Eddie Condon left us in 1973, but the musical cosmos he created lives on in 2011 and beyond. It’s not difficult to imagine his approving shade at Whitley Bay, at The Ear Inn, at Jazz at Chautauqua — when gifted men and women get together to worship at the shrine of Hot Jazz, of graceful melodic improvisation, of swinging solos and ensemble. And today would have been his birthday. But any day is a good one to remember Eddie, as a prophet and advocate of beautiful energetic collective improvisations.
I’ve chosen to honor him through music rather than on film. Here are three examples of what he did so well. The first is the opening segment from a 1944 Condon concert, as broadcast on the radio and to the troops. You’ll hear Bobby Hackett, Pee Wee Russell, Benny Morton, Gene Schroeder, Eddie, Sid Weiss, and Gene Krupa:
And just because Eddie and the boys (in this case, Max Kaminsky, Brad Gowans, Pee Wee, Joe Sullivan, Al Morgan, Eddie, and George Wettling) found the twelve-bar blues a real source of inspiration, here are two of the life-enhancing Commodore 12″ 78s in honor of John Steinbeck — Tortilla B Flat:
and More Tortilla B Flat:
Thanks to Hal Smith — who knows the spirit of Condon well! — for the timely reminder.