Wonderful music awaits! Explanations follow:
The very swinging performers are Jack Fields, rhythm guitar; Marc Schwartz, guitar; Matt Bohn, bass; Dale Mills, clarinet.
Here’s Ginny Mitchell, sweetly singing AIN’T MISBEHAVIN’ with three-quarters of the band above:
Here’s a nod to Django Reinhardt, with SWING 42:
And something a little more unusual — the Latin-flavored FOR SEPHORA (by Stochelo Rosenberg):
This band is called HOT CLUB PACIFIC, and I confess that others have discovered them already — but to me they are the best news of 2012 so far. Their website (complete with bios, a calendar, and more) is here: http://www.hotclubpacific.com/contact.html
and they play every Monday from 7-9 PM at the Soif Wine Bar, 105 Walnut Ave., Santa Cruz, CA. From what my friend told me, it’s a scene — the joint is jumping in the nicest pacific way: www.soifwine.com (831)-423-2020.
Now for the lengthy introduction. I don’t hold with most sweeping declarations about jazz, but a few have never failed me: it should be played “sweet, soft, plenty rhythm,” said Mr. Morton. “If a pianist can’t play like Count Basie, he shouldn’t play,” according to Mr. Braff, and (in parallel), “Anyone who doesn’t play like Lester Young is wrong,” noted Brew Moore. “Start swinging from the beginning!” opined Jake Hanna.
For me, a certain gentle steady rhythmic pulse is essential. Swing is, indeed, the thing. There are other ways to get there, but Basie is and will be the model. So when my friend Helen called me and said, “I have a really swinging group I want you to hear,” I was excited. When she told me it was a Hot Club. my enthusiasm diminished slightly — not that Hot Clubs are all bad or “wrong,” but some adopt the more virtuosic extremes of what they believe to be “Gypsy jazz,” and get even more enthusiastic as they go, forgetting that Django and Stephane were swinging melodists who knew the value of space.
But I trust Helen’s taste, and when she advised I begin with JIVE AT FIVE, I was willing. I was very happy within the first eight bars, and my pleasure only grew. It is perhaps appropriate that PACIFIC, in this case, doesn’t only refer to the West Coast, to the ocean that embraces California, but to a certain peaceful way of being. And the gentlemen of the ensemble don’t aspire to be Gypsies; they don’t smoke Gitanes and affect accents: their jazz is frankly American, and it draws so deeply on the best swing of the Thirties — when you sink deep into JIVE AT FIVE, you know you are listening to players who have absolutely internalized the Kansas City Six, the Basie rhythm section — a sweet kind of perpetual motion that never wears on the listener.
I look forward to hearing the HCP this summer. And for the moment (or “the nonce,” as someone once wrote) I will go back to JIVE AT FIVE. Today has been a lovely day; repeated listenings will make it just about perfect.