When my learned and hot Australian friend Michael McQuaid (clarinet, alto sax, cornet, and leader of the Late Hour Boys) told me sometime last year about a tour he and his colleagues intended to do, I badly wanted to join them as an aging roadie, carrying the cases and music stands, finding places to recharge my video camera’s batteries, recording every second for posterity. I would have worn a cap and held the door open.
My idea was one whose time had not yet come. But thanks to fellow reed wizard Jason Downes, we now have eighteen video performances to thrill us. Michael and Jason on their own are — to quote the late Pee Wee Erwin, “hotter than a depot stove” (you could look it up) . . . and here they are joined by guitarist / banjoist John Scurry, bassist Leigh Barker, and two Americans whose names will be familiar to JAZZ LIVES: Andy Schumm on cornet and Josh Duffee on drums. The results are nearly incendiary, and would be so even if the surroundings didn’t suggest Hades reborn as a speakeasy in color and decor.
I think I am performing a public service by alerting my readers of these clips. See if you don’t agree. And I can’t wait for the double CD-DVD set. (Yes, one of the titles below is DON’T WAKE ME UP, LET ME DREAM, but any causal connection here is incidental, of course.)
Wow! As we say in the States.
This session was recorded on April 20, 2011, in Club Cursley, Near Cobargo, NSW, Australia. I was told that this lavish interior is inside a generous host’s country house . . . one with its own stage. Some people know how to live.
How about a searing WILD MAN BLUES, styled after Johnny Dodds’ Black Bottom Stompers — and hear young Mister Schumm get into his 1927 Louis-regalia in the most convincing way:
Here is the aforementioned request (or command?), DON’T WAKE ME UP, LET ME DREAM (which has a chorus-ending tag that sounds like a thousand other tunes — I thought of WHY COULDN’T IT BE POOR LITTLE ME and GOOD LITTLE, BAD LITTLE YOU but might be mistaken in both counts). From the title, I would have expected a snoozy sweet composition, so this romper is a delightful surprise. The closing chorus is superheated:
And a slow-drag, almost melancholy BABY, WON’T YOU PLEASE COME HOME? (in keeping with the yearning lyrics):
And a nearly ominous reading of BLACK SNAKE BLUES:
I have purposely left the remaining fourteen videos unposted: visit “jasondownes” on YouTube and enjoy yourselves. If you are measured in your enjoyment, that’s two weeks of joy at breakfast. I still wish with all my heart that I had been along on this tour — maybe next year if I buy a cap that has THE HOT JAZZ ALLIANCE embroidered on it in gold braid, the fellows will make room for me in the band bus?