Daily Archives: February 15, 2012

PAY ATTENTION: KAREN BEATTON TELLS ALL!

I’ve never met Karen Beatton — but in a few short weeks I’ve come to rely on her and to look forward to her regular appearances.

She isn’t the cashier at the local supermarket; she isn’t my favorite NPR broadcaster; I’ve never met her in person.  But she’s proven to be very enlightening!

Karen publishes a weekly e-newsletter about jazz happenings in Southern California — not limited to that locality (this week’s issue has details about Our Man in Jazz, Eddie Erickson, appearing in Denver) . . . witty and colorful.

It’s called KAREN’S DIXIEJAZZ E-NOTES, and you can get on her mailing list by letting her know you would like to — send her an email at kbeatton@roadrunner.com.  No money down, no spam, and I trust her not to sell your name to charities or to steal your identity.

What might you find out?  Well, the next appearance of VAUD AND THE VILLIANS (featuring our own Katie Cavera); JOHN REYNOLDS AND THE HOLLYWOOD HOT SHOTS (both in Los Angeles), or the SOUTH BAY SWING BAND — featuring Chris Dawson or Gene Oster on piano, Bryan Shaw on trumpet, and others — at DeLuca Trattoria in El Segundo.

Even though Los Angeles and El Segundo are only names on the map at the moment, I am delighted to know that my friends and heroes are gigging.  Thank you, Karen, for keeping up the good works!

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“THIS BAND PLAYS WITH A PASSION”: RAY SKJELBRED and HIS CUBS (Feb. 10, 2012

Many jazz bands — hoping to please their audiences — specialize in Fast and Loud.  The team of F&L has their place, for sure, but they grow wearisome quickly.

A band that shows what can be done within the infinite variety of “medium tempo” and with remarkable dynamics is one led by pianist / singer / composer Ray Skjelbred — his CUBS.  For this occasion, the Cubs are Kim Cusack, clarinet; Katie Cavera, guitar; Clint Baker, string bass; Hal Smith, drums.

Sweet, soft, plenty rhythm!

And it seems to me that everyone in this band grows more lyrical each time I hear them — in solos and in their cohesive ensemble playing.

A lovely Thirties song immortalized by Billie, Lester, Teddy, Buck, and the Basie rhythm section without the Count, A SAILBOAT IN THE MOONLIGHT:

Memories of Ethel Waters and Jack Teagarden in I JUST COULDN’T TAKE IT, BABY — sung casually and with heart by Hal Smith:

Paul Dresser’s MY GAL SAL, with a conversational vocal chorus by Mr. Skjelbred (this performance is the source of my title):

BLUES FOR SIR CHARLES — that’s the still-active (at 93) swing master Sir Charles Thompson; in this performance the Cubs evoke the lovely glide that Charles and friends created on the Buck Clayton Jam Sessions:

Thanks to the peripatetic Rae Ann Berry for recording these videos for us, and the Fresno Dixieland Society for creating their “Sounds of Mardi Gras,” presented Feb. 9-12 in Fresno, California.  If you visit Rae Ann’s YouTube channel, SFRaeAnn,  you’ll see many more performances by the Cubs, by the Grand Dominion Jazz Band, and the Climax Jazz Band — beautifully captured for your listening and dancing pleasure.

Tasty!