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!