I’ve heard live jazz in many settings here and abroad. In New York City, I can think of the last Eddie Condon’s, Jimmy Ryan’s, The Cajun, Smoke, Cleopatra’s Needle, Gregory’s, The Cookery, Arthur’s Tavern, Smoke, Iridium, Jazz Standard, The Garage, Bradley’s, The Half Note, The Onliest Place, Banjo Jim’s, Your Father’s Mustache, Bourbon Street, Sweet Rhythm, Smalls, Fat Cat, and many more.
With all due respect to these clubs that have provided lasting memories from the early Seventies onward, I can’t over-estimate the joyous resonance of the Sunday night sessions at The Ear Inn (326 Spring Street, Soho, New York City) which have been going on for nearly three and a half years now.
The EarRegulars — co-led by Jon-Erik Kellso, trumpet, and Matt Munisteri, guitar — have offered serene / hot chamber jazz by a quartet staffed by a changing cast of characters . . . with expansion possibilities up to a dozen strolling players.
But Sunday night, December 12, 2010, was a high point: two brass, two rhythm. That combination might have been challenging with other players, but when the two others were Joel Forbes, bass, and Randy Reinhart, cornet, I knew great jazz was in store. Joel and Matt are a wonderful team — as soloists and a wasteless, energetic but never noisy rhythm section. Piano? Drums? Not missed.
Jon-Erik and Randy are pals (as you’ll hear) and although an evening featuring two other trumpeters — even though Randy plays cornet — might turn into a competitive display of ferocity, an old-time cutting contest, nothing of the sort happened here. The two hornmen sounded for all the world like dear friends having a polite but involved conversation. They soloed without interruption; their contrapuntal lines tumbled and soared; they created great hot ensembles, each one handing off the lead to the other.
Deep music and rollicking fun as well.
How about two tributes to the forever-young man from Davenport, the dear boy Bix, compositions that have become hot jazz standards, ROYAL GARDEN BLUES and JAZZ ME BLUES?
Written by Earl Hines, performed by Louis and Basie — some solid credentials for the song YOU CAN DEPEND ON ME:
What followed was a highlight of the evening — a deep, rocking exploration of DALLAS BLUES. They’re on the right track!
Honesty counts, and candor is a great virtue. So IT’S A SIN TO TELL A LIE, as Fats Waller told us:
Fidelity, even for a short period, is a great thing. IF I COULD BE WITH YOU (ONE HOUR TONIGHT) is James P. Johnson’s wistful evocation of the desire for more than sixty minutes:
But everything in this life is mutable (root word: “muta”) and so THERE’LL BE SOME CHANGES MADE:
I’m so grateful that such music is being created where I and others can see and hear it!