I write this on Wednesday, May May 16 — several days after the magical improvisations of last Sunday night, when The EarRegulars created life-enhancing beauty at The Ear Inn (326 Spring Street, Soho, New York) once again. But the music from The Ear is still vibrating in my ear and lifting my spirits. I know that I will be savoring it for a long time to come.
The EarRegulars that night were Jon-Erik Kellso, trumpet (a special one, a 1970s Conn horn that had belonged to Bobby Hackett); Ken Peplowski, tenor saxophone and clarinet; James Chirillo, guitar; Jon Burr, string bass. They were joined by some exalted friends you will encounter in the second chapter.
Each of the four EarRegulars here is a profoundly gifted musician, as my readers will know and have witnessed in person. But this Sunday session was one of those special occasions where everything jelled from the first notes. I won’t say “It kept on improving,” because it was already superb. Everything was in place, yet nothing was planned or formulaic; you could see from the grins on the faces of the players just how pleased and surprised they were, how well and deeply they felt their most subtle impulses heard — for this was a listening band, a true community of joyous magicians.
Enough words. The depth and playfulness of this music makes them trivial, perhaps an impudence. Listen, savor, marvel, be enlightened!
Tommy Dorsey’s pretty theme, taken at a sweet loping pace, I’M GETTING SENTIMENTAL OVER YOU:
The good advice created by Harry Barris and friends, WRAP YOUR TROUBLES IN DREAMS:
Harking back to Duke Ellington and Lionel Hampton but never Charles Laughton, RING DEM BELLS:
The pretty ballad that Louis recorded in 1938, ONCE IN A WHILE:
The hot tune that Louis recorded in 1926, ONCE IN A WHILE. Only at 326 Spring Street!:
Oh, so sweet! SUGAR, set up beautifully by Jon and James:
The Twenties ode to the madness syncopation brings, CRAZY RHYTHM:
It was just magical — watching and hearing these musicians transform metal, wood, electricity, breath, and moisture into a joy that had tangible heft and substance. But there were no tricks, no stuffed rabbits or items concealed from view: it was simply the magical combination of tension and repose, expertise and abandon.
I felt that the money I put in the tip jar was paltry in comparison to the experience I had participated in. And these musicians go off to do this night after night. Aren’t they something?
Hail, O EarRegulars! We are lucky to live in your world.
May your happiness increase.