Daily Archives: February 21, 2012

YOUNG AT HEART: THE EARREGULARS (THE EAR INN, Feb. 20, 2012)

I looked forward to inspiring music last Sunday night — Sunday night sessions at The Ear Inn (326 Spring Street, Soho, New York City) are always emotionally rich and enlightening.  I could trust the four swing masters a few feet away from my perch at the bar:  Jon-Erik Kellso, trumpet; Dan Block (clarinet / tenor); Chris Flory (guitar); Jon Burr (string bass).

After the first number had ended, Jon-Erik told us that the EarRegulars would be celebrating Presidents’ Day by honoring Lester Young — the man Billie Holiday called “the President,” after Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Much of the music made last night had direct references to Lester, and these two performances were standouts.  TOPSY was a Basie classic in the great early period of that band; WAY DOWN YONDER IN NEW ORLEANS was not only a foreshadowing of Fat Tuesday 2012, but a reminder of Lester’s happy childhood in that city, and an evocation of the Kansas City Six.

Here’s TOPSY, that not only points to Lester and Buck, to the Basie rhythm section, but to one of Lester’s most eminent disciples, Charlie Christian — close your eyes and you could imagine this music emanating from Minton’s Playhouse circa 1941:

A romping, building ‘WAY DOWN YONDER IN NEW ORLEANS:

The EarRegulars don’t need to make a special point of honoring Lester Young: their floating solos, resonant sounds, their awareness that space is just as essential as the notes, their twining counterpoint, and fluid swing are homages to the Master, no matter what they play.

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SENIOR BALL, JUNE 9, 1939

Just give me a June night, the moonlight, and you . . .

Here’s an object with untold stories surrounding it.  Three pictures tell us something, but the whole story remains hidden.

Until my friend David Weiner gave me this (he is the generous Prince of eBay and his subjects love him) I had never seen an actual dance card before.  Oh, I had said “My dance card is full,” often enough, but I was struck by this one, complete with working pencil.

Open the cover and listen to the jazz come out . . .

That’s the only time I’ve ever seen Hackett’s first name misspelled, although there are still people who confuse him with comedian Buddy.

Now we move from jazz to romance.  The owner of the dance card — for the evening and into the future — had some romantic connection to “Gene,” who got the first dance, the last dance, and two more in between.

Did they hold each other close to EMBRACEABLE YOU?  Who found Mother’s or Grandmother’s dance card and put it on eBay?

Now, when you hear, “My dance card is full,” I hope you think of the Senior Ball, June 9, 1939, and the sounds of Bobby Hackett and his Orchestra.