It began, as many good things do, with just a trio performing a late-night set (Saturday, Sept. 3, 2011) in the sports bar “Champions” at the 2011 Sweet and Hot Music Festival. But by the end of the hour, the band had expanded considerably, with many delightful surprises. The trio was reedman Dan Levinson, singer and guitarist Molly Ryan, and peerless pianist Mark Shane. To me, that’s a full orchestra — as you can hear for yourself on their version of Jimmie Noone’s EL RADO SCUFFLE, named for a Chicago jazz club:
Molly sweetly sings (no surprise here) the national anthem of hot jazz fans, GET RHYTHM IN YOUR FEET — reminding me of the mid-Thirties Red Allen recording:
That would have been fun enough for anyone with ears! But sharp-eyed viewers will notice two superheroes coming in to the Champions sports bar — cornetist Marc Caparone and trombonist-plus Dan Barrett. Since Dan had been exploring the Jimmie Noone repertoire, he called READY FOR THE RIVER (one of those I’m-going-to-kill-myself-in-swingtime songs, which has the singer threatening to drown himself). Watch closely, as the three members of the front line discover that 1) they have something in common, and 2) great minds think alike, even if Dan Barrett later characterized their shared knowledge as evidence of misspent childhoods. (See below* for additional information!)
Perhaps that is true, but I got delighted chills up and down my spine, and it wasn’t the air conditioning:
This happy quintet (three horns, two rhythm, no waiting) then proceeded into SAN:
Molly honored a request for the lovely / wistful / witty song about dreams coming true when there’s no money to help them along (I know it from an Eddie Cantor record), WHEN MY SHIP COMES IN. Talk abuot music that makes the most delicious lemonade when there are no lemons to work with!
Other musicians had obviously heard the good vibrations (one of the nicest aspects of both Sweet and Hot and Dixieland Monterey is the cross-fertilization, or — in less scientific terms — the exalted sitting-in): how about Chloe Feoranzo on clarinet and Corey Gemme on C-melody saxophone for that immortal yet nagging question, DO YOU EVER THINK OF ME?:
Then, presumably with pants on, the SHEIK OF ARABY:
And (in preparation for his set, which followed, but also because he wanted to get in on the fun), the superb cornetist Connie Jones joined in for Molly’s exultant rendition of CALIFORNIA, HERE I COME! I would suggest that the state tourist board needs her to sing this song, but perhaps the people in power already know this:
Sweet and hot and irreplaceable, too.
*Some kind soul / hot music scholar transcribed the lyrics — verse and chorus! — for the Coon-Sanders recording, and I print the transcription below. Possibly a song for group harmony on long car trips?
VERSE: Tell the world that I’m all through with it.
No more will I moan.
Burn my home. What can I do with it?
Can’t live all alone.
No use wastin’ time,
For I just know that I’m—
CHORUS: Ready for the river, the shivery river,
The river that goes down to the sea.
Gonna drown my troubles, and leave just the bubbles
To indicate what used to be me.
Made my will, wrote some notes,
Gonna keep a-walkin’ ’til my straw hat floats.
I’m ready for the river, the shivery river,
So get the river ready for me.