How about a new CD compilation of live recordings featuring pianist Ray Skjelbred and hot cornetist Jim Goodwin from Port Costa, CA gigs? The CD is called — simply — RAY SKJELBRED ABD JIM GOODWIN / RECORDED LIVE IN PORT COSTA, and it’s issued on Ray’s own label, “Orangapoid,” number 104. All the music was recorded at the Bull Valley Inn.
So far it’s available only at Ray’s gigs — which is a good thing: you get to see him and take this home, too! — but I wonder if he would be willing to sell it to those not likely to get to the West Coast soon. Postage and packing are a nuisance, but you could ask — sweetly — at http://www.rayskjelbred.com.
Lovely songs: SLEEPY TIME GAL, PLEASE BE KIND, THE DAY YOU CAME ALONG, RUSSIAN LULLABY, THE RIVER’S TAKING CARE OF ME, LAZY BONES, EVERYONE SAYS “I LOVE YOU,” CHARLESTON, TWO SLEEPY PEOPLE, BLACK AND TAN FANTASY, SWEET SUE, MY DADDY ROCKS ME, LIVIN’ IN A GREAT BIG WAY, HOW LONG HAS THIS BEEN GOING ON?
You’ll notice some lovely ballads and rhythm ballads, early Ellingtonia, rocking dance music, nods to the Marx Brothers, Red Allen, Bing Crosby, Fats Waller, the blues, Bill Robinson . . . good bones, as they say!
The players — of course Ray and Jim, but also Mike Duffy, string bass; Tom Keats, rhythm guitar; Brett Runkle, washboard, Lueder Ohlwein, banjo; Dan Barrett, trombone; John “Butch” Smith, soprano sax; Norvin Armstrong, piano. Ray sings — wonderfully — on EVERYONE and IN A GREAT BIG WAY.
What’s so special about this disc, all sixty-nine minutes of it?
This is the kind of music that great jazz players create for themselves when there is a congenial audience or none at all: relaxed, swinging, small intense masterpieces of hot architecture where the second chorus builds in elegantly rough-hewn ways upon the first. It’s the kind of music that rarely makes it whole into the recording studio — and since the Bull Valley Inn is no longer anyone’s music mecca (we drove serendipitously through Port Costa in the summer of 2011: it looked like the set for a Western that hadn’t been completed) . . . . and since Jim is dead, this CD is priceless evidence of days gone by. And the past leaps to life in our speakers!
Even Chloe thought so.
For Goodwin in searing hot form, here’s the Sunset Music Company from 1979 romping through I NEVER KNEW with
The band was led by banjoist Ohlwein, with Goodwin, Barrett, clarinetist Bill Carter (temporarily filling in for John Smith), bassist Mike Fay, drummer Jeff Hamilton: every one of their recordings on Dan’s BLUE SWING FINE RECORDINGS is worth hearing.
And in case you’ve never seen or heard the eloquent Mr. Skjelbred, here’s a sample, TISHOMINGO BLUES, recorded by Rae Ann Berry in 2009:
Imagine them together — musing, cracking private musical jokes, digging deep into the songs they are playing. Heart-stirring music from the first note to the last.
P.S. I count myself very lucky: having met and / or heard Barrett, Hamilton, Smith, Fay, Carter. Norvin Armstrong – – – and I’ll get to shake Ray Skjelbred’s hand at the Jazz Bash by the Bay this March 2. Wow!