Daily Archives: October 25, 2011

BECKY BRINGS BEAUTY (JAZZ AT CHAUTAUQUA 2011)

It looks very simple on paper: Becky Kilgore sings an Irving Berlin classic with the help of John Sheridan, piano; Dan Barrett, trombone; Frank Tate, string bass; Ricky Malichi.  A casual session at the beginning of the 2011 Jazz at Chautauqua party (Sept. 15, 2011, to be precise).

But so much more is going on here.  The song, SAY IT ISN’T SO, balances between sorrow — “I know what people are saying, and I am sorrowful and frightened because it might be true,” and optimism, “Oh, tell me that what they’re saying isn’t so,” admittedly with the weight coming down tangibly on the side of bad news.  A lesser singer might draw this out into a weepy lament, as the lyrics suggest; an emotionally unaware vocalist might think that the lyrics could be transmuted or discarded, and “swing it,” against all reasonable practice.

Our Ms. Kilgore, Rebecca or Becky, knows how sad those lyrics are.  But she chooses, by temperament and perhaps by training, to make even the most mournful song hopeful through the swing feeling beneath it.  The slightly-more-hopeful-than-self-pitying tempo she chooses says to us, subliminally and silently, “Look.  Things are truly rotten now.  But don’t lose heart.  All is possible.  Everything will be OK.  Follow me: keep your heart in the rhythm and we’ll be safe.”

Quietly, subtly, she makes each song an understated drama, convincing us without an act.

GLIDING AT CHAUTAUQUA 2011 with HOWARD ALDEN, HARRY ALLEN, DAN BARRETT, ROSSANO SPORTIELLO, JON BURR, PETE SIERS, and LYNN STEIN

The Thursday-night informal sessions at the 2011 Jazz at Chautauqua turned from homegrown Gypsy jazz (the Faux Frenchmen) to modern Chicago-style (Marty Grosz and his Peerless Players) to deep Mainstream with Howard Alden, guitar; Harry Allen, tenor sax; Dan Barrett, trombone; Rossano Sportiello, piano; Jon Burr, string bass; Pete Siers, drums; Lynn Stein, vocal.

They began with an improvisation on the Forties jump tune IDAHO which then offered Coleman Hawkins’ line on the theme (was it BEAN STALKING or SPORTMAN’S HOP?):

Then, a Cole Porter song introduced by Bing Crosby in the film HIGH SOCIETY (sung to the lovely Grace Kelly) — Ruby Braff loved it too, I LOVE YOU, SAMANTHA:

Jon Burr invited the singer Lynn Stein to join in, and she gave us a sweet jazz affirmation in I WAS DOING ALL RIGHT:

And the session ended (to make way for another community of great minds who think alike in 4 /4) with a romp on I GOT RHYTHM changes, APPLE HONEY (associated with Woody Herman’s First Herd):

Gliding with intensity and grace . . . .

HOT NOTES IN THE PARLOR WITH MARTY GROSZ AND FRIENDS at JAZZ AT CHAUTAUQUA 2011

All I will say about the 2011 Jazz at Chautauqua is that Western New York State was rocking as it probably hadn’t rocked since the mastodons held an Ice Age party.  The music started off wonderfully — after a sweet warmup set by the Faux Fenchmen, we were into serious rhythm business with Marty Grosz.

Marty hadn’t had time to invent a new band name for this informal Thursday-night session, but you can think up your own.  They were Randy Reinhart on cornet; Scott Robinson and Dan Levinson on reeds; Jim Dapogny on piano; Jon Burr (for the first two songs) and Frank Tate (for the next) on string bass; Pete Siers on drums.  As always, Marty was in charge of repertoire, tempos, vocalizing, guitar, and badinage.

To start things off in the best Hot manner, he chose CRAZY RHYTHM:

Then, a song associated with (among others) McKinney’s Cotton Pickers — not played enough these days — CHERRY:

The eternal question, perhaps unanswerable: HOW COME YOU DO ME LIKE YOU DO?

And to close out, a Louis-associated romper, I DOUBLE DARE YOU:

We were off to a splendid start that Thursday night (Sept. 15, 2011) in the parlor of the Hotel Athaeneum.