As I’ve written, the downtown haunt Banjo Jim’s (Avenue C and 9th Street) in New York City offers the possibility for ecstatic musical experiences when the Cangelosi Cards take the floor. Literally, it is the floor, since there is no demarcation between the audience, the dancers, and the band . . . which is perhaps as it should be.
I visited the Cards one week ago at their Monday-night gig and captured their first exuberant performance of WHEN I TAKE MY SUGAR TO TEA, featuring Tamar Korn, singing and percussive effects; Jake Sanders, guitar; Dennis Lichtman, clarinet and mandolin; Matt Musselman, trombone; Marcus Milius, harmonica; Gordon Webster, piano; Cassidy Holden, bass. No drums, none needed.
I sat as close to the band as I could. Although I’ve always approved of the synchronicity between the Cards and the dancers, this night — as the video shows — I had reason to feel imperiled by the substantial yet graceful, wildly swinging couple dancing. I’m no swing-dance aficionado, so I wouldn’t presume to evaluate their performance, but they were so close to me that I feared a flying elbow or arcing sneaker. Fortunately, I had room enough to cower in my seat, averting any collisions, but I hope my readers appreciate the raw courage my videography demands!
What a marvel this band is — their effervescent swing, the jazz-battle that Matt and Dennis get into, and Tamar’s luminous voice floating above it all. And all this on the first tune of the night!
The two still photographs — made eerie and lovely by the light at the rear of the bandstand — were taken before the Cards began to play.