Call it what you like — “Chicago style,” “Fifty-Second Street,” “small-band swing.” Perhaps you’d prefer to name the heroic echoes heard — traces of Bud Freeman, Benny Goodman, Jimmy Rowles, Jess Stacy, Dave Tough, George Wettling, Marty Marsala, Max Kaminsky, George Lugg, Vernon Brown . . . the list could continue.
But I prefer to admire the music for itself.
This little band, an impromptu aggregation, has a wonderful nimbleness. Although its repertoire, except for the 1937 SEPTEMBER IN THE RAIN, predated Goodman at the Palomar, there was nothing archaic about their session of the 2011 Sweet and Hot Music Festival (September 2, 2011).
The players: Dan Levinson (clarinet, tenor sax); Chris Dawson (piano); Hal Smith (drums); Corey Gemme (cornet), and the Mystery Guest for the last two performances, trombonist David Sager.
SEPTEMBER IN THE RAIN, for many of us, recalls the 1944 Commodore record by Muggsy Spanier’s Ragtimers. Dan and friends took a lighter approach:
THEM THERE EYES was a hit record in 1930 and continues to be one of the tunes all the musicians in the world love to play:
CHERRY harks back to McKinney’s Cotton Pickers and the wonderful shouting yet polite vocalizing of George “Fathead” Thomas:
MY MONDAY DATE (or A MONDAY DATE) comes from Earl Hines, whose playful spirit imbued the proceedings:
SORRY owes its endurance in our memories to Bix Beiderbecke and Don Murray:
THERE’LL BE SOME CHANGES MADE brought on the agile David Sager:
And the set ended with the 1925 classic, DINAH:
“Excuse me, sir, can you direct me to the Commodore Music Shop?”