I was very happy at the 2011 Sweet and Hot Music Festival, if my postings haven’t made that obvious.
But initially I was not terribly happy to watch the Reynolds Brothers in this outdoor venue — called RAMPART STREET because it seemed to be under a freeway ramp, which is either black humor or making the best of things.
A few minutes into the set I realized why the Brothers were playing outdoors. I had seen various members of the Los Angeles Fire Department outside, and several parked trucks were there (with quietly observant firemen and women in uniform taking in the scene). It made sense.
The people who operated the hotel had become aware that this band generated so much heat that it was thought better for all concerned if they performed outside. I asked one of the firefighters and she agreed, but asked me not to tell people because there might be panic . . . but I can let the secret out now.
The Brothers, as always, lived up to their name — by featuring two men related by blood and parentage. John (with the less effusive mustache) on National steel guitar, a tiny National ukulele, banjo, vocals, and whistling; brother Ralf on washboard and exhortation; Marc Caparone on cornet and vocal; Katie Cavera on string bass and vocal; guest star Larry Wright on alto sax, ocarina, and “vocal”; the gloriously down-in-the-gutter (only metaphorically) Clint Baker on trombone and vocal.
Here’s what they sounded like. You might want to make sure that you know where your fire extinguisher is, or have a glass of water near the computer.
They began with CHINA BOY:
Then Clint was featured on I CAN’T BELIEVE THAT YOU’RE IN LOVE WITH ME — dig the wonderful J. C. Higginbotham birdge he creates:
John sang I COVER THE WATERFRONT — so stylishly:
SAN (which always brings memories of Bix) had a whistling interlude from John, a “vocal” and ocarina display from Larry, and a wonderful duet for Marc and John:
Katie (having a good time) stepped forward for the pretty Walter Donaldson AT SUNDOWN:
And John offered CRAZY RHYTHM:
Marc, honoring Mister Armstrong, Mister Crosby, and indirectly Jones and Smith, gave out on a sweet, intense SHOE SHINE BOY:
John changed over to banjo for a hot lament about the BLUES MY NAUGHTY SWEETIE GIVES TO ME:
Note Marc’s beautiful lead playing on I’LL SEE YOU IN MY DREAMS, so lovely:
And the Brothers scorched the stage with their closing HINDUSTAN:
Everyone thanked the firemen and women — who were wiping the sweat out of their eyes — for protecting us from what might have been a jazz inferno. Our heroes on the stage, our heroes in uniforms outside.