It was Friday night at Jazz at Chautauqua — September 2009. The crowd was still working on their late dinners and drinks, chatting with the people they hadn’t seen since last year, when Marty Grosz and his Esteemed Esthetes of Swing (my name, not his) took the stand in the Athenaeum ballroom. Before he began one of the performances, he took a long time scat-singing the tempo he wanted, and when someone must have looked quizzically at him, he said, earnestly, “It’s the groove. Gotta find that groove!” which the band did, as the four performances that follow will show. The distinguished participants: Duke Heitger, Bob Havens, Dan Block, Keith Ingham, Vince Giordano, and Arnie Kinsella.
They began (Marty’s vocal nearly obscured by the crowd chatter) with Bill Robinson’s DOIN’ THE NEW LOW DOWN, resulting in many dancing feet in the audience, although everyone as far as I know remained seated:
Next, an Isham Jones composition, which begins in the best Castillian manner, recalling the Bob Crosby Bobcats, SPAIN:
In memory of Louis Armstrong, J. C. Higginbotham, and Sidney Catlett, Marty suggested I DOUBLE DARE YOU:
Finally, a medium-tempo exploration of one of the oldest of the Old Favorites, BABY WON’T YOU PLEASE COME HOME?
Everything that enlightened jazz listeners could want: hot solos, keen tunes, singing that harks back to Fats and Red McKenzie, a Basie rhythm-section passage, an eloquent bass sax solo, head arrangements and more. Stirring stuff, no?