It was just another extraordinary Sunday night at The Ear Inn on 326 Spring Street. The Ear Regulars — Jon-Erik Kellso, Matt Munisteri, Harry Allen, and Neal Miner — embodied all the jazz anyone could ever want in about an hour. Bix and Louis floated by; King Oliver looked in the doorway; Don Byas and Count Basie sat a spell; Billie, Lester, and Ben made themselves to home.
And in the corporeal audience, New York Times jazz critic Nate Chinen and his wife Ashley sat close to the band, Nate taking notes and feeling the rhythms, Ashley smiling.
Many bands play ROYAL GARDEN BLUES fast and faster; the Ear Regulars looked back to the easy stroll of a Basie small group. The first few seconds of the video are disconcertingly blurry, but they improve and the music is always in sharp focus:
SOME OF THESE DAYS is a finger-waggling song — “You know, you do that one more time and I’m gone!” This band doesn’t have it in its collective heart to be threatening, but they certainly had fun with this melody:
Then it was time for a pretty song of romantic jubilation, at “rhythm ballad” tempo, I CAN’T BELIEVE THAT YOU’RE IN LOVE WITH ME:
LIMEHOUSE BLUES is too interesting a song (especially with its dramatic verse) to be consigned to oblivion, so the Ear Regulars make a point of bringing it out regularly:
What would life be like without a beautiful ballad by Harry Allen? Here. his choice was the ruminative, sad SEPTEMBER SONG:
Showing us once again that “the material is immaterial,” the Ear Regulars launched into one of the oldest “songs to blow on,” TEA FOR TWO, with delicious results:
The music was wonderful — you couldn’t miss it — but just as delightful was that Nate, bless his heart, wrote it up for the Times in a way that showed that it does mean a thing . . . and he felt the swing. Here ‘t’is: