Daily Archives: March 10, 2012

AN ISLE OF JOY

Wondrous, wondrous, lighthearted and heartfelt . . . Richard Rodgers’ and Lorenz Hart’s MANHATTAN performed here by three of my heroes: Andrew Hall on bass; Tamar Korn on voice; Dennis Lichtman on guitar and clarinet.  (They ordinarily get together as members of Dennis’ delicious band, the BRAIN CLOUD.) 

These three brilliant gliding musicians exist wholly in 2012, but the amiable ghosts of Lee Wiley, of Louis Armstrong, of Eddie Lang, of Fanny Brice, and a thousand others stand behind them — but no one is crowded.  Watch it here and wait for the second chorus! 

If this doesn’t turn your Manhattan — place in the imagination that may be three thousand miles from the actual location — into an “isle of joy,” email me and I will try to help.  I’m not objective, though: I applauded this video when it was over.

“WHO, ME?” “YES, ‘YOU’!”

My silly title shouldn’t distract you from the hot jazz to follow.  The song is YOU (no, not the Cole Porter classic) — music by Walter Donaldson, lyrics by Harold Adamson, performed first in the 1936 THE GREAT ZIEGFELD.  I think of it as the songwriter’s solution to the problem of potential sheet music buyers being unable to remember the title. 

Here’s a hot performance of YOU by Ray Skjelbred’s First Thursday Band — at the New Orleans Restaurant in Seattle on March 1, 2012: Steve Wright, alto; Ray, piano; Dave Brown, string bass; Mike Daugherty, drums:

I know that in this century we value NEW and IMPROVED very highly, but music isn’t detergent.  And what I love about this rocking performance is the way it eagerly and expertly brings musical styles of “the past” into “the present” so convincingly that these distinctions fall away.  Since everything is transitory, we may live in the Moment that this music offers so generously.  Yes, Virginia, people did play this way before Charlie Parker, Bud Powell, Jimmy Garrison, and Max Roach changed the musical landscape — to say nothing of Ornette Coleman, whose radicalism is now fifty years old . . .

Anyway, put aside the musical categories and critical “schools” and listen to the beautiful swinging sounds: the sweet racing turns of Steve’s alto; the rollick and frolic of Ray’s right and left hands; the sustaining heartbeat of Mister Brown to You on the bass; the exuberant slap and dance of Mike’s drums. 

Music for YOU, YOU — and especially YOU!

Thanks to “islandstarfish” and “swr2408018,” a great team, for making it possible for us to see and hear this wonderful jazz.

PRETTY BUBBLES IN THE AIR

Sometimes a piece of music, beautifully performed, catches you right in the heart.  The late Sam Parkins would say, “Gets you right in the gizzard,” and he was so right.  Here’s something PRETTY — not hot at all, but swinging in 3 / 4 time.  It’s the waltz I’M FOREVER BLOWING BUBBLES, performed by Les Rois du Fox-trot, and in the ideal world I would listen to this performance at least once a day:

Because their notes are so much better than what I might write, I include them here, with thanks:

This is a small tribute to the late Pierre Atlan, Pierre Merlin and Martine Morel, who played this famous waltz so many times with the High Society Jazz Band of Paris.

“I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles” was composed in1919 by Jaan Kenbrovin and J.W.Kellette. Jaan Kenbrovin was a collective pen name for James Kendis, James Brockman and Nat Vincent. In January of 1920, the Original Dixieland Jazz Band made a fine recording of this waltz in London.

Today “Bubbles” has become the anthem of the West Ham United football club. The times they are a-changin’ !…

On this video, musicians are Shona Taylor (vocal and cornet), Laurence Bridard (drums), François Fournet (banjo), Gérard Gervois (tuba), Bernard Thévin (piano), Patrick Bacqueville (trombone and slide-whistle), Jean-Pierre Morel (cornet), Stéphane Gillot and Marc Bresdin (alto-sax) and Michel Bescont (tenor-sax).

The video was posted on YouTube in the “jpmfm54” channel, where you may enjoy many more performances by Les Rois (why limit them just to Fox-trot?). 

Another version of this pretty tune that sticks with me is the duet between Ralph Sutton and Vic Dickenson — at a cheerful medium tempo.  Irreplaceable!  (If you have the original Chaz Jazz lp, you know what I mean.) 

In my imagination I hear the Goldkette band doing it in 3 /4 time and then shifting into 4 / 4 so that Bix can solo for a few choruses . . . especially because today, March 10, is his eternal birthday.

I hope that Fortune is kind to you, whoever you are, reading this post.