Getting the kitten down from the tree is heroic, as is untying the maiden from the railroad tracks as the train bears down on her. But so is what Clint Baker and his New Orleans Jazz Band did at Mountain View, California, on August 20, 2011 — making the room and the dancers vibrate with a sweet intensity.
Here’s the evidence. Clint led the band on trumpet, with Jim Klippert (trombone), Robert Barics (clarinet), Carl Sonny Leyland (piano), Jason Vanderford (banjo), Sam Rocha (bass and tuba), Jason (or J.) Hansen (drums). I had watched and heard versions of this band at Cafe Borrone (through the generosity of Rae Ann Berry and her Magic Tripod) and they are superb, but I was unprepared for the hot energy that emanated from this group — no microphones except for Clint’s announcements — and took over the room.
They began their set with AVALON, effectively wiping out any associations with Benny Goodman or Al Jolson:
Then, Clint sang James P. Johnson’s ONE HOUR and the band followed his entreaty in the best spirit:
Drummer Paul Barbarin is a beloved figure to me because of the way he drove both the Luis Russell band and the Louis Armstrong Orchestra (1935-39). But he also composed BOURBON STREET PARADE and the jolly THE SECOND LINE:
SWEET LOTUS BLOSSOM, a paean to some herb or other, was a feature for singer-banjoist Jason Vanderford. Knocked me right out!
MILENBERG JOYS (or GOLDEN LEAF STRUT, a cousin of the BLOSSOM above) just romped:
TEXAS MOANER BLUES points backwards in time to Sidney Bechet and Louis Armstrong, but it seems vigorous in its moaning splendor today:
And the set closed with Clint’s swinging exercise in New Orleans group therapy (with help from Dr. Klippert from Vienna), YOU TELL ME YOUR DREAM:
The dancers loved it, as I did. And there’s another, equally hot set to come. And this event was sponsored by WEDNESDAY NIGHT HOP — check out their site for information on future events: