That title, I hope, says it all.  This session took place at the 2011 Sweet and Hot Music Festival in Los Angeles — on September 4, 2011, at the upwardly mobile aerie called Cheap Seats, a tiny room on the eighteenth floor.  It was crowded, for very good reason, and I had to use all my wiles and obstinacy to get in, stay in, and video-record over the protests of a well-intentioned volunteer concerned about the fire laws, but I am glad I practiced my passive resistance a la Thoreau and captured this session for JAZZ LIVES.

It began as yet another chamber-jazz outing for the trio of Dan Levinson (clarinet and tenor); Mark Shane (piano); Molly Ryan (voice and rhythm guitar), with the astronomical marvel (much more than “guest star”) cornetist Connie Jones.  Later in the set a noble visitor came in: the title gives it away, but Howard Alden is always welcome on the bandstand: here he brought his acoustic guitar and added so much to the proceedings.

The quartet began the set with a sweet / silly Thirties song I associate with Shirley Temple in a film — but more to the point, with Edythe Wright and Tommy Dorsey’s Clambake Seven.  Kevin Dorn wasn’t on the stand, so you have to imagine “Take it away, Davey,” all on your own:

Next was BACK HOME AGAIN IN INDIANA, which went from sweetly rustic / nostalgic very quickly.  Don’t look away from the monitor to check on dinner, for around 2:20 Dan comes back into camera view apparently dragging a miscreant (a jazz “perp”) onto the stand . . . Mr. Alden, who manages to unpack and join in the choruses:

Molly Ryan is a very agreeable young woman, so it would make perfect sense for her to sing the anthem of assent, ‘DEED I DO:

On a Hines-Noone kick?  Here’s BLUES IN THIRDS:

I’LL SEE YOU IN MY DREAMS usually closes the night’s entertainment, but here it shows off the brilliance of Howard Alden, who performed it so memorably (behind the scenes) in Woody Allen’s SWEET AND LOWDOWN:

One of the wonderful quasi-spiritual exhortations of the early Thirties, suggesting that music could cure one’s tendencies towards evil, SING YOU SINNERS:

The set ended most beautifully — not with a rouser full of climaxes, but with something tender and most sweet, SAY IT WITH A KISS (echoing Maxine, Billie, and a bygone era of love songs):

Just a family note: the fellow to the left (blue flowered shirt, video camera) isn’t me by some trick of telekinesis: that’s Molly’s devoted father, eager to record every note for posterity.  And rightly so!


  1. what’s the big pole camera left??

  2. Always ready to hear Howard play the acoustic!

  3. A good question, Joel. All I know is that it wasn’t my equipment; I was busy trying to not get thrown out, so I didn’t let it worry me. I hope you can ignore it — in favor of the sounds!

  4. Sounds rule, of course. Next question: why were they trying to toss you out -for making video??? ain’t bureacracy a gas?

  5. No, not really — everyone at Sweet and Hot was as gracious to me as you could want and more (led by the Sweetheart of Swing, Laurie Whitlock) — but the room was crowded when I got there and the efficient volunteer worried that I was blocking the aisle in case of fire. Fortunately for all of us, the only fire was on the bandstand — and no one even got singed. Bureaucracy is indeed its own kind of afflatus, but there wasn’t any at this festival . . . cheers, Michael

  6. Afflatus – I had to look that one up. I honestly can say I’ve never seen that before. Looked like it had something to do with stomach gas. But it is really quite the opposite, divinely speaking. You must have written for Playboy which liked to use “hirsute” a lot. But not afflatus which I would have easily recognized had Hefner taken a shine to it.
    Meanwhile, I will learn to be on the lookout for fire marshals – aisles are a shooter’s best friend.

  7. Not PLAYBOY, no — I’m just an English professor who has an occasionally ornate vocabulary: afflatus comes from Swift . . . ! Be well, Joel!

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