Daily Archives: January 19, 2012

WISHING WILL MAKE IT SO, PERHAPS?

I always remember how Wild Bill Davison responded to an audience member’s request that the band play a particular tune, “Get your own band!”  So I write what follows with some amusement and some hope.

I have been able to post some extraordinary videos from the 2011 San Diego Thanksgiving Dixieland Festival thanks to Rae Ann Berry, and she hasn’t completely gotten down to the bottom of her hoard by any means.  But there is one set that has eluded both of us, and since the air seemed to be thick with video cameras at that festival, I am asking my readers to think of JAZZ LIVES kindly.

The set I am trying to find (and post) took place on Saturday night — around 9 PM.  It was originally scheduled as a Reynolds Brothers set, but word must have gotten around, as it does, and by the end of the whole glorious riotous enterprise, the quartet of John, Ralf, Marc, and Katie, had become an All-Star Orchestra, with visitors Brian Casserly, Jeff Hamilton, Tim Laughlin, Dawn Lambeth, Chloe Feoranzo, Peter Meijers, Howard Miyata, Bryan Shaw, Justin Au, Brandon Au, and Nik Snyder* — all on a tiny rectangular bandstand.

They played THREE LITTLE WORDS, FAT AND GREASY, I CRIED FOR YOU, an astonishing MY LITTLE BIMBO, and closed with ‘DEED I DO.

Did anyone capture this set, and (more importantly) are you willing to upload it to YouTube so that it can be posted here?  I would be eternally grateful — and if the music surfaces, other readers of JAZZ LIVES will truly understand why.

Imagine Bing and Eddie Lang working their way through PLEASE, and you’ll get the general idea of my current state of mind.

*Had Dave Frishberg been there, he could have created a wonderful song lyric from just those names alone.

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GRATITUDE IN 4/4 (Part Six): THE UPTOWN LOWDOWN JAZZ BAND at the 2011 SAN DIEGO THANKSGIVING DIXIELAND JAZZ FESTIVAL (thanks to Rae Ann Berry)

Uptown and Lowdown . . . not only but also!  Recorded at the 2011 San Diego extravaganza on November 25, 2011.  Bert Barr, leader, cornet; Tom Jacobus, trombone; John Goodrich (on left), reeds; Paul Woltz, reeds; Rose Marie Barr, piano; Al Latourette, banjo; Paul Hagglund, tuba; Sue Fischer, drums.

The band has a diversified repertoire — and to prove it, here’s BOMBAY:

And how about a brisk BETWEEN THE DEVIL AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA that begins with an adept exposition of the melody by Paul Hagglund:

Paul Woltz gives the rather vindictive lyrics of GO BACK TO WHERE YOU STAYED LAST NIGHT a very cheerful reading:

Finally, here’s the theme song for all the eager videographers (including myself) in the JAZZ LIVES audience, I MUST HAVE IT — a performance that has special pleasures in Paul’s bass sax solo and the muted cornet / tuba duet:

As always, thanks to Paul Daspit, who assembled these sets into a very rewarding weekend.  More of the same to our own “SFRaeAnn,” Rae Ann Berry, whose reverence for the music comes through in her up-to-date list of hot jazz gigs in the area on www.sfraeann.com and her YouTube channel here.

GRATITUDE IN 4/4 (Part Five): THE KATIE CAVERA TRIO at the 2011 SAN DIEGO THANKSGIVING DIXIELAND JAZ FESTIVAL (thanks to Rae Ann Berry)

This is music both propulsive and soothing — and the experience was communal, as the audience joined in very sweetly.  The Katie Cavera Trio — Katie and John Gill on banjo and vocal, with the steadfastly swinging Marty Eggers on acoustic bass — were the opening act of the 2011 San Diego Thanksgiving Dixieland Jazz Festival, and they set the right mood.  Affectionate, approachable, and fun — without being ashamed of any of those qualities.  Add a little vaudeville and some old-fashioned patriotism of a non-sectarian kind, and you have a very unassuming but rewarding interlude.

All of this was made possible by Paul Daspit, who brought these musicians together and made sure everyone on and off the stand was beaming. Thanks also to “SFRaeAnn,” Rae Ann Berry, who shares the music in her up-to-date list of hot jazz gigs in the area on www.sfraeann.com and her YouTube channel here.

Here’s a quartet of pastoral Americana with a distinct jazz flavor.  First, CAROLINA IN THE MORNING:

Then, two parts of a George M. Cohan medley — you’ll want to watch it all the way through to hear John become Jimmy Cagney, perfectly:

And YOU’RE A GRAND OLD FLAG — one or two of the little sisters here had learned the song in school and she belted it out:

A perennial (I might even have requested it?) by James P. Johnson — ONE HOUR, or, if you’re exacting, IF I COULD BE WITH YOU ONE HOUR TONIGHT where John suggests Louis, Jolson, and Bing in the nicest ways:

Thanks to Katie, John, Marty, Rae Ann, Paul, and the little girls!

ONCE THERE WAS A HOUSE ON FIFTY-SECOND STREET (Henry “Red” Allen, 1946)

The Soundies — a kind of early video jukebox — seem very primitive today.  Watch more than two at a time by the same band, and it’s clear they were done rapidly, cheaply, and without much emphasis on variety.  The same sets and presentation continue throughout a series,  and the musicians are clearly miming to a pre-recorded soundtrack.  But how else would we see Henry “Red” Allen and his sidekick J. C. Higginbotham in performance in 1946?

This Soundie — HOUSE ON 52nd STREET — was not intended as a follow-up to Red’s moody THERE’S A HOUSE IN HARLEM, but it seems an extension of songs like GIMME A PIGFOOT and THE JOINT IS JUMPIN’ — efforts to invent a party scene in less than three minutes.

Its rather thin melody and lyrics already must have seemed nostalgic for a scene rapidly slipping away. By 1946, I think “the Street” was in decline: the returning servicemen had already decided to take their girlfriends to the suburbs, own some lawn, raise families — and I do not scoff at these activities, for they delineate aspects of my early life . . . but domesticity meant that you didn’t stay up late listening to jazz in the city.  And then there was television, a few years later . . .

In Manhattan, I believe that the block between Sixth and Seventh Avenues on Fifty-Second Street is called SWING STREET on the green-and-white sign, but that’s possibly the only thing swinging there now.

But we can return to this invented scene — sixty-five years ago now! — and hear Red, Higgy, Don Stovall, alto; Bill Thompson, piano; Benny Moten, string bass; Alvin Burroughs, drums; Johni Weaver and Harry Turner, dancers.  And Red obviously didn’t develop his stage presence only at the Metropole: he has it here, exuberantly selling this song:

Thanks again to Franz Hoffmann for delving even deeper into his treasure-chest and letting us see and hear these prizes.