This is the good stuff. Give up the multi-tasking for about ten minutes and relax into the sweet and hot sounds of the Au Brothers Jazz Band.
They are Gordon on trumpet / vocal / composition; Justin, trumpet; Brandon, trombone / English baritone; Howard Miyata (Uncle How), tuba; Katie Cavera, banjo / guitar; Danny Coots, drums. These four performances were recorded at the Pismo, California, Jazz Jubilee “By the Sea,” on October 28, 2011. And if you have any skepticism about how the balance would work — four brass, no piano — worry not. Splendid soloists, great riffers, wonderful team players!
Here’s Gordon’s own romantic rhythm ballad, SOMEHOW THE WORLD HAS TURNED UPSIDE-DOWN, which he sings in a way both unaffected and effective. The song is straight out of the Thirties but has much more clever lyrics. Energized playing throughout and good feeling on the stand: see Katie and Danny smiling while Justin and Uncle How explore:
Another surprising composition of Gordon’s is PAVONIS (named for the genus of the peacock). Gordon’s originals shift and turn as you listen, so I hear in this a moody ballad that could be scored for Bobby Hackett, late Louis Armstrong, or even Johnny Hodges. But the ABJB — by their sweet understated playing — brings us to 2011, with no rhapsodizing about the past. And by the end, all I could think of was the words “soaring lyricism” — from the whole band:
I don’t know how old any of the players was when Disney’s THE JUNGLE BOOK appeared on movie screens in 1967, but I would guess it predates a few of them. Gordon has a not-so-secret fondness for odd Disney songs (many of them neglected classics) and BARE NECESSITIES is one of them. Brandon not only utilizes his English baritone horn (in a cross-stage series of trades with his uncle) but offers a vocal chorus in the manner of Louis.
And speaking of Louis, this was one of the songs he performed on television that year — was it the HOLLYWOOD PALACE? I have a very clear memory of watching him sing this ditty — then a man in a bear suit came out from the wings; “bear” and Louis did a few turns and a do-si-do, then the “bear” went back to his cave — perhaps the greenroom. If you see your hero cutting a rug with a man in a bear suit, you don’t forget it:
To close the session, something familiar — a good old good one complete with hot drum solo! LIMEHOUSE BLUES with the verse. And, yes, that riff before Katie solos is indeed an Au-variation on DIZZY ATMOSPHERE:
Californians are so lucky! (Although we have a firm grip on Gordon here in New York City: I saw the Grand Street Stompers at the Radgast Bierhalle last night, and they were wonderful. Stay tuned.)