The students were arranged in a neat row at the bar (and a few sat at tables); the Visiting Professors began the seminar.
We weren’t taking notes, but we were learning a great deal last Sunday night, Dec. 11, 2011, at The Ear Inn, 326 Spring Street, Soho, New York City.
The EarRegulars that night were Matt Munisteri, guitar; Jon-Erik Kellso, trumpet; Jon Burr, string bass; Harry Allen, tenor sax; and sitting in for the Official Christmas Song, Michael Blake; tenor sax.
What did we learn? A great deal about love for melody and respectful although playful melodic embellishments. We filled our mental notebooks with observations on the state of twenty-first century Swingmatism, and Einstein’s Law of Time as it applies to the elasticticity of the beat. We observed the sweet variations of Medium Tempo, and once again had an opportunity to revisit the philosophy of Oran Thaddeus Page, who uttered the timeless words, “The material is immaterial,” as well as his observations on the necessity of having his livelihood remain serene.
I wish all the Jazz History students in the known world could attend these seminars at The Ear Inn, and the people currently squabbling in the blogosphere about what to call this music (How about “Music”?) and who owns it . . . could study what we studied.
Of course, I have provided an online study guide below.
Very few bands play WHAT’S THE USE?; very few players know it, and it got a divine performance from the EarRegulars. I think it was originally a rather sad love ballad written by Isham Jones; I first heard it on a red-label Commodore 78 that featured Bobby Hackett, Pee Wee Russell, and Eddie Condon. Here is it, reimagined for us:
That Irving Berlin fellow wrote mighty good tunes — no postmodern irony, no hip posturing. He celebrates love and faithfulness — as do the EarRegulars, as a nice rocking tempo, with ALWAYS:
More Berlin! Shades of Louis and the Mills Brothers, of Ruby Braff, early and late, inhabit MY WALKING STICK:
Michael Blake (tenor sax on the right) joined in for another Berlin classic — a song ennobled by Bing, Louis, and Connee: WHITE CHRISTMAS:
Someday we will speak nostalgically of the great Sunday evenings at The Ear Inn! I hope they go on and on: there is no need to graduate from the University holding classes at 326 Spring Street.
This post is affectionately dedicated to Ace Irwin, formerly an aerospace engineer, a theatrical set designer, and artist who is enjoying the sounds with all his heart in Mendocino, California. He loves to listen to the EarRegulars and is someone who understands the various scenes at The Ear Inn, although he’s never been there. It’s an honor to send this music across the continent to him! I’ve never met Ace, but knowing that he is on the other end of the cyber-pipeline warms my heart. (How do I know about him? His daughter is one of my warm-hearted Ear Inn pals, and she speaks of her father with affection and gratitude. Good deal!)
I keep JAZZ LIVES going for all the people I might never meet, the lovely men and women who might or might not ever get to New York City or the California festivals that have been so festive. This blog is for the Beloved (of course), for Aunt Ida and Boris, Eric and Noya, Bill and Melissa, Ricky and Clint, Hal and James Arden . . . the list could be very long. You, you, and especially you!