A LITTLE JAM! (Nov. 29, 2009)

I remember that once an interviewer, trying to find out whether Ruby Braff was playing a cornet or a trumpet, asked him, “What is that?” pointing at his horn.  Ruby, characteristically, responded at top speed, but in italics: “That?  That is a musical instrument.”  Ruby would have approved of the jazz played at the end of the night on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2009, at The Ear Inn, where gifted improvisers seemed to come from everywhere.

After an easy-going opening set by the Earregulars: Jon-Erik Kellso, Dan Block (on tenor sax and clarinet), Chris Flory, and Jon Burr, some sterling players came in: cornetist Dan Tobias, bassist Gary Cattley, clarinetist Attilio Troiano, and (new to me and quite impressive) trumpeter Gordon Au.  (To read and hear more about Gordon, visit http://www.gordonaumusic.com/html/slideshow.php.

Jon-Erik first offered his chair to Dan Tobias and said, happily, “It sounds too good.  I’m going to take notes,” and he watched happily as Dan chose one of his favorite songs, THIS CAN’T BE LOVE, for a genial run-through that reminded me of one of Ruby Braff’s late-period groups. 

Then someone suggested THE PREACHER (perhaps by Horace Silver, although the version I know is by a pair of fellows named Bing and Louis).  To my ears, it’s really not much of a composition, and Jon Burr pointed out that its chord structure resembles I’VE BEEN WORKIN’ ON THE RAILROAD, but everyone swung out.

Finally, Jon-Erik ended the evening on a triumphant note by calling for STRUTTIN’ WITH SOME BARBECUE, complete with an upwards modulation at the end.  Trumpets all out!  (You knew, of course, that the title of that song — translated into current slang — would be WALKING AROUND WITH MY HOT GIRLFRIEND FOR EVERYONE TO SEE?  It has nothing to do with brisket or hot dogs.)

P.S.  Victor, the Ear’s guiding spirit and bartender, set the mood before any of the players had come in — by playing Bix and Norvo, Berigan and Condon . . . turning his head to the speakers, Jon-Erik said, “We know we’re in the right place!” and he was correct.

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4 responses to “A LITTLE JAM! (Nov. 29, 2009)

  1. Pingback: Twitted by jonburr

  2. Thank you. It’s always a delight to hear musicians of this calibre. I especially liked the ‘Barbecue.” As lagniappe (always wanted to use that word) your post introduces us to trumpeter Gordon Au, whose solo teems with fresh, original ideas.

    I have but one light cavil (from the overture of the same name): ‘You knew, of course, that the title of that song…..” Well no, I didn’t know the true meaning of the title, and, as always, I’m extremely grateful for any morsels of erudition you can throw my way. It’s that “of course” that rankles. Something in the tone – as if anyone with a nodding acquaintance with jazz knew this years ago. Okay class, a quick show of hands: how many knew the meaning of “Struttin’ With Some Barbecue”? I thought so. So why “of course” – except to make the reader, namely me, feel like the only square in the room? And here I thought barbecue was barbecue, hamentashen were hamentashen, and getting tall meant you were ready to play in the NBA. How strange this land of jazz, where nothing is what it seems.

    Thanks again. Enjoyed the “Barbecue,” loved the lagniappe.

  3. Dear Mr. Jones,

    I would be wounded to the quick by the thought of hurting your feelings were I able to find where my quick is at the moment: it must be under the sink with the cleaning products. I thought that the question mark after the offensive sentence (containing the damnable “of course”) would indicate to readers that this was said ironically, lightly, if not politely. It is not the first time my humo(u)r has come to ground heavily, and I apologize for the very hint of pomposity . . . especially when aimed anywhere near you, the least square of men. Accept my most humble apologies, and thanks for your keen editing.

    Yours most faithfully, MS

  4. You realize, of course, I was kidding.

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