Monthly Archives: September 2009

ANDY SCHUMM and FRIENDS! (Sept. 2009)

I don’t think I have to praise young Mr. Schumm in this post — the video clips I’ve been posting (my own, from Jamaica Knauer and others) are eloquent testimony.  But here he is, surrounded by his musical elders, entirely comfortable, playing the music of Bix Beiderbecke that he loves, as well as a few rarities from the period.  Those well-known elders are Bob Havens on trombone; Scott Robinson on reeds; Andy Stein on violin and baritone sax; James Dapogny on piano; Marty Grosz, who needs no introduction here; Vince Giordano, ditto; Arnie Kinsella, drums. 

Andy opened his set with a slower-than-usual LOUISIANA, whose beginning I missed.  I especially admire Dapogny’s tremolos behind Scott Robinson’s Lesterish clarinet, and the way that Andy leaps in.  And Dapogny, playing the verse as an unaccompanied interlude, slyly reminds us that Mister Jelly was also in Chicago when Bix and the boys were visiting.  I apologize deeply for the lurching of the camera near the end.  Was I carried away with emotion or was it something more mundane?  Either way, the jazz ship was in no danger of going down: 

The second tune was ANGRY (it wasn’t really), which I associate with the New Orleans Rhythm Kings ans George Brunis, from the start of career to the end.  That’s some rhythm section!  Note the enthusiastic backing Arnie Kinsella gives Bob Havens, and the ferocious way Dapogny lets everyone know that he’s here at the start of his solo, emphasizing that three-note ascending phrase.  The tuba isn’t always a melodic instrument, but Vince just forges ahead, creating long-lined inventions that stick in the mind.  And I especially love it that Andy Stein said to himself, “This piece needs a baritone saxophone more than a violin,” picks his up, and boots the final chorus along energetically:

Next, from the Bix and Tram book (recording as “The Chicago Loopers”), the Fats Waller tune, I’M MORE THAN SATISFIED.  Perfectionists will note that there is a moment, coming out of the ensemble, where the team seems to have forgotten the signals (and what was the esoteric meaning of Dapogny’s right-hand gesture to the band — was it “My hand hurts,” or perhaps, “Could we start this thing, for the love of Jo Trent”?) but the performance recovers nicely.  Dapogny’s solo is a model of hot construction, and the rhythm section passage, with Vince finding his low notes and Arnie rocking the temple blocks, couldn’t be better:

And two rarities: ROSY CHEEKS (you can almost invent the bouncy lyrics without ever having heard it sung — it seems an illegitimate relative of BABY FACE, which makes sense in a plagiaristic way).  Although few members of this group could have been intimate with the song, it seems to have simple, if not simplistic chord changes, and they leap right in.  That no one in the house cheered when Scott Robinson concluded his energetically labyrinthine solo is a mystery indeed.  Perhaps they were busily concentrating on their heaped-high plates of food?  Notice how Arnie Kinsella drives the band along in the last chorus — his beat more nourishing than what was on those plates:

Then, a song recorded by Harold Austin’s Ambassadors for Gennett in 1930 (what resonance those words have) — an unusual pop tune called MONA*.  Andy’s lead is, like Bix’s late work, a both poignant and urgent.  The chorus split by and shared by Andy Stein (on baritone) and Scott (on metal clarinet) is a wonderful impromptu creation, again under-appreciated.  And the band energetically takes it out, with Andy Schumm showing the way:

To conclude the set (perhaps to everyone’s relief), Andy called NOBODY’S SWEETHEART NOW, much more familiar material.  Two endearing things happen at the end of the first ensemble chorus: Marty reaches forward and turns off the light on his music stand, because he doesn’t need it, and Arnie shifts into his own version of Jo-Jones-on-the-hi-hat, to encourage the congregation.  Am I the only one who finds such shifts, when done masterfully, absolutely levitating experiences?  And then, Scott whispers to Andy — certainly something about trading phrases.  What happens next reminds me a great deal of Bix and Tram on YOU TOOK ADVANTAGE OF ME, except we know it’s being created there in front of our eyes, gloriously.  More split choruses (Andy Stein and Marty, Vince and Arnie) lead into a final chorus that begins with some tentativeness and then gets heated in a nice “Chicagoan” way just in time for the last eight bars:

Yeah, man!  And more Andy Schumm footage to come – – –

*There’s also a fascinating YouTube clip of Austin’s recording — a good hot dance band of the period, with a debatable vocal — that uses period phonograph advertisements as illustrations — don’t miss the naughty postcard and the Hebrew family illustrations!  But you’ll have to search it out on your own.

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DUKE HEITGER’S ON HIS WAY (October 2009)

What, I ask you, could be simpler or more pleasing?  Duke will be here for a whirlwind tour where every day’s a holiday:

Sunday,  October 4: at The Ear Inn with Anat Cohen, Matt Munisteri, bassist and friendly sit-ins to be arranged.

Monday, October 5: Duke will be part of the trumpet section with Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks, which is always a treat to hear.  (Sofia’s Restaurant in the Hotel Edison in midtown, of course.)

Tuesday, October 6: Duke and Ehud Asherie will play duets (and perhaps more) at Roth’s Westside Steakhouse (on Columbus Avenue on the Upper West Side).

Wednesday, October 7: Duke will sing out with David Ostwald’s Louis Armstrong Centennial Band at Birdland (5:30 PM).

Thursday, October 8: He will be one of the stars at Jack Kleinsinger’s HIGHLIGHTS IN JAZZ concert, bringing together Ehud, Anat, George Masso, Jackie Williams, and many others.

I’ve skimped on the details on when and where — but all of these sites have their necessary information on the blog.  Yours in haste – – –

MARTY GROSZ: “EARLY BENNY”

I first saw Marty Grosz at close range in 1974 when he was an invaluable member of Soprano Summit — at a concert at the New York Jazz Museum (Bob Wilber, Kenny Davern, Marty, bassist Mickey Golizio, and the unsurpassed Cliff Leeman).  I recall that he introduced one of his vocal features, ISN’T LOVE THE STRANGEST THING? as having been composed by the house detective at a large hotel in St. Louis.  So his comedic credentials are solid.  And everyone knows him as a peerless rhythm guitarist in the old style.  Fewer appreciate his singing, especially his Red McKenzie-inspired ballad crooning, and fewer still know what a stellar arranger he is.  And a jazz historian of the first rank, someone who was there and has done his research.  He remains one of my heroes, because he is such fun — even when his wit is at its most acerbic — and because he stubbornly, even perversely, goes his own way against the tide of fashion.  The day I see Marty lugging an amplifier to a gig, then Yeats’s Second Coming surely is at hand.

All of these talents were on display at Jazz at Chautauqua, when Marty presented a program devoted to the early works and associations of one Benny Goodman, with five performances from the second half of the Twenties.  Several crucial factors make this performance even more amazing.  One, none of the musicians had ever seen the charts before, which testifies to their incredible professionalism.  And two: this session began before ten o’clock on a Sunday morning, when some of the players had concluded their last set with the Nighthawks at 1:20 in the morning.  Awe-inspiring fortitude!

Those players: Scott Robinson and Dan Block on reeds; Arnie Kinsella on drums; Vince Giordano on bass sax, aluminum string bass, and tuba; Marty on guitar and banjo; James Dapogny on piano; Andy Schumm on cornet; Bob Havens on trombone.  None of the songs is familiar, so a keen listener might discern some momentary uncertainty with the chord sequence, but I defy any of my readers to be so deft at this hour!

The program began with WHY COULDN’T IT BE POOR LITTLE ME? — a universal plaint at certain times in people’s lives.  I admire Arnie Kinsella’s introduction, Dan Block’s great enthusiasm, and James Dapogny’s romping second chorus:

Perhaps in deference to the early hour, Marty slowed things down (after some comedy) with BLUE (and BROKEN-HEARTED), a pretty song that no one plays in this century.  On the original recording, if memory serves, Goodman also played cornet, although not as well as Andy Schumm:

I don’t believe Marty’s recital of being personally intimidated by Vince so that he would perform this song, but (as with other improvised narratives of Marty’s) it makes a piquant anecdote — preface to I’M WALKING THROUGH CLOVER, originally recorded by the Red Nichols-led “Louisiana Rhythm Kings”:

I associate SENTIMENTAL BABY with one of Red McKenzie’s later vocals, perhaps on a Bud Freeman date for Keynote; Marty took it as a lyrically swinging instrumental, with a simple rocking Thirties riff to end (at a beautiful tempo).  Catch Bob Havens’s coda at the end — shades of Mister Tea:

Finally, a tune with some permanence — at least up until the Forties in Goodman’s repertoire — with a title Marty chose not to explain, THE WANG WANG BLUES.  I leave such linguistic and semantic mysteries to my erudite readers:

“Plenty rhythm” indeed!  Thank you, Marty and cohorts (who range in age from 23 to 81, give or take) for keeping on so nobly.  It was a privilege to be there, to hear and record this session.

MORTON’S LAW

 Jelly“Jazz music is to be played sweet.  Soft, plenty rhythm.  When you have your plenty rhythm with your plenty swing it becomes beautiful.” 

I was thinking about Jelly Roll Morton’s famous comment while listening to some new compact discs by well-known improvisers.  I would like every improvising musician to commit Morton’s Law to memory, and these codicils as well:

Loud is only good if you also know how to play softly.  Imitate Jo Jones. 

“As fast as you can” is only permitted to those players who can play music at a stately pace — and not just the opening two choruses of a ballad that is then abruptly changed into double-time.  Internalize Ben Webster and Bobby Hackett.

It takes a good deal of courage to be concise.  Are all those notes necessary?  Study Jimmy Rowles.

The spaces between phrases are as important as the phrases themselves.  Consider Count Basie. 

A solo should be more than a string of glittering phrases, or a series of Special Effects.  A beautiful melody, played with the proper emotion, might be more satisfying than the most ornate elaborations on it.  Recall Benny Morton.

If the crowd applauds a performance, do they know why?  And should they have done so?  Ask Henry “Red” Thoreau.

LOOK WHO’S IN TOWN!

Dan Barrett, trombonist, cornetist, bandleader, arranger, composer, singer, musical sparkplug (and one-third of “A Wondrous Trio” on this blog) — is coming to New York and New Jersey for a too-brief season of gigs and recording.  Here, verified and straight from the source, is his itinerary, minute-by-minute. 

Tuesday, 13 Oct 2009:  Dan arrives EWR at 3:59pm. (Dan will probably go down to Arturo’s and see pianist Harry Whittaker and bassist Pat O’Leary).

Wednesday, 14 Oct: Dan @ Ocean City Library, Toms River with Danny Tobias, Joel Forbes, Ehud Asherie, et. al

Thursday, 15 Oct: Dan @ Small’s 7:30-9pm w/Ehud Asherie, others (Dan will dash over to Sofia’s in the Edison Hotel, to hear Rossano Sportiello after Dan finishes at Small’s. Rossano plays until 11pm).

Friday, 16 Oct: Dan @ Roth’s Westside Steakhouse 7-10pm w/ Ehud, others

Saturday, 17 Oct: Dan has a free night… 

Sunday, 18 Oct: Dan @ Ear Inn 8-11pm w/ Jon-Erik Kellso, others…

Monday, 19 Oct: Dan @ Bickford Theater, Morristown, w/ Danny Tobias, Ehud, Joel Forbes, and Kevin Dorn.

Tuesday, 20 Oct: Dan, Rebecca Kilgore, Eddie Erickson, Jake Hanna, Warren Vache, Scott Robinson, Dan Block, Ron Hockett, others @ NOLA Studios; (John Sheridan’s “Dream Band” recording for Arbors Records).   

Tuesday, 20 Oct: Dan @ Little Branch 10:30-12:30pm w/ Ehud (after Arbors recording)

Wednesday, 21 Oct: more recording at NOLA as above (Dan is free in the evening after the recording session)

Thursday, 22 Oct: Dan leaves EWR at 12 Noon

Here are details for the Ocean County Library (Toms River) and Bickford Theatre concerts: 

The Bickford Theatre/Morris Museum: On Columbia Turnpike/Road (County Road 510) at the corner of Normandy Heights Road, east of downtown Morristown. Near Interstate 287 and the Route 24 expressway. This is a 300-seat hall with generous parking on site. Wheelchair access. Weeknight concerts are one long set (8 to 9:30 PM). Tickets are generally $15 in advance, but $18 at the door. Tickets may be purchased via credit card over the phone by calling the box office at (973) 971-3706. The box office can also provide information, directions or a simple “jazz map.”

Ocean County College: Midweek Jazz concerts are held on Wednesday evenings (normally at their comfortable Fine Arts Center). Concerts begin at 8 PM and run as one extended set until about 9:30 PM. Tickets are $13 in advance, but $15 at the door. Call their Box Office at (732) 255-0500 for information, credit card purchases (no fee) or driving directions, which are also available from their web site: www.ocean.edu.  In recent months, MidWeek Jazz has moved to a temporary home at the Ocean County Library in Toms River while their building is renovated. The OCC Box Office will continue to sell the tickets, and has easy driving instructions to the Library, just 4 miles from the OCC campus and less than a mile from Parkway exit 81, either direction. The Library’s street address is 101 Washington Street, 08753 if you are using a navigator, but the Library itself does not sell the concert tickets. 

(Email Don Robertson at Jazzevents@aol.com to get on his email list for regular jazz updates.)

TUESDAYS WITH SIDNEY*

*The Sidney Bechet Society.  We haven’t been able to spend Tuesdays with Monsieur Bechet for a half-century, but time spent with his youthful heirs will be just as satisfying.  Don’t be left out!

Wycliffe Gordon’s “History of Jazz Trombone”

Symphony Space, Broadway & 95th St., New York City       Tuesday, September 29, 2009       2 shows: 6:15pm & 9:00pm    

The Sidney Bechet Society presents trombone sensation Wycliffe Gordon leading a “History of Jazz Trombone.”  Wycliffe & the band will remember the legends of this soulful instrument, jazz titans like Kid Ory, Jack Teagarden, Lawrence Brown, Tricky Sam Nanton, Juan Tizol, Tommy Dorsey, J.C. Higginbotham, Tyree Glenn, Al Grey and Buster Cooper.  Joining Wycliffe will be Anat Cohen, reeds (Jazz Journalists’ Assoc. 2009 Clarinetist of the Year); Etienne Charles, trumpet (winner: 2006 National Trumpet Competition); Ehud Asherie, piano; Zaid Shukri, bass; Marion Felder, drums; Terry Wilson, vocals.   Tickets are $25, available at the box office, by telephone and online at http://www.symphonyspace.org (use code “RAC102” when ordering online).  Special 2 show discount: get our Sept. 29 & Oct. 27 shows for $44.  This offer is good at box office & phone only—use code “SBS 01”

www.sidneybechet.org

“Remembering Stuyvesant Casino & Central Plaza” with Vince Giordano

Symphony Space, Broadway & 95th St., New York City         Tuesday, October 27, 2009     6:15pm & 9:00pm

The Sidney Bechet Society presents a tribute to two legendary jazz venues: Stuyvesant Casino & Central Plaza.  Joining Vince will be Randy Reinhart, trumpet; Mark Lopeman, reeds; Jim Fryer, trombone; Ehud Asherie, piano; Kenny Salvo, banjo; Rob Garcia, drums, and Ricky Gordon on washboard.  During the 1940s and 1950s, these were the hotbeds of traditional Jazz in NYC. All the greats played there. Vince Giordano will lead a hot band recreating the music one would hear at both establishments. Special guest stars are pianist Marty Napoleon & clarinetist Sol Yaged, who played at both venues. Marty & Sol are 88 and 87 years old, respectively, and still swinging hard!  Tickets are $25, available at the box office, by telephone and online at http://www.symphonyspace.org (use code “RAC102” when ordering online).  Special 2 show discount: get our Sept. 29 & Oct. 27 shows for $44.  This offer is good at box office & phone only—use code “SBS 01”

A WONDROUS TRIO (September 2009)

Three by three . . .  Or perhaps the Jazz Magi, bearing gifts . . . .

On Friday night at the 2009 Jazz at Chautauqua, after the initial fireworks and ballad medley, the stage cleared for something out of the ordinary: a long duet set pairing the irreplaceable tenor saxophonist Harry Allen and the youthful-but-remarkable Ehud Asherie, making his debut appearance at this party.  (In the spirit of full disclosure, I had recommended him to director Joe Boughton . . . who was delighted.)  The sets at Chautauqua are usually compact affairs, but Joe gave this duo ample room to stretch out.  Then Ehud added a proven musical catalyst to the mix by inviting trombonist Dan Barrett up to the stage.  I’ve been a Barrett enthusiast since 1987: he’s a natural-born wonder, as readers will know. 
“Tonation and phrasing” in splendid ways.  Two horns and a piano might seem lopsided, but Harry and Dan were clearly having a ball, conversing in swing time, and Ehud’s orchestral playing kept everything on track.  In fact, one of the pleasures of this mini-session is in watching Dan’s face, beaming at Ehud’s playing and Harry’s — we get to beam at Dan’s work in front of our own screens. 

They began with a slow-medium SOMETIMES I’M HAPPY, ruminative but never stodgy, that reminded me of the private recordings Timme Rosenkrantz did in his apartment in 1944-5, with musicians stretching out, letting their solos build in the most relaxed way, everyone taking his time . . . to great effect.  I also think of it as Lester Young Keynote tempo!  Or is it Ben Webster with Jimmy Rowles?  And the riff that they drift into with such ease, leaving space for Ehud to comment and ornament . . . before moving into his own slow, striding world.  Catch Dan’s explosion in the penultimate chorus (it caught me by surprise) and the slow-motion rocking of this trio — an art much more difficult than playing fast and loud:

I didn’t recognize the verse of the next selection, although it seemed subliminally familiar: when the trio hit the chorus at the sprinting pace Ehud had chosen, I knew it was James P. Johnson’s CHARLESTON, which is such a wonderful (and rarely played) piece of jazz Americana.  Like two friends who know each other’s minds so well, Dan and Harry fill in the spaces in each other’s phrases in the most delightful way, with Ehud rollicking along with them (is that a bit of bossa nova I hear before he launches into full Harlem-rent-party stride?).  Then, memorable interplay, and an ending that is abruptly hilarious or is it hilariously abrupt?:

Finally (what could follow that?) Ehud went back to Irving Berlin (and Fred Astaire) — always reliable — and called I’M PUTTING ALL MY EGGS IN ONE BASKET, a song that brings out a surprising emotions in the horns, especially Mr. Allen.  And in Ehud’s ringing declarative solo, I hear the Giants — Fats, James P., Willie the Lion, Don Lambert, and others.  You’ll find your own delights — the hot telepathy Dan and Harry create before Dan decides to suggest that we carry our basket on to the A train: 

(This clip is at points obscured by a dark figure who turned out to be Joe Boughton with an eye on the clock, which was a pity: this trio could have jammed all night, and we would have begged for more.  But perhaps it’s not right to be greedy: three marvelous group improvisations at this level should be enough for anyone!)