Some JAZZ LIVES readers might wonder why my title warrants an exclamation point. The music, I think, will speak for itself — but the singular pianist Ray Skjelbred had suffered a broken hip earlier this summer . . . and he is now back playing and sounding like himself.
Here are four video performances (thanks to Candace Brown) recorded at the monthly gig of the First Thursday Jazz Band, with guest Craig Flory on reeds, at the New Orleans Creole Restaurant in Seattle’s Pioneer Square, Seattle. Along with Ray, you’ll hear and see Dave Brown, bass, and Mike Daugherty, on drums.
Here’s I NEVER KNEW, where the sound of the band is reflected in the swinging dancing of Natalie Bangs and Kevin Buster:
And a quartet like this can swing as fiercely as a Thirties big band — hear how on BLUE LOU:
A fast blues (situated between Count Basie and Albert Ammons), named for the championship racehorse, WHIRLAWAY:
Finally (for now), here’s a bit of pretty New Orleans gutbucket — an exploration of the 1919 hit JADA:
So happy you’re back on the bench, Mister Ray! And thanks to Craig, Dave, Mike, Natalie, Kevin, and especially Candace (without her, this would all be hearsay).
I have it on the best authority that Ray and his Cubs (the Chicago kind) will be performing for the Sacramento Traditional Jazz Society this Sunday, September 11, 2011, at The Dante Club, 2330 Fair Oaks Blvd., Sacramento, CA 95825, from noon to 5 PM. For more information visit: http://www.sacjazz.org/calendar.html. I know that my friend and colleague RaeAnn Berry will be there: join her in the fun!