On January 10, 2010, the energetic Rae Ann Berry captured these performances by the San Francisco Traditional Jazz Foundation Staff and Directors Band — jamming at Nick’s at Rockaway Beach in Pacifica, California. It wasn’t the Nick’s of “sizzling steaks” and fabled memory, where Eddie Condon and his friends played before Eddie decided to open his own club in 1946, but the ambiance was the same. In fact, both selections — SUNDAY and AM I BLUE? — are played at those nice medium tempos that musicians of a certain age and musical education associate with Condon. And the solos — compact and eloquent — would have pleased him greatly.
The players are Bob Schulz, cornet; Bill Carter, clarinet; Marty Eggers, piano; Bill Reinhart, bass; Scott Anthony, guitar; and Virginia Tichenor, drums. It’s possible, if you get into the right mindset, to imagine — in your mind’s ear — that this is a session for Commodore or Decca, with Bob’s serious, flexible lead (Marsala, Max, or Muggsy), Bill’s curlicues (reminiscent of Pee Wee, Cless, or Marsala) and a strong rhythm section driven by Scott’s swinging guitar and Marty’s Stacyish piano. And — with apologies to the dozen fine trombonists I know — the simple two-man frontline is eager, dancing, and light on its feet.
Ignore the dancers; ignore the conversation: the music’s delightful. No one was embarking on a studious repertory recreation: they just got in the spirit and stayed there. All hail! (And Rae Ann has posted another substantial handful of performances by this band with guest singer Pat Yankee, doing old favorites and Hot Five tunes. Rewarding stuff!)