Daily Archives: February 11, 2010

ONE MORE FOR BIX: Bern, 1993

The “New York All-Stars” were Randy Sandke, cornet; Dan Barrett, trombone; Ken Peplowski, clarinet; Scott Robinson, C-melody and bass saxophones; Mark Shane, piano; Marty Grosz, guitar / vocal . . . and a bassist and drummer I don’t quite recognize: Gregor Beck and Dave Ratajczak?  Someone will enlighten me.  This concert from 1993 in Berne was televised, and “michaelsjazz” (that’s cornetist Michael Supnick) on YouTube has posted clear videos on YouTube.  Possibly familiar . . . but how young they all look, and how nicely they balance the Bix “originals” with their own inspired improvisations!

Let’s begin with a hot reading of MY PRETTY GIRL, which shows why the Jean Goldkette band scared its competitors (including the Henderson band) to bits:

Here’s SORRY:

And a fast RIVERBOAT SHUFFLE, which easily moves into Fifties Condon territory to good effect:

Ken Peplowski hates the obligatory comparison to Goodman, but here, he, Mark Shane and the rhythm tear through CHINA BOY in a way that does recall the great 1936 trio:

Since very little could be faster than that, here’s Mark Shane’s quietly respectful solo IN A MIST:

And a nice minor THERE AIN’T NO SWEET MAN THAT’S WORTH THE SALT OF MY TEARS, with Marty Grosz stepping in for young Mr. Crosby:

Something more positive in the name of Romance — Walter Donaldson’s jaunty BECAUSE MY BABY DON’T MEAN MAYBE NOW with neat interludes from Shane and Dan Barrett:

Dan Barrett goes beyond the superlatives, as far as I’m concerned: here he takes the pretty but little-played WAIT ‘TILL YOU SEE ‘MA CHERIE’ as his feature:

And a feature for Marty Grosz, whose mixture of Hot, sincerity, and mockery is irreplaceable — CHANGES:

Then, an instrumental version of CANDLELIGHTS (does this draw upon Joe Lippman’s arrangement for Bunny Berigan, I wonder?):

I’m not wild about the idea of running SINGIN’ THE BLUES and I’M COMIN’ VIRGINIA together, but perhaps that is the only way to handle two ground-breaking ballad masterpieces (and Randy’s playing of Bix’s solos is beyond compare — as is Marty’s Eddie Lang):

And FIDGETY FEET, paying homage to Bix and to the generations that came after, doing him honor on the bandstand and in the recording studios:

“MKG and FRIENDS” (Feb. 6, 2010)

Another jazz gift from some brilliant musicians, ably captured by Rae Ann Berry!

MKG and Friends, on February 6, 2010, at the Sounds of Mardi Gras in Fresno, California.

That new acronym, translated, adds up to MARC Caparone, cornet; KATIE Cavera, guitar; GEORGIA Korba, bass; along with Mike Baird, alto sax; Chris Tyle, clarinet and vocal; Ray Skjelbred, trombone; Jeff Hamilton, drums; and Carl Sonny Leyland, piano.

They were intended to perform as a trio, but this happy aggregation just grew, in a friendly way.  The overall ambiance reminds me of a late-Thirties record session (the Varsity Seven with Benny Carter, Joe Marsala, Coleman Hawkins, and George Wettling), or a Lionel Hampton Victor, perhaps a Keynote band — the same loose, groovy feeling.  Two of the musicians are happily and ambitiously playing instruments they aren’t always associated with: Ray is well-known on piano, Chris on trumpet and drums.  But their knowledge and love of the music comes through powerfully.

Speaking of “powerfully,” might I suggest that readers who aren’t on the West Coast or who aren’t familiar with his work need to pay close attention to Marc Caparone, whose hot playing is a highlight of this set and of the New El Dorado Jazz Band.  Rough or polished, intense or pretty, he’s a great trumpet player, subtle or driving.  He loves the obvious Masters, but you’ll hear a good deal of those glorious eccentrics Red Allen and Jim Goodwin in his ferocities. 

And I’ve singled out the nifty Jeff Hamilton for praise at other times in this blog — but he’s having a wonderful time here, getting the sounds out of a drum kit that say Swing Is Here.

Here is a spirited reading of Walter Donaldson’s MY BUDDY, originally written as a lament — but that was before Hawk (in France) and Hamp (in the US) latched on to it.  Wow!

Here’s another lament, defined by Katie Cavera as “the saddest song” she knows — NOBODY CARES IF I’M BLUE.  It’s not true, Katie — we would worry about you if the lyrics were true.  Could we make you some soup or a cup of tea?  

I delight in her girlish angst, as if Annette Hanshaw had somehow found herself in the Vocalion studios circa 1937, and in the ghosts floating through this performance — not only Pee Wee Russell and Red Allen but Sandy Williams or J. C. Higginbotham. 

DO YOU EVER THINK OF ME reminds me of Vic Dickenson, who liked it, and of Jon-Erik Kellso, who continues to do so.  A rocking performance of a sweet old tune, it has the sound of a Condon Town Hall Concert — with Jeff’s splashing cymbal summoning up Mr. Dave Tough, his accents suggesting Wettling or Catlett. 

Here’s something pretty and winsome from the singular Dawn Lambeth, who takes AS LONG AS I LIVE at the easy, convincing tempo she likes (with deep-down work from Marc, who seconds the emotions).  Nobody sounds like Dawn, and the embellishments she creates in her second chorus are delightful:

Time for something slow and romantic, a dance for the lovers, explicated by Dawn: hold your Beloved tight as Dawn and the band do BLUE MOON:

For the pastoral poets among us, a song I associate with Duke Ellington, Louis and the Mills Brothers: IN THE SHADE OF THE OLD APPLE TREE.  Dawn brings Nature inside for a few minutes:

A rocking boogie-inflected version of ST. LOUIS BLUES:

Finally, a swinging version of LINGER AWHILE, entirely in the spirit:

“Groovy!” I thought to myself, in its pre-1967 meaning.  You could look it up.