Monthly Archives: June 2010

JUNE NIGHTS with MICHAEL KANAN and JOEL PRESS

Here’s a last-minute notice about two New York City gigs that promise extraordinary music. 

On Tuesday, June 29th, at Smalls Jazz Club, from 10 PM to 12:30 AM, the Michael Kanan Quartet will be playing.  Michael is the pianist whose beautifully subtle work stopped me cold on Dan Block’s Ellington tribute CD.  Some contemporary musicians don’t like being compared to their jazz ancestors, but I thought of Ellis Larkins and Hank Jones — Mike is just that compelling and delicate. 

And I’ll get to meet the wonderful Joel Press, tenor sax (I decided that he was “the Swing Explorer”) face to face.  Joel is both traditional and unclassifiable in the best ways.  I’ve heard him experiment with standard repertoire without obliterating it, arriving at surprising places in the course of a performance.  And he knows how to swing while he’s exploring.  

What could be better?  How about Pat O’Leary on bass and Joe Hunt on drums?  

Smalls is located at 183 West 10th St in Greenwich Village, and a $20 cover is good for a full night of music.  

And for those who can’t get enough, like myself, the next night, Wednesday, June 30, Michael, Joel, bassist Neal Miner, and Joe Hunt will be appearing in the cozy ground-floor space of Sofia’s (221 West 46th Street) from 7-10:30 pm.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to charge my batteries (both electronic and physical) in advance. (A reasonable man would be sleeping and packing, but I can sleep on the plane.)   See you there!

“NOW’S THE TIME” by LARRY STRAUSS

Much of what is marketed as “jazz fiction” is earnest but unsatisfying because of the difficulty in creating believable characters.  In fact, the two most fulfilling jazz novels of the last decade have been Frederick Turner’s 1929 and Roddy Doyle’s OH, PLAY THAT THING! — both of which had larger than-life figures Bix Beiderbecke and Louis Armstrong as their centers. 

Many of the more traditional attempts at the genre also relied on predictable characters: the doomed pianist or saxophonist, devoted to his music but unable to have meaningful relationships; the doomed drug addict; the tubercular musician; the musician slowly going insane.  (Women, by the way, are always the devoted mother, the devoted girlfriend, the faithless wife.)  You begin to get the picture.

That’s why NOW’S THE TIME, a novel by Larry Strauss, is such a pleasure.  For one thing, its protagonist, Didi Heron, is an unflappable woman trumpeter (her day gig is in teaching middle-school geography) who doesn’t see herself as anything unusual — thus no novel-as-faminist-polemic here.  Didi isn’t perfect, but she has yearnings and a quest — a quest that forms the backbone of this book.  I should also say that, through Didi, Strauss has given us a candid glimpse into what goes on in a musician’s head — not starry romanticism or bitter cynicism, but an amused, perceptive, often unsentimental view of the world.  Did’s voice is a pleasure, and she quickly becomes real, not a thin disguise for the author’s opinions. 

I won’t give away more than eight bars of the plot, but Didi, scuffling through occasional gigs, has a love life and a lineage.  Her father, a jazz pianist killed very young in an auto accident, was a member of an imaginary but wholly convincing Fifties bop qiuntet.  As Didi searches for a mythical tape recording of the group and has adventures coast-to-coast, meeting a variety of club owners, family members, and aging musicians, she discovers a good deal about herself in ways that trascend formulaic “coming-of-age,” because Didi is clearly an adult, changing from chapter to chapter. 

I’m skeptical of novels advertised as “good reads,” but I read this one eagerly, asking the question so essential to fiction, “What’s going to happen next?”  Strauss doesn’t get in the way of his story: he creates his people, sets them on their particular courses, and records what takes place in sharp, straightforward prose.  I hope that we get to follow Didi in a later book: I was sorry to see her go. 

Here’s a “jazz fiction” novel that is true to both parts of the name.  NOW’S THE TIME is published by Kearney Street Books: details at www.kearneystreetbooks.com.  And it’s also available here: http://www.amazon.com/Nows-Time-Larry-Strauss/dp/0972370676/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1277580826&sr=1-1

TEDDI KING / CONNEE BOSWELL

Two of the finest singers of the twentieth century, remembered on paper.

Miss Teddi King, “cute and pert,” ready to be the “Queen of Rush Street” in Chicago, 1959:

And the reverse: this photo may have been printed in the Chicago Tribune:

A publicity photograph of Teddi for a 1966 stint at the Playboy Club:

Connee Boswell, looking lovely and wistful:

A later autograph, when she’d changed from “Connie” to “Connee”:

And a few mysteries.  Did Connee ever perform this song on the radio?  Its composers are entirely unknown to me:

And two Fifties sides — presumably early rock ‘n’ roll, compositions by Connee herself?  Does anyone know what these sound like?

Was this Connee’s version of HOUND DOG?

Or was someone masquerading as our Connee?  Can anyone explain?

THEIR IRRESISTIBLE STORIES

It’s taken me some time to write about Hank O’Neal’s book, THE GHOSTS OF HARLEM (Vanderbilt University Press), but admiration slowed me down.  What follows is only the smallest sample of its contents. 

Between 1985 and 2007, O’Neal (an excellent home-grown journalist who knew how to ask questions and get out of the way) interviewed forty-two jazz giants.  Some were well-known (Dizzy Gillespie, Joe Williams, Clark Terry, Buck Clayton, Milt Hinton, Illinois Jacquet, Cab Calloway, Andy Kirk, Sy Oliver, Jonah Jones, Benny Carter, Maxine Sullivan, Buddy Tate), others no less deserving but in semi-obscurity to all but jazz devotees and scholars (Al Cobbs, Ovie Alston, Gene Prince).  Almost all of O’Neal’s subjects have now died: Frank Wess, Terry, and Billy Taylor might be the sole survivors. 

Rather than ask each musician for a long autobiographical summary, O’Neal focused on their memories of Harlem.  Fascinating stories resulted, which eventually proved stronger than their grief for a way of life that they had seen vanish.  

O’Neal is also a fine photographer from the old school — Berenice Abbott was his occasionally irritable mentor — so the book has large-format photographs of its subjects, often in their homes, as well as invaulable jazz memorabilia (advertisements and posters, record labels and the like) and photographs of the buildings that now stand where the uptown clubs used to be.  I find those transformations hard to take; that Connie’s Inn is now a C-Town supermarket makes me gloomy.

But because many of the musicians had never been asked to talk about Harlem, they responded with fresh stories that were hilarious, profound, touching.  

Fats Waller’s advice to guitarist Al Casey: “Don’t ever let your head get too big because there is always that little boy around the corner that can outplay you and outdo everything you do.”

Harry Edison, recalling his mother’s economic advice: ” [When I was fourteen or fifteen] I played with a guy named Earl Hood.  I remember I had to have a tuxedo and my mother paid two dollars for it.  We played little jobs around Columbus and every time I got home my mother used to ask me, ‘How much did you make?’  I’d tell her that Mr. Hood told me I was playing for the experience, and she said, ‘To hell with experience, you might as well stay home if you’re not going to get paid.’ ”

Edison’s memory of pianist Don Lambert taunting Art Tatum at an uptown jam session: “Get up off that chair.  You can’t play, you’ve got no left hand, you’re the world’s worst piano player.”

How clarinetist Jimmy Hamilton asked Teddy Wilson for a raise: “Teddy, I think you ought to put a little yeast in the money.”

Al Cobbs, remembering what Louis Armstrong said about the crowds he drew: “Let me tell you something.  The kind of music I’m playing makes people feel good–the folks come in and they buy steaks.  But some of the things people are playing make people sad, and these folks will just sit there, drink a Coca-Cola, and stay all night.”

The record session that Nat Cole wanted to organize in California, with Illinois Jacquet: “He’d be on piano.  I’d play my horn, and Jimmy Blanton, Sid Catlett, and Charlie Christian would make up the rhythm section.  That sounded great to me.”

The book is full of stories: impatient Stuff Smith wandering out on the ledge of a tall building.  How Coleman Hawkins explained his record of BODY AND SOUL to Thelma Carpenter as musical love-making.  What Milt Hinton’s teacher said to him.  Danny Barker explaining the difference between New Orleans and New York in terms of hospitality.  Al Casey paying tribute to Teddy Bunn.  Buddy Tate remembering the last time he saw Charlie Parker alive. 

And the book comes with a compact disc of many of the giants playing (and talking) — musical history.

THE GHOSTS OF HARLEM is too cumbersome to take to the beach, but it’s a masterpiece.  To learn more about it, visit http://www.vanderbiltuniversitypress.com/books/335/the-ghosts-of-harlem, where you can see twenty beautiful sample pages.

JIMMIE NOONE, JAZZ CLARINET PIONEER

For those unfamiliar with the sound of clarinetist Jimmie Noone, here he is with his 1928 Apex Club Orchestra — Doc Poston, alto sax; Earl Hines, piano; Bud Scott, banjo; Johnny Wells, drums — playing EVERY EVENING (I MISS YOU) courtesy of “ptm51” on YouTube:

Noone (1894-1944) should be known to a wider audience today, and a new bio-discography, JIMMIE NOONE, JAZZ CLARINET PIONEER, by James K. Williams with a discography by John Wilby, is just what is needed. 

Noone did not lead a melodramatic life (jazz musician as martyr) so the narrative is a compact one — but the book is evocatively documented with photographs and newspaper clippings, and Wilby’s discography is admirably thorough.  Noone was born in Louisiana and was playing Albert system clarinet alongside Freddie Keppard as early as 1913, working with a wide variety of New Orleans bands.  Going north to Chicago, he played and recorded with King Oliver and Doc Cook.  In 1926 Noone began leading his own groups — most notably at the Apex Club — which often moved away from the traditional instrumentation to an all-reed format, sometimes augmenting his band for recordings.  During the Thirties, Noone led a variety of touring bands, and he moved to the West Coast for the last three years of his life.  At the time of his death, he was being featured on radio broadcasts hosted by Orson Welles.  Had Noone lived longer, he would have been venerated much as Bunk Johnson and Kid Ory were for their part in playing “authentic” jazz. 

Noone’s influence goes beyond this rather limited summary of his travels and club dates.  He and a very young Benny Goodman went to the same classical clarinet teacher, Franz Schoepp, who often had Goodman linger to play duets with Noone.  And I can hear the echoes of Noone’s technical facility in Goodman’s playing — as well as the songs Goodman loved, SWEET SUE, SWEET LORRAINE, and I KNOW THAT YOU KNOW, all Noone favorites.  (I hadn’t known until I read this book that Teddy Wilson had also worked with Noone.)  I think that there’s a clear line to be drawn from Noone’s Chicago bands to the Goodman trios and quartets. 

And Noone travelled in fast company: a record session for OKeh featuring a wonderful quartet of Louis Armstrong, Noone, Hines, and Mancy Carr has some fine playing.  Comments by other jazz musicians — Coleman Hawkins and Bud Freeman among them — testify to the effect Noone had on players such as Bix Beiderbecke. 

In our time, the Noone influence is clearest in the work of Kenny Davern and Bob Wilber, whose Soprano Summit and Summit Reunion owed a good deal to the hot polyphony of Noone’s Apex Club Orchestra.  Other clarinetists, such as Frank Chace, admired Noone greatly (an early private recording of Chace has him taking his time through a slow-motion APEX BLUES).

Williams’ book is admirable in its reliance on documented evidence and the clarity of its vision.  He does not make exaggerated claims for Noone as a player or a trail-blazer, but every page has information that was new to me.   The book is 120 pages including more than 80 rare illustrations — photographs from the Frank Driggs and Duncan Schiedt collections as well as historic Noone documents, rare record labels, and pages from the Chicago Defender.  The price is $20 (US) per copy plus shipping ($4 to US; 4.50 to Canada; 8 overseas).  Order from James K. Williams, 801 South English Avenue, Springfield, Illinois 62704; email tubawhip@comcast.net; phone 217.787.3089.  Paypal preferred; personal US check or postal money order accepted.

YES, INDEED!*

A new CD by the group formerly known as B E D is cause for celebration.  Although this quartet (by common consent) has shed its coy acronym to be known simply as the Rebecca Kilgore Quartet, their musical essence — swinging, tender, witty, surprising — has not changed except to get better. 

Rebecca’s Quartet is a musical alliance between Becky (vocals and guitar); Eddie Erickson (the same plus banjo), Dan Barrett (trombone, cornet, piano, arrangements, vocals) and Joel Forbes (string bass).  They were friends and co-conspirators long before they formed this versatile group, and their pleasure in playing and singing continues to grow, audibly.  And I stress that the RK4 is a musically interconnected group rather than a star turn for a singer and her backing rhythm section. 

This CD is also happily distinguished by its variety (most CDs seem too long not because we can’t sit still for sixty-five minutes, but because many groups present the same experience eleven or twenty times during the course of the disc) — and it’s not an artificial yearning for “something completely different” from track to track.  Singers Becky and Eddie are often out front, as they deserve to be, but the music behind and around them is both delicate and propulsive.  Much of that is due to bassist Joel, someone I’ve been privileged to see and hear at close range at The Ear Inn.  Joel knows all about the right notes in the right places, and his big woody sound lifts any ensemble.  Here — since there’s piano only on one track and no drums at all, we can hear his righteous elegance.  He’s featured throughout the CD but comes to the forefront on MY OLD FLAME, which is just lovely.

Daniel P. Barrett, to be formal, inhabits a roomy musical universe.  Shall we begin with the talents he’s less celebrated for?  His piano on THERE’LL BE SOME CHANGES MADE would make you think that Nat Cole had decided to remain an instrumentalist, and his cornet playing on A GAL IN CALICO and GET ACQUAINTED WITH YOURSELF is a flexible, swinging delight — evoking Bobby Hackett and Bill Coleman.  Want more?  He’s an impish singer on ACQUAINTED: it’s hard to hear him sing anything without grinning at his wryly personal delivery.  The clever, understated arrangements are his, and his trombone playing is what the instrument ought to sound like, whether he’s caressing a ballad line or nodding to one of Vic Dickenson’s less printable epigrams.

Eddie Erickson hasn’t yet gotten his due as a wonderful rhythm guitarist and creator of tumbling single-note lines where every note is perfectly in place, even when the tempo is supersonic.  His banjo playing is so melifluous that it makes me forget all the other things done to and with that instrument in the wrong hands.  As a singer . . . he is earnest without being homespun, someone who makes the lyrics come alive without the slightest hint of affectation.  He makes the rather violent lyrics of A GAL IN CALICO charming rather than oppressive; his MY OLD FLAME is rueful but wise; his DAY DREAM is tenderly masterful.  He is also a wonderful team player, having the time of his life joining in with Becky when they sing.

And “Rebecca (Becky) Kilgore,” as the back cover identifies her?  My feeling (based on this CD and her Jerome Kern tribute, SURE THING, just out on Audiophile) is that her only flaw is that she keeps getting better.  When I have received a new CD of hers, I think I know how good it’s going to be, but her subtlety continues to amaze me.  She is able to sing songs that I know by heart and make them evocative and fresh — including THEY CAN’T TAKE THAT AWAY FROM ME and THE WAY YOU LOOK TONIGHT, which I had thought Mr. Astaire had permanently made his own.  Her wistfulness, her deep feeling are evident all through I WISH I KNEW; her multi-lingual effortlessness comes through on UNDER PARIS SKIES.  Her delivery of the lyrics is of course pitch-perfect, conversationally casual and graceful, but she is a great dramatic actress who never is caught acting: her rubatos, her hesitations and urgencies, are emotionally convincing improvisatons.  And she doesn’t demand the spotlight for herself: her singing makes acceptable songs sound much better than they would otherwise, and makes great songs astonishing.  On this CD, as well, our Becky displays another side to her character, a wholly natural kind of bluesy Funk: hear her on BUZZ ME BLUES and the half-time section (homage to Connee Boswell and the Sisters) of CHANGES MADE.  And the whole band rocks church on the opening YES, INDEED! — an appropriate title for this delightful disc. 

Here’s a link to CD Baby to purchase the Blue Swing Fine Recordings CD: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/RebeccaKilgoreQuartet

*This post’s title, of course, comes from the CD itself and its opening track: I wanted to call this YOU WILL SHOUT WHEN IT HITS YOU, but my legal advisers said that these words sounded like an incitement to civil unrest so that I should find another phrase.  And the cover picture, most atmospheric, captures Dan’s mother Dorothee striding down a busy street in St. Louis, circa 1937 — she kows where she’s going and she’s going to get there . . . just like the RK4.

PAT O’LEARY’S NIGHTINGALE

If you had asked me, a few months ago, to tell you all I knew about Patrick O’Leary, I would have said, “Wonderful bass player — a real melodic sensibility and strong time — and an extraordinary jazz cellist.  Witty fellow, a good sort.”  And I would have directed you to some of the videos I’ve taken at The Ear Inn for proof.  But that estimate, which remains true, would have sold Mr. O’Leary short as a classical composer and arranger, someone able to integrate jazz improvisation and folk material into classical forms (vocal as well as instrumental) doing justice to all the music. 

I wouldn’t make such claims without musical evidence.  Here is  the third section from Pat’s MONTENEGRO JAZZ SUITE, his choral / symphonic improvisations on the Monenegrin folk song “Slavjo Poje,” which translates appropriately as “Nightingale.”

Pat explains, “Maja Popovich asked me to write a suite of pieces based on Montenegrin folk music for choir, string ensemble, and jazz quartet.  Stjepko Gut played the trumpet and flugelhorn, Ehud Asherie, piano; Tom Melito, drums, and I played bass and arranged.  Zoja Durovic conducted the choir and Irena Vukovic conducted the string ensemble. This concert was filmed at The Kic Center in Podgorica, Montenegro on June 21, 2009. Everyone did a great job considering the amount of time allowed for rehearsal(s).”

For my readers who have a classical background, see if the string writing isn’t reminiscent of Vaughan Williams or perhaps Barber’s ADAGIO FOR STRINGS — and for jazz listeners who might be less patient, wait a bit and your patience will be rewarded by marvelous playing from the quartet.  Bravo!

And other sections of the MONTENEGRO JAZZ SUITE are accessible on YouTube: visit Pat’s channel, “usenewsyuleooze,” a name that will make much more sense when muttered aloud.

THE VOICE OF MUSIC

I began my jazz life rather innocently as a Listener: a child sitting close to a V-M (The Voice of Music, it said on the inside lid) three-speed phonograph.  I can summon up the worn brown felt of the turntable, the pattern of the speaker grille.  And as I listened to the record of the moment I watched the label revolve, transfixed both by the music and by the whirling shapes the writing on the label made.  When the record ended, I picked up the tone arm and placed it in the outer groove to hear and watch it, dreamily, again. 

I progressed through different phonographs, tape recorders, portable cassette recorders, and learned (as life became busier) to start the music playing and do other things at the same time: type an undergraduate Milton essay while Louis and his Hot Seven played in the background, make breakfast while listening to Lee Wiley.  But the musicians had no more tangible presence than what I might see on television or in the pictures adorning a record’s liner notes.  I did see Louis Armstrong and the All-Stars in the spring of 1967, but that is another essay. 

Aside from Louis, I didn’t truly see live jazz until 1969 or 1970.  I think it was at Town Hall in New York City, produced by the late Dick Gibson, featuring not only the World’s Greatest Jazz Band but also Al Cohn, Zoot Sims, Joe Newman, and perhaps Garnett Brown.  Heady stuff!  Now, from my seat (clutching my forbidden cassette recorder) I could watch Al and Zoot speak to one another; I could see my hero Vic Dickenson, tall, thin, leaning slightly to one side.   

I had moved away from the speaker, even though concerts in large halls kept the musicians as tiny, eloquent figures whom I could hear but not converse with.  It was only in the very early Seventies that I was able to see jazz performed in clubs — where I could timidly approach Bobby Hackett, Vic Dickenson, Bob Wilber, and others to ask for their autographs.  And the conversations that sprang out of these encounters were barely defined as “conversation.”  Nervous and admiring, a Fan, a record album clutched under my arm, I would timidly ask, “May I have your autograph?” or “Would you sign this for me, Mr. Sims?”  (I showed Zoot Sims an album he had appeared on for English RCA, and he said, “Gee, they must have made this when Bucky and I were appearing at Soerabaja.  I’ve never heard it.”  I said, “Would you like me to make you a copy of it?” He grimaced and said, “Oh, no, no thanks.”) 

While I was busy being a Fan (and occasionally an Amateur Photographer), I was also bringing various tape-recorders, which made me a Taper . . . evoking occasionally strong reactions.  Cyril Haynes refused to play until I put my cassette recorder away; Wild Bill Davison wanted to be paid off in Scotch; Dicky Wells pantomimed vigorous negation; Kenny Davern rather kindly told me that my microphone placement was all wrong (after Mike Burgevin had assured him I was on the right side of things); Ruby Braff lectured me by mail on the importance of having fresh batteries.  I saw Ray Nance several nights in a row in a Long Island club — he played and sang marvelously — and when I gave him a reel-to-reel copy of a concert he had performed in two years earlier, he looked at it as if he didn’t quite know what he was supposed to do with it, although collectors had been offering him such things for decades. 

Being a Taper was delicate business, but often rewarding, although musicians (with justification) tend to view me with skepticism: what is going to happen to those tapes that kid is making?  Does he have his own bootleg label; is he going to make money out of my work?

I became more than a Taper in 2000, when I began to write CD reviews . . . first for the IAJRC Journal, then the Mississippi Rag, for Cadence and All About Jazz (associations that happily have continued), for Coda and Jazz Improv . . . and liner notes.  These effusions brought me into a different relationship with the musicians. 

Simply put, I got closer to the players but often my distance increased.

A paradox, you say?  As a Listener, I was invisible and anonymous; as a Fan, I appeared and had substance for a minute or two.  As a Taper, I was mostly a nuisance, although some musicians actually wanted to hear what the tapes sounded like. 

But as a Reviewer, a Writer, a (whisper this), a Critic, I had a name and perhaps the power to exalt or to annoy.  Most often, I was the person who said to Bill Charlap, “You don’t know me, but I loved your _______ CD and wrote a very enthusiastic review of it for Cadence.”  And he politely, happily, said, “Yes, I remember that review.  It was very nice — thank you so much!” 

I haven’t had to deal with musicians who are irritated by what I’ve written, although I’ve received a few sharp-edged emails from a producer and another jazz critic, both of them who told me I was being deeply unfair when I thought I was telling the truth. 

But when I began to be someone ever so slightly known in local jazz circles as the fellow who could help you publicize your upcoming gig in the Mississippi Rag, or the person who might write a laudatory review of your self-produced CD, a slight edge crept into some interchanges.  Nothing dramatic happened, but I felt that relations between me (a non-Musician) and the Musicians were simpler when I was not in a position to say something in print about their latest efforts, to effect their livelihood.

 There were immense rewards, of course: I got to meet and talk to many more of my heroes on a different footing — a Friend of the Music as well as a Member of the Jazz Press, and I am always happy when people come over and say hello. 

All of this changed slightly more than two years ago when I created this blog, and acquired the first of a series of video cameras.  The experience of this blog has been more favorable than I can say, and I have used it to celebrate improvisations from the whole range of jazz’s history and to make it possible for people who live far away to see and hear their heroes. 

The video camera, however, is a different matter.  The cassette recorder, the reel-to-reel recorder, the digital recorder, all came with their own baggage or perhaps freight, all understandable.  The musician who has a cold, or would rather be elsewhere, looks down at the technology and might say, inwardly, “Oh, damnit — all my imperfections are going to be recorded for posterity; jazz collectors who are this guy’s friends are going to be getting free copies of my music; they won’t have to buy my CDs.  What will I get out of it?”  But when I discovered YouTube — probably years after many more technologically-sophisticated jazz fans — the world opened up for me.  Not only could I bring home an audio recording of what I’d just heard (to copy for the musicians and a few friends): I could record the event visually as well as audibly, and send it around the world. 

Most of the musicians have been exceptionally tolerant and gracious.  And there have been only a few times in two years of video recording where a musician has asked me to remove a performance from circulation, which I’ve done quickly in the spirit of fairness.  Were I the proverbial fly on the wall — certainly not a unique phenomenon at any jazz club — would I be happy with the way I was characterized?  “Does any musician see me at a club and think, “I surely will be happy when Michael goes away for a few months, then I can play in peace without looking up and seeing that little camera staring at me, capturing everything . . . “?

I originally felt that this posting was heading for gloom, a rumination on the equation between intimacy and distance, on the responsibilities that begin in dreams, even musical ones, but there were three cheering encounters last week at the Ear Inn, my Sunday night haunt.  One of the musicians came over (unsolicited) to say he thought what I was doing was worthwhile and that he thought the new camera was swell; later on in the evening, I was approached from left and right (Peter and Margarethe from Uppsala and Fumi from New York) by grateful people who said that they had found the club solely by watching these videos. 

I can imagine that in the future my age, health, and circumstances would make it difficult for me to get to jazz clubs as I am doing now.  And I can envision ending my career of jazz love and appreciation as I began, as a Listener, although the Voice of Music phonograph has been supplanted.  But maybe I will spend the last chapter of my jazz life delighting in the music’s sounds and shapes through YouTube and other versions not yet discovered, even if I’m not behind the camera.  

I hope that there will always be the kindness of strangers who know how to swing.  And know what it is to share their pleasures.

FEATURING CRAIG VENTRESCO (June 2010)

Here are three wonderful performances recorded on June 6, 2010, by Tom Warner at the Blind Boone Ragtime and Early Jazz Festival, held in Columbia, Missouri.  The players are the brilliant guitarist Craig Ventresco (hear his notes ring!) supported and encouraged by guitarist Johnnie Harper and bassist Svein Aarbostad. 

They begin with a song I first took seriously when I heard Mildred Bailey sing it (backed by Roy Eldridge, Teddy Wilson, and a small band that drew on the voicings and subtlety of the Alec Wilder Octet) — I’M NOBODY’S BABY:

Craig’s dark blues with an even darker title: BLACK MOULD BLUES:

To close the set, this inspiring trio offered an early and somewhat obscure Jelly Roll Morton compositon, BIG FAT HAM:

These performances reminded me of what Jelly Roll said was essential to jazz: it should be “sweet, soft, plenty rhythm.”

DAN BLOCK’S VIVID IMAGINATIONS

Dan Block is a peerless reed player, arranger, composer, bandleader.  A new CD captures his many imaginations whole.  The picture (by Dan’s daughter Emma) adorns the cover of his Ellington tribute, FROM HIS WORLD TO MINE. 

Tributes to Ellington, hoever well-intentioned, have often become self-limiting, even formulaic.  Some musicians try to duplicate the sound of famous recordings; others rely upon Duke’s hit songs; others nod to an Ellington line for a chorus and then go off on their own.  Dan Block’s way is his own.  No SATIN DOLL, no transcriptions.   Rather, the most familiar songs on this CD are OLD KING DOOJI and KISSING BUG.  (Ask anyone who admires Ellingtonian to hum DOOJI and you’ll see what I mean.)  The repertoire, although not consciously esoteric, encompasses both COTTON CLUB STOMP and SECOND LINE. 

Dan didn’t try to find musicians who could simulate Cootie, Blanton, Greer.  And while he can evoke Jimmy Hamilton, Webster, Gonsalves, Bigard, Hodges, he doesn’t ever shed his own identity.  Every track has its own sound — respectfully inventive.  So an Ellington composition from 1940 (MORNING GLORY) is treated as if it were timeless (which it is) material for melodic improvisation, but never imprisoned by its “period” and “genre.”

Duke’s compositions are deeply re-imagined: KISSING BUG, which leads off, has Dan wistfully playing the line — only after he has perched atop the rattling percussion of Renato Thoms, the drums of Brian Grice, the chiming vibes of Mark Sherman, alternating with 4 /4 sections where we hear James Chirillo’s guitar, Lee Hudson’s bass, Mike Kanan’s piano.  The rhythm section work throughout — in shifting permutations — is energized without being restrictively “modern” or “traditional.”  Although Dan is the only horn player on this CD, I never tired of his sounds or styles.     

I also noticed and applauded the natural sound of the sessions, for which I thank not only Dan but fellow saxophonist Andy Farber, who did the recording and shared mixing duties with Andrew Williams.  The players whose work I knew — James Chirillo, Pat O’Leary, Lee Hudson — sound beautifully and thoroughly realized.  The players who were new to me impress me thoroughly. 

Each track has its own suprises — a brief but wholly musical drum solo on BUG; an unaccompanied tenor cadenza on a musing NEW YORK CITY BLUES.  Dan understands that a slight shift of tempo (changing a ballad into a Fifties walk) makes a new composition although the notes seem the same. 

Dan has a searching lyricism, but he also loves to rock, as I see whenever he performs.  Not only does he vary his approach from performance to performance, but his horn (alto, tenor, a variety of clarinets, bass clarinet, and basset horn) without the result becoming gimmicky. 

The disc is full of marvels — but three in particular stand out.  One is THE BEAUTIFUL INDIANS (originally from 1947) that Dan makes into a shimmering impressionist painting through multi-tracking four reed voices (on as many instruments) — reed lines echo and intertwine, then hum and waft — all supported exquisitely by Hudson on bass and O’Leary on cello. 

Another is the ambling ballad medley of ALL HEART and CHANGE MY WAYS, a track combining duets for clarinet and piano, then alto sax and piano.  Mike Kanan is wondrously intuitive, his lines gliding from one beautiful voicing to the next. 

But I marvel the most at the pensive A PORTRAIT OF BERT WILLIAMS reconsidered at a slightly faster tempo as a four-minute chamber piece for Dan, bass clarinet; Chirillo, guitar; O’Leary, cello; Hudson, bass.  Imagine the Budapest Quartet playing Dvorak’s “American” Quartet / hybridized with the Basie rhythm section, with a touch of Lucky Thompson, Oscar Pettiford, and Skeeter Best . . . that would hint at this irresistible performance.  (Chirillo’s acoustic playing is both funky and delicate.)  This quartet returns for a sweetly lamenting ROCKS IN MY BED which reminds me of Jimmy Giuffre, Pee Wee Russell, and Danny Barker: you’ll understand when you hear it. 

But this disc is full of pleasures, some instantly apparent, some appearing only on repeated hearings.  The music honors Ellington but no one is subsumed into an already-established idea of “Ellingtonia.”  And the title says a great deal: Dan and friends play approach Ellington’s music by finding revelations within it.     

The disc costs $20.  To order yours, email its creator at BlockDan@aol.com.

THEY FOLLOWED ME HOME

My title might make some readers think of the little boy or girl clutching a reluctant kitten or puppy: “Can we keep it, Ma?  It followed me home!”  But this posting isn’t about pet adoption, although that’s something I applaud — it’s about record collecting. 

These days, the phenomenon known as “junking,” where a collector years ago might find treasured rarities in people’s attics, antique stores, or junkshops, seems dead.  Record collectors go to shows; they bid on eBay.  But I found three exciting jazz records in the past week. 

The first occurrence was purely serendipitous.  While my car was being repaired (meet me at the intersection of Tedium and Economic Ruin), I walked a few blocks to the St. Vincent de Paul store.  The objects for sale there are often curious, sometimes sad: I LOVE GRANDPA coffee mugs, ornate furniture, homemade ceramics.  I hadn’t remembered a bookshelf full of records, and although I was not optimistic, I began to find jazz discs I had never seen before, a Neal Hefti long-play SALUTE TO THE INSTRUMENTS (Coral), fairly tame (I haven’t found out anything about the personnel) and a 10″ Brunswick lp, MUSIC AFTER MIDNIGHT, with Tony Scott, Dick Katz, Milt Hinton, and Philly Joe Jones. 

I was ready to take my treasures to the cashier, but I noticed a worn paper album of 78s — Forties pop.  Except for this one.  Yes, it has a crack, which makes for an audible, regular tick; two names were misspelled, but I didn’t care:

The other side, incidentally, featured Sarah Vaughan singing LOVER MAN.

When I brought my trove up to the counter, the cashier held court: everyone was “Sweetheart.”  She looked at the Guild 78.  “Dizzy Gillespie,” she said.  “I kinda know that name.  My mother used to listen to the radio.”  I said, “You know, you could have seen him on television yourself: he lived on until fairly recently.”  She agreed, so I ventured on, “If someone remembers you, you don’t die,” I said.  “You’re so right, Sweetheart!” she said.   

Last Saturday, the Beloved aimed us towards Columbia County (a good omen for a record collector?) where we had spent the past summer.  I was happy: she could enjoy beautiful gardens, and I could go to my favorite store on Warren Street in Hudson, New York — Carousel Antique Center, supervised by the very gracious Dan. 

I went into the back of the shop and spotted a box of 78s on the floor.  I had bought Clara Smith and Buck Clayton records here last year.  Initially, it offered only calypso records.  Then I reached for the lone 12″ 78 — in a decaying paper sleeve, its sides taped together:

I’m not so vain as to think that the cosmos works to make me happy, but this record might have provoked that feeling, for this side and the reverse, AIN’T MISBEHAVIN’, were the soundtrack to my childhood Louis-reveries (after the Gordon Jenkins sessions). 

But there was something else, a 10″ Harmony.  Most of the late-Twenties Harmony discs (excepting a Dixie Stompers surprise) I’ve found are dance bands and singers.  This one’s special:

I knew very well what I was holding — even though it looked as if someone had played it over and over.  And then I turned it over:

“Best Bix.” it says at top.  Someone not only loved this record, but knew who was on it, even if a devoted listener thought Frank Trumbauer was playing an alto saxophone instead of his C-melody.  Here’s a close-up of that annotation:

I paid much less than “25.00” for this one, but I found a treasure.  The music still sounds splendid but the worn grooves speak of love; the label does also.  Do any Bix-scholars care to comment on the handwriting and on the pricing?  

I once tried to be a spirited collector of jazz records; I’ve given that up.  And I have more music within reach than I could possibly listen to if I lived a long time.  But I am going to keep looking through piles and shelves of records if treasures like this are going to want to follow me home.  Wouldn’t you?

“BENNY GOODMAN’S BOYS” (plus MOLLY RYAN) on July 11, 2010

    The PENNSYLVANIA JAZZ SOCIETY will present their annual JAZZFEST with a TRIBUTE TO BENNY GOODMAN on Sunday, July 11, 2010, from noon to 5:30 p.m. at the Plainfield Township Fire Company Hall, 6480 Sullivan Trail, Wind Gap, PA 18091.  The two bands featured that day are THE MIDIRI BROTHERS and DAN LEVINSON’S PALOMAR QUARTET.
    The Midiri Brothers will play from noon to 2:30 p.m.  Their group is Joe Midiri on clarinet, Paul Midiri on vibraphone, drums, and trombone, Dan Tobias on trumpet, Pat Mercuri on guitar, Steve Kramer on piano, Ed Wise on bass, and Jim Lawlor on drums.
    Dan Levinson’s Palomar Quartet will play from 3:00 – 5:30 p.m. and will feature Dan on clarinet, Mark Shane on piano, Matt Hoffmann on vibes, Kevin Dorn on drums, and Molly Ryan on vocals.  In addition, because Dan believes that “One Good Twin Deserves Another,” he has invited the Anderson twins (Will and Peter Anderson) to be part of his group, playing clarinet and saxophone.Advance Tickets are $ 20.00. (For advance tickets and directions, send SASE to Pennsylvania Jazz Society, P. O. Box 995, Easton, PA 18044.)  Tickets at the door are $ 25.00.  Student Admission is FREE!  For more information, phone 610-625-4640 or go online at pajazzsociety.org

COUNT ME IN (at THE EAR INN): June 13, 2010

None of the musicians at The Ear Inn last Sunday night consciously voiced the sentiment, “Hey, let’s put on a show of the music of Count Basie and his sidemen.”  That would have made the evening into a Tribute Concert.  Jon-Erik Kellso and Andy Farber didn’t go out of their way to adopt the mantles of Buck Clayton, Sweets Edison, Lester Young, or Herschel Evans; Chris Flory didn’t offer Charlie Christian licks, and Neal Miner played himself rather than Walter Page or Oscar Pettiford. 

But for whatever happy reasons, the Basie spirit — light, floating, intense — was in the air, even without a piano or hi-hat cymbal.  I hear many rewarding echoes of the 1938 Kansas City Six in these performances, and I don’t know higher praise.  

The EarRegulars often begin by seeming to test a piece out, looking in its corners, considering its possibilities.  Someone plays the melody; the other horn hums an improvisation.  By the time the second ensemble chorus is done, they are ready!  Their ensemble momentum, solo building on solo and band choruses building, is extraordinary: there’s no exhibitionism, no excessively long solos, but this band rocks.   

Perhaps because some of the Ear Inn patrons bring their well-behaved dogs along, the EarRegulars offered DOGGIN’ AROUND:

I KNOW THAT YOU KNOW was taken far from its earliest incarnations in Jimmie Noone’s band:

Another evocation of Herschel and Buck is BLUE AND SENTIMENTAL, a song Ruby Braff played whenever he could:

And a pretty two-tenor feature (the invaluable Dan Block came in, and Fumi Tomita took Neal’s place) on THESE FOOLISH THINGS, a ballad I associate with Lester and Billie:

Swing, brothers, swing!

P.S.  This post is dedicated — in delight — to Peter Lind and Margareta Aberg Lind from Uppsala, Sweden, who visited with me at the set break and told me that they had found the Ear and The EarRegulars because of my blog-postings and videos.  Welcome, welcome!

SMILES (June 11, 2010)

There are smiles / that make us happy . . . !

And there’s music that makes us smile. 

A case in point, thanks to Rae Ann Berry, Clint Baker’s Cafe Borrone All-Stars, and this wonderful ancient song (I hear Chick Bullock singing it circa 1940 — a touching performance).  Here it’s played by Leon Oakley, trumpet; veteran Bob Mielke, trombone; Robert Young, reeds; Ray Skjelbred, keyboard; Bill Rinehart, bass; Clint Baker, guitar plus!; Jeff Hamilton, drums.

You’ll notice a few delightful sidelights: what other band has its leader put down his guitar, play a hot clarinet chorus, and then go back to rhythm?  I love the Skjelbred – Hamilton interplay late in the performance, and I am especially amused by the young man (is he officially a “toddler”?) with his picture book, who seems transfixed by the music.  He’ll grow up to have his own jazz blog at the very least.

I find myself smiling: I hope you are doing the same.

HAPPY FEET (June 8, 2010)

I made my way to the second Tuesday-night appearance of Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks (at Sofia’s in the Hotel Edison, 221 West 46th Street, from 8-11 PM Mondays and Tuesdays) and recorded this delightful vignette: HAPPY FEET.

Everyone associates this song with Paul Whiteman and Horace Henderson; on their records, it’s played at a seriously brisk tempo.  But there’s another contemporaneous version (1930, I think) that Leo Reisman and his Orchestra [with Eddy Duchin on piano!] recorded for Victor — at a groovy tempo, with a blistering growl solo by trumpeter Bubber Miley.  (I read recently on the very informative Bixography website that Miley was a favorite of Victor recording executive L.R. (“Loren”) Watson, who was so impressed by Bubber’s sound and ferocious heat that he insisted that bands — including Hoagy Carmichael’s — make room for a Miley solo on their recordings.)

Here, the Nighthawks are Alex Norris and Mike Ponella, trumpets; Jim Fryer, trombone; Dan Block, Will Anderson, and Andy Farber, reeds; Andy Stein, violin / baritone sax; Peter Yarin, piano; Vince himself on vocals, bass sax, tuba, string bass; Arnie Kinsella, drums and percussion. 

James Lake and Deirdre Towers are the elegant, energetic pair of dancers.  Give them a low-down beat and they begin dancing . . . !

Who wouldn’t be happy?

SWINGING FOR ARTIE AND BENNY, 2010

I was delighted with the May 2010 concert series that Peter and William Reardon Anderson did in celebration of the music of Benny Goodman and Artie Shaw — a series that featured, among others, Jon-Erik Kellso, Ehud Asherie, and Kevin Dorn.  For those who couldn’t make it to East 59th Street in New York City, the boys have released a wonderful CD that contains the music they played on May 23, 2010, which would have been Shaw’s hundredth birthday.  What better way to celebrate?

Here are the details:

Anderson Twins Sextet celebrate Artie Shaw’s Centennial – CD- $15

Celebrating Artie Shaw and Benny Goodman
Recorded Live at 59E59 Theaters, NYC
May 23, 2010 (Artie Shaw’s 100th Birthday!)
All arrangements by Peter and Will Anderson

1. Avalon (A. Jolson)
2. What is This Thing Called Love (C. Porter)
3. Stardust (H. Carmichael)
4. Carioca (V. Youmans)
5. Moonglow (E. De Lange)
6. Stealin Apples (F. Waller)
7. Concerto for Clarinet (A. Shaw)
8. Frenesi (A. Dominguez)
9. China Boy (P. Boutelje)
10. Begine the Beguine (C. Porter)
11. Goodbye (G. Jenkins)
12. Shine (L. Brown)
13. Nightmare (A. Shaw)
14. Oh, Lady Be Good (Gerswhin)

Peter & Will Anderson (clarinets, saxes, flute)
Jon-Erik Kellso (trumpet)
Ehud Asherie (piano)
Clovis Nicolas (bass)
Kevin Dorn (drums)

To buy this product please e-mail:

andersontwinsjazz@gmail.com

I’ve been ejoying this disc and can enthusiastically recommend is as a neat mixture of hot improvisation and big-band charts reimagined for a tidy, energetic sextet.  The jam session numbers bring together some of my favorite New York musicians — people I have been celebrating here as long as I’ve had this blog — and the arranged songs both summon up the big bands and (in subversive ways) actually improve on the original charts by presenting them as slim, streamlined versions of the recordings we cherish.

RAY SKJELBRED: TWO MOODS (June 8, 2010)

Luckily for us, Rae Ann Berry took her video equipment down to San Francisco’s Pier 23 to capture the esteemed pianist Ray Skjelbred on YouTube.  She downloaded seven solo pieces by Ray, which you may find on her “SFRaeAnn” channel.  Here are two that summon up the emotional depths that Ray is known for.  The first is a properly moody version of Ellington’s THE MOOCHE, steadily, darkly, moving:

But all is not ruminative minor musings, for Ray likes to romp.  His sound and attack are his own, although it wouldn’t take a great deal of close listening to hear a Joe Sullivan right-hand splash that lands with the force and accuracy of an Olympic gymnast, a Hines octave or tremolo, and Ray’s own variations on left-hand patterns.  Here his choice of repertoire is reminiscent of Fats, who recorded this pop hit in 1935: I’M LIVIN’ IN A GREAT BIG WAY:

I’m especially amused and pleased that at the end of this clip Ray leans forward into the camera to concisely explicate the lyrics for us.  How very gracious!

BRIGHT MOMENTS (The EarRegulars: June 6, 2010)

No, it’s not a Roland Kirk tribute.  But that title sprang into my head on the cab ride uptown last Sunday night from The Ear Inn (326 Spring Street in Soho, New York City).  And I offer two of  many episodes of musical brilliance. 

The narrow front room was transformed as a group of two dozen German tourists very happily enjoyed their dinners and the band.  (I’d like to see The Ear become a regular spot for people visiting New York, as long as I can still find a seat at the bar.) 

And there were esteemed guests in the house — Mat and Rachel Domber of Arbors Records; the wonderful singer Becky Kilgore; our hero Bob Wilber and his wife Pug; guitarists Chris Flory and Julian Lage, among others.   

The Ear Regulars were Matt Munisteri, Jon-Erik Kellso, Dan Block, and Jon Burr.  And they ended their first set with a very propulsive version of the Rodgers and Hart THIS CAN’T BE LOVE.  The hot solos and surging ensemble lines prove the title is incorrect: 

For the second set, Bob Wilber was ready with his curved soprano.  Although (at eighty-two!) his rhythmic drive has slowed, his power and lustrous tone have not diminished.

Here’s the EarRegulars plus Bob’s CHINATOWN, MY CHINATOWN, not too fast but full of ginger and pep:

They made that dark room luminous.

JIM FRYER AND FRIENDS, SWEETLY (June 2, 2010)

I was at Birdland last Wednesday, listening to David Ostwald’s Louis Armstrong Centennial Band.  The LACB always attracts first-rank players, but this edition was remarkable because it was an All-Star All-Leader Band (with none of the expected tensions): David on tuba and vaudeville commentaries; Vince Giordano on banjo, vocal, and guitar; Jon-Erik Kellso on trumpet; Dan Block on clarinet and alto sax; Jim Fryer on trombone and vocals. 

Although it has nothing to do with his musical virtues, Jim might be the least-celebrated of this group, although I’ve admired his playing since I first heard him a few years ago — perhaps as a member of the Nighthawks and certainly as someone sharing the stage with Bria Skonberg at one of Bill Taggart’s informal jazz gatherings.  He is a modest player but an exuberant player, taking risks when appropriate, never coasting.  I’ve also known him as a fine understated singer — but I’ve never heard him sing as wonderfully as he did last Wednesday.

As much as he enjoys playing the music and talking about Louis Armstrong, David Ostwald loves to connect with the people in the audience.  Occasionally it takes the form of comedy, as when he earnestly implores those of us who are driving to be sure we have a car, but sometimes it’s much more personal and endearing.  At the end of the first set, David noticed that there were a number of well-dressed women of varying ages in the front row; he chatted with them and found that they were at Birdland to celebrate someone’s birthday — which turned out to be the nicely coiffed Lorraine . . . someone obviously surrounded by love from the other women in her party. 

Because the LACB draws much of its repertoire from music that Louis played and recorded, SWEET LORRAINE was a natural choice — something the great man recorded in the Fifties on Verve with Oscar Peterson.  So the band launched into a sweet, slow version, but no one had yet chosen to take the vocal.  Vince had sung a few numbers before this with great style, but no vocal was announced . . . until Jim took the microphone to deliver the refrain in the most tenderly endearing manner:

Lorraine, sitting right in front of me, was delighted. 

And I, watching this performance again, find it full of human moments: the pleasure of Dan Block’s chalumeau register; Jon-Erik’s steady, winding phrases (and how unflappable he is while a good deal of microphone-hunting is going on behind him); Vince, making jokes as he plays; the pulse of the rhythm section, and Jon-Erik’s quiet Muggsy Spanier ending.  Masterful all around!

Sometimes bad things pile on: this was a rare night when one outpouring of affection succeeded another.  Vince Giordano came over to Lorraine at the end of the night (he is ever hopeful of garnering some fascinating piece of first-hand experience from someone who saw and heard his heroes) but Lorraine didn’t recall the names of bands; she didn’t have Victor Home Recording discs in her attic; she did, however, tell Vince that she was an avid fox-trotter, which pleased him.

Then David Ostwald brought himself and his tuba over and tenderly chatted with Lorraine . . . and said, “I’m going to play something for you.”  He proceeded to play a tender, legato, singing version of HAPPY BIRTHDAY — sweet and slow — on the tuba, ending with a Louis-flourish.  He sang through that brass tubing as if it were a cello — a very moving experience!  I was sitting there, possibly with my mouth open, too struck by what was going on (it seemed private) to record it for YouTube, so you will have to imagine it.

When I caught up with Jim later, to tell him how much this particular performance moved me, he reminded me that one of his and his wife Rosita’s daughters is named Lorraine — a choice the prospective parents made after hearing Doc Cheatham sing the song with unaffected grace on Sunday brunches at Sweet Basil.  It pleases me immensely to be able to offer this lyrical moment for the Lorraine in the audience, Lorraine Fryer, and all the people out there who answer to other names. 

What is all this?  Love in the shape of music.

FOUR MORE FROM SOFIA’S (June 1, 2010)

For your listening and dancing pleasure, JAZZ LIVES is delighted to present another four performances by Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks from their inaugural Tuesday night appearance at “Club Cache” in Sofia’s on the lower level of the Hotel Edison (221 West 46th Street) in New York City.

The heroic (and victorious) creators are Vince himself, Arnie Kinsella, Ken Salvo, Peter Yarin, Andy Stein, Dennis Joseph, Dan Block, Andy Farber, Jim Fryer, Mike Ponella, and Jon-Erik Kellso.  They honor the great tradition of twentieth-century American pop / jazz / dance music, staying true to the original intent of the composers and arrangers while creating something new and fresh in every bar.

Bandleaders please note: everyone gets a chance to speak his piece in the course of a set: this is a happily democratic band.

DON’T BE LIKE THAT, a Sammy Fain tune designed to coax a reluctant love object into happy erotic compliance:

SINGIN’ THE BLUES, Mark Lopeman’s transcription of the irreplaceable Bix Beiderbecke – Frank Trumbauer – Eddie Lang classic:

PEGGY, from the book of McKinney’s Cotton Pickers, courtesy of Don Redman, John Nesbitt, and our own John Wriggle:

A hot dance extravaganza: WHEN I TAKE MY SUGAR TO TEA, featuring beautiful work by Andy Farber:

As I write this, it’s truly hot in New York City.  I prescribe a proven homeopathic cure — Hot jazz and hot dance music at Sofia’s, now twice a week.

FOR EDDIE LANG

Although he died in 1933, guitarist Eddie Lang continues to be one of those inspiring musicians whose presence elevated any session he was a part of.  His ringing sound, his phrasing and touch, his chordal sense are all immediately recognizable and cheering . . . . and he sounds so alive on records. 

I’ve just learned that the Eddie Lang website has returned; although it’s not yet complete, it promises to be a very rewarding resource.   

http://www.eddielang.com

JAZZ CORNUCOPIA! (Whitley Bay, July 2010)

Mike Durham, the fine trumpet player, festival organizer, and wit, sent along the following list.  For those who have never been to the Whitley Bay International Jazz Festival — and 2010 is THE FINAL ONE — this list will be both enticing and mysterious.  This is the schedule of which bands will be playing at what times during what is sure to be a thrillingly music-packed weekend.  It takes place in a well-appointed hotel, and the “Cotton Club,” the “Sunset Cafe,” “Kelly’s Stables,” and the “One Cent Club” are rooms of varying sizes in the hotel. 

The schedule both exalts and terrifies.  I was saying to my first class the other morning (we are concluding MACBETH) that the universe is limitless, but the first choice, no matter how small, that one makes, renders other choices impossible.  So it is at Whitley Bay: if I want to  hear The Four Pods of Pepper (Spats Langham, Frans Sjostrom, and Norman Field) joined by Rico Tomasso, that makes it impossible, according to Newtonian physics, for me to be at “Kings of Stride” at the same time.  Of course, I could hear the first set of the Pods and then scamper in for some Stride after the break.  One must have a plan!  Or I could do what I did last time: stay where my heart led me and then wander . . .

I’ll have my video camera, of course, and Elin Smith will have hers, but it isn’t the same thing as being there.  Consider yourself encouraged to join in the fun, even if you don’t have a camera. 

Find out more at http://www.whitleybayjazzfest.org/

 
WHITLEY BAY JAZZ FESTIVAL 2010 – DAY BY DAY, ROOM BY ROOM, HOUR BY HOUR (OR JUST ABOUT!)
 
FRIDAY
 
                             Noon-3.00                                                           3.00-6.00                                              7.00-9.00                                          9.00-Midnight
 
Cotton Club         Hot Antic Jazz Band                                   Blue Devils                                    New Century Ragtime Orch           Les Rois du Foxtrot

Sunset Café         La Retaguardia J B                                      N ew Orleans Rascals                      Bohem Ragtime J B                     Red Hot Peppers

Kelly’s Stables     Late Hour Boys                                          Schumm’s Bixologists                     Hot Antics                                   Bent Persson’s N Y Orch

One Cent             Jeff & Anne Barnhart                                West Jesmond R Kings           Kings of Stride                              Four Pods + Rico Tomasso
 
 
SATURDAY
 
                            Noon-3.00                                                           3.00-6.00                                              7.00-9.00                                              9.00-Midnight
 
Cotton Club        Blue Devils                                                    Les Rois du Foxtrot                          New Orleans Rascals                              La Retaguardia
Sunset Café        Bohem Ragtime J B                             Flaming Reeds                                  Red Hot Peppers                                   Winteler’s Serenaders
Kelly’s Stables   Schumm’s Bixologists                       Hot Antics                                           Spats & Rhythm Boys                               Cecile Salvant 
One Cent           K Stephen’s Hot Club Trio                 Litton & Nichols – Ragtime          Late Hour Boys + Rico Tomasso           Doc Bastide’s Owls
 
 
SUNDAY
 
                              Noon-3.00                                                           3.00-6.00                                      7.00-9.00                                           9.00-Midnight
 
Cotton Club        Chalumeau Serenaders                                 Bohem Ragtime J B                         Les Rois du Foxtrot                              Hot Antics (Grand Finale)
Sunset Café        Winteler’s Jazz Serenaders                          New Orleans Rascals                   La Retaguardia                            Schumm’s Bixologists
Kelly’s Stables   Late Hr Boys/Cecile Salvant (Billie H)        Field’s Novelty Orch                  M Seuffert Sextet             Winteler’s Jazz Serenaders
One Cent            Jeff & Anne Barnhart/Boogie Piano         Banjorama/Fidgety Fingers         Hot Jazz Trio