Although sometimes I imagine my favorite musicians luxuriating in the absolute quiet of a concert hall, the truth is that hot jazz flourishes in places that would seem inimical to it.
One of those places is Fat Cat, 75 Christopher Street (off Seventh Avenue South) in New York City — whose main room is primarily given over to billard tables, always in use. The jazz ensemble is often standing on one side of the room, the lighting sufficiently indistinct to make identifying the musicians a challenge.
Still, pianist Terry Waldo has an irregularly-regular Sunday gig there with his Gotham City Band, and the edition I saw this last Sunday was full of New York’s finest jazz musicians: Peter Ecklund on cornet and fluegelhorn; Jim Fryer on trombone, euphonium (or “euphemism” as he suggested), and the occasional vocal; Dan Levinson on clarinet and tenor sax; Jay Leonhart on bass and vocals; Giampaolo Biagi on drums.
Here are some performances I captured, and, yes, one’s eyes do get used to the visual murk. First (appropriately?) is CHINATOWN, MY CHINATOWN — “where the lights are low”:
Then, something extraordinary. Trombonist Jim Fryer, man of many talents, came forward for a feature — an energized, acrobatic duet with Terry on Morton’s GRANDPA’S SPELLS. After the set had concluded, I told Jim that he was now “Jim Flyer”:
Then, one of Terry’s melancholic / romantic original tunes, seated somewhere between 1928 dance-band music and Sixties AM pop, THE FOOL:
THERE’LL BE SOME CHANGES MADE (or is it PLAYED?) with a vocal by the talented Mr. Flyer:
And another band-within-a-band, the Greenwich Village Red Hot Peppers of Levinson, Waldo, and Biagi, performing Morton’s SHREVEPORT STOMP:
Finally, a new twist on an endearing old tune — adding a habanera rhythm (or is it just the Spanish tinge?) to IDA, SWEET AS APPLE CIDER, which features a lovely conversation between Dan’s tenor sax and Jim’s euphonium:
Terry’s sechedule of gigs — including solo piano at Banjo Jim’s — can be found at his website, http://www.terrywaldo.com.