Daily Archives: February 18, 2012

DWAYNA LITZ CAN SING!

One of the many friends of JAZZ LIVES asked if I had heard the singer Dwayna Litz and sent along this YouTube video:

And I found this one on my own:

Now, I don’t know much about Dwayna Litz — aside from the fact that she has an attractive, beautifully focused voice.  Her singing, at turns, suggests someone who could fill the hall or command the stage, but she isn’t restricted to capital letters.  She doesn’t consider herself a “jazz singer” (and she leaves extended passages of scat-singing and “recomposing” melodies to others), but she swings.

And although she treats her material reverently, her natural exuberance comes through in every note.  She has a fine vocal instrument, but best of all, she seems to have done the deep work of studying the music: she respects the song and gives the lyrics intelligent readings so that one comes away from her performance of SOMEONE TO WATCH OVER ME feeling that the song’s essential honesty has been shared.

The YouTube videos above are snippets of a documentary about the process leading up to her new CD, COUNTING YOUR BLESSINGS, which features among other players the pianist Larry Ham, saxophonist Marc Phaneuf, and trombonist John Allred — on thirteen songs that cover a broad range of emotions and approaches — from the sweet serenity of Berlin’s COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS to the naughty rock of SATISFY MY SOUL to Sondheim’s OLD FRIENDS.  Whatever the setting, Dwayna shines like a bright light.

Visit her website  here to learn more about her music.  I expect great things from Ms. Litz!

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GO, LITTLE BAND! — THE SCANDINAVIAN RHYTHM BOYS

Some governments know how to support the arts.

In Denmark, “Nyboder” (which means “new houses”) refers to a historic district of yellow row houses in Copenhagen — houses that were once a naval barracks, built in the early seventeenth century during the reign of King Christian IV.  In 2011, the Danish Ministry of Defense created a documentary film about Nyboder.

One of my favorite hot bands — the Scandinavian Rhythm Boys — were invited to play the theme song.  IN PRAISE OF NYBODER (“Nyboders Pris”) sounds like a traditional air, but it was written in 1930.

The Boys are Robert Hansson, trumpet; Frans Sjostrom, soprano sax; Ole Olsen, bass; Michael Boving, banjo/vocal.  And the fine cinematography is courtesy of Flemming Thorbye, a good friend of JAZZ LIVES:

That song sticks in the memory . . . and here’s one more familiar, the ROYAL GARDEN BLUES (offered at the leisurely Bixish Twenties tempo that Basie and Goodman recalled in the early Forties):

ROYAL GARDEN is also appropriate here because Nyboder is a part of the complex of Rosenborg Castle and the Royal Garden, in the historic part of Copenhagen.  A far cry from South Side Chicago, but Joe Oliver would have admired both performances.  (Incidentally, a vocal chorus on this song is now a rarity, but in its heyday the lyrics were part of the performance: think of the 1931 Ted Lewis recording on which Fats Waller sings.)

For more from the Scandinavian Rhythm Boys, visit them here

— they obviously know how to create beautiful rhythms and melodies!

LOOK FOR THE SILVER LINING

It’s the title of a very pretty and optimistic 1920 show tune . . .

but it’s also a well-kept New York City secret — a serene below-stairs room in a 150-year old Tribeca brownstone.  The room is cozy — it holds fewer than 100 people — but it’s not cramped; there’s room for a first-rate piano and top-flight jazz improvisation. There is a menu of small plates and a very adventurous selection of cocktails.

The SILVER LINING is located at 75 Murray Street (between Greenwich and West Broadway): their phone is 212-513-1234; the website is thttp://silverliningbar.com/

I heard about Silver Lining first through the most reputable sources — the musicians themselves — who talked of a lovely room conducive to great playing.

And the musicians?  If you check the website, you’ll see fine and familiar names: Dan Block, Dan Aran, Ehud Asherie, Larry Ham, Jon-Erik Kellso, Ray Gallon, Ned Goold, Chris Flory, Sacha Perry, Eliot Zigmund, Jon Burr, Steve Ash, Spike Wilner.

The musicians are booked by Vito Dieterle — a splendid jazz player himself (a floating tenor saxophonist whose work I admired when he was playing alongside Claire Daly in Joel Forrester’s small group) — so I know things are going to go well.

Look for the Silver Lining!