I had a hard time with high school chemistry, but I was fascinated with the idea of the catalyst — that substance that, when added to some combination of chemicals, made them spring into life it hadn’t imagined before. Dan Barrett has no connection with test tubes that anyone knows of, but he is a magical substance in human form. And he proved this once again on his second visit to The Ear Inn in his too-brief New York City sojourn of early autumn 2011.
The EarRegulars, at the start, were Dan (cornet and trombone), Scott Robinson (tenor, metal clarinet, trumpet, and the elusive Magic Jazzophone), Matt Munisteri (guitar), Joel Forbes (string bass). Here they are offering an atypically fast MAKE ME A PALLET ON THE FLOOR (ATLANTA BLUES to some) that begins with a lustrous Munisteri exploration of the theme:
Then, harking back to the Forties (I thought of an imagined 12″ Keynote 78), Dan and Scott essayed a leisurely, romantic IF I HAD YOU at a wondrously slow tempo:
IN A MELLOTONE appropriately (if for the scansion alone) required the Jazzophone — which is apparently a saxophone-shaped trumpet with two bells, one open, the other muted, which the player opens and closes with machinery I haven’t been able to imagine, but you see that it works. Amazingly!
And as an acknowledgment that The EarRegulars, on land or sea, whatever their personnel, are not hemmed in by narrow ideological definitions of pre-this and post-that, here is their version of ANTHROPOLOGY:
While all this was going on, the Ear was full of musicians — cornetist David Robinson (brother of Scott) was near the bandstand, his horn hung up on a hook, taking his time before leaping in. (The patriarch of the Robinson clan, also David, couldn’t get closer to the music than the back room, but when I went to speak with him he was beaming — as well he should! Trumpeters Gordon Au and Peter Ecklund stopped in to play, as did reed guru Dan Block, trombonist Matt Haviland and guitarist Chris Flory . . . as well as Miss Tamar Korn.
Dave Robinson joined the original quartet for a gutty LONESOME ROAD:
And a buoyant JAZZ ME BLUES:
Gordon took over the trumpet chair, Matt Haviland came in on trombone for a groovy OUT OF NOWHERE:
The two Dans (Barrett and Block) returned for a seriously rocking I WOULD DO ANYTHING FOR YOU, with no MOST about it:
IF DREAMS COME TRUE, that Swing Era evergreen, brought together Chris Flory, Joel, Peter Ecklund, the two Dans, and Matt Haviland (if my notes, taken in the dark) are correct:
And Dave Robinson came back to join the ensemble backing Tamar on IT’S A SIN TO TELL A LIE (even the back of Miss Korn’s head radiates music, and hang on for the second vocal chorus!):
I would have gotten a higher grade in chemistry had I known about Dan Barrett; high school is long behind me, but I’m still learning a great deal whenever he appears on the scene.