Daily Archives: October 23, 2009

ONE LAST LOOK, PERHAPS?

In the great stories, looking back over your shoulder is emotionally understandable.  But it often ends up badly.  Ask Eurydice; ask Lot’s wife. 

But I am having a hard time parting from my videos of the 2009 Jazz at Chautauqua, so I thought I would post yet another set, recorded at 10:30 Sunday morning, undiscovered territory for most jazz musicians, nocturnal by occupation and habit.  Some of the players look unusually impassive, but even in the unaccustomed bright light, the set has an undeniable casual splendor.

On the stand were Duke Heitger, Andy Schumm, Dan Barrett, Scott Robinson, Bob Reitmeier, Ehud Asherie, Marty Grosz, Frank Tate, and Pete Siers — gathered together for a medium-fast one, a ballad medley, and a short romp through an ancient Good Old Good One.

Here they are, caught a few bars too late, into LINGER AWHILE, a song I always associate with the 1943 Dicky Wells recording featuring Bill Coleman, Lester Young, Ellis Larkins, Al Hall, and Jo Jones.  You’ll admire Pete’s splashing cymbal work, the neatness of Dan’s solo, Scott’s winding lyricism, and the way a hidden Andy comes from nowhere:

One of the highlights of Jazz at Chautauqua is the opening ballad medley, where just about everyone is asked to play one chorus at a slow tempo of a ballad — the musicians climb on and off the stand, the rhythm section learns at short notice that the next endeavor is, say, SKYLARK in F, and everyone handles it magnificently.  (It’s so much more rewarding than asking everyone to play BODY AND SOUL for twenty minutes.)  Duke decided to repeat this treat in miniature, beginning with his own MEMORIES OF YOU, followed by Bob playing STARDUST, Scott weaving his way through PRELUDE TO A KISS, Andy recalling Willard Robison on OLD FOLKS, and Dan Barrett bringing everyone together to intone IF I HAD YOU.  But the bad news is that YouTube wouldn’t let me post it: it ran longer than ten minutes.  Grrrr.  But here’s some consolation — an ideal get-off-the-stage performance, a brisk CHINA BOY, compact and hot:

How many days is it till Jazz at Chautauqua 2010?

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DO THAT THING!

I’m always slightly dubious about “all-star” groups, for occasionally these assemblages of stellar soloists aren’t the most cohesive bands.  These performances can become a string of solos on over-familiar material. 

Not so at the International Bohem Ragtime and Jazz Festival, obviously.  Here are two delightful videos, just posted on YouTube, of two groups of international all-stars, producing very rewarding jazz at the 2009 festival.  Incidentally, even though these songs are from the last century, the Bohem Festival is as technologically sophisticated as anyone could wish — imaginative camera work here and the 2009 bash was the first jazz festival ever broadcast live on the internet, with 30,000 online visitors during the weekend. 

The first group features Matthias Seuffert on clarinet, Attila Korb on trombone and vocal, Herbert Christ on trumpet, on trombone and vocal, Paolo Alderighi on piano, Tamas Benyei on guitar, Ad van Beerendonk on bass, and Nick Ward on drums.  Without copying the Waller record, they get into a surging yet relaxed groove on LULU’S BACK IN TOWN — that last bridge, featuring Matthias and Nick, is priceless!  Some of the pleasure of watching / listening to this is, of course, finding more material by my heroes in top form — but there’s a deeper pleasure in meeting players previously unknown to me and savoring their mastery. 

Another, entirely different group, featuring Bria Skonberg on trumpet, Russ Phillips on trombone, Craig Flory, reeds, Morten Gunnar Larsen, piano, Stuart Zank, banjo, Janos Mazura, tuba, and Jeff Hamilton on drums, rocks through BLUES MY NAUGHTY SWEETIE GAVE TO ME — with perfectly-played riffs at the end.     

In 2010, two festivals will take place in Hungary, with world-class players.  Start making plans!  For more information visit: www.bohemragtime.com.  (DVD’s are also available.)