My title comes from a Jelly Roll Morton record from his great Victor period — but it’s a close approximation of the phrase that came into my mind when I watched and heard this great small band from the recent San Diego Dixieland Jazz Festival, with these November 27, 2009 video clips coming to us through the apparently inexhaustible generosity of Rae Ann Berry.
The band? Led by the melifluous clarinetist Tim Laughlin, it features pianist Chris Dawson, recently celebrated in this blog, drummer Hal Smith, cornetist Connie Jones, trombonist Alan Adams, guitarist Katie Cavera, and bassist Marty Eggers — a nice mixture of Californians and New Orleanians, stirred and hot.
Here they are on WANG WANG BLUES. Catch Hal’s press rolls behind the opening ensemble, Tim’s melodic fluidity that hints at Noone by way of Davern, his beautiful tone; Connie’s mixture of gruffness and Bixian nimbleness; that rhythm section, with Chris light yet rocking, Marty and Katie fervent, Hal remembering all the things one can do with a hi-hat cymbal and its stem; Katie’s neat chorded solo. And then the ensemble choruses, starting calmly and getting Hot. There are rough edges here (it seems to have started the set) but I love it in an old-fashioned way:
Fats Waller’s KEEPIN’ OUT OF MISCHIEF NOW follows, situated midway between Dixieland conventions and the Vanguard recording featuring Vic Dickenson and Ruby Braff. Connie’s earnest vocal is a treat, and the ghosts of Wild Bill Davison and Teddy Wilson, apparently unlikely partners, share the stage in perfect harmony, before Marty’s melodic solo and the easily-rocking final ensemble:
Connie and Alan left the stage for a splendid quintet version of DOWN BY THE OLD MILL STREAM, which allows us to hear and see the uplifting work of Chris Dawson, his treble lines sparkling but never upstaging Tim. Katie’s chordal solo reminds me of Carmen Mastren’s playing on the 1940 Bechet-Spanier session, and that’s high praise. And this performance suggests some of the lilting playing of a Goodman – Wilson Thirties airshot without copying any of those patented licks:
More to come!