No, there were no large Easter bonnets at The Ear Inn, and no one conducted an egg hunt. But the holiday was somewhat whimsically celebrated in the choice of repertoire, as you will observe.
Jon-Erik Kellso was celebrating his own Easter down in New Orleans, so his place was ably taken by trumpeter Charlie Caranicas, who had with him clarinetist Pete Martinez, bassist Pat O’Leary (who referred to himself as “the Keister Bunny,” make of that what you will), and co-leader / co-conspirator Matt Munisteri. It was Matt’s idea, I think, to begin the evening with (what else?) the Irving Berlin hymn to trust — or is it precariousness? Anyway, the Ear Regulars began their first set with a jogging I’M PUTTING ALL MY EGGS IN ONE BASKET. It might be poor advice for the distribution of funds in your 401K, but that never seemed to bother Fred Astaire:
More literally, the holiday theme (and the homage to Berlin) continued with EASTER PARADE — a song that Eddie Condon, my hero, used to play at the start of his springtime Town Hall Concerts. (I have a splendid version with Stirling Bose, Miff Mole, Pee Wee Russell, and Sidney Catlett in the ensemble.) Here’s a version for the twenty-first century, no less splendid:
Matt ended the Berlin medley, commenting wryly that the composer had wedded the spiritual and the commercial in American music, with a medium-tempo trot through RUSSIAN LULLABY, a song Louis associated with the Karnofsky family, and one I associate with Ruby Braff, Ed Hall, Vic Dickenson, Sir Charles Thompson, and Walter Page. Here, I associate it with Matt, Pat, Pete, and Charlie:
In the second set, the wonderful reedman Andy Farber joined in, on tenor — and in keeping with the theme of Easter bunnies, someone suggested COTTON TAIL — majestically lithe and limber here, Peter eluding Mr. McGregor one more time:
These four performances find a splendid quartet and quintet of jazz players who know the common language, who laugh at the same in-jokes, who rock fervently, whose solos have melodic shape, who sing songs. Happy Easter! Let jazz happiness reign through the land, not only on Spring Street in downtown New York City. I’m only sorry that no one thought of I CAN’T GET STARTED.