The music played at The Ear Inn (326 Spring Street, Soho, New York City) this last Sunday night — June 26, 2011 — was inspiring. And you won’t have to take my word for it.
The EarRegulars that night were a slightly different crew, although three of the four players were SemiRegulars: guitarist Chris Flory, tenor saxophonist Harry Allen, and trumpeter Charlie Caranicas.
The fourth player was new to me — bassist Corin Stiggall — but I can only reproach myself for not knowing his work before this: he is a find, indeed. All I will say about Corin (you will hear the truth for yourself) is that he reminds me greatly of Oscar Pettiford — strong, steady, inventive, with his own deep sound, and he doesn’t think of his instrument as an overfed guitar.
Here’s the quartet on a truly exuberant reading of Billy Strayhorn’s early don’t-let-the-door-hit-you-on-the-way-out, I’M CHECKING OUT, GOOM-BYE (the brisk tempo courtesy of Mr. Allen):
A little good blues? Here’s JUMPIN’ WITH SYMPHONY SID, celebrating the days when Lester played and Sidney Torin spoke on your AM radio:
For Rodgers and Hart, an enthusiastic, twining THIS CAN’T BE LOVE:
In the middle of the evening, the marvelous community of friends old and new — so often encountered these Sunday nights at The Ear — began to come together. Earlier, trumpeter, dancer, and scientist Lucy Weinman came up to me and introduced her West Coast buddy, reed expert Chloe Feoranzo. (Chloe has made two CDs already — the second in the company of serious players: Dan Barrett, Hal Smith, Chris Dawson, Bryan Shaw, Dave Koonse, Richard Simon*. She’s no tyro, tentative and unsure.)
Chloe had brought her clarinet and was welcomed to the Ear Inn “bandstand” for PENNIES FROM HEAVEN. Her bell-bright sound is a treat, as is her reluctance to go familiar ways. Many clarinet players are tempted towards glibness — “I can play a fast run here, so why not?” — but Chloe seems to be thinking about what phrases she might create (without hesitating), her sound reminding me of Tony Scott, of early Jimmy Hamilton — with Teddy Wilson in 1941 — and now and again Lester on clarinet:
Friends came by — a whole reed section began to assemble. Dan Block unpacked his alto saxophone. Pete Anderson and Andy Farber brought their tenors. And I felt as if I had been happily dropped into the middle of this: as you will see on the videos, Harry stood in front of me, as did Chloe; Dan was seated to my right on a barstool, Andy on the next one away, Pete diagonally across from me. Reed rapture!
And although I am usually much more interested in the sound of my videos than the visual aspects, I was very happy to be able to capture Harry’s happiness, his eyes half-closed, while he listened to Chloe play.
How about that romping affirmation of joy, I WANT TO BE HAPPY:
A sweet IF I HAD YOU:
For the closer, HONEYSUCKLE ROSE with the Soho version of the Henderson / Hopkins riffs:
Incidentally, speaking of community, there were old friends and new at The Ear — among them man of music Doug, the inspiring singer Jewel, and Claiborne (the last a genuine movie star — catch her in PAGE ONE).
You’ve never been to The Ear Inn on a Sunday night, never heard the EarRegulars, never met Victor Villar-Hauser (a gentleman, a scholar, and a serious actor)? Alas.
*Chloe’s second CD looks like this: I predict there will be many more!