Daily Archives: March 17, 2011

THE TITAN HOT SEVEN at DIXIELAND MONTEREY (March 5, 2011)

The Titan Hot Seven is (are?) a lively, multi-faceted, energetic band — full of jostling good humor.  They aren’t locked into one narrow style or approach; they are popular and swinging both.  A full-service jazz band!

The band is spearheaded by pianist / singer / raconteur Jeff Barnhart, someone you’ve just heard about on JAZZ LIVES for his Fats Waller CD.  Then there’s the multi-talented Jim Fryer (trombone, vocals, euphonium) and the swinging Danny Coots, master of the matched grip and rocking down-home rhythms.  Danny’s partners in the rhythm section are the very able guitarist / banjoist Jerry Krahn and the powerful bassist Ike Harris.  Up in the front, there’s the splendidly assured pairing of Flip Oakes (trumpet / fluegelhorn) and reedman Jim Buchmann.  A hot band and a great show!

Here they are at Dixieland Monterey, the Jazz Bash by the Bay.

Danny Coots and Jeff start things rocking instantly with the Twenties favorite (it seems one of those bits of Oriental exoticism — here given a Krupa SING SING SING kick-off) SAN:

And for an instant change of pace, how about the TH7’s romantic side?  Here Flip Oakes dedicates Porter’s I LOVE YOU to his wife, in the audience:

Deadpan comic raconteur Jim Fryer brings us to France to honor Sidney Bechet, on the latter’s PROMENADE DES CHAMPS-ELYSSES:

I don’t think the Titans know my dear Aunt Ida Melrose, but they take an easy lyrical trot through “her” song.  Listen for Jim Buchmann’s sweet soprano and booting tenor, and Jeff’s irresistible late-vaudeville singing, mixing sincerity and just a hint of Wallerian satire:

I’m sorry that the variety shows on television no longer exist: it seems to me that I’M GOING TO SKEDADDLE BACK TO SEATTLE would have been perfect as a production number for Carol Burnett or Jackie Gleason.  Where did the June Taylor Dancers go?

In honor of young Bella Coots, a rocking (klezmer-tinged) I FOUND A NEW BABY:

Something for everyone and then some!

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FOR BIX BEIDERBECKE (The Ear Inn, March 13, 2011)

I do not know what memories Bix Beiderbecke had of New York.  Aside from that terrible apartment in Sunnyside, Queens, where he died, I think that many of them were good: recording for OKeh, jamming in Harlem, playing against the Henderson band, drinking at Plunkett’s.  Bixians can, I am sure, supply more.

Although Bix has been gone a long time, New Yorkers still celebrate him in many ways: a vigil on the anniversary of his death; WKCR-FM plays his music on his birthday, and (this year) the EarRegulars devoted an evening to honoring him.

The EarRegulars were Jon-Erik Kellso (trumpet) and Matt Munisteri (guitar), founding members, with Pete Martinez (Albert system clarinet) and Greg Cohen (string bass).  And they played as if Bix was seated at the bar, grinning appreciatively — which, in a way, he always is.

Here’s Hoagy’s FREE WHEELING — later named RIVERBOAT SHUFFLE, a wondrous way to start things off.  Catch Jon-Erik’s clarion, flexible lines, Greg’s fervent support.  Pete’s quotation early in his first chorus is a delicious in-joke.  As ALONE, it is the romantic number in the Marx Brothers’ A NIGHT AT THE OPERA.  And his second chorus — only Matt could follow something like that, and how nimbly he does!  Jon-Erik soars; Greg stomps, and the closing ensemble is a triumphant paradox: searing hot and cool to the touch at the same time:

It took me several choruses to recall the name of the next selection — it’s THERE’LL COME A TIME and it’s a tribute to the deep affection and deeper recall that all the editions of the EarRegulars show — not in an academic or pretentious way, but with love.  This version, deliciously, has an easy stroll to it — it could be a 1938 Basie-inspired small group recording for Commodore, couldn’t it?  (Think of Buck, Lester, Durham, Page.)  And wait until the very end — the equine commentary is here and intact:

Pianist and wit Jeff Barnhart says that SAN has the distinction of being the Dixieland tune with the shortest title.  I wouldn’t deny that, but it’s also a rocking composition — especially the way the EarRegulars launch into it, with quartet telepathy all around:

Finally, a song I take as a tribute to my serene and well-establish standing in academia — the JAZZ ME BLUES — which has the immortal line, worthy of Keats, “Professor, come on and jazz me!”  I would have responded but it would have required that I put my camera down, so I couldn’t:

Bix thanks you.  We all thank you, gentlemen of the ensemble!

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THREE FOUR-BAR BREAKS!

1.  In the past weeks, a variety of strange and obstinate technical difficulties have befallen JAZZ LIVES.  Subscribers who receive my postings by email told me that the YouTube video clips weren’t coming through.  Some people (some of them dear friends) found themselves unsubscribed.  Postings appear through RSS on my Google homepage only intermittently.  Yeats would say that it was the end of one great cycle and the start of another, which is not reassuring.  All I can do is mention, quietly, that an RSS feed seems to be more reliable than email, and I don’t know why all the forces seem to be working together to make things difficult.  I have been blogging regularly and continue to do so . . . but writing a post to say, “If you haven’t been receiving JAZZ LIVES, it still exists” strains even my logic.  As Willard Robison wrote, “Keep your hand on the plow.  Hold on!”  (Even when the news is both depressing and inscrutable: “Adobe Flash Player has crashed.  Reload page.  Send error report?” I keep rolling on, in the name of Hot Lips Page.)

2.  When I went to Dixieland Monterey (the Jazz Bash by the Bay — an experience that still induces a state of near-hallucinogenic bliss in me — a number of new friends asked me sweetly what I was doing at the end of each posting.  They had noticed that I was linking to a PayPal site and asking for contributions to go to the musicians who appeared in my videos.  Some wondered if I was in the grip of a grabby conspiracy: “Did musicians tell you to do this, Michael?”  I said then and continue to say that the whole experiment is my idea: no coercion, no gentle arm-twisting.  I won’t go through the whole thing again (I dread becoming a fund-raiser on an eternal pledge drive) but ask that readers who are curious or even suspicious read these earlier postings, which I hope will explain my intent and method: https://jazzlives.wordpress.com/2011/01/27/open-your-heart/

3.  I am reading Donald Bogle’s new biography of Ethel Waters, HEAT WAVE.  It is a large, enthusiastic, well-documented ocean of a book, full of fascinating stories and anecdotes.  I would not make a model book reviewer because I have been stopping and starting to listen to Ethel’s recordings.  But I encourage my readers to investigate this great prize of a book: it is a summer’s reading, and a happy one!

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