You’ll need these to watch the videos below. Now, don’t fuss. Put them on. There!
I now have yet another Favorite Band. In case you wonder, one can have a whole cornucopia of Favorites — and the Rain City Blue Blowers are just another example of what Roswell Rudd calls “playing your personality.” The videos below come from their appearance at the Seattle Jazz Party on March 16, 2012.
Here they are, tenderly (but with a beat) exploring the possibly dark Jimmie Noone classic READY FOR THE RIVER:
Who ARE these gently brilliant folks?
Closest to us is the absurdly talented Steve Wright (cornet, trumpet, clarinet, vocal). Hidden behind a forest of reeds is the delightful Paul Woltz (clarinet, soprano, tenor, alto, bass sax, vocal); the inquisitive Ray Skjelbred (piano); the unerringly rhythmic Candace Brown (banjo, guitar); the Swing Superhero Dave Brown (string bass, vocal); the rocking Mike Daugherty (drums, vocal).
An ebullient reading of one of my favorite songs — the happy shade of Louis stands behind it always — SWEETHEARTS ON PARADE, with the rhythm section romping like the Luis Russell band, 1929:
Since humility and a readiness to admit you’ve made an error are among the most prized virtues, how about a smoothly hot I MAY BE WRONG to keep us in the mood? It was the theme song of the Apollo Theatre when it opened in 1934, and the RCBB bring us back there with no hint of museum-stuffiness:
MY HONEY’S LOVIN’ ARMS is or are the place I wish I was right now, even if her embrace would slightly impede my ability to type and blog. Sing it, Mister Woltz!:
Truly wonderful! In the groove, too: ARKANSAS BLUES:
I’ve been humming this tune all morning: no reason why you shouldn’t join in the cyber-chorus. It’s MY SYNCOPATED MELODY MAN (think 1929, Lang, Venuti, and Red McKenzie, if you will):
One more — let the RCBB whisper swing in your shell-pink ears with WHISPERING. (The front line knows the old trick of having one horn play a swinging version of the melody while the other horn dances around it — exhilarating!):
And just because we tend, naturally, to focus on the brilliance of the soloists — horns and reeds are shiny and catch our attention as if we were children in a toystore — may I quietly point out that the beauty of the RCBB starts in the rhythm section? I have heard Paul and Steve generously and mightily lift bands where not everyone was on the same spiritual or rhythmic wavelength, so I greet them as epic heroes of hot jazz.
But what Candace, Dave, Mike, and Ray do on each number here is frankly magical. “A house without a strong foundation cannot stand.” It may be coarse of me to say that this rhythm section could “swing the dead,” but that is how I feel. As an experiment in Rhythm, may I urge my readers to revisit the video they liked best — if they can make such hard choices — and listen hard, all through it, to The Groove that this foursome creates? Better than a Master’s in Jazz Studies, I think.
The city that is home to such a band can’t be quite so damp and foreboding as popular myth would have it. When the RCBB plays, the sun blazes. A nice coat of sunscreen wouldn’t be a bad idea, either.
And there’s more! Visit swr2408018 for more meteorological wonders.
P.S. If I were in charge of a jazz festival, I would be tripping over myself in my eagerness to book this band . . . am I being sufficiently subtle? Please consider it!
May your happiness increase.