Emily Asher certainly knows how to throw a party. And her brilliance isn’t a matter of laying in huge quantities of blue corn chips and IPA, nor is it because of those cookies she bakes. In fact, Emily comes to the party with little except her trombone, some sheet music, and her insistence that everyone have a good time and swing.
She accomplishes this nicely — and she’s also one of those musicians who seems to be growing and developing before our eyes . . . not that she was a novice when I first encountered her!
For her midweek session at the Radegast Bierhalle in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Emily assembled her “Garden Party,” a hot band despite its refined UK title. This version had our Ms. Asher on trombone / vocals; Bria Skonberg on trumpet / vocals; Dan Levinson on clarinet / tenor; Kelly Friesen on string bass; Nick Russo on banjo / guitar; Kevin Dorn on drums. And since it was a Wednesday during the two-week Dan Barrett Celebratory East Coast Tour, Dan came uptown from his earlier gig with David Ostwald’s Louis Armstrong Centennial Band and brought the fiery clarinetist Pete Martinez with him.
Here are a goodly handful of video performances from that night at Radegast. Expert dancing provided by Sam Huang and Michelle DeCastro — other dancers unidentified.
The Garden Party began with something fierce and New Orleanian — Jelly Roll Morton’s MILENBERG JOYS:
Then, the hot yet admonitory SOME OF THESE DAYS, with a Charleston beat:
Emily very sweetly offered a slow waltz-time HEY, LOOK ME OVER! — commenting that her father had taught her the song when she was three, and she retains some of the choreography from her childhood. I find it absolutely charming. (Thanks, Dad!):
And a perennial: ROYAL GARDEN BLUES:
I was embarrassed by my ignorance, having no idea of what this song was — but Emily told me in a kind way that it was EMPEROR NORTON’S HUNCH. I think I have to take Remedial Turk Murphy over the summer:
NOBODY’S SWEETHEART NOW featured a harmonized vocal chorus from Emily and Bria, who remain our sweethearts:
For the last few numbers of the third set, Dan Barrett and Pete Martinez joined in (up until this point, they had been enjoying the sounds) on an energetic but not-too-fast MUSKRAT RAMBLE (beginnig a compact Louis-tribute, but all jazz is a Louis-tribute, isn’t it?):
Dan borrowed Bria’s trumpet for a nifty BIG BUTTER AND EGG MAN, and I thought, “Where else on the planet could I hear Louis’ 1926 chorus played with such accuracy and fervor?”:
And we close this visit to Emily’s wonderful party with a sweet ON THE SUNNY SIDE OF THE STREET, with Bria back on trumpet and Dan on trombone, trading phrases:
Wonderful! And if you get on Emily’s email list (visit her site at http://www.emilyasher.com.) you can find out when the next party is — as well as learning about her upcoming CD, which needs your support: