Perhaps because they often feel that they are no longer invited to the party, jazz fans (and some musicians) are experts at lamentation. 

“Oh, jazz as we know it is dying.”

“Our kind of music is impossible to find.”

“No one knows how to swing these days.”

The next time you hear one of these laments, I propose a video-curative.  Place the despondent speaker in front of the monitor and start this video.  Here are bassist and videographer Neal Miner and pianist Michael Kanan exploring Artie Shaw’s MOON RAY:

It’s not repertory music.  It’s taking place, subtly and vividly, in this century.  It’s a masterpiece of solo improvisation and intuitive teamwork, of lightness and emotional depths.  Playfulness and gravitas, honoring Rowles and red Mitchell, Basie and Walter Page, Ellington and Blanton. 

Feel better? I certainly did and do.

If you live in New York City, there are opportunities to hear Neal and Michael together (I’ve posted some performances on the blog) — and they travel far and wide in support of Jane Monheit.  Another way is through Neal’s 2009 CD release on his own label, Gutstring Records, HAPPY HOUR, which adds drummer Joe Strasser to form an engaging trio:

You can find out more about it and Neal’s other projects at, and the CD is available in all the old familiar places as well.



  1. Nice tasteful music making. Especially bassist Miner.
    This tune is uncannily similar to a major jazz National Anthem, “Softly As A Morning Sunrise.” Same key, too so you have to be careful and these guys were. I’m going right to Neal’s web site.

  2. Hey, how do I get my picture to show up on these posts?

  3. Don’t know: ask WordPress!

  4. The lament of “No one knows how to swing these days” is quite common. I happen to agree with that for the mere reason that many of today’s jazz musicians did not grow up with the same influences as the greats, so drawing power from that source is a little difficult. The world seems a little too preoccupied with making itself a terrible place to live to swing, sway, and sing. Not many people have a positive outlook, which makes it nearly impossible to swing with any real character or heart.

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