Monthly Archives: November 2011

GLENN CRYTZER and his SYNCOPATORS COME EAST (November 14, 2011)

I had admired HARLEM MAD, the new CD of Glenn Crytzer’s compositions — with a swinging ensemble that included Ray Skjelbred, Solomon Douglas, Meschiya Lake, Dave Brown, and other hot luminaries.  (If you’ve never heard the band, here’s my review:  https://jazzlives.wordpress.com/2011/07/19/harlem-mad-glenn-crytzer-and-his-syncopators/.

A small version of the Syncopators: Kevin Woods, trumpet; Pete Petersen, reeds; Solomon Douglas, piano; Glenn, guitar, vocal, original compositions; Mike Weatherly, string bass; Mark Ribera, drums — played several sets two nights ago at SALOON on the Upper East Side of New York City.  I was impressed: the group has a charging energy.  They’re a jump band, somewhere between the 1939 Goodman Sextet (Glenn likes that Charlie Christian fellow) and a Louis Jordan unit.  Frankly, although all the members of the band appear to be fair-skinned, they could pass easily for one of the small bands in the Decca studios in the late Thirties, making records for Decca’s “Sepia Series.”  Or a powerful version of the little band Lee and Lester Young led.  Hear for yourself.

Here are three selections from the first set (I would have liked to stay, but work beckoned with its bony finger):

An original by Glenn, its title not explained — but we don’t mind a little mystery — SKINNY MINNIE.  That’s Mr. Woods on the hot mouthpiece:

Here’s an undisguised homage to the 1939 Goodman Sextet, the Christian – Hampton blues, SOFT WINDS:

And the best for last — Glenn’s deadpan paean to elevation, THE GRASS IS ALWAYS GREENER:

If you find fault with the lyrics or the concept, just remember it’s in praise of stilts, step-stools, elevator shoes, platform heels.

The Syncopators live up to their name.  And you can’t see the happy dancers — including the very hip Dawn Hampton and Lynn Redmile, but even the Beloved got out there and cut a very stylish rug on that floated wood floor.  Good job all ’round!

“THE HORROR! THE HORROR!”: JIMMY SCOTT TALKS ABOUT HERMAN LUBINSKY

Herman Lubinsky was known to be one of the worst people in the sometimes suspect record business — someone who took advantage of the artists who worked for Savoy Records in ways both astonishing and horrible.  Here’s a new website, “GOINGTHRUVINYL,” that starts off with a revealing piece about Lubinsky — supported by first-hand testimony from singer Jimmy Scott, one of Lubinsky’s victims:

http://www.goingthruvinyl.com/?p=920

You won’t believe what you read or what you hear.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, UNCLE DA DA

Eddie Condon and daughter Maggie, a few decades ago. Photograph by Lisette Model

“Uncle Da Da” was what Maggie and Liza Condon called their father, the man whose birthday we celebrate today.  We miss him.

(Photograph courtesy of Maggie Condon.)

SHE’S FROM NEW ORLEANS!

That’s CLEMENTINE — as celebrated here (thanks to Rae Ann Berry) by the Bay Area All-Stars, recorded at Nick’s at Rockaway Beach, Pacifica, California, on November 14, 2011 — under the aegis of the San Francisco Traditional Jazz Foundation.

As soon as they started with the verse, I was hooked.  Then I happily followed along with Bob Ringwald at the piano, the heroic Marty Eggers on bass, Bob Schulz on cornet (floating along behind the beat in the best 1932 Louis manner), Jim Maihack on trombone, Scott Anthony on banjo and vocal (offering the sweet, silly, irresistible lyrics).

Something for Bix, Tram, Venuti, Challis, and Goldkette — and now everyone knows how to pronounce the lady’s name — rhyming with New Orleans, not with “wine.”  A lovely hot vignette!

CELEBRATING EDDIE CONDON’S BIRTHDAY

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.

“JOHN KIRBY PLAYS FATS WALLER” BY DAN BLOCK (JAZZ AT CHAUTAUQUA, Sept. 17. 2011)

Dan Block is full of refreshing, gratifying ideas.

His imagining Fats Waller’s compositions as played by the John Kirby Sextet in the twenty-first century makes its own appealing sense.  Kirby and Waller knew each other and even show up in the same place (as in Fats’ Carnegie Hall concert in 1942).  Their paths probably crossed in ways not documented in jazz histories or discographies.  One can, without much exertion, imagine them having a drink — or several — uptown, and we know they both had a Henderson connection and they both led very well-known and immediately identifiable small jazz groups.

I suspect also that Dan, a thinking person — engage him on a political question and you’ll see what I mean — enjoys puzzles that require imagination to solve or untangle.  So the idea of writing arrangements within (and without) a clearly defined style for songs that have powerful melodic lines would have intrigued him.  And the music intrigues me.

At Jazz at Chautauqua, the results of this industry were clear: visually, in the pages of music unfurled in front of expert sight-readers Jon-Erik Kellso, trumpet; Dan and Scott Robinson, reeds; Rossano Sportiello, piano; Jon Burr, string bass; Arnie Kinsella, drums.  And what we heard was instantly entrancing: part of it was the pleasure of the band’s innate swing.  (Whisper this: they swung much more than the Kirby crew did . . . )  The other pleasure was in hearing something both old and new at once: beautiful skirling Waller melodies from new angles.  It was a remarkable occasion and a stirring set, as you will see.

Here’s a very pretty ballad, IF IT AIN’T LOVE (listeners with substantial record collections may want to revisit the Boswell Sisters version or the Bobby Hackett serenade done at a Condon Town Hall concert as well):

What started out as I WISH I WERE TWINS, when cross-bred with Bach’s A minor violin concerto, became in the fertile Block imagination I WISH BACH COULD SEE MY TWINS:

LONESOME ME, sweetly sorrowful:

I’M CRAZY ‘BOUT MY BABY, perennially swinging:

And HENDERSON STOMP, a “secret” Waller composition: did he sell it for alimony money or for other, more pleasant rewards?

In an ideal world, DAN BLOCK PLAYS JOHN KIRBY PLAYS FATS WALLER would be a hit at jazz festivals, and there would be several CD sets, for Dan’s imagination is just that splendidly sprawling.  I can dream, can’t I?

HAIL, REX!

This photograph just emerged on eBay — and although the seller has correctly identified the star as cornetist Rex Stewart, no other details are forthcoming.  I don’t recognize the bassist or the drummer, and don’t feel secure enough about historically placing men’s fashion to say, “Oh, that suit is from 1947 . . . thus this was taken in France.”  Rex appears much younger than the lean man we see in THE SOUND OF JAZZ (1957), but that doesn’t help us pinpoint a year in any way.

Do any of my astute readers have suggestions to offer?  It’s a fine picture of Rex — looking sideways, as if suspicious, as he often did.  Yes, his suit pulls a bit across the front (a tailor could have moved that button) but it’s a good man’s fault).  Educated guesses welcome!

HER MAJESTY, MISS ETHEL WATERS

From the 1929 sound film extravaganza ON WITH THE SHOW, Miss Waters performs BIRMINGHAM BERTHA.  Once you’ve absorbed the feathered headdress, you can then move to the supple, amused, vehement glory of her voice, her subtly shifting delivery, her vivid eyes, her striking personality . . . what a theatrical presence she is!

Thanks to Mook Ryan for providing this film clip!  At eighty seconds, it’s far too short, but it shows that Ethel didn’t need a long time to make an indelible impression, then and now.  Close your eyes and you can also hear why every singer who heard Miss Waters was in her debt.

DOWN-HOME DELIGHTS WITH DUKE HEITGER, RANDY REINHART, DAN LEVINSON, BOB HAVENS, ROSSANO SPORTIELLO, FRANK TATE, ARNIE KINSELLA (JAZZ AT CHAUTAUQUA, Sept. 17, 2011)

The wonderful Czech writer Josef Skvorecky, who writes both hilariously and sensitively of living between Nazism and Socialism in the Forties, would call this music “Bob Crosby Dixieland.”  That would be a high compliment.  You might describe it as “New Orleans, “Condon-style,” or “Dixieland,” but the labels are too small for the superb music created by Duke Heitger, trumpet; Randy Reinhart, cornet; Dan Levinson, reeds; Bob Havens, trombone; Rossano Sportiello, piano; Frank Tate, bass; Arnie Kinsella, drums.

Here are four sterling “good old good ones,” and if their pedigrees are slightly scattered — from Memphis to Twenties pop, from a song created in the Forties for Louis and Billie, to a hit record for the ODJB (a piece of hot zoology that Jelly Roll Morton said he created) — it all swings marvelously.  And there’s the great bonus of a touching vocal from Duke on DO YOU KNOW WHAT IT MEANS — he looks terribly embarrassed when someone points it out, but he’s a great singer.

From Memphis with love!  BEALE STREET BLUES:

Thomas Hardy’s “The Ruined Maid,” taken uptown or to Clark and Randolph Streets, NOBODY’S SWEETHEART NOW:

What a terrible movie NEW ORLEANS was!  But it gave us this paean to the Crescent City, DO YOU KNOW WHAT IT MEANS TO MISS NEW ORLEANS?

Finally — call the Animal Rescue people: that tiger’s on the loose in the Hotel Athenaeum ballroom.  Hide the children!  TIGER RAG (with bravura work from Rossano):

Wow!

OH, YOU BEAUTIFUL DOLL!

Yes, you might think that JAZZ LIVES has turned a corner into the inexplicable with this collection of vintage television commercials . . . but I urge you to watch or skip forward to 2:45 — to see a gentleman known to us all, having a good time in 1963 0r 1964:

The cynical will say that this is even more shameful evidence of that man being manipulated by his greedy manager, but he doesn’t look unhappy.  (In another blogpost, I read someone’s take on Louis “pimping” for the doll.)  And, yes, the little girls and Suzy Cute herself are both unmistakably Caucasian, but love is color-blind, even though the commercial is in black and white. 

And just remember: Suzy Cute needs a mommy (or is it a “mummy”?). 

Suzy Cute needs you! 

And we need more Louis Armstrong in our lives, white socks and all.  The Suzy Cute jingle isn’t Sondheim or Porter, but it has an adhesive quality (possibly because it borrows simple motifs from a thousand familiar songs, including a bridge reminiscent of BABY BROWN).

And to fill that void, here’s a link to a site offering two audio-only discs of rehearsals for this commercial:

http://www.vinylrecordstocd.com/LOUIS%20ARMSTRONG%20PROJECT%20.htm

The first, longer version, is extraordinary: listeners have to put their preconceptions and possible hauteur aside to hear Louis, the Alchemical Creator of Joy, at work. 

Doll or no doll, that band is swinging and he’s playing this jingle as if his life depended on it.  Which, in some ways, it did — ours, too. 

Nothing is ignoble if treated lovingly.  Although I might make an exception for the Official Beany-Copter (by Mattel).

A JOURNEY THROUGH “HINDUSTAN”: JON-ERIK KELLSO, DAN BLOCK, BOB HAVENS, JAMES DAPOGNY, FRANK TATE, PETE SIERS (JAZZ AT CHAUTAUQUA 2011)

In the name of geographers everywhere, here’s an 1835 map showing Hindustan:

And here’s the local paper — if you’d like something to read while travelling:

And here’s the sheet music cover for the song:

But enough of that.  What we’re concerned with today is an amazing extended hot performance of this song at Jazz at Chautauqua (Sept. 16, 2011) by a group led by trumpeter Jon-Erik Kellso, with Bob Havens (trombone); Dan Block (clarinet); James Dapogny (piano); Frank Tate (string bass); Pete Siers (drums).

Because the song has very simple harmonies — “chord changes” — and perhaps for the sake of variety, Jon-Erik had made HINDUSTAN into a key-changing exercise in swing on the superb CD, BLUE ROOF BLUES, that he created in 2006 with Matt Munisteri, Evan Christopher, and Danton Boller.  There’s something about key changes that’s inherently dramatic: the audience might not know that the band was in C for the first chorus and Eb for the second, but we feel it — even when (as is the case here) the band and the soloists keep shifting from one key to another . . . it seems exciting rather than mechanical.

This band is special to me because of its wonderfully paradoxical nature: they make it look easy, but you know their playing is the result of decades of study; it looks like great fun, but it’s very hard work (let the critics pick up a trumpet and try it sometime); they get hot but stay cool.  My heroes!

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to go check on my desert caravan.  The last time I unwittingly left it in a NO PARKING zone on the Upper West Side, I got a $65 ticket.

PENSIVE AND HOT: RANDY REINHART, BOB HAVENS, DAN LEVINSON, ANDY STEIN, KEITH INGHAM, ARNIE KINSELLA at JAZZ AT CHAUTAUQUA (Sept. 16, 2011)

The varied moods of a hot jazz ensemble, on display at the 2011 Jazz at Chautauqua.

The players: Randy Reinhart, cornet; Dan Levinson, reeds; Bob Havens, trombone; Andy Stein, baritone sax and violin; Keith Ingham, piano; Arnie Kinsella, drums.

The songs:

The moody theme (associated with the deadpan Jack Webb) for a radio series, film, and television series — the trifecta! — (as well as a number of really fine record albums) PETE KELLY’S BLUES:

Something for Bix — a trio version of BLUE RIVER — informally scored for Messrs. Ingham, Levinson, Stein:

And “the 78 version” of that affirmative song, ‘DEED I DO:

Something for everyone in about fifteen minutes: a neat demonstration of casual, moving versatility.

CLASSIC SONGS MADE NEW: RANDY SANDKE, HARRY ALLEN, ANDY SCHUMM, JIM DAPOGNY, GLENN HOLMES, BILL RANSOM at JAZZ AT CHAUTAUQUA 2011

One of the eternal pleasures of jazz improvisation is that — as Hot Lips Page is supposed to have said, “the material is immaterial.”  So in the hands of inspired improvisers, it doesn’t matter how elderly or familiar the song is: their task and delight is to reimagine and levitate what we thought we already knew by heart.

This happened when Randy Sandke, trumpet; Harry Allen, tenor sax; Andy Schumm, cornet; Jim Dapogny; Glenn Holmes, bass; Bill Ransom, drums, took the stage in mid-September 2011 at Jazz at Chautauqua for three “good old good ones.”  Listen closely: there’s an innate respect for the original songs and their associations, but an inventive originality throughout.

WRAP YOUR TROUBLES IN DREAMS (for Bing Crosby and the many musicians inspired by him):

SWEET LORRAINE (music for sensitive brass, by way of Jimmie Noone and Nat Cole):

THE SHEIK OF ARABY (for Valentino and the aforementioned Lips Page):

Old chestnuts made fresh and lively!

FOUR BY FIVE: THE ABQ at JAZZ AT CHAUTAUQUA 2011

One of the best small groups I know is the ABQ — the Alden-Barrett Quintet — originally Howard Alden, guitar; Dan Barrett, trombone and cornet; Chuck Wilson, alto and clarinet; Frank Tate, string bass; Jackie Williams, drums.  Like the Ruby Braff – George Barnes Quartet and the various permutations of Soprano Summit, they had energy and delicacy, force, precision, and sweetness.  And they also swung like mad.

One of the pleasures of Jazz at Chautauqua through the seven years I’ve been attending is the reunions of the ABQ — usually with four of the original members onstage, romping through charts that they created or were done for the group by Buck Clayton (someone whose hundredth birthday just took place on the calendar).

At the September 2011 Chautauqua, Chuck Wilson couldn’t be there, but his place was taken — nobly — by the ever-ready Dan Block.  Here are four wonderful performances from their set:

Basie always merits first place: here’s Earle Warren’s 9:20 SPECIAL:

Buck Clayton’s BLACK SHEEP BLUES (perhaps referring to the necktie that used to be one of Dan Barrett’s sartorial trademarks, with an ebony fellow in the midst of the flock):

Something for Louis!  ORIENTAL STRUT, by Johnny St. Cyr.  Not to be pedantic, but I hear very little “Asian” in this composition: I think Johnny had been to the movies and seen some film with Rudolph Valentino in the desert:

And a mini-evocation of the 1940 Ellington band in COTTON TAIL:

The group doesn’t get many occasions to get together, which is a pity.  Come to the 2012 Chautauqua and — while you’re waiting — look for their CDs on Arbors and Concord Records.

Fifty-Second Street lives when the ABQ is playing.

WHO DO YOU THINK IS COMING TO TOWN?

Glenn Crytzer and his Syncopators, that’s who:

https://jazzlives.wordpress.com/2011/07/19/harlem-mad-glenn-crytzer-and-his-syncopators/

This fine hot group has been making a brief Eastern tour, and they will be playing for listeners and dancers tomorrow — that’s Monday, November 14, 2011, at SALOON, 1584 York Avenue, between 83nd and 84rd, starting at 8 PM.  I’m told that SALOON is a particularly felicitous place — with a cabaret license and bar, as well as a floated wood floor.  The Syncopators are Kevin Woods, trumpet; Pete Petersen, reeds; Solomon Douglas, piano; Glenn Crytzer, guitar; Mike Weatherly, bass; Mark Ribera, drums.  It will be $15 at the door; $10 student discount with ID.  http://www.saloonnyc.com/

SPREZZATURA in SWING: BECKY KILGORE and DUKE HEITGER as ELLA AND LOUIS (Jazz at Chautauqua 2011)

Sprezzatura was coined by Castiglione in THE BOOK OF THE COURTIER (a Renaissance how-to book for upwardly mobile professionals of the time).  It meant the ideal of making difficult things look easy, hiding your art behind a sweetly convincing nonchalance.  I think of Bing Crosby, pretending that he was just naturally singing, concealing just how much skill went into every note, and other masters.  Consider Eddie Condon, Sidney Catlett, Lee Wiley, Lester Young. 

Fortunately for us, the concept didn’t die out in the Renaissance, nor is it an abstraction known only to English majors.  The most gratifying musicians now playing and singing embody sprezzatura, even if they do not aspire to be successful courtiers. 

Here are Rebecca Kilgore and Raymond “Duke” Heitger, brought together last September at Jazz at Chautauqua for a playfully reverent tribute to Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong. 

Becky and Duke don’t show off; they don’t “imitate” in some coarse, effortful way.  There’s no mugging, no virtuosic displays of scatting.  Rather, they subtly shine their own light through the music, lightly embodying all the virtues of Ella and Louis — their love, amusement, affection, and swing — while remaining themselves.

And John Sheridan (piano); Jon Burr (string bass); John Von Ohlen (drums) help Becky and Duke convey their swinging nonchalance to great effect.

Here’s Irving Berlin’s ISN’T IT A LOVELY DAY? — an easily answerable (rhetorical) question, when the song is performed with such gliding grace:

And one of the high points of Jazz at Chautauqua and perhaps (for me) of 2011 — the Kilgore / Heitger evocation of YOU WON’T BE SATISFIED . . . a performance that hides how thin the original song is behind their essential warmth:

I’m more than satisfied!

VERY MELLOW, VERY GROOVY: RANDY SANDKE, DAN BARRETT, JOHN SHERIDAN, ANDY STEIN, JON BURR, JOHN VON OHLEN at JAZZ AT CHAUTAUQUA (Sept. 17, 2011)

In the words of the Sage, Bulee “Slim” Gaillard, “Very mellow, very groovy.”  Here’s a session from the very gratifying musical improvisations at Jazz at Chautauqua, featuring Randy Sandke, trumpet; Dan Barrett, trombone and vocal; Andy Stein, violin; John Sheridan, piano; Jon Burr, string bass; John Von Ohlen, drums — on three leisurely performances of familiar songs made new by their graceful mastery.

First, the classic “drunkard’s request” that is really a fine song at any tempo, MY MELANCHOLY BABY, with two very cheerful vocal choruses from the Pride of Costa Mesa, California, Daniel Barrett:

Then, one of the oldest and most durable of Irving Berlin’s waltzes, ALWAYS:

And a tune that Randy called for its verve, even though its title is hard to take seriously these days, THE BEST THINGS IN LIFE ARE FREE:

Thank you, gentlemen, for stretching out so nobly for our pleasure!

“JAZZ LIVES” and SOCIAL NETWORKING, TENTATIVELY

I have stayed away from Facebook for as long as possible, thinking that the hours I spent at the computer didn’t need to be added to . . . but at the urging of the Beloved, JAZZ LIVES now has its own Facebook Fan page.  Do I know what this means?  Hardly.  Does it inspire confidence?  Not exactly.  But in the spirit of the twenty-first century, I am announcing something I don’t know much about . . . so that you, my devoted readers, can tell other people who might “like” this blog and what I do . . . and on into the sunset. 

Click on the Facebook logo on the right to “like” JAZZ LIVES.  (Who knew that my blog had, of its own accord, become so insecure?) 

Wish us luck.

FOR ROY: ECHOES OF SWING and FRIENDS at ASCONA

I’ve just been delighted by the Echoes of Swing disc called MESSAGE FROM MARS — the players are Chris Hopkins, alto; Bernd Lhotzky, piano; Colin T. Dawson, trumpet; Oliver Mewes, drums.  Here’s the EOS as part of a wonderful ensemble paying tribute to David Roy Eldridge, the man who created exciting jazz wherever he played. 

The colleagues here are tenorist Frank Roberscheuten, guitarist Eddie Erickson, trombonist Dan Barrett, bassist Joel Forbes  — and they romp through an unnamed line on the chord changes of IDAHO that I associate with Roy’s time with Coleman Hawkins: BEAN STALKING.  Thanks to Ned Newitt for the identification.  And the band is pure joy:

“MESSAGE FROM MARS”

No, the aliens haven’t landed.  And this isn’t a detour into NASA’s territory or a nostalgic trip back to the Mickey Mouse Club (although I haven’t been able to get one ancient “The Martians come to New York” joke out of my head*).

MESSAGE FROM MARS is the name of a splendid new disc by Echoes of Swing, a world-class band that lives up to its name and more.  While retaining its essential identity — flexible and convincing — this quartet can sound like a much larger unit, and the disc is characterized by a delightful variety in mood, tempo, and approach.  The players are superb chameleons who remain true to themselves: Chris Hopkins (himself a superb pianist) on alto sax; Colin T. Dawson on trumpet and vocal; Bernd Lhotzky on piano; Oliver Mewes on drums.

Each of those musicians savors the past and does it personal homage: Mewes suggests Catlett and Jones; Lhotzky celebrates Waller and Nat Cole; Dawson evokes Eldridge and Emmett Berry; Hopkins summons up Pete Brown and Carter.  But this isn’t a repertory effort: the music produced here is both profound and hilariously flightly, skittering from surprise to surprise.

On the surface, Echoes of Swing might sound like a John Kirby Sextet spin-off, with tightly voiced ensembles and an affection for “jazzing the classics.”  But they avoid the potential claustrophobia of these categories by being very eager to play hooky: you’ll hear echoes of many other styles and hints of other approaches, all fused delightfully into something both nostalgic and startling.

But don’t take my word for it.  Here are Echoes of Swing performing James P. Johnson’s SWINGA-DILLA STREET (recorded only by Fats Waller and his Rhythm before this):

And here’s a Lhotzky original, HIS HONOUR AND THE VERMIN (FLEAS IN MY WIG):

MESSAGE FROM MARS offers a deliciously subtle and witty tasting menu of music — a disc you could listen to all the way through without the slightest hint of monotony; at the same time, you could savor each of the sixteen miniatures for its own surprises without ever getting tired.  There I saw this group for the first and only time in Germany in 2007, thanks to Manfred Selchow, and found them exciting and deep: the disc captures their subtleties and drive wholly.  It’s beautifully recorded and (as a bonus) has expansive notes by our own Dan Barrett.

The songs are SHAKE IT AND BREAK IT /  MESSAGE FROM MARS (groovy and futuristic by Sid Phillips) / THE GHOST OF MARSDEN GHETTO (an atmospheric piece by Colin T. Dawson) / DON’T EXPLAIN / BUTTERFLY CHASE (Lhotzky-Chopin) / THE GOON DRAG (Sammy Price) / DELIRIUM (Arthur Schutt) / HIS HONOUR AND THE VERMIN / MOONLIGHT FIESTA (also known as PORTO RICAN CHAOS) / LIEBESLIED (Kreisler) / TWILIGHTNIN’ HOPKINS (by Chris) / DON’T SAVE YOUR LOVE FOR A RAINY DAY (an obscure Harold Spina pop tune) / ODEON (Ernesto Julio Nazareth) / BUGHOUSE (Red Norvo – Teddy Wilson) / SPRING IS HERE / GAVOTTE (Shostakovich).

Here’s what Scott Hamilton said about this band:

I’ve been listening to these guys for a few years now, and they’re always full of surprises.  This CD is their best yet.  They all have a deep understanding of the literature, and they play from inside.  How they do it all with four instruments is beyond me.

But fortunately the CD isn’t beyond our reach: visit http://www.EchoesofSwing.com. for more information.

[*The Martians land in New York.  They’re friendly interstellar tourists who want to learn everything about us — to swap information and customs.  A curious New Yorker hands one of the Martians a toasted bagel to see what the alien might make of it.  The Martian, to everyone’s surprise, sniffs the bagel, inserts it into where his jaws might be, chews it a bit, and says (through simultaneous translation), ‘Mmmmm.  This would go great with cream cheese and lox.'”]

RHYTHM IS THEIR BUSINESS: DUKE HEITGER’S SWING BAND (with BECKY KILGORE) at JAZZ AT CHAUTAUQUA 2011

Sometimes the best things happen when the more moderate types have gone to bed.  Here’s “Late Night Swing” from Jazz at Chautauqua (Sept. 16, 2011), featuring a hot swing band and singer in peak form.

Duke Heitger’s Swing Band featured the man himself on trumpet and vocals; Dan Barrett on trombone and arrangements; Dan Block, Scott Robinson, reeds; John Sheridan, piano and arrangements; Howard Alden, guitar; Glenn Holmes, bass; Pete Siers, drums; Becky Kilgore, vocals.  It was a twenty-first century version of the band that recorded a Fantasy CD (9684-2) which I hope you’re still able to find:

Here’s a link: http://www.amazon.com/Rhythm-Business-Duke-Heitger-Swing/dp/B00004SAZ8

But what we enjoyed at Chautauqua was more than sound coming out of speakers: catch the happy expressions on the musicians’ faces as they listened to these swinging arrangements and to Ms. Kilgore.

The set began with one of the best Thirties let’s-introduce-the-stars-in-the-band songs (courtesy of Sammy Cahn, Saul Chaplin, and the Jimmie Lunceford Orchestra), which Duke sang, RHYTHM IS OUR BUSINESS:

Then something for Louis and for Billie, YOURS AND MINE, again with a lovely Duke vocal.  (What a fine singer he is — on his horn or his vocal chords!):

A little Ellington excursion (thanks to Cootie Williams and his Rug Cutters, Master Records, and the Irving Mills complex), the wittily-titled SWING PAN ALLEY.  Remember to open up Letter B:

More Ellington (of a romantic tendency) from Becky, JUST SQUEEZE ME:

And for those who need the etiology of Swing explained to them, here is the big hit of late 1935, THE MUSIC GOES ‘ROUND AND ‘ROUND, made perfectly clear by Becky:

Memories of the Goodman band, thanks to arranger John Sheridan, and a lilting I’LL ALWAYS BE IN LOVE WITH YOU.  It’s hard to see Duke at the start, but his sound is unmistakable:

And a hot salute to Sweets, Pres, Jo, Sidney, Illinois, Gjon, Norman, and the Brothers Warner, in JAMMIN’ THE BLUES.  (Thank you, Pete Siers!):

“Business sure is swell!”

SAYING GOODBYE: HARRY ALLEN, RANDY SANDKE, DAN BLOCK, ROSSANO SPORTIELLO, FRANK TATE, BILL RANSOM PLAY COLE PORTER (Jazz at Chautauqua 2011)

Here’s a lovely mournful performance from Harry Allen, tenor sax; Randy Sandke, trumpet; Dan Block, reeds; Rossano Sportiello, piano; Frank Tate, string bass; Bill Ransom, drums.  Recorded on Sept. 16, 2011, at Jazz at Chautauqua . . .and that’s Porter’s sorrowful EV’RY TIME WE SAY GOODBYE:

Although this performance begins with airport jokes, it soon settles into a mood of deep, hymnlike seriousness.  And I dedicate this video to the memory of William McBrien, the esteemed biographer of Porter (and of poet Stevie Smith), one of my professors a long time ago — a great, witty, generous man.