Daily Archives: April 27, 2011

LOUIS, ALL-STARS, AND FRIENDS (1947-8)

From eBay!

Louis (in a lovely white suit, playing softly), is flanked on the couch by an unknown to his right, Earl Hines (with glasses) to his left.  Behind the coffee table, standing, are Arvell Shaw and Velma Middleton.  Seated at the table, eyes on Louis, is Barney Bigard.  At the back of the picture is Sidney Catlett, wearing a wildly beautiful necktie; to his left, smiling broadly and with a trombone, is one Jack Teagarden.  The man slightly behind Jackson looks familiar, but his name eludes me.  The other people in the photo: fans or fellow entertainers?  Is it someone’s living room or a hotel room?  Will we ever know?

This seems to me like a store — rather than someone’s living room?  From the left, on a different day and time (Louis has on a dark suit), there’s Jack, his head whimsically tilted, Louis, the tantalizing gentleman again [why do I think I’ve seen him in a Soundie?], Velma, someone who looks like a prizefighter, Arvell, and Barney . . . . the latter dressed to take his leave.

Research!  Research?  (The eBay seller is sure that Ethel Waters is in the first photograph, which is amusing.)

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COLIN HUGGINS HAS IDEAS

Properly speaking, Colin Huggins is a classically-trained pianist, so if your definitions of JAZZ are narrowly restrictive, you might make sniffing noises at this post.  But please suspend your disbelief: he certainly LIVES and he has energy and devotion that would do justice to four or five people!  (Thanks to Lynn Redmile for telling me about him.)

Colin Huggins is a pianist.  And he plays in a variety of locations that don’t ordinarily have pianos.  So that in itself is intriguing.  He has a number of pianos stored all over New York City; he brings them to locations he finds conducive — including the subway and Washington Square Park — so that people can hear music . . . piano always, sometimes accompanied by tap dancers or a drummer.

Here’s a YouTube clip where you can see him in action:

Colin’s trying to raise money through Kickstarter to put a high-quality baby grand piano in Washington Square Park:

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/609549911/a-baby-grand-piano-for-washington-sq-park

His website is: http://www.thecrazypianoguy.com/

My out-of-town readers may roll their eyes and say, “Oh, those New Yorkers are crazy, aren’t they?”  But having more music always seems like a good thing — so go to it, Colin!

TAMAR KORN, HERSELF (April 21, 2011)

Three photographic studies of Miss Korn — while she was singing at Teddy’s in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.  The mildly greenish hue is because of the camera’s low-light setting, but I trust that it doesn’t interfere overmuch.  I told Tamar that I would send these shots anywhere she wanted as auditions for another film biography of Edith Piaf, and she said only that her mother would be pleased by them.

Life is a tragedy for those who feel . . .

Let me sing and I’m happy . . .

When you wore a tulip (and I wore a big red rose) . . . !

PETE MARTINEZ’S “JAM TASTY”

I first heard clarinetist Pete Martinez about six years ago and was instantly impressed — his sound (from searing Ed Hall to tender, moody, sweet); his ensemble wisdom (he knew how to play well with others); his deep perceptions of the world around him; his delight in the obscure . . . I could go on.  He shone on record sessions with Kevin Dorn and with Barbara Rosene, but I was waiting (politely, I hope) for Pete to make his own record date as a leader of a small band.

And it’s happening!

I was invited to Peter Karl’s very hospitable Brooklyn studio to watch and listen — which I did  on April 20, 2011 — to Pete, trumpeter Simon Wettenhall, pianist Mark Shane, bassist Brian Nalepka, and drummer Kevin Dorn.  They made wonderful music: including SHIM-ME-SHA-WABBLE, SINGING A VAGABOND SONG, SCHROEDER COMP (you’ll have to ask Pete about that, but it goes right back to RINGSIDE AT CONDON’S), CHERRY, YOU’RE MY EVERYTHING, THAT RHYTHM MAN, and YOU LET ME DOWN.

And the next day they finished the session, recording DIANE and other wonderful songs . . .

Recording studios, even ones as congenial as Peter’s, don’t always lend themselves to video-recording, so I contented myself with sitting on the red leather sofa (comfortable but entrapping), taking notes, listening to the witticisms, and taking photographs.  Here are a few, with brief commentary:

Messrs. Martinez, Dorn, and Wettenhall, deeply considering.

The two faces of Pete.

Mike, meet Kevin.

The many mutes of Simon.

Accessorizing for Spring (a totally impromptu shot).

Studio tension — recording studios make musicians so unhappy and ill-at-ease!  (Postscript: there are no pictures of Mark or Brian, not because they are any less photogenic, but because they were more usually sequestered in the piano booth or the bass booth.)