Monthly Archives: May 2010

“OH, SISTER, AIN’T THAT HOT?” REDUX

First, generous archivist / trumpeter / clarinetist / bandleader / drummer Chris Tyle offered me a photograph of the front cover of the sheet music:

I note with some amusement that the title lacks any punctuation — exclamation or interrogation — and that the cover illustration is fairly sedate, well-behaved, although the young woman’s limbs (as they might have said) are more explicit than implicit under her dress.  The dancers are Caucasian, too. 

And (just to show that I have transcended mere print) here is another YouTube performance of this song — by the French ONE MORE TIME band:

Recorded in 2004 at Le Petit Journal St Michel, Paris, this band features Sébastien Gillot, cornet; Guy Champême, clarinet;  Lou Lauprète, piano; Alain Marcheteau, banjo; Michel Marcheteau, tuba.

And here’s LES RED HOT REEDWARMERS, romping on the same tune:

This was recorded on “Doctor Jazz Day” in Wageningen, the Netherlands.  The personnel is Stephane Gillot, leader, reeds; Aurelie Tropez, reeds; Martin Seck, piano; Henry Lamaire, banjo;  Jean Philippe Palma, brass bass; Julien Richard, drums and percussion.  

My sole question — and it might be a naive one — is whether the Gillot boys are related.  Can anyone explain?

PHILLY JOE JONES SPEAKS OUT

When asked about young “modern” drummers in an interview done in the Sixties, Philly Joe said:

“They haven’t even seen Baby Dodds or sat and watched him play like I did.  Or Sid Catlett.   These are the drummers for the next 20 years.   I don’t care how the drums move.   If any drummer can tell me he can go back and listen to Chick Webb and Dave Tough and Baby Dodds and Sid Catlett and tell me that’s not drums, I’ll break up the drums and forget it.”

I really never thought I’d be quoting Philly Joe — not Papa Jo — in this blog, but that’s an ideological statement I certainly agree with.

ALL AROUND US on MAY 23, 2010

YouTube provided a very encouraging coincidence — two inspiring jazz events taking place on the same day, May 23, 2010 — one in Denmark, one in Arizona.  I always hope that Hot jazz is ubiquitous, that somewhere the Ghanian Revelers or the Croatian Wanderers are playing MABEL’S DREAM or DICKIE’S DREAM or SOLID OLD MAN — and these two clips suggest the truth might not be that far away. 

First, the Scandinavian Rhythm Boys on a Copenhagen canal boat — recorded in lovely HD by Thorbye Flemming.  Their choice is LOUIS-I-AN-I-A (by Joe Darensbourg, I think?) with a very lively and current impromptu set of lyrics by banjoist Michael Boving, who has a remarkable shouting style.  He’s joined here by Robert Hansson, trumpet; Frans Sjostrom, bass sax; Ole Olsen; bass.  Sit down, you’re rocking the boat!

Rae Ann Berry went to the Arizona Classic Jazz Society’s May meeting (how lucky for us!) and had a hand in this concert appearance by Ray Skjelbred and his Cubs, who are Ray on piano; Kim Cusack on reeds; Katie Cavera on guitar; Clint Baker on bass; Hal Smith on drums.  (Hal would have me tell you, in the spirit of full and frank disclosure, that he had a terrible cold and was filled to the gills with immobilizing medicine.  He sounds fine to me.)

Here’s their slow-burning take on IDOLIZING, which is entirely associated with Bix and Jean Goldkette, who took it at a much faster tempo:

And some Western Swing (I think of Retta Christie’s great version) on RIDIN’ DOWN THE CANYON, a special treat being Ray’s laconic but utterly idiomatic vocal:

And in honor of Lillie Delk Christian, Billie Holiday, and Benny Goodman, here’s I MUST HAVE THAT MAN:

This is only a sample: the Scandinavian Rhythm Boys also favored the passengers with CLARINET MARMALADE, and Ray and the Cubs performed about twenty more songs: enjoy what happened on May 23, 2010!

GORDON AU LEADS THE WAY at MONA’S (May 24-25, 2010)

I am what Jo Jones called “a nine-to-fiver,” his way of saying I am not a musician; I have a day gig; I go to sleep when interesting things are happening.  My workday starts even earlier, which means that many late-night jazz bacchanals are impossible for me, a man yawning at 11:30. 

But one semester ended and the summer courses have not yet begun, which meant that I was free to stay up late.  So I could go to the late-night-Tuesday-into-early-morning-Wednesday jam session at Mona’s (Avenue B between 13th and 14th Street in New York City).  Mona’s doesn’t have a sign out front, but the music would let you know you were in the right place.  I went there on Tuesday, May 24.   

I am embarrassed to say that I only lasted one long set, and I was told that the music — starting at 11 PM — would go at least until 2 AM.  But what I saw was delightful. 

The jam session began with Gordon Au on trumpet and Mikey Hart on piano (and singing): soon Jared Engel, bass, and Nick Russo, banjo and guitar, joined in.  Mikey, Jared, and Nick are strong players.  Mikey coaxes a great deal of music out of that piano, and he has the patience to let his solos build; his singing is fervent, down-home.  Jared has a huge sound: he’s a one-man rhythm section.  And Nick (whom I’ve seen in many bands) can do Minton’s 1941 on his electric guitar or swing out 1929 Luis Russell style on the banjo. 

I save my greatest praise for the gentleman with the trumpet in the corner, situated underneath the bright cartoonish painting: Mister Gordon Au.  Gordon is comfortable in any idiom and is fearless . . . so he has no problem launching into a song that might perhaps be slightly unfamiliar to the other players and tugging them along by his energetic example.  He is not only a masterful improviser, he is a peerless bandleader, leading the way without saying a word.  And he’s having such a good time!  A model for us all, I think.

Hoagy Carmichael’s RIVERBOAT SHUFFLE (originally FREE WHEELING, when Bix Beiderbecke first heard it) is not your standard AABA song — it has dips and weaves, many little places in which someone could get lost, like a multi-strain ragtime piece.  But Gordon sets the tempo and leads his colleagues splendidly:

Then (after a brief talk-through) they launched into LONESOME BLUES, which I believe was Mikey’s idea.  He not only knows the song but the lyrics.  I include this in his honor as well as in honor of Louis’s Hot Five — this is the first time I’ve ever heard this rare tune performed live, which is more than enough reason to include it here:

Finally, a version of THE PREACHER, which would surely act to convert any unbelievers in the audience:

When I left (prematurely and with regrets) Gordon said, “This is a very quiet night.  Usually there are two or three other horns there,” and he pointed to the spot where he had been playing.  Very tantalizing.  So I’m trying to think of ways to stay up late and still be able to go to work on Wednesday mornings.  I invite any suggestions that are more healthy than caffeine pills.

AMAZING PAGES FOR SALE!

Both James Comer and David J. Weiner brought this to my attention — an amazing auction of jazz and popular music memorabilia that tops anything I’ve ever seen.  Should you wish to explore for yourself, the website is http://www.profilesinhistory.com/items/hollywood-memorabilia-auction-40.  But here are a few highlights I needed to show you, as if they were my treasures:

Better than Button Gwinnett, I’d say: Little T, Frank Signorelli, and George Wettling.  I can’t identify the fourth name, if a name it is.  I also wonder if this dates from the association that these players had with Paul Whiteman circa 1938?

Inscribed to Bob Harrington, at the end of the Forties: my hero, Henry Allen Junior.

I wonder if this was inscribed at one of Dick Gibson’s parties?  It certainly seems a sacred artifact to me.  From the bottom, I note reverently Ralph Sutton and Lou Stein, Yank Lawson, Joe Venuti, Bobby Hackett, Peanuts Hucko, Nick Fatool, Billy Butterfield, Bud Freeman, Zoot Sims, and Buck Clayton.  Oh my!

O fortunate Junior Payne!

VOOT! indeed: that’s Harry “the Hipster” Gibson, a fine pianist before he assumed the hipster’s mantle.

That’s only the second Baby Dodds autograph I’ve ever seen.

Delightfully odd — Count Basie, an unidentified young man, and Mezz Mezzrow.  Sarah Vaughan was at Bop City as well on this night in 1948 and her signature is top left.  Basie’s inscription of the photograph to Mezz as “my 20 year man” makes me wonder if Basie, too, took pleasure in Mezz’s arrangements?  Leaving that aside, I love the neckties.

 Famous names, no?  And in an intriguing order, although this may just have been the way the paper was passed around from one member of the quartet to another.

No explanation needed!

The Ellington band, starting with Arthur Whetsol . . . !

February 19, 1944: with Wettling, deParis, Joe Marsala, Kansas Fields, James P. Johnson, Joe Grauso, Bob Casey, Miff Mole . . .

What is there to say except “Solid!”

And my favorite:

These pictures can only hint at the riches up for auction: for just one instance, the lot that includes the Harry “the Hipster” signature also  publicity photograph of Leo Watson inscribed to “My man Mezz.”  They could make me rethink the decor of my apartment, I tell you.

“SEARCH ENGINE TERMS,” 2010

It’s that time again: our irregular compendium of the odd ways that 1) people find this blog, and 2) what they think they are looking for, often the answer to a question or an attempt to locate something vaguely defined.  Here are seven, with some often flippant commentary attached.

fats waller vs billie holiday

I wish I knew what the searcher had in mind: was (s)he considering the repertoire Fats and Billie had in common, or their particular approaches to songs, or their respective popularity or the sales figures of their records?  The image it calls to mind is of Jazz Wrestling or Jazz Boxing.  Fats would have been able to stifle Billie by sheer bulk, but she’d have it over him on mobility, tenacity, and perhaps rage.  And what color trunks would they wear? 

what year did mildred bailey get fat

The mind reels.  What is there to say?  The nature of the question ends all inquiry, I think. 

louis armstrong on cakes

I want to know where this bakery is.  My birthday is in November, and I wouldn’t mind a Louis-cake at all.  Or is “on cakes” rather like “on skates,” modifying the subject in a different way; thus, Louis caught in the act of eating some cake?  Do tell.

song title they called her easy

An actual song, or a mis-hearing of something more familiar? 

youtube carl montana trombone

You know, he worked with the WGJB for a short time — a mountainous player with a wonderful range!

what snare drum did nick fatool play

clyde hurley autograph

These two move me from satire to delight.  To think that someone was asking the first question; to think that someone was sufficiently interested in the  great and little-known trumpeter Hurley . . . these are a pleasure.

A postscript, with amusement.  One day after I posted this, a new entry appeared, its subject the fine trombonist Dion Tucker, whom I’ve seen with David Ostwald’s Louis Armstrong Centennial Band at Birdland on Wednesdays:

dion tucker does he have kids

“Who wants to know?” I say.  Dion, if you read my blog, let me know so that I can put someone’s mind at ease . . .

ONE PERSON’S “MODERN”

When I was in graduate school, we knew that “modernism” began around the First World War; we are now in “post-modernism,” although the name makes me itchy, especially when it’s collapsed into “pomo.”   

I feel a kinship to “modernism” as practiced by Woolf, Joyce, Kandinsky, Stravinsky, and so on.  Looking at the world through rose-colored glasses that are a little askew, intentionally.  Breaking things up to see what nifty shapes they might take.  Shoring those fragments against our ruins. 

In jazz, some older listeners define “modern” as the music of Gillespie and Parker.  They were revolutionaries, we are told, getting rid of all that stale Big Band stuff.  But even that might seem antiquarian to those listeners who hear “modernism” as Anthony Braxton.  Both those assertions makes me bristle, because Louis and Lester and Big Sid and Bill Basie were “modern” then and remain so. 

But my point of view is obviously outmoded. 

The Museum of Modern Art is restoring its series of outdoor free concerts in its Summergarden.  A fine thing!  I did not expect them to send Mozart into the warm summer evening (although I would have loved it) but someone’s idea of jazz “modernism” is Andrew Cyrille and Don Byron.  Fine, respected fellows, both of them . . . but when will curators and their likes realize that “modernism,” if you’re going to connect it accurately to the climate it came from, might be something like Louis bursting out of the Henderson band or Bix in 1927? 

The double standard is at work: a Kandinsky (like the one at top) remains “modern,” while the free-thinking jazz modernism still practiced in New York City has, to some ears, become “old.” 

See for yourself:

https://mail.google.com/mail/?shva=1#inbox/128d509a32b96740

My imagined series would be called KANDINSKY MEETS KAMINSKY, but would MOMA go for it?