It was in the eighties outside last Sunday — but the unsually high temperature isn’t the subject of this post. I’m sure that the warmth in the West Village was emanating from inside The Ear Inn (326 Spring Street) where fervent jazz was once again being played.
This edition of The Ear Regulars had co-founders Jon-Erik Kellso and Matt Munisteri, joined by tenor saxophonist Andy Farber and bassist Danton Boller. Jon-Erik was stuck in traffic (coming straight from gigging in his home state, Michigan) so the trio began the festivities with a medium-tempo exploration of THE MAN I LOVE. Andy’s sound is big, reminiscent of Ben Webster and Coleman Hawkins, but he is an individualist, approaching his horn with a mix of seriousness and delicacy. Danton is a serious storyteller: his swinging pulse was steady and buoyant; his solos rang and climbed. And Matt, as always, is a whole orchestra in himself:
Late in the first set, Jon-Erik proposed a favorite Ear Regulars gambit — take a “Dixieland” tune and see what would result. In this, he has heroic antecedents. SOMEBODY STOLE MY GAL was memorably done by Fats Waller and Count Basie (to say nothing of Bix Beiderbecke) and it lends itself to this band’s relaxed yet energetic approach:
To close the set, Jon-Erik suggested BEALE STREET BLUES, which lends itself to an easy, rocking motion. He delights in a variety of mutes (often using the rubber plunger) but took a new tack — using his empty beer glass to create hallooing sounds worthy of Joe Oliver. In his honor, I have retitled W.C. Handy’s composition BEER STREET BLUES, in two parts:
The final delectable swallow:
Warm enough for you?