Is it my fault that I think Marty Grosz is a genius? A hot balladeer and monument of chordal acoustic playing, an unreconstructed vaudevillian, satirist, and jokester, a jazz scholar . . . a great arranger (on paper and on the stand) and bandleader. A combination of Eddie Condon, Carl Kress, Fats Waller, and Red McKenzie.
I remember sitting in the front at Joe Boughton’s Jazz at Chautauqua early on a Sunday morning — the end of the long and fulfilling jazz weekend of September 2007. Prior to this I had contented myself with illicit audio recordings . . . but I had my then fairly-new digital camera on hand. Marty and his group were coming on to perform a brief tribute to Red McKenzie, another one of my heroes — for his sentimental singing and hot comb playing. And I thought, “I could make movies with this, couldn’t I?” and aimed my camera at the musicians. The visual fidelity is gummy at best, but the players are visible. And what players! That’s Scott Robinson and Dan Block in the front line; rocking James Dapogny at the piano; multi-talented and apparently inexhaustible Vince Giordano holding it all together.
They rock, don’t they?
Here’s ARKANSAS BLUES — in memory of McKenzie’s hit record with the Mound City Blue Blowers. It’s another I’m-going-back-to-that-Dixie-cabin-of-mine songs, but the antropologists and cultural historians will have to be quiet: I’m having too much fun listening.
And (it was Sunday, so perhaps a hint of what was to come in twelve or fourteen hours?) FROM MONDAY ON, which summons up not only McKenzie but Condon and Lang, Venuti, Bix and Bing:
Marty gives us something no one else has mastered — he’s irreplaceable.