop, as you’ll hear:

SAN was recorded not only by Noone, but by the Mound City Blue Blowers, and by a small band out of the Paul Whiteman organization featuring Bix Beiderbecke.  The RHR live up to their heroic antecendents with style:

And, finally, MY DADDY ROCKS ME — where the reference is neither to hammocks or to Pilates.  “With one steady roll,” say the lyrics.  You’ll figure it out once you’ve heard this rocking performance.  And that trumpet man?  None other than our hero, Mr. Persson:

The RHR’s two Stomp Off CDs are also splendid: the band comes through whole on every performance.  I admire the band tremendously for the fervency and beauty of their solo improvisations, but would call your attention to their exact, swinging ensemble playing — those unison passages are suely difficult to execute at any speed, and the band adores racing tempos! 

This post is for M. “Stompy” Jones, President and Treasurer of the Mlle. Aurelie Tropez Fan Club, Canadian Division.

5 responses to “LES RED HOT REEDWARMERS, OH MY! (July 11, 2009)

  1. Pingback: LES RED HOT REEDWARMERS, OH MY! (July 11, 2009)

  2. You’ve granted me a great boon. Many thanks. It’s hard to contemplate the imminent “death of jazz” when you see and hear young talent like Aurelie Tropez. The doomsayers will always be with us, and they’ll always be right. Civilizations have been going to hell in handbaskets since antiquity; that’s why I heartily endorse your prescription that we “simply live in the moment to enjoy what is there, while it (and we) are able to do so.” Unfortunately this is a harder path to follow for some of us than it is for you. It’s no disrespect to you to suggest, with the greatest goodwill, that your ungloomy outlook on the future of jazz may be skewed by the fact that you’re ideally situated, both geographically and otherwise, to soak up gobs of live hotcha pretty much whenever you like. What’s more, you love to travel and have the boundless energy of a honeybee on an all-caffeine diet. Unfortunately, for the rest of us, enjoying live jazz – my kind of jazz – now requires a significant investment of time, money and effort. (So does any endeavor that holds large rewards, you’ll reply – and you’ll be correct.) I live in what is laughingly called a “world-class” metropolis, a city that regularly used to host the likes of Vic Dickenson, Ralph Sutton, Jay McShann, Dick Wellstood, Sweets Edison, Buddy Tate, Plas Johnson, Gus Johnson, Milt Hinton, etc. No more. Now, in order to hear the musicians I want to hear, we can drive four hours to a once-a-year jazz party, or I can pay a large sum and consent to have myself strapped into a long metal tubular thing, only to be propelled at unimaginable speed through time zones to some distant place where perhaps, if I’m lucky, I’ll be reunited with my luggage. Yet I’ll do it, because our diem here is very short and, as you suggest, we should carpe it for all it’s worth.

    Referring back to your “Jazz is Dead Redux” post, we rightly lament the fact that practically no one nowadays knows who Lester Young was. Last month I was chatting with a a fellow customer in a local barbershop. In the course of our conversation I learned that – mirabile dictu! – he did know who Lester Young was. At first I was delighted, as if I’d met a fellow-member of some secret sect; all we lacked was a secret handshake. The guy happened to be a math teacher, so just for fun I asked him to guess the odds of running into another Lester Young fan in a barbershop in this city. That was a mistake; sobering numbers like 1-in-33,000 are bound to take some of the delight out of such a chance encounter. On reflection, though, I realized that Pres is imperishable. Art forms flourish and decline, fads and fashions come and go – what else is new? Great music goes into eclipse, but sooner or later, if there was real quality there in the first place, it inevitably re-emerges. It’s happened before, many times. Much of Bach was unknown and unplayed until Mendelssohn discovered some manuscripts in Leipzig. If anyone seemed destined for permanent obscurity it was the Spanish composer Juan Arriaga who died at age 19 in 1826; yet we’ve discovered, relatively recently, that his string quartets are on the same level as the early Beethoven quartets. Bizet’s delightful Symphony in C, a student work, lay a-moldering in school archives until it was “discovered” in the 1930s. Vivaldi was just an obscure name from the distant baroque past, his works unplayed, until the Westminster label issued a spate of LPs in the 1950s. I’ll lay you 10-to-1 that someday Pres will be similarly rediscovered and re-appreciated. (Since it’s likely that neither of us will be around to settle the bet, make that 100-to-1.)

    Again referring to your previous post, I think it’s a mistake, in looking back at the Swing Era, to separate jazz and popular music. The differences between the Condonites on the one hand and the Andrews Sisters on the other are differences of degree, not of kind. Jazz was thoroughly infused with pop; pop was thoroughly infused with jazz. All syncopated music of the Swing Era (aside from the operetta-inspired pop songs, which were many) lies somewhere on the jazz-pop continuum. Like Moliere’s M. Jourdain who was surprised and delighted to learn he’d been speaking prose all his life without knowing it, most Americans in the 1930s were jazz fans, only they didn’t proclaim themselves as such. Most of them didn’t read Down Beat or collect Red Allen records, yet most of the music they enjoyed was jazz or jazz-influenced. You didn’t have to go to jazz; it came to you, all the time, on the radio, on records, in movies. If you tuned in the Kraft Music Hall, as most everyone did, you were bound to hear much jazz of high quality. If you listened to the Jack Benny radio shows of 1937 (as I’m doing now) you heard, and enjoyed, good, hot clarinet solos with practically every number the Phil Harris band played. (Anybody out there know who Phil Harris’ clarinetist was in 1937?) My parents were by no means jazz fans; they were classical music lovers, regular subscribers to the New York Philharmonic and Metropolitan Opera, with lots of Gilbert & Sullivan on the side. But they weren’t snobs about popular culture. They loved to dance and regularly “went into New York” (that’s the way we Brooklynites used to describe going to Manhattan by subway) to dance to the strains of the Benny Goodman and Red Norvo bands. I remember my father explaining to me, with respect and admiration, what a jazz musician is doing when improvising on a song’s chord changes. I remember my mother describing to me the difference between Teddy Wilson’s style and Art Tatum’s; she preferred Wilson because she thought Tatum overly ornate. (Besides, she thought Teddy was devastatingly handsome.) This, mind you, from non-jazz fans! Before I owned my own records I would rummage through my parents’ 78s, mostly 12” classical records, and play them on my wind-up Victrola. Among those records was the Joe Mooney Quartet’s “Just A Gigolo” / “September Song.” How hip was that? Was Paul Whiteman jazz? Al Jolson? Bing Crosby? Ethel Waters? The Mills Brothers? The Coon-Sanders Nighthawks? Irving Aaronson & His Commanders? Annette Hanshaw? When jazz purists claim that something is pop and not jazz, it usually merely means that the music is of insufficient hotness and hipness to satisfy our exacting tastes. I’ve come to the broad view that it’s all jazz to some degree or other.

    But all this is much too big a subject to discuss here. It’s a longish article. It’s a freaking book – or perhaps best of all, a stimulating discussion while seated in old-fashioned rocking chairs on an old-fashioned porch overlooking a lake.

    Again, thanks for the healing dose of Aurelie and confreres. Old Man Weltschmerz doesn’t have a prayer as long as music like this is being made.

  3. I ❤ this band! After reading this post I went straight to Jazz By Mail and bought both CDs. I'm a big Jimmie Noone fan, and I just love these new albums. I'll definitely be playing some of these songs for dancers – so they're both jazz _and_ pop music!

  4. Brian Hollier

    I have just read the above letters/mails and comments about jazz. I agree with every word our friend Stompy Jones said. This weekend (October 2011) I have experienced seeing and hearing Aurélie Tropez play in our local jazz club to a large audience of attentive Danish jazz fans. I haven´t got over the experience yet. Luckily, I took my video camera and got the second set on tape. My poor wife was left alone while I filmed from in front of the stage. But, boy, am I pleased I reecorded that moment in time. Aurélie and her husband Stéphane and the entire band gave us a great evening in jazz. Just when I was losing faith in most of the bands around now, it is inspiring to hear such great musicians dedicated to spreading the joy of Jimmie Noone. I look forward to seeing them again soon. In the meantime, I have my 45 minute video to see again and again. Vive Les Red Hot Reedwarmers!

  5. Dear Brian,

    Will you share your treasures with the RHR-deprived world on YouTube? Consider this an encouragement to do so! Cheers, Michael

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