Daily Archives: November 9, 2011

AUBADE FOR RUBY: HOWARD ALDEN, JON-ERIK KELLSO, FRANK TATE at JAZZ AT CHAUTAUQUA (Sept. 16, 2011)

This too-brief set took place at Jazz at Chautauqua on Sept. 17, 2011, at a time most jazz musicians would find uncongenial, but this trio transcended the early hour and the bright sunlight to create wonderful intimate music in honor of Ruby Braff. 

Trumpeter Jon-Erik Kellso knew Ruby and continues to be inspired by his hot lyricism, but Jon-Erik has his own approach and sound, so his work is a soulful evocation, not an attempt to imitate the Master’s dips and whorls.  Guitarist Howard Alden and bassist Frank Tate were the compact creative unit that embraced and supported Ruby in his final decades, creating small masterpieces from songs both familiar and unexpected.  Ruby drew his “aesthetic vitamins” from jazz sources — Louis Armstrong and Lester Young — but also from Judy Garland and Fred Astaire — and imbued those songs and images with his own deep romanticism, ever surprising.

Here are three performances that summon up Ruby’s eloquence and strength while giving this creative trio of individualists more than enough room to be themselves.

A Mary Lou Williams composition from the mid-Forties, LONELY MOMENTS, always seems like music for a deeply introspective film:

Ruby said he learned the seductive Gershwin song DO IT AGAIN from Judy Garland’s recording.  This performance epitomizes the lullaby-like quality of the song, drawing us ever closer:

And the set concluded with a Louis-inspired romp through a song Ruby was playing as far back as 1967, Don Redman’s NO ONE ELSE BUT YOU:

Beautiful creations at an early hour!

Advertisements

JAMES DAPOGNY AND FRIENDS at JAZZ AT CHAUTAUQUA (Sept. 16, 2011)

This hot chamber jazz session took place at Jazz at Chautauqua on September 16, 2011, and the estimable participants are James Dapogny, piano; Dan Levinson, clarinet and tenor sax; Andy Stein, violin; Frank Tate, string bass; John Von Ohlen, drums. 

DOIN’ THE RACCOON dates from the late Twenties, and is one of those spirited songs chronicling the floor-length raccoon coats that were the height of college fashion.  I would ordinarily hear in my mind’s ear (or mental jukebox) the Eddie South version . . . but this happy twenty-first century effusion now stands alongside it:

Frank Signorelli and Matty Malneck’s pretty LITTLE BUTTERCUP (later titled I’LL NEVER BE THE SAME) was first recorded by Eddie Lang and Joe Venuti, then by Billie Holida, Buck Clayton, and Lester Young — a beautiful rhythm ballad with a sweet yearning at its center:

And the theme song for all discussions, I MAY BE WRONG, which was also the song chosen for the Apollo Theatre productions:

Thanks to the gentlemen of the ensemble for creating and evoking music that will outlive the discourse that swirls around it.