While Jon-Erik Kellso and Matt Munisteri were finishing up what I hope was a rewarding weekend at the 2011 Atlanta Jazz Festival, the EarRegulars kept swinging happily in their absence — at The Ear Inn last night (Sunday, April 17, 2011 — at 326 Spring Street, Soho, New York City).
The quartet was made up of old friends and musical colleagues — people who had a lot to say to each other on their instruments: Danny Tobias, cornet; Dan Block, clarinet and tenor saxophone; Chris Flory, guitar; Frank Tate, bass.
The music was playful and conversational: the band evoked the past (the 1938 Basie band, an imagined 1944 Keynote session, a Vanguard record date) while reminding us at every turn that there were four living musicians creating beauty in the here and now. In each of these performances, you’ll see and hear casual splendor: the inventive lines and big sound of Frank Tate, who plays the string bass as it wants to be played (no manic guitar runs for him); the irresistible rhythmic surge of Chris Flory, his lines chiming; Danny Tobias’s subtle mastery — he never plays a superfluous note, and although he’s deeply grounded in the tradition of Buck Clayton and Ruby Braff, you’d lose all your bets trying to predict where his next phrase will land; the fierce lyricism of Dan Block, lemony on clarinet, yearning on tenor — a man inseparable from the phrases he creates.
Pay attention! as Jake Hanna used to say — especially to the conversations between Danny and Dan, uplifting interludes in several performances.
LINGER AWHILE isn’t played that much by contemporary bands, but Bill Coleman, Dicky Wells, and Lester Young had a good time with it some decades back:
Some cautious optimism with SOMETIMES I’M HAPPY at an easy rocking tempo:
A good old good one, EVERYBODY LOVES MY BABY:
Happiness is on everyone’s mind on a Sunday night at The Ear Inn, so why not play I WANT TO BE HAPPY:
And to cool the room down, a swinging JADA:
Cherish these sessions! They’ve been going on for nearly four years . . . come visit while this music is in the air . . . .