First off: the High Sierra Jazz Band is color-coordinated. They have red shirts for one gig, teal (or is it mint green?) for another. Very snappy. Nattily dressed. It also makes it easy to identify the guest star, who has different plumage. In these five performances from Dixieland Monterey 2011, that stellar personage was our friend, cornetist Marc Caparone, standing next to Bryan Shaw to give the music a wonderful Louis (Armstrong) and Papa Joe (Oliver) flavor.
The High Sierra Jazz Band is led by reedman Pieter Meijers — very articulate and witty, even when he is measuring out the amount of applause he expects for the next song and threatening the audience (gently) that he will speak more if the applause is inadequate. The front line is filled out by the beaming Howard Miyata on trombone, euphonium, and vocals. Clint Baker calls Howard “the happiest man in Dixieland” and that might be an understatement or it might unintentionally restrict Howard’s range: he glows like the sun. The rhythm section is a fraternal affair, with Bruce Huddleson on piano and Stan Huddleston on banjo and guitar. Then there’s the singing tubaist Earl McKee and drummer Charlie Castro.
This session began with a nicely rocking ALEXANDER’S RAGTIME BAND, in what I think of as Joe-and-Bessie Smith tempo (and it is one of the lesser-known Louis Deccas):
Then, after an elaborately funny Pieter Meijers shaggy-dog-in-Dixieland announcement, we had FIDGETY FEET:
Howard came into his own with a soulful A KISS TO BUILD A DREAM ON: another Louis-homage, full of sweet feeling:
We never did find out Pieter’s explanation of what Mabel was dreaming of, but the band played MABEL’S DREAM (with its down-home hymnlike trio strain) with mutes in, passions to the forefront:
Finally, a romping CAKE WALKING BABIES FROM HOME:
They do take the cake, don’t they? And Marc Caparone is the fellow who’s not wearing a red shirt. All hail the rest of the band, but the interplay between Bryan and Marc brings tears to my eyes. I don’t know which of them is Little Louis and which is Papa Joe (my guess is that the roles, after nearly ninety years, have fused into one Mobius strip of hot cornet / trumpet) but they sound lovely!
SWING OUT TO GENEROSITY: CLICK HERE TO GIVE SOMETHING BACK TO THE MUSICIANS YOU SEE IN THESE VIDEOS (ALL MONEY COLLECTED GOES TO THEM):